BC Filly & Mare Sprint
While Indian Blessing will undoubtedly be the post time favorite and may very well get a piece of the exotics, I’m not convinced she’s unbeatable against quality older horses for the first time. Wily Bobby Frankel has seven BC runners, but pegged Ventura his best, and that’s good enough to convince me. She is not a pure sprinter, but with this Sprint race covering 7 furlongs, her added stamina is a plus—besides, she did win the G2 Madison over Keeneland’s Polytrack at the same distance back in April. Add to that an 8f turf victory in the G1 Just A Game over Forever Together (who next out won the G1 Diana) and, most recently, a second place finish (off a two-month layoff) to Rahy’s Attorney when running against males in the G1 Woodbine Mile. I think her quality will lead to victory. One-time $32,000 claimer Dearest Trickski has reeled off seven wins in her eight races since the claim, including the 7f G1 LaBrea at Santa Anita last December; her jockey Mike Smith should begin his big BC in a big way.
Longshot flyer: Zaftig comes off a long layoff (+ four months), but she is wicked fast—and, besides Proud Spell, is the only horse to have ever defeated Indian Blessing. Being by Gone West out of a Cozzene mare, I’m betting she will take to Pro-Ride.
BC Juvenile Fillies Turf
I have analyzed this race before so here’s the short, sweet version: Shug McGaughey-trained Consequence has the breeding, connections and potential to win here, as does Saucey Evening. Sometimes you have to go with the jock, so I’m betting Maram with Jose Lezcano in the final three.
Longshot flyer: C Karma has seasoning with five races under her belt, having never finished out of the money.
BC Juvenile Fillies
It may be wishful thinking on my part, but Palacio de Amor could steal this race from the front end, if Stardom Bound gets caught in traffic. The fact that Garrett Gomez stays with Be Smart highly recommends her.
Longshot flyer: Pursuit of Glory is regally bred; her English G1 winning dam Sophisticat is the daughter of the incomparable Serena’s Song. She easily won in her second outing on polytrack in Ireland, and then most recently finished third in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes on turf. Can she handle the California heat?
BC Filly & Mare Turf
Before being retired to broodmare duty, Mauralakana deserves this win; toss that loss on Belmont’s yielding turf course last out in the G1 Flower Bowl. According to reports, she is full of herself and ready to run. Folk Opera impressed in her G1 EP Taylor victory last out, thriving on the firmer turf; I rate her a bigger chance than Halfway to Heaven who just held (by a neck) over Lush Lashes in her only previous race at 10 furlongs. Todd Pletcher’s Wait a While should not be left out of the exotics.
Longshot flyer: The overlooked European, Visit, could provide a big payout.
BC Filly & Mare Classic
The marquee event. Zenyatta is a monster, no doubt about it, and if she were in Saturday’s Classic, I’m convinced she could win. Here she should as well, but I’m going to peg Cocoa Beach for the upset. After four races in Dubai from January to March (including winning the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks, as well as finishing third against the boys in the G2 UAE Derby), Cocoa Beach has had two effortless wins—including defeating Ginger Punch in the G1 Beldame. This third race off her long layoff could be huge. If not her, then her Godolphin stablemate Music Note. Given the short odds Zenyatta will carry, it might be wise just to throw in among your bets a $2 Godolphin exacta box (3-4).
Longshot flyer: Despite his questionable ride allowing her to drift out badly in the G1 Spinster win, Kent Desormeaux gets the ride again on Carriage Trail. Her speed, power and class figures suggest she fits here, but will probably be overlooked by bettors.
Good luck, and safe journeys for all this day.