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Monday, August 9, 2010

Breeders' Cup Dreamin'

With less than three months remaining before the Breeders’ Cup returns to Churchill Downs, it’s not too early to begin salivating over the potential fields. And yet we mourn some fantastic horses who unfortunately have fallen by the wayside. Most recently, sprinter Franny Freud was injured and retired before the G1 Test, while the sudden death of Tuscan Evening is devastating for America’s chances in the Filly & Mare Turf, as Forever Together appears to have lost a step and Proviso appears better suited for the Turf Mile, despite her victory last weekend in the G1 Diana.

How are some of the other BC races stacking up?

In the Turf, Gio Ponti and Winchester look good, but I'm certainly not alone in jumping on the Paddy O’Prado bandwagon. While I know Goldikova is perhaps a slam-dunk in the Turf Mile, I just love Get Stormy!

Majesticperfection certainly looks the real deal for the Sprint after his victory in the G1 Vanderbilt on Sunday, and Discreetly Mine apparently has found his niche after his dominating nine-length romp in the G2 Amsterdam. Big Drama has qualified for a spot, and D' Funnybone will make things interesting. If not aimed at the Turf Sprint and able to handle the dirt surface, Aussie Horse of the Year Scenic Blast might be a huge longshot worth mortgaging the house on.

After her victory this weekend in the G1 Test, Champagne d’Oro moves up significantly as a potential F&M Sprint winner. She may go again in the August 21 Ballerina, and yet again in the September 11 Presque Isle Downs Masters (the latter an occurance that just might be worth the drive to Erie). Informed Decision hasn’t looked as dominating this year as last, but I trust Jonathan Sheppard to get her in peak form when the time comes. It’s hard to judge Free Flying Soul’s fourth-place finish in the G1 Humana Distaff with its sloppy track, but it’s the seven-furlong distance that may be most problematic for her. Jessica Is Back came out of her third-place finish to Rachel Alexandra in the G2 Fleur de Lis to win the G1 Princess Rooney; we’ll see after her next race, the G1 Ballerina, if she’ll be a factor. Sara Louise was supposed to make her 2010 debut in the G2 Honorable Miss, but didn’t enter...tick tock, tick tock.

The Distaff (Ladies Classic) is shaping up as a very exciting race, and would be a significant challenge even for Zenyatta who hasn’t exactly been facing many quality seasoned runners this year (and appears to be ducking serious competition again by aiming for the G1 Zenyatta [Lady’s Secret] Stakes on October 2 at Oak Tree—gutless, I say again). For the BC Distaff, there’s Life At Ten, Malibu Prayer and Unrivaled Belle, plus in-form 3-year-olds Devil May Care and Blind Luck who will duke it out on August 21, in the G1 Alabama at Saratoga.

If she goes in the Classic, Zenyatta will finally meet a field of challengers that can cement her legacy—if she defeats them. In addition to Blame and Quality Road (who look to take differing paths coming out of the Whitney—the Jockey Club Gold Cup for Blame, the Woodward for Quality Road), there’s gutsy Musket Man and likely 3-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky. I suppose Rachel Alexandra is possible, but frankly I think we’ll be lucky to see her in the Distaff (okay, “Ladies Classic”). Rick Dutrow could hold the real wildcards: newly-acquired Rail Trip and I Want Revenge, the latter of whom is scheduled to next appear in the August 21G3 Philip Iselin at Monmouth.

Who are your favorites (or hidden gems) for the Breeders' Cup?


Brian Appleton said...

I really hope Forever Together can pull it all together before the season come to an end. When she is good her late rally is so breathtaking!

Majesticperfection looked incredible in the Vanderbilt and I immediately selected him to win the Sprint! Should be a terrific race if Discreetly Mine and D'Funnybone show up.

Informed Decision seems to be rounding back into form a little more now. She was devastating last year and if she gets back to her old 2009 self she's probably going to win the Filly and Mare Sprint again. I love Champagne d'Oro, she runs with "abandon" when she hits the lead, those are so fun to watch.

Even if Rachel and Zenyatta don't show up for the Distaff it will be an exciting field. I hope Blind Luck finds a way to win.
In complete agreement with your analysis of Zenyatta's "gutless" campaign thus far. It's pitiful for the Breeders' Cup Classic winner to be dawdling through the entire year against mostly weak fields like she is.

I love the way Rachel Alexandra is improving finally and if she is indeed headed for the Classic I'll be rooting for her to win. Lookin At Lucky is another one I wouldn't mind seeing win the Classic, he is one talented colt.
Blame was terrific in the Whitney, what a kick in the stretch and did it all in a vigorous hand-ride!

Great post, you covered a ton of bases!

Keith-TripleDeadHeat said...

I'll post a homer pick of Hollywood Hit for the BC Sprint...and maybe Biofuel/Roan Inish for the ladies depending on their Alabama performance.

I wonder if Vegas is offering odds on both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra missing BC day....