Friday, November 2, 2012

Breeders' Cup Friday Thoughts (Undercard Included)

The biggest two consecutive days of racing in the North America are upon us with the Breeders' Cup. Some of the best from around the world have come to go for millions in purses spread over 15 races. Day One will showcase 6 races, with the main attraction being the Ladies' Classic. Two undefeated stars will throw in down with the division leader among others in an epic battle for divisional honors. Four undercard races will be run, with three allowances before the Breeders' Cup races commence and the Twilight (formerly the Oak Tree) Derby will end the card. While most folks will focus on just the Breeders' Cup races, I love the undercard races. Not only are the usually good betting opportunities, there is always a chance that a future Breeders' Cup horse could run. In 2006, Maryfield won a race on the undercard, then went on next year to win the inaugural Filly & Mare Sprint. Also included as a counterweight are thoughts on the BC races from a life-long handicapper and friend of the blog, Chris M.


The first race is a first level allowance going a mile and an eighth over the turf. The favorite is likely to be the European import Saint Loup. He was Group 3 placed after just losing the bob. This is most likely a prep for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby next month at Hollywood Park. His trainer has had success in the past with shippers from Europe, including Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal, and more recently, Loup Breton. He has a steady pattern of works for the race, and gets an out-of-town rider. He is a must use. There figures to be enough pace to make it open for anyone to win. The pick is Segway. This son of Giant's Causeway won first time out over this course. Last time out he finished a flat 6th in first race in 9 months. He was well backed in that race, even though his trainer is only so-so first off the layoff. The horse should appreciate the extra furlong to work with. His trainer has plenty of experience winning on Breeders' Cup days in the past.
Play: Win bet on Segway; Exacta Box of Segway & Saint Loup
Confidence: 7.5 out of 10


There is a ton of early speed in this race. BIG TIZ can take advantage of the expected hot pace. She has enough tactical speed to remain in contact early and inherit the lead from the tiring leaders late in the stretch. MISS OOPS steps way up in class, but can earn the same trip as the top selection. WARREN’S AMBER will be rolling late from the back of the pack and could pick up a slice.
Play:  Exacta of Big Tiz / Miss Oops, Warren's Amber
Confidence: 8.5

NORTHERN IOWA cuts back off a close 3rd in a minor stakes at Fairplex Park. He has a running style would lend itself to this extended sprint. BASMATI was knocking heads with some the best in his 2yo season when last scene. He makes his return off an 11 month layoff in this race. His best is competitive enough to win. SEVEN BRIDGES comes off a maiden win going longer and could clunk up for a share. GOT EVEN is a play against, as there is other speed present to prevent him from establishing a clear lead, which he needs to win.
Play: Win bet on Northern Iowa
Confidence Rating: 7

The first Breeders’ Cup race of the weekend is the Juvenile Sprint. In its 2nd year, it attracts a compact field of 7. MERIT MAN is a worthy favorite, as he can set the lead or sit just off the pace. SUPER NINETY NINE looks to keep the crown in the Baffert barn for another year with a track-and-attack trip. SWEET SHIRLEY MAE is a filly going against the boys. She has plenty of early speed but showed a new dimension when closing off a hot pace.
Play:  NONE
Confidence rating: 3
Chris M's take: This is a race that should be cut from BC weekend. In two years it has produced two boring heats. After this year the Baffert haters will have good cause to raise their voice again when Super 99 wins by two. Blah.

The longest Breeders’ Cup race is up next in the Marathon. COMMANDER will have the lead early, but considering his unruly demeanor witnessed yesterday while schooling, one seriously questions his ability to last the 14 furlongs. WORTH REPEATING is the horse most likely to inherit the lead if/when Commander stops. He has a win over the track at a similar distance and looked great during the week. An interesting longshot is CALIDOSCOPIO comes in off a 5 month layoff, when winning a Grade 2 in his native Argentina. He has run well in similar situations in the past. ATIGUN and JAYCITO are Triple Crown refugees from different years who seem like the same horse, one who will just clunk along and end getting a share.
Play:  Win bet on Worth Repeating
Confidence Rating: 7
Chris M's take:  Another race to cut. This is the only dirt stake in America where your lone F can have three lengths on the field after a 53 half and be 8th turning into the stretch. If you hit a single here your either a time traveler or a descendant of Charlie Whittingham. If I had to pick one here it would be Fame and Glory as he has run in the last two runnings of 20 furlong Cialis Gold Cup.

Tough race. SKY LANTERN comes off a grade 1 win in Ireland. She ran well on harder turf in Europe like she will see today. SUSTAINED could try to take the field gate-to-wire from the outside post in a race bereft of early speed. Her trainer is known for such aggressive tactics in paceless affairs. WATERWAY RUN won going left-handed in Europe, and has a very American pedigree. NANCY O could spice up the bottom rungs of the exotics at a big price after a failed attempt on dirt.
Play: Maybe a .10 super using these in a "chuck-and-pray" stab.
Confidence rating: 5.5
Chris M's take: 14 youngsters stacked on the 7F+ green and you better cross your fingers that your selection(s) don’t have major trouble. BC longshots usually blow up the tote when the favorites are closers on the turf and there is a murky pace scenario, which is the case here. Sky Lantern, Watsdachances, and Spring Venture all look formidable and will be on my tickets but the hometown Flashy Ways with Talamo I see taking control early from post 13 and try to hold. If she isn’t sent a five wide trip is likely so @ 15/1 she is a play.

The tagline for this race could be “Speed, speed and more speed!” BROKEN SPELL will be a huge price, but she would appear to be able to hang just close enough to grind her way to a win in what looks to be a staggerfest in the lane. EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE has done nothing wrong in her brief career, going 5-for-5. But she has looked very flat the last two weeks and could be beatable. DREAMING OF JULIA has shown at least what appears to be ability to rate, though she has never done actually done it.
Play: Exacta boxes keying Broken Spell with the other two + $2 WP
Confidence Rating: 4
Chris M's take: There are two questions here. Can Beholder get the distance and will either of the Pletchers be sent after her? If she can get the trip her last points her as the superior 2yo now. The 44 flat half and 109 final came on roughly the same surface Coil and company ran on two days later when they went 3 or 4 clicks slower at each point of call. True, there was a severe speed/inside bias the first seven days of the meet but if you can recall a better 6F run by a 2yo, of either sex, in the last 30 years I’d like to hear it. Garrett, from the rail, will race ride either of the Pletchers if they try to contest the lead. Executiveprivilege hasn’t looked right in her last two works, beat a poor field in the Chandelier when the start eliminated her primary competition, and she coasted on and easy lead. ExecP is the favorite I least like for the weekend. And yes, as clearly the best horse in the race Beholder can get the 8.5F’s, even with her breeding

THE FUGUE has been specifically pointed to this race by her connections. Coming off a tough loss in the Yorkshire Oaks to one of the favorites in the BC Turf, she has looked good here in the states since arriving. She seems to prefer little give in the ground. NAHRAIN found her winning form when shipping over for the Flower Bowl last time out. She has won several strong races over firmer turf and should appreciate the shorter distance compared to last year. LADY OF SHAMROCK may be the best 3yo turf filly in America and loves this course.
Play: Some sort of exotic keying The Fugue on top + plus a flat win bet.
Confidence Rating: 9
Chris M's take:  Another deep and contentious turf race complicated by a lack of pace. Going six deep here with Zagora, Nahrain (why the blinks add off a win?), The Fugue, Marketing Mix, I’m a Dreamer, and Ridasiyna. A female Precious Passion would have a two pole backstretch lead vs. this bunch.

The Ladies’ Classic is the marquee race of the day. It brings together several stars of the game together it would figures to be a good race. ROYAL DELTA comes off a smashing win in the Beldame. She figures to sit a smart trip tracking 3-4 lengths behind the speed. GRACE HALL comes off a good win in the Indiana Oaks, can sit a similar trip tracking the speed and will offer major value in the exotics. QUESTING could steal the race on the front end if no one engages her early. Both AWESOME FEATHER & MY MISS AURELIA come into the race undefeated, but both are horses who will fade late at low odds.
Play: $1 exacta Royal Delta / Grace Hall, Questing + $1 trifecta Royal Delta / Grace Hall, Questing / Grace Hall, Questing
Confidence Rating: 9.5
Chris M's take: Now here we have a race! There is a lone F here, IF the jock chooses to use it. Questing is flat out faster than Love and Pride and can utilize the existing bias by taking the lead. Of the two undefeated, My Miss Aurelia has the most to prove. She’s only run two turn races and that last no pace, last quarter drag race will not set her up for an effort where she will have to run an entire race vs. a field 3 to 4 times tougher than she has faced. Awesome Feather has a GR1 vs. older but hasn’t faced this caliber either. Both will be over bet. Royal Delta was the beneficiary of  the anti-speed Churchill surface last year and a poor out by It’s Tricky in last @ Belmont. Throw in the abysmal record of Belmont horses going West and she is a play against.  Don’t overlook Grace Hall for the unders as well as the bomber Class Included, who is only 16-10-6-0.

POWER FOOT had no chance in his last race as the 1-2 runners early finished that way. With a change in venue & trainer, he has a big chance to blow up the tote. GRANDEUR has run well over firm turf and on left-handed courses. He struggled against group 3 types in England, but that may have been because of the course conditions. SPEAKING OF WHICH comes in a graded stakes winner already, having taking a Group 3 at a longer distance. This might be too short of a race for his talent.
Play: $2 WPS on Power Foot
Confidence Rating: 8.9

Good luck on day one folks.