Five European Raiders to Make an Impression at the 2012 Breeders Cup

Richard SmithContributor IIIOctober 12, 2012

Five European Raiders to Make an Impression at the 2012 Breeders Cup

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    Last year was a poor year for the European challenge at the Breeders Cup meeting at Churchill Downs, with just two winners from across the Atlantic upsetting the home contingent across 15 races over the two days.

    Both those European victories came courtesy of the Aidan O'Brien stable in Ireland with Wrote winning the Juvenile Turf and St Nicholas Abbey taking the Breeders Cup Turf.

    With the 2012 Breeders Cup taking place on the 2nd and 3rd November, here are five leading European Raiders that will be looking to upsets the American party at Santa Anita. 

The Fugue – Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Turf

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    Last seen finishing in second behind Shareta in the Group One Yorkshire Oaks, The Fugue is one of the flag bearers from the John Gosden stable that will be heading Stateside with the Breeders Cup Filly and Mares Turf her target.

    She finished fourth in the 1000 Guineas and third in the Epsom Oaks earlier in the year; and was a very impressive winner of the Group One Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in August.

    Europe have a very good record in this particular race, winning it four times in the last 10 years, and The Fugue certainly has the right profile to add extend that trend.

Excelebration – Breeders Cup Mile

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    Excelebration's trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has had this race in mind all season for the four-year-old that he purchased from Marco Botti last year.

    A terrific miler in his own right, Excelebration has finished runner up to Frankel on four occasions in his career and connections will be glad that the highest rated horse in the world will not be lining up at Santa Anita, thus, giving him a chance!

    Forgetting the hard luck stories against Frankel, Excelebration remains a top class performer and was a very impressive winner in  the Group One Prix du Harais de Fresnay-le-Buffard over a mile at Deauville in August.

    He has since been kept off track to keep him fresh for this race. He may have one more run before the Breeders Cup Mile but heads to California as a big danger to all comers in the race.

Encke – Breeders Cup Turf

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    Doncaster St Leger winner, Encke will bid to win the Breeders Cup Turf having ended the English Triple Crown dreams of Camelot by winning the final classic of the season back in September and the Godolphin owned three-year-old is now very strongly fancied to add this race to his CV.

    The Breeders Cup Turf has been dominated by European runners in recent years, winning eight of the last 11 renewals, including the last three, and Encke is just one of a couple of runners making the trip across the Atlantic that can continue the Europeans success in this race. 

St Nicholas Abbey: Breeders Cup Turf

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    If Encke can help continue the European domination in the Breeders Cup Turf then expect last year's winner, St Nicholas Abbey, to also make his presence felt.

    The Aidan O'Brien trained runner has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top three in six of his seven starts since winning at Churchill Downs 12 months ago.

    He disappointed in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last time out, finishing only 11th, but the heavy ground could be blamed for that and given a few weeks break, he will be a danger to win the race back-to-back, something that only Conduit (2008 and 2009) has ever done. 

Battle of Marengo: Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

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    Another member of the Aidan O'Brien stable that boasts big claims at Santa Anita is Battle of Marengo, a two-year-old by Galileo who has had an excellent first season on a racetrack to date.

    After finishing third on his debut at Leopardstown in August, he has not looked backed in his three subsequent races, winning them all by a combined distance of over 15 lengths.

    His last win was an easy 3 1/2 length victory in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, a race that has been won by names such as St Nicholas Abbey, Sea The Stars, Azamour and Alamshar in recent years.

    O'Brien won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf 12 months ago and Battle of Marengo looks every bit as good as his stablemate did at this same stage (if not better) last year.

    He could be the pick of the European two-year-olds making the trip to the West Coast for a race that European runners have won three times in the five years since it was introduced in 2007.