Breeders' Cup 2012: Turf preview

Joseph O'Brien and St Nicholas Abbey are back to defend their title in the Breeders' Cup Turf. - Matthew Stockman

Can Point of Entry score a win for the American horses in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf?

Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf
1 1/2 Miles, Turf
Three-years-old and up

Day: Saturday, Nov. 3rd
Post Time: 3:18pm Pacific

The Breeders' Cup Turf is a race that, historically, is dominated by horses shipped over from Europe where the turf racing is a notch or two above that in North America. This year, however, the Americans have a Turf contender that can match-up with the quality and the class from across the Atlantic: Point of Entry.

Horse racing analysts like to use the phrase "he's done nothing wrong" when attempting to describe the current form of a horse with an impeccable record. That phrase suits Point of Entry perfectly when you take a look at his races in 2012. He began the year with a lackluster defeat at Gulfstream Park against Optional Claiming company at nine furlongs on the turf course. Recognizing that Point of Entry was crying out for more ground to cover, the connections stretched him out to a mile and a half in his next start and he hasn't lost since. Point of Entry has won five consecutive races, including three Grade 1 events and four races at the same 12 furlongs he'll cover in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Point of Entry drew the rail for Saturday's Turf, but that shouldn't pose a serious threat to his chances of winning the race. The Turf is run at a mile and a half, providing horses with plenty of time to settle into their running positions once the gate opens. In previous races this season, Point of Entry has drawn the No. 2 position and had little to no trouble to speak of. If anything, drawing inside allows jockey John Velazquez the perfect opportunity to save ground. At Santa Anita, the Turf starts on the downhill turf course but on the portion of the course after the slight right turn. In other words, Point of Entry's position in the gate shouldn't compromise his chances.

On the other end of the post position spectrum are Trailblazer (JPN) and Slim Shadey (GB), which drew positions Nos. 13 and 14 in the starting gate. Of the two, Slim Shadey tends to flash the most speed and he'll need to break well if he wants to avoid losing valuable ground out of the gate.

The international contingent will provide a stern challenge for Point of Entry, led by 2011 Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) and two-time French Group 1 winner Shareta (IRE). St Nicholas Abbey comes into the Breeders' Cup off of a 11th place finish in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7 but that race will likely have little bearing on his performance at Santa Anita given the significant difference in ground between the two courses.

Pacific Classic winner Dullahan was cross entered in both the Classic and Turf with his connections opted for the Turf. He's never won a race on turf (or dirt) but his success on synthetic surfaces suggests the Turf is a better spot for him at the Breeders' Cup.

The presence of both Little Mike and Turbo Compressor in this field should ensure an honest, if not fast, early pace.

The Pick

While the record for American horses in the Turf isn't the greatest, Point of Entry appears to be kind of quality colt that can win this race. If he were to win the Turf in style, perhaps we'll see him take on some of Europe's best on the other side of the ocean next season.

Kindergarden Kid is a tough, consistent and game horse that utilizes a grinding style to run quality race after quality race. He may not be a great bet to win the Turf, but he could be an excellent play if you're looking to inject a price into a trifecta or superfecta bet.

1-Point of Entry (3/1)
3-St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) (7/2)
8-Kindergarden Kid (30/1)

The Field

Post Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Point of Entry J. Velazaquez S. McGaughey 3/1
2 Turbo Compressor J. Bravo T. Pletcher 15/1
3 St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) J. O'Brien A. O'Brien 7/2
4 Treasure Beach (GB) J. Spencer A. O'Brien 12/1
5 Shareta (IRE) C. Lemaire A. de Royer-Dupre 7/2
6 Cogito F. Dettori D. O'Neill 30/1
7 Little Mike R. Dominguez D. Romans 12/1
8 Kindergarden Kid J. Leparoux P. Miller 30/1
9 Dullahan J. Rosario D. Romans 12/1
10 Optimizer J. Court D.W. Lukas 20/1
11 Slim Shadey (GB) G. Gomez S. Callaghan 10/1
12 Trailblazer (JPN) Y. Take Y. Ikee 6/1

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