Del Mar will host the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second time in four years as California prepares to welcome one of the fastest horse races over a mile to its doorstep.
While a lot of the weekend’s attention will fall on the Classic, many fans come Saturday, November 6, will be equally interested to see who turns out first over eight furlongs.
There are only so many certainties even for a race of this magnitude with more than two months until the date, but the front of the field has already taken shape with the odds leaders established.
And the bookmakers would suggest it’s the visiting trainers from Britain and Ireland who have the pre-race edge, not to mention a certain steed favored by one Frankie Dettori.
Palace Pier (5/2)
Chief among those imported stars with the potential to make his mark here is Palace Pier, the favorite to win the lions’ share of the Mile’s $2 million prize at Del Mar.
While many of those on the preliminary runners’ list have experience winning in Britain, Palace Pier does have international experience of his own having won twice in as many visits to France.
John and Thady Gosden started training the four-year-old in March of this year, since which he’s won four in as many outings, having finished front of the field in nine of his 10 races to date.
While the trainer may have changed hands, jockey veteran Frankie Dettori has been a major constant in his life and should be back aboard in California, seeking their eighth win as a pair:
Beautiful morning to take Palace Pier for a spin! pic.twitter.com/TBlNJoPwV3
— Frankie Dettori (@FrankieDettori) June 9, 2021
Palace Pier beat Poetic Flare by a neck to take the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August, and both are in line to run the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in October.
Poetic Flare (5/1)
Speaking of that rivalry, Poetic Flare will have more than one opponent in sight at Del Mar who has been responsible for a narrow defeat during his 2021 season.
The three-year-old has won twice at Group 1 since debuting at that level in October 2020, but that return doesn’t necessarily speak of the quality standards he’s kept in that time.
Poetic Flare looked every bit the elite star when he stormed to victory at the St. James’ Palace Stakes in June, collecting successive runner-up finishes at Goodwood and Deauville since then:
Poetic Flare wins the St James’s Palace Stakes!
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 15, 2021
Kevin Manning is the only jockey he’s known in 10 races and will be back in the saddle in Californian territory, though this could set the stage for another narrow miss among classy competition.
Alcohol Free (7/1)
Another one of those horses to have beaten Poetic Flare by a short distance in recent months, Alcohol Free has flashed hot and cold since moving up to Group 1 in May.
The chief filly in the race for the Mile as things stand, trainer Andrew Balding is sure to be settled with Alcohol Free racing a mile after seeing her finish sixth from seven over a mile and two furlongs last time out.
That experiment aside, the challenger has looked largely reliable and has five wins in nine races, with a fabulous jockey in Oisin Murphy, who could make this a filly worthy of investment.
2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic – Early Odds Leaders
|Order of Australia||8/1|