Below is our analysis of the big nine-race Saturday meeting of the Breeders’ Cup. A phenomenal day of racing with so much on the line. Good luck to all. As we stated in our Friday analysis, some races are a bit more clear to us than others, and it is duly noted.
Race 4 – $2,000,000 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – 1 1/16 miles – dirt
A race where we really have no overwhelming opinion, so no reason to go on and on about it. Let’s swing with #7 MAJESTIC PRESENCE who was incredibly wide when breaking from gate 11 in the prep here at Santa Anita. She should slot in with a better trip this time drawing from gate seven and stacks up with a much shorter priced #2 ANGELA RENEE than the difference in their margin last time suggests. #11 TOP DECILE ran very well when closing in her second lifetime start at Keeneland, we give her a top chance here at a solid price.
1st – #7 MAJESTIC PRESENCE, 2nd – #2 ANGELA RENEE, 3rd – #11 TOP DECILE, 4th – #12 BY THE MOON
Race 5 – $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – 1 ¼ miles – turf
You can easily make a case that #10 STEPHANIE’S KITTEN should be unbeaten in her last three starts. Two tough trips, where she was too far back, compromised her chances, and she absolutely annihilated them in the Flower Bowl last time. What price would she be if she were a winner of both the Beverly D and Diana? This is the right spot and she doesn’t catch too tough a group.
#6 FIESOLANA has gotten sneakier and sneakier as the week went by. She has a win over this longer trip deep in her form, and that win over Rizeena two back is quality. She ran into some trouble in a Foret that wasn’t run to suit, and now is on the stretch out. She pales deeply to #1 DANK, who was long ignored for the BC meeting, but came around late and is here looking to defend.
#7 EMOLLIENT ran incredibly well last out and seems to have found herself. If she can recover that form that had her fourth in this race last year, arguably with a different running style, we can see her landing in the frame.
1st – #10 STEPHANIE’S KITTEN, 2nd – #6 FIESOLANA, 3rd – #7 EMOLLIENT, 4th – #1 DANK
Race 6 – $1,000,000 Draftkings Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – 7 furlongs – dirt
Second beaten a half-length this year, there hasn’t been much to knock relative to #7 JUDY THE BEAUTY. She has been prepped for this all season and is aiming for a trip similar to last year, expecting her to track the speed of #3 STONETASTIC, who has looked well all week. A few horses ran some quirky races at Keeneland this fall, and Stonetastic was one of them, after having things her own way at Saratoga at Monmouth earlier in her campaign.
Meanwhile, #6 LEIGH COURT was incredibly impressive winning the TCA at Keeneland, her first time off the lead for some time, and it showed a new ability to relax. That 4-1 price is way too short on her, and due to her difficulty in loading a plane to come to the BC, was vanned 36 hours across America to get to Santa Anita. She was settled on Monday, but who knows the impact to her going forward. If she runs her race, she’s a threat.
1st – #7 JUDY THE BEAUTY, 2nd – #6 LEIGH COURT, 3rd – #3 STONETASTIC, 4th – #1 ARTEMIS AGROTERA
Race 7 – $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – About 6 ½ furlongs – turf
The single best form line in this race belongs to #11 UNDRAFTED, the Wesley Ward trainee who ran a gritty fourth in the Darley July Cup (G1) at Newmarket in July. He galloped out past the second and third placers soon after the finish, then came on even terms, and actually passed, the winner on gallop-out. That was an uphill six, not a downhill 6.5, but the unassailable fact – he has the best form line in the race.
We can’t hold Undrafted’s third placing at Kentucky Downs against him, the son of Purim now gets back in highly competent hands of John Velazquez and naturally, pace to run at. His Jaipur at Belmont Park in June was superb, and fits well with this race.
#10 HOME RUN KITTEN landed at a new height when winning the Eddie D over course and distance last time and seems to have found the right type of spot. Drawn outside, he should also get a clear chance to run down the speed, of which there is plenty.
#13 CASPAR NETSCHER was moving with aplomb in the Nearctic, slicing his way through the field to land his first sin since April 2012. Could lightning strike twice? He got Lasix and will have it again for his third start in a month in three different countries. It might be asking a bit much, but he deserves consideration.
#12 DIMENSION might find a handy spot in mid-pack from his good outside draw. He ran evenly last year and was beaten just three lengths in this race, and now gets the ever present hands of Ryan Moore. The slightest improvement puts him in the mix.
#14 NO NAY NEVER and #1 RENEESGOTZIP are both going to zip forward and hope to see it out, but we just wonder when they hit their limit and who might be negatively impacted by it, but this year, we just can’t see either of them getting the glory on the front-end.
1st – #11 UNDRAFTED, 2nd – #12 DIMENSION, 3rd – #13 CASPAR NETSCHER, 4th – #10 HOME RUN KITTEN
Race 8 – $2,000,000 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 miles – dirt
Even with the scratching of #5 AMERICAN PHAROAH, it feels near impossible to find the “right” horse with speed to stay. There are just too many who want a piece of the early action, led by #8 SOUPER COLOSSAL, who is a pure firebreather in this spot, and worked like it earlier in the week. #2 PRIVATE PROSPECT is going, so is #3 BLUE DANCER, #6 LUCKY PLAYER could be in the mix, along with #11 ONE LUCKY DANE and #12 DAREDEVIL. Surely not all are going to be on the engine, so to speak, but the presence of so much speed (more on that later) suggests one look to the come-from-behinders.
#1 CALCULATOR is the pick. He is going to get the inverse trip to his run in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita. Wide throughout, he endured a trip that required significant early energy expenditure, and still hung around for a decent second-placing. Still a maiden, there was plenty of reason to excuse his second last time, and the price should still be right-on. This guy sits the best trip in the field.
#4 THE GREAT WAR surely interests. He was expensive as a yearling and has never really lived up to the hype, but can you entirely blame him with a massive dirt pedigree? We have to take him seriously, and think many won’t.
Drawing the outside gate in this type of race, #13 UPSTART might seem to have some things going against him, but it should help settle him well in mid-pack or behind and could benefit from the pace setup, as would #7 TEXAS RED, who should be well out the back early and is another who would benefit from a frenetic early gallop, which we prognosticate.
We are playing this race to collapse from a pace standpoint.
1st – #1 CALCULATOR, 2nd – #4 THE GREAT WAR, 3rd – #13 UPSTART, 4th – #7 TEXAS RED
Race 9 – $3,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – 1 ½ miles – turf
We had a conversation with Highclere racing manager Harry Herbert at Saratoga this summer, specifically, on August 2, just after #1 TELESCOPE, the son of Galileo, was beaten three lengths by Taghrooda in the King George. Back then, three months prior to this race, Herbert made it clear this was the long term goal. That type of intent is wildly important, in our opinion, when tackling international horse racing. His performance in the Juddmonte International is almost inconsequential, other than to note that either Australia or The Grey Gatsby would be hot favorites for this race if they were in it.
Telescope only has one win this year, a demolition derby in the Hardwicke on ground as firm as he’ll get on Saturday, and is otherwise always in the mix, out of the first two just once (last time, when third). He settles fairly close, which is good in our opinion, and near every decision Ryan Moore has made recently has been right on. He’s the one.
#7 FLINTSHIRE had plenty going for him when we tipped him second, and he ran second, in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His last two wins came over 12 furlongs, on good-to-firm ground. All things that go in his favor here. Lightly raced, he goes third off the mid-season freshening and should absolutely land in the mix.
#12 MAIN SEQUENCE has needed every inch of the courses to land three consecutive G1 wins by a combined half-length margin. Remarkable. But the competition gets much tougher now, and while in with a shot, we simply can’t support him in this spot.
Trainer Eddie Graham sends his Arlington Million winner #9 HARDEST CORE up hill and down dale at Fair Hill on a regular basis, but will he be ready for a much tougher test in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. We just can’t have him in this type of race. Will be a great story if he wins, but the waters are even deeper now than everyone thought they were at Arlington.
#3 IMAGINING has something that is generally lacking in this race – an ability to go forward and see it out, even with a decent pace. Magician won’t be tracking him, and really, no one else is all that willing to see it out. If an American-based runner were to land a big blow here, it’s Imagining.
1st – #1 TELESCOPE, 2nd – #7 FLINTSHIRE, 3rd – #3 IMAGINING, 4th – #12 MAIN SEQUENCE
Race 10 – $1,500,000 Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint – 6 furlongs – dirt
What a race!
No horse’s domination of this group, even regionally, makes for a fascinating renewal of the Sprint. The problem with most is that it seems like the race is absolutely chock-full with speed, and much of that is drawn in close proximity. #11 BAKKEN, #12 FAST ANNA, and #13 WORK ALL WEEK really have to go forward, with #10 BIG MACHER right there, while #1 SEEKING THE SHERIF and #2 INDIANAPOLIS must move forward from the inside and #5 PRIVATE ZONE will probably try to sit just behind the main gallop. Last year, #4 SECRET CIRCLE was amongst the fray too and you have to think he’s in the mix.
How can you reliably back any of these horses that want to fire things in the early going? We can’t.
The horse for us is #6 RICH TAPESTRY. He flirted with the pace in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, but Olivier Doleuze will know that it’s going to be much hotter in this race, with a bigger field. While he will break well, we expect Doleuze will be a bit more patient now that he knows how his gelding shapes up with this bunch. The stats have been well-publicized this week, but it’s worth repeating – Rich Tapestry recorded the fastest final two furlongs in any six-furlong race at Santa Anita since at least the beginning of the 2012-13 season, a sample size that includes over 2,600 runners.
If you are a fan of #8 PALACE, you have to reconcile one key element – was his race last time an aberration or a sign that the long campaign is getting to him, is he over the top? Our gut instinct is that it was an aberration. If they really fly, he’ll be coming from the backfield, and it’s something that seems well within his reach. He looked sensational on Monday when getting his final workout over the course, a handy half-mile in 46 2/5 seconds. He’s another who can definitely pick them up in the end.
#3 WIND FIRE is going to be outpaced early, no argument. His breeding, by Distorted Humor out of an A.P. Indy mare would make you think she can run all day…but she’s never been beyond seven furlongs (that was just once), and is otherwise just viewed as an average grass sprinter. There have been some flashes of brilliance in her past, and she’s kept competitive company, now she just needs to get over the dirt, and her breeding of course points to that happening without problem. Her dam, A.P. Dream, was out of multiple dirt G1-winning mare Dream Supreme, which also makes her a half to Majestic Warrior. Not up on your dirt pedigree? It’s strong – very very strong. The surfeit of speed leads us to think something crazy could happen here, but seeing one horse go all the way seems near impossible.
1st – #6 RICH TAPESTRY, 2nd – #8 PALACE, 3rd – #3 WIND FIRE, 4th – #14 BOURBON COURAGE
Race 11 – $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile – 1 mile – turf
#5 TORONADO is the best horse in the race, on paper. There should be no doubting it. But is he the best horse for this course, in this field. While he’ll get a hot pace to run into, is his grinding style, with long stretch battles he grits out, really the type of winner we would expect in this spot? We expect Toronado to be in the mix, no doubt, but could a more explosive kick from #9 ANODIN and #14 KARAKONTIE interest more, it’s possible.
Anodin simply does not win often, but his name has been mentioned for this spot for some time, and he caught some real bad luck in running when fifth in the Foret. He had every reason to pack it in late but kept going and re-broke to claim fifth after the trouble really shuffled him out.
Karakontie has also been aimed at this spot for a good long while, but more notably after his French Derby disappointment when interminably wide and then was badly hampered both early and late in the Prix Foret, his prep for this run. Drawn in 14, it’s not the ideal spot, but with plenty of pace, we’d expect he’ll slot in when possible and be ridden for luck from there. A chance at a nice upset.
Veda is progressive – lightly raced and dealing with the toughest race of her life with a big field of males – she nearly took that task last time when in similar circumstances, but catches a much tougher bunch. Her resilience is encouraging, as it seems she has grown-up quite quick, but think it’s too much of a trap to get sucked-in by her charming appearance in this race. A good draw with superb rider, she isn’t without chance, but prefer some of the others.
#4 MUSTAJEEB is the colt version of Veda to some degree, lightly raced and just coming into the bigger leagues. The win in the Jersey was not much, and the Boomerang Mile was slightly franked by Gordon Lord Byron’s appearance in the placings. There would be no surprise from us if goes better than where we’ve slotted him, but find him a cut below.
Clearly – no Americans amongst the top four in our analysis. When Kaigun, Seek Again, Optimizer, and Grand Arch were beaten Wise Dan by a combined two lengths this year, when Wise Dan was probably not exactly at his best, we just can’t take their challenge seriously against battle tested European grassers in this spot. Could be wrong, but willing to take that chance.
1st – #14 KARAKONTIE, 2nd – #5 TORONADO, 3rd – #9 ANODIN, 4th – #4 MUSTAJEEB
Race 12 – $5,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 ¼ miles – dirt
Perhaps we are wrong, horse racing has a fairly clear way of delineating that when the time comes, but we really think there are many chances in this year’s renewal of America’s richest race. Few results would really surprise.
#6 SHARED BELIEF had it all against him last time. Off the Trakus data, he covered the equivalent of nearly eight lengths more than second-placer Fed Biz, cozily tucked-away on the inside. That was a monster effort, and also the nearest he’s come to defeat. He could be a monster, but showed some chinks in the armor last out, and now he gets a MUCH tougher field. There are holes to poke at him.
#13 CALIFORNIA CHROME has so many excuses for his poor performance last time, we don’t know where to start. This is also the toughest race of his life, and much is being asked of him. He will get his preferred outside stalking trip, which can only help him, but the fact this is such a tougher race leads us to play against.
#11 TONALIST is a 3-year-old who has overcome trouble, experiences some highs and lows, and taken it all in stride. His run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup was VERY good, but so it also was for #8 ZIVO, a danger no matter what. Tonalist has matured more than anyone in his generation, and that has to account for something, showing some real resolve in getting the job done against elders last time.
Pace comes from both #4 MORENO and #7 BAYERN, both almost assured of going forward. How fast they go will obviously be a major question, and can either last. We just don’t think so, not with all the pressure on from a talented field behind them.
Do you like #9 TOAST OF NEW YORK? Dirt is a different beast, and we can’t suggest him. #1 PRAYER FOR RELIEF finds a way to just loaf along into the action, and actually has looked phenomenal all week in the morning. He missed the Jockey Club Gold Cup when acting-up in the paddock, and needs some manner-improvements to not totally expend that unnecessary energy. He’s a chance for a slice.
Legitimate longshot chances, in our view, are #2 CIGAR STREET and #14 MAJESTIC HARBOR. They have opposite running styles, but have shown flashes to make us think they could get it done if everyone else falters. Majestic Harbor, in particular, ran the best race of his career at the course and distance, in Grade 1 company, last June. Granted, that was a Grade 3 compared to the field he faces today, but still. Cigar Street does very little wrong, when he runs. We view him as getting a trip just behind the main speed and first run on the early pace, it could make him a sitting-duck, and gets a major class test, but belongs in the conversation.
So in which direction do we go? It’s Tonalist for us on top. He might have to do a bit of later-race weaving, but he just keeps coming, and that win last time really impressed us. He catches Shared Belief.
1st – #11 TONALIST, 2nd – #6 SHARED BELIEF, 3rd – #14 MAJESTIC HARBOR, 4th – #13 CALIFORNIA CHROME