The case for Goldikova winning a record third Breeders' Cup Mile is compelling. She has the best form, much the best form in fact, and her fillies' allowance gives her 6 lb in hand over her closest rival on Timeform ratings. She is as good, if not better than ever this year, has beaten her best Europe-based rival three times already this term, and is proven in her ability to travel to America and cope with the demands of Breeders' Cup day. In other words, she's going to be very hard to beat, and there are probably worse bets than the 2.11 available about her for the race.
The question is, are there any alternatives to Goldikova? The second favourite at 6.4 is Paco Boy, who is set to have his third crack at Goldikova in 2010. There has been no more than half a length between the two of them this term, so Paco Boy's connections might derive some hope that he can reverse the form. The emphasis placed on speed by the turf track at Churchill Downs is likely to suit Paco Boy, but equally we know Goldikova is well equipped for the demands of American racing, and there is little reason, beyond the prospect of trouble in running, to think that Paco Boy can get the better of Goldikova, though his place claims are obvious once more given how reliable he has been on the whole throughout his career.
The two other European contenders are Beethoven and Delegator, and it's fair to say that Goldikova's connections are unlikely to be quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing either. Beethoven is a tough colt, and has achieved a very smart level of form several times this year, including when fourth in the QEII at Ascot on his penultimate start. However, we more or less know how good Beethoven is, and that's about 5 lb short of what is required to win an average Breeders' Cup Mile, let alone one that features the likes of Goldikova. Delegator has high-class form at his very best, but hasn't run up to that level in two outings this term, for all he shaped better than the bare result in the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket last time. He is fresher this time around than when disappointing in the equivalent race at Santa Anita in 2009, and is another who will be suited by a sharp mile, but needs a career best to figure, and it's difficult to see where that is going to come from.
The most significant of the North American team looked to be Gio Ponti, who barely came off the bridle to win the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keenelend on his latest outing. However, his connections' preference is reportedly to run him in the Classic, in which he was second last year, despite the fact he has never raced on a traditional dirt track. In Gio Ponti's absence, the strongest of the home-based contenders in terms of form is Court Vision, who looks a better horse this year than when fourth behind Goldikova at Santa Anita last year. Court Vision will head to Churchill this term on the back of the best run of his career in terms of form when winning the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile late in September. However, to watch the finish of last year's race, there can be little doubt as to the relative merits of Goldikova and Court Vision, the French filly simply blowing by him in the straight.
One who represents different formlines is the three-year-old colt Sidney's Candy. Earlier in the year, Sidney's Candy had looked a colt for the Triple Crown races, making all in three Graded events on synthetic surfaces in California, including the Santa Anita Derby, on the back of which he was sent off among the more favoured runners for the Kentucky Derby. In the event, Sidney's Candy was one of several who went off much too hard in the Derby, and he trailed in well beaten. Sent on something of a retrieval mission on turf, Sidney's Candy turned in a remarkable front-running performance in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap over an extended mile at Del Mar in August. Sidney's Candy jumped out fast that day, and quickly became involved in a duel for the lead at what seemed an overly strong gallop. However, he more or less maintained his speed throughout, quickly burning off the one that tried to match strides with him and still having ten lengths in hand over the field with a furlong to go, and in no danger as they merely closed late. In terms of form, Sidney's Candy has nearly a stone to find with Goldikova, but he is completely unexposed on turf and is particularly interesting because he is the only confirmed out-and-out front runner in this year's field. If he can get loose on the lead, then he could well be very hard to peg back, in which case current odds of 11.0 could look generous.
(read more at betting.betfair.com)