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Friday, November 4, 2011

Breeders' Cup Friday

Some thoughts on Friday’s races—if you haven’t already, join us on Twitter as the next two days promise to be lively in terms of real-time handicapping and last-minute changes of heart.

Race 5—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (post 4:10 p.m.)
There’s little doubt that Secret Circle will go off a huge favorite here, but purely for sentimental reasons I love Trinniberg, being a huge fan of his hard-working sire Teuflesberg. He’s a Grade 1 runner-up with a lot of early speed, and look for him to reverse his narrow second-place finish behind Vexor. With his experience over the track and early speed, Sum of the Parts is a likely place-getter as well; his G1-placed dam Enjoy the Moment didn’t fare so well in the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but this son of Speightstown posted a sharp 5-furlong work in advance of this race. And how could you dismiss Seeker from the rail; this Hard Spun colt would only further validate the strong start his sire has had at stud.
Winner: Secret Circle

Race 6—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (post 4:50 p.m.)
A Group 1 winner in France, Elusive Kate is an obviously selection—her dam is 1/2 sister to BC Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect. However, fresh off his winning pick-up ride on Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, jockey Christophe Lemaire is aboard Dear Lavinia, a Grand Slam filly purchased by Bobby Flay just for this race (he won last year’s contest with More Than Real). A direct damline descendent of the great broodmare Cosmah, Dear Lavinia probably wants farther than a mile, but could pop a surprise; her recent narrow second-place finish against French Fifteen was flattered when he captured the FR-G1 Criterium International this past weekend. Also for a price, My Gi Gi is worth a hard-look; cutting back in distance and returning to turf after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf, she’s beautifully bred for turf—her Sadler’s Wells dam Relish The Thought was Group 1-placed over 12-furlongs in the English Oaks. This is also the family of Grade 1 American Oaks victress Gozzip Girl and BC Juvenile winner Bucco. Stephanie’s Kitten is the choice ride for John Velazquez, but I’m mildly concerned about her finding room to close late. Another Kitten’s Joy filly, Sweet Cat may be more suitably placed for a strong finish with her early speed. Off her crushing defeat of males in the Cup & Saucer last out, Hard Not To Like (Hard Spun) is also…hard not to like.
Winner: Stephanie’s Kitten

Race 7—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly & Mare Sprint (post 5:30 p.m.)
The much-hyped Turbulent Descent hasn’t raced since early August—either she’ll be brilliantly fresh or lacking fitness in her first race against older mares. Another 3-year-old I like is Pomeroys Pistol—although her worst race of the year was here in the Grade 3 Eight Belles. Switch loves the 7-furlongs distance and has run big all year. For a price, you can’t ignore Grade 2 PID Masters winner Musical Romance who, in eight starts since April hasn’t missed a placing. She’s a hard-trying, gutsy filly—much like Shotgun Gulch who was closely nicely in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff over this track in early May. The far outside 13 post won’t bother her, as Gomez is likely to drop her back early, but she’ll need an extraordinary performance to close late against the likes of Turbulent Descent and Switch.
Winner: Musical Romance

Race 8—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly (post 6:10 p.m.)
Undefeated My Miss Aurelia hasn’t stumbled yet, but neither has dual Grade 1 winner Weemissfrankie nor Grade 1 Spinaway victress Grace Hall. A direct damline descendent of Preakness winner Nellie Morse, Grace Hall’s third dam Life At The Top was a multiple Grade 1 route winner, and there’s tons of quality in this family—loved her last race! Northern Passion attempts dirt for the first time; her dam is a full-sister to Canadian juvenile champion filly Ginger Gold. Aidan O’Brien ships in the much-raced Homecoming Queen, a three-quarter sister to Dylan Thomas—a placing here would be surprising. Just as surprising would be Questing (Hard Spun), a direct damline descendent of the great Vagrancy.
Winner: My Miss Aurelia

Race 9—Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (post 6:50 p.m.)
I just can’t get past Stacelita who, frankly, I’d prefer to have seen in Saturday’s Turf race. However, it’s the Euros Nahrain and Announce that will probably take all the money; of the two, Announce has more upside, with strong form vs. Cirrus Des Aigles, as well as a Group 3 victory over 13-furlongs—longer than this race. Among the American contestants, it’s hard to fault the form of Dubawi Heights, but I question her stamina for this distance. For a longshot flyer, Distorted Legacy looks appealing—a half sister to Belmont Stakes runner-up Vision and Verse, she’s been training well for this start.
Winner: Perfect Shirl

Race 10—Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (post 7:30 p.m.)
I handicapped the Distaff for ThoroFan—you can find the complete analysis here. For me, it comes down to Plum Pretty outlasting Miss Match, with upset-minded Ultra Blend and/or Ask The Moon at play for the exotics. Off her crushing defeat by Havre de Grace, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Royal Delta run big for Bill Mott either.
Winner: Royal Delta

Good luck with all your wagers! [Updated with winners at 7:57 p.m.]