By Emily Shields
The $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) is always one of the most competitive races on the Breeders’ Cup card. Some great American runners have won the race, such as the mare Tepin, and Lure, Wise Dan, and Da Hoss twice each. But in 35 editions, Europeans have emerged victorious 14 times – outlasting their rivals at a 40% clip.
Last year, Europeans made up eight of the 14 runners in the field. The winner was English runner Expert Eye, with strong performers such as Lightning Spear and Mustashry running well behind.
There were seven entered in 2017, but Lancaster Bomber ran best of them all, finishing second behind World Approval.
Before Expert Eye came Karakontie in 2014 at Santa Anita Park. He was a 30-1 surprise paying $62, outrunning a full field of 13 rivals to win by a length. Europeans ran one, two, three that year, the only time that has happened. They have finished first and second just twice, with Karakontie and Anodin in 2014 and Domedriver and Rock of Gibraltar in 2002.
European fillies do very well, with Miesque doubling up in 1987 and 1988, Ridgewood Pearl scoring in 1995, and Six Perfections rolling in 2003. Goldikova won three years in a row, from 2008 through 2010, then finished third in her attempt for a fourth.
Aidan O’Brien has never won the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but has run second four times and third once. He started four horses in the race last year and could do no better than sixth. Frankie Dettori has won it twice, first with Barathea in 1994 and then not again until Expert Eye last year. A lot of the top European riders have yet to win the race, with names like Ryan Moore, William Buick, Jamie Spender, and Oisin Murphy still seeking their first wins.
With names like Royal Academy winning in 1990 for legendary jockey Lester Piggott and trainer Vincent O’Brien, the Mile has always been a destination race for top class Europeans. But they are far from a sure thing against their American counterparts in this race.
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