Breeders Cup Turf: Magician O'Brien's Ace In The Hole

Last year's Breeders Cup Turf winner Magician looks set to compete again, what can challenge Aidan O'Briens ace at Santa Anita in November?

Magician leads Aidan O'Brien;s bid to win the Breeders Cup Turf for the fifth time

The $3million Breeders Cup Turf will see some of best horses from Europe and North America go head-to-head. The 1 ½ mile race is made up of 14 of of the best 3-year-old’s and above, with 11 of the participants selected on a ‘win and you’re in’ system.

Aidan O’Brien’s Magician is considered one of the main contenders after winning the 2013 Breeders Cup Turf. And if you set up a new account with Paddy Power and bet £10 on any event, you’ll receive a free £20 bet.

Challengers to Magician, meanwhile, include Brazilian Triple Crown winner Bal a Bali. The 4-year-old, who was treated for laminitis in August, won the Gran Premio Brazil to secure a spot in the big race. With 11 wins and one 3rd from its opening 12 races the colt could be a formidable opponent to Magician.

And Big John B secured his spot with victory in August’s $200,000 Del Mar Handicap. The triumph was the 5-year-old’s 11th win in 28 races, with five 2nd-places and three 3rds.

Hardest Core, meanwhile, pulled off one the shock wins of the Breeders Cup Challenge series when the outsider won the Arlington Million. The 11-1 outsider defeated 9-5 favourite Magician in the ‘win and you’re in’ race in Illinois. And what makes the victory all the more incredible is that the 4-year-old had suffered a life threatening illness earlier in the year. A hernia required surgery and the Eddie Graham trained star had 18 feet of intestines removed. The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun has a decent record but the victory in the Arlington Million was his first appearance in a graded stakes race.

Main Sequence qualified with victory in the 11 furlong United Nations Stakes. Priced at 8-1 at Monmouth Park in July the 5-year-old was making his US debut after racing in Europe. And the gelding was less than a second behind the record time for the course and has five wins, three 2nd’s and three 3rds in his first 15 starts.

Trainer O’Brien, meanwhile, has won the Breeders Cup Turf a record four times. The Irishman has trained the winner in two of the last three years with Magician winning in 2013 and St Nicholas Abbey winning the $3million purse in 2011.

Magician looks set to compete again this year and aims to join Conduit and High Chaparall as only the third horse to win the Turf twice. Ryan Moore rode the 3-year-old to victory last year, and was also the jockey on Conduit’s two wins, but Joseph O’Brien could be in this saddle this time around. The 21-year-old rode St Nicholas Abbey to Breeders Cup success three-years ago but came under criticism for his performance when riding Magician in the Arlington Million.

Since its inception in 1984, the race has been won by a four-year-old 14 times with three and five-year-olds winning eight each. And Frankie Dettori has won the race a record four times, the last in 2010, while Ryan Moore has three wins to his name (08, 09, 13).

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