IN SUMMARY: It is never easy to know where to start in races like this but it seems safe to admit that West Coast is a worthy favourite but not at Evens or worse in a field potentially as competitive and explosive from the start as this. No filly or mare has ever won this race but very few have even tried, and there is a good chance that FOREVER UNBRIDLED (Each Way) can reverse the trend if she arrives here at her best. Her Breeders Cup win is out of the top drawer and she is overpriced in the circumstances though this will not be easy, and whoever walks away with the prize is guaranteed a big future even after their racing career.
1 AWARDEE – It is hard to imagine hoe a horse who has won over £2,000,000 in prize money can be written off, but that is pretty much the case here, even with the presence of all-time great Yutaka Take in the saddle. His recent placed form last year (without a win) paid the training fees and then some, but is not good enough here and it will be a surprise if he is up to mounting a serious challenge.
2 NORTH AMERICA – He came home a really wide margin winner over course and distance last time out when getting to the rail and staying there and will make a bold attempt at doing the same here unless those plans are somehow spoiled. That was a career best for Satish Seemar yet he needs to improve again in a field of this magnitude, though a place is very much a possibility thanks to his favoured draw.
3 GUNNEVERA – Top class American form including a third to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup but held by compatriot West Coast on that form. Seems to win less frequently than one with his ability should and invariably finds a few too good for him, same result expected here in this top-class field.
4 FURIA CRUZADA – Tough as teak seven-year-old Chilean bred mare who has won seven of her thirty-three starts but finished a well-beaten third to North America and Thunder Snow here last time out and has a lot to find on that form. Big priced outsider which goes to show just how competitive this renewal is.
5 MUBTAAHIJ – Finished a nine length fourth to Arrogate here in this race last year for Mike de Kock and has since changed hands, and is now trained by the legendary Bob Baffert. Instantly paid back that faith with a win at Santa Anita in the Grade One Awesome Again Stakes in October but well beaten four times since and may struggle to repeat his 2017 exploits now.
6 FOREVER UNBRIDLED – No filly or mare has ever taken this race but statistics are there to be broken and the daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare is the best of her sex in America by some margin. Three wins from three runs last year included the Breeders Cup Distaff which she took with ease at Del Mar, and with connections seemingly very confident of her chances with Mike Smith in the saddle she has an excellent each way chance at a sensible price.
7 TALISMANIC – Andre Fabre’s son of Medaglia D’Oro is class from head to foot and would be the most obvious winner – if only we knew for certain that he would handle the dirt. His second to Highland Reel at Sha Tin is obviously rock-solid form, and he beat stable companion Cloth Of Stars comfortably on the all-weather at Chantilly in his prep race for this but too many have switched to the dirt and failed to suggest him as a bet, though that sentence could yet come back to haunt us all.
8 PAVEL – Looks to be one of the weaker of the American runners after finishing fourth to Accelerate in a Grade Two at Santa Anita in January and if that is as good as he is, then he will not be challenging for the places. His last win was in the Grade Three Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx and that is still not good enough on paper to suggest a challenge here.
9 WEST COAST – The short-priced favourite after chasing home Gun Runner in the Pegasus last time out at Gulfstream Park and presumably connections will be delighted that rival is retired to stud and not in this line-up. He holds Gunnevera on that run which was no fluke as he has proved in the past with wins at the top level in the Travers Stakes last August and the Pennsylvania Stakes in September under Mike Smith and a major plyer again here, but his price looks an overreaction and far too short in this line-up.
10 THUNDER SNOW – Always held in high regard by Godolphin and handles the dirt surface better than most with wins in February and March last year as well as in February 2018. Well beaten by North America last time when the winner got first run but expected to do better now, though his high draw has to be seen as a negative