Of the 14 Breeders' Cup races, the biggest favorite is likely to be in the Mile, where Goldikova goes for her unprecedented third consecutive victory on the Churchill Downs turf. The 5-year-old mare tuned up for her title defense with an impressive half-length victory over soft turf in the Prix de la Foret on Oct. 3, proving she has not lost a step.
When she won at Santa Anita a year ago, Goldokiva was the 7-5 favorite. She is likely to be every bit of that, or lower, this time around, and deservedly so. Currently, she is listed at about 6-5 in the British books. She is also likely to be a single on many pick 4 and pick 6 tickets. In my opinion, only Midday in the BC Filly & Mare Turf could be a bigger favorite than Goldikova at Churchill, and that's because the field is not shaping up to be that strong.
There is no denying Goldikova's brilliance. She is an 11-time group/grade I winner, has earned more than $5 million, and has beaten the world's top milers everywhere Freddie Head has taken her--France, England, and the United States. While defeating males here is major news, with Goldikova it's the norm. Simply put, she is one of the best we've ever seen.
That being said, and don't kill me for saying this, I think she could be a bit of an underlay on Nov. 6.
This past weekend at Keeneland, we saw two major American threats win impressively. Gio Ponti's one-length win in the Shadwell Turf Mile might as well been a four-length score. He was that good. Meanwhile, Proviso quietly won her fourth consecutive grade I race in the First Lady. She fires every time.
Gio Ponti and Proviso are just two of the contenders in what is shaping up to be a fantastic BC Mile field. Allow me to run down some of the top threats to Goldikova. I'll begin with the Gio and Proviso, who ironically, are both still on the fence for the race. In parenthesis are the approximate odds of each from the British books.
Gio Ponti (7-1): Far be it from me to question one of the top trainers in the world, but what else did Christophe Clement need to see for him to commit to the Mile? I just can't see any way they will race Gio in the Classic, in what would be his first start on dirt in his final race. He was terrific in the Shadwell Turf Mile, and is much more suited at that distance at this point in his career, in my opinion, than 1 1/4 miles. Don't forget, he has won four of five lifetime starts at one mile, including three on turf. If he goes in the BC, he has a great chance.
Proviso (10-1): She earned a berth to the BC Filly & Mare Turf with her latest win, but the Mile looks like a more attractive option for the 5-year-old mare. She has never gone 1 3/8 miles and has won her last three at one mile--all in grade I company. What race would you put her in? If she does go in the Mile she will be tough. She just keeps coming at the end and seems to have a nose for the wire.
Paco Boy (7-1): With Poet's Voice no longer pointing to the Mile, he could be the second choice. In his last three efforts against Goldikova, this is what he has done: Lost by a half-length, finished a neck back in third, and was beaten a neck for the win. With any luck at all, he can turn the tables at a nice price.
Rip Van Winkle (6-1): As far as I know, Aidan O'Brien is still deciding between the Classic and the Mile for this one, but he is another I have to believe is better suited for a mile. He lost by a nose to Poet's Voice last out and has never run on dirt. He was also 10th in last year's Classic. If he goes in the mile, he'll bring with him two group I victories at the distance.
Sidney's Candy (12-1): His pending sale cost him a chance to run in the Oak Tree Mile. Sadler said he is still pointing toward the BC Mile, but you wouldn't think missing his prep would help him.
Court Vision (14-1): Was beaten a little over a length by Goldikova last year. His Woodbine Mile victory proved he is ready for a big effort. And he runs well fresh.
Others worth mentioning but still considered longshots are Liberian Freighter, Courageous Cat, General Quarters, Fuisse, Get Serious, and Wasted Tears. I haven't heard what the plan is for Able One.
Goldikova certainly deserves to be favored, but if the Mile field comes together like I think it might, she may be worth trying to beat.