By Jarrod Horak
We still have a bit more than five weeks to go before Breeders’ Cup 2023 World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 3-4. Some horses will train up to the Cup, and others will have their final preps early next month. Let’s take an early gander at five Breeders’ Cup 2023 horses to watch.
1 – Geaux Rocket Ride – Richard Mandella knows how to get a horse to peak in the Breeders’ Cup, and this lightly raced sophomore appears primed to run a big race in the Classic. He won his sprint bow at Santa Anita in January and followed that up with a place finish in the San Felipe (G2). He got sick and missed the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, and returned with a nice victory in the Affirmed on June 4. He shipped to Monmouth Park and stalked and scored in the Grade 1 Haskell, and stalked the pace and missed by a neck in the Pacific Classic (G1) on Sept. 2. His tactical speed should serve him well in the BC Classic on Nov. 4.
2 – Master of the Seas (IRE) – Charlie Appleby’s gelding is peaking at the right time. He looked good winning a Group 2 at Ascot on July 15, and shipped to Canada and dominated the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile as the favorite from off the pace on Sept. 16. He looks like a strong BC Mile contender.
3 – Nest – Todd Pletcher’s 4-year-old filly won the Demoiselle (G2) as a juvenile, and captured the Suncoast, Ashland (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Alabama (G1), and Beldame (G2) last year. She started her 2023 campaign with a nice victory in the Grade 2 Shuvee at Saratoga, and did not seem to care for wet footing in a show finish as the beaten favorite in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 25. She is lightly raced this year and will likely tune up for the BC Distaff in the Beldame or Spinster on Oct. 8.
4 – Slow Down Andy – I sincerely hope Doug O’Neill chooses the BC Dirt Mile over the Classic for this one. He stalked the pace and finished a clear third in the 2022 BC Dirt Mile (G1) at 17-1 odds. He needed his return in the Met Mile (G1) and bounced back with a good runner-up finish in the San Diego (G2). He made a bid for the lead and weakened to third late in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at a mile and a quarter last time. He should excel if they opt to cut him back to a flat mile on Nov. 4.
5 – Tamara – This talented Bolt d’Oro filly is a perfect 2-for-2 for Richard Mandella. She overcame a stumbling start from the inside post to capture her sprint bow on Aug. 19, and chased the pace and kicked well clear in the Grade 1 De Mar Debutante on Sept. 9. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is next, and her mom Beholder won that event at Santa Anita in 2013.