The list of differences between American racing and that of its European counterparts could be endless for all anyone knows. But if there is one thing that is certain, it’s that turf racing is much the same. Be it in the United States or in England, you are bound to find that grass is grass. Because of such it isn’t an anomaly to find horses that compete in Europe’s most prized race—the Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe— will also try their hand at the Breeders Cup Turf.
This year is certainly no different as Bekhabad and Workforce make their way to Churchill Downs to run in the 1 ½ mile event. They are prime candidates who could take home a large chunk of the $3,000,000 purse.
Workforce is a European superhorse. The three-year-old Great Britain born is coming off of a win at the Arc de Triomphe after holding off Nakayama Festa in a thrilling finish at Longchamp. A two-time Grade 1 winner (Epsom Derby the other triumph) will be put to the test after a quick turnaround from the Triomphe which took place on October 30th. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute wouldn’t have entered him if he wasn’t certain of his chances.
Bekhabad, a French horse, represents another fine European grass router entered in this event. Having had a difficult trip in the Arc De Triomphe—“lacked room, angled out, in tight” some of the comments— the six-time lifetime winner will be looking for better luck in a field that has been dwindled down to eight. The horse has run a trio of 120+ Racing Post Ratings in Europe and will fancy the chances if he can get some pace. In every win, Bekhabad has tracked just outside the leaders. If the pace is there—and it could be from Irish-born Debussy, then look for this bay colt to be right there at the finish line.
While the two European power horses will certainly go off as the top two betting favorites a certain American horse shouldn’t be discounted.
Champ Pegasus will man the #1 post position for trainer Richard Mandella. The last three outings have been impressive for the Fusiachi Pegasus offspring. Beyer figures have improved (90,92,92) as the competition has gotten tougher. With a second place in the Sunset Handicap followed by a pair of victories Del Mar Handicap and the Clement Hirsch there is a real belief this horse can keep it going. Like so many other turf runners, Champ Pegasus is accustomed to coming off of the lead and powering down the stretch. It’s a horse that has gotten better with every subsequent trip on the track. So, why not again?