Race 4: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
Similar to yesterday’s card, we start out with a race I don’t have a particularly strong opinion about. Not a single runner in the entire field has a previous start over the Churchill dirt. We know the turns are tight and the ground has been reportedly more firm than many of the Euro connections would prefer. This race will be our first indication of how the European runners will fare the rest of the day. Speaking of which, MASTER OF HOUNDS should be tough here if he has shipped well and will be my top selection. I also like the looks of MANTOBA with Dettori aboard. For the domestic runners I gravitated towards the outside horse, PLUCK, for Todd Pletcher even though I hate the post position. MADMAN DIARIES came close to being my 3rd selection. You can really make a case for just about anyone in this field. Tricky race to start the day off with.
- #5 Master of Hounds (9/2*)
- #3 Mantoba (5/1)
- #13 Pluck (6/1)
Race 5: The Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint
I’m going to keep things fairly simple in the sprint. I like the favorite, GIROLAMO quite a bit, but as the morning line odds of 3/1 suggest, he is a bit vulnerable here. It’s interesting to note that he (along with Gio Ponti who races later in the card) are two examples that buck the myth that suggests horses who have faced Zenyatta don’t go on to achieve much of anything. This son of A.P. Indy (one of many in the BC) took the G1 Vosburgh last out despite being “steadied” at one point early in the race. BIG DRAMA is a horse that makes a good deal of sense here as well, but my gut tells me he finds a way to finish 2nd again. CASH REFUND is probably the fastest of the field, which in theory should help for a sprint. KINSALE KING figures to offer solid reward relative to his chances due to the recent “darkened form” in the last two efforts. The horses that I was torn between for 3rd selection were ATTA BOY ROY and WARRIOR’s REWARD on the outside. Definitely those are not ideal post positions, so despite the fact that I like both horses I had to leave one off. I think of the two WARRIOR’s REWARD has the better chance to wind up in the winner’s circle, whereas ATTA BOY ROY has a better chance to hit-the-board (if that even makes sense…forgive me folks as I’m running on about 3 hours sleep).
- #2 Girolamo (3/1*)
- #1 Big Drama (7/2)
- #12 Warrior’s Reward (12/1)
Race 6: The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
This race was extremely difficult for me to narrow down even a top selection – perhaps the most difficult of all 14 championship races this weekend. In fact, I’m not even going to do an analysis here. My advice is to just play whatever your opinion is and don’t listen to anything anyone else has to say. If someone twisted my arm I’d say that I expect the pace to be fairly quick here, and that may setup for DUE DATE and CALIFORNIA FLAG to be rolling late. I know just about everyone has totally given up on the Flag, but not me. He can still beat these guys, and 12/1 isn’t half bad on the horse that won this race last year. Obviously the post position is horrific though and gives me great pause. I like to use CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE but he seems to have trouble winning in graded stakes. ROSE CATHERINE was going to be my top play as I feel she doesn’t “need” the lead in this, but I’ve begun to question that selection the more I look over the race. Guess I’ll have to make SILVER TIMBER the top choice then? The post isn’t bad and he makes some sense having defeated the aforementioned DUE DATE (not to mention $450k in earnings at the distance).
- #5 Silver Timber (4/1)
- #9 Rose Catherine (6/1)
- #12 California Flag (12/1)
Race 7 : The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
The Juvenile features a showdown between two highly regarded colts, BOYS AT TUSCANOVA and UNCLE MO. My initial opinion is that UNCLE MO may be the best of the two at the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance, but I would advise using each of them in the win position on your exotics. Looking over the rest of the field, STAY THIRSTY would make some sense to include underneath of the top two. MURJAN and BIONDETTI come into the race sporting perfect records from overseas, while J B’s THUNDER is a perfect 2 for 2 here in the U.S. J P’s GUSTO hasn’t missed an Exacta since her debut in May. Lastly you have the improving sons of Kentucky Derby champions Smarty Jones (ROGUE ROMANCE) and Fusaichi Pegasus (RIVETING REASON). Even the “easy” races are filled with intrigue.
- #7 Uncle Mo (7/5*)
- #2 Boys At Tuscanova (5/2)
- #6 Stay Thirsty (8/1)
Race 8: The TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf):
While all of the attention is focused this day on the Classic and the undefeated Zenyatta, racing fans the world over are perhaps equally anxious to see GOLDIKOVA get her shot at defeating the boys for an unprecedented 3rd Breeders’ Cup victory (although that unprecedentedness may be fleeting, depending on developments later in the day). We all know the story; trainer Freddie Head who rode the great Miesque to consecutive Mile victories has the daughter of Anabaa looking very tough to defeat, although it will be interesting to see if she can once again overcome some adversity in the form of post position and familiarity with the local track. PACO BOY has the most familiarity with the favorite, having been defeated repeatedly at her hands (hooves). GIO PONTI is the x-factor here who probably is better suited for the BC Turf, but gives GOLDIKOVA’s connections something to think about. PROVISO is another interesting runner who has rattled off 4 consecutive victories. I haven’t liked what I’ve seen of SIDNEY’S CANDY in the morning workouts to support that horse as an upset contender. I could see including DELEGATOR as an underneath play. COURT VISION is a horse I’ve always been fond of, but I can’t envision him defeating the likes of Goldi. Look for history to be made in this race – hopefully not the last time we get to say that for the evening.
- #10 Goldikova (6/5*)
- #3 Gio Ponti (4/1)
- #11 Proviso (12/1)
Race 9: The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
The Dirt Mile looks like another great betting race where folks have numerous logical directions they could go. MORNING LINE was awarded favoritism at 7/2 but I think many of us are thinking this is a play against at those odds given the distance and post position questions for a one-turn mile. I actually like the other Tiznow colt here, TIZWAY at 6/1. I thought that was a big win in the Kelso last out over Cool Coal Man, and the 3rd behind Quality Road and Musket Man in the Metropolitan could look flattered by the end of the day depending on how those runners perform in the Classic. HERE COMES BEN is another logical contender that you don’t want to let knock you out of the exotics. CROWN OF THORNS was going to be a play against from me before his late scratch. The x-factor horse I think may show up big here though is VINEYARD HAVEN. I just wish he drew a better post position because I think he has every right to be there at the wire and 10/1 is attractive value. Very interesting race.
- #2 Tizway (6/1)
- #5 Here Comes Ben (6/1)
- #12 Vineyard Haven (10/1)
Race 10: The Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf
For the sixth time in history, a winner of the Arc De Triomphe, the world’s richest turf race, will attempt to prevail in the BC Turf within the same year. The previous competitors are 0 for 5 lifetime, so keep that in mind before accepting low odds on WORKFORCE. Even more concerning has been the hot topic story this week that the connections feel Churchill’s turf course is “too firm” and does not have enough moisture in the ground to set up the Arc winner for his best run. This is actually a continuing theme that we’ll have to pay close attention to throughout the weekend to see how the Euros hold up, but moisture in the forecast and the opportunity to have viewed numerous turf races prior to this point will hopefully have clarified the picture. If you’re looking to beat captain obvious, I thought the other Arc runner, BEHKABAD made quite a bit of sense. I’ll be using WINCHESTER and AL KHALI on some exotic plays.
- #6 Workforce (7/5*)
- #7 Behkabad (9/5)
- #5 Al Khali (10/1)
Race 11: The Breeders’ Cup Classic
And so it all comes down to this. One race, two minutes, and a date with destiny. Obviously my heart, like that of every racing fan on Earth, will be beating rapidly in the hopes that Zenyatta will be able to unleash her trademark gigantic run down the center of the track and then gallop off into history as the greatest race horse that many of us younger fans have ever had the pleasure of seeing with our own eyes. If she loses, well, unfortunately such circumstances tend to bring out the worst in human nature – but no mater what anyone says or types her legacy was sealed when she prevailed at Santa Anita last year. Nothing can ever take away that accomplishment, and I fully expect her to be right there at the wire on Saturday. The horse with the best chance of knocking down the champ has got to be BLAME. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a photo finish between them. LOOKIN AT LUCKY would make a great deal of sense to me here if he had not drawn such a crappy post position – but Baffert does seem quietly confident lately. QUALITY ROAD and MUSKET MAN have every right to factor into the equation, and of course you’ve got a runner like HAYNESFIELD who was able to get loose on the lead and defeat BLAME last out. I like BLAME and ZENYATTA hitting the wire together with MUSKET MAN edging out other rivals for 3rd. If this is indeed the last time “slow cheetah” will grace us with her presence, here’s hoping she goes out as a winner. This one’s going to be tough though, folks. It may take her absolute best – but rest assured that her absolute best is pretty darned good.
- #8 Zenyatta (8/5*)
- #5 Blame (9/2)
- #7 Musket Man (20/1)