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Friday, November 4, 2011

Breeders' Cup Saturday

Other than Musical Romance ($42.40) in the F&M Sprint and Perfect Shirl ($57.60) in the F&M Turf, Breeders’ Cup Friday was fairly chalky, as favorites captured the Juvenile Sprint (Secret Circle), Juvenile Fillies (My Miss Aurelia) and Ladies’ Classic (Royal Delta).

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

Race 3—Breeders’ Cup Marathon (post 1:20 p.m.)
Never tested on dirt, the sole filly entrant Meeznah holds many charms here, having won over this distance in the G3 Lillie Langtry earlier this summer, defeating a stamina filly I admire a great deal, Motrice. By Dynaformer out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, she’ll be attempting dirt for the dirt time. Brigantin defeated Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in FR-G2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier in May; his German-bred dam Banyu Dewi finished third behind Honey Ryder and Film Maker in the 2005 G3 Glens Falls. With Julien Leparoux aboard, this Cozzene 4-year-old colt has a big chance if he can adapt to dirt. Last year’s winner Eldaafer has run well, but I expect A.U. Miner to return off his G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup race in better form.
Winner: Afleet Again ($85.20)

Race 4—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (post 2:02 p.m.)
The art historian in me is rooting hard for Caspar Netscher while the sentimentalist in me likes Fantastic Song (his dam is a half-sister to Perfect Shirl who captured the F&M Turf on Friday). Finale has been quite impressive since switching to grass, but his fellow Scat Daddy-sired brethren Daddy Nose Best could outfinish him with a better post position. The Ramsey homebred Coalport could be dangerous cutting back in distance, as could first-time turfster Majestic City (City Zip).
Winner: Wrote ($25.20)

Race 5—Breeders’ Cup Sprint (post 2:37 p.m.)
Boy, I’d like to see old Euroears pop a surprise here! Runner-up in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen back in March, he failed miserably in the mud last out in the G1 Vosburgh, but has worked gangbusters since then. Breaking from the rail, he will contest the early lead with Force Freeze, with Giant Ryan close as well. Whether defending champion Big Drama is fit enough to make waves here is suspect; I do believe Jackson Bend will be moving well late for a placing.
Winner: Amazombie ($17.80)

Race 6—Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (post 3:21 p.m.)
Unfortunately, there’s no Black Caviar in here, but the Ramsey’s 3-year-old Kitten’s Joy filly Holiday for Kitten made be rounding into form at just the right time. Disappointing in the G1 King’s Stand at Ascot, her narrow win over Musical Romance last out was certainly flattered by that mare winning the F&M Sprint on Friday. The Aussie-bred Hoofit has captured both U.S. starts since arriving from New Zealand early this year—love his chances here. Last year’s Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge is getting a bit long in the tooth and drew very wide (14); perhaps youngster Regally Ready is better suited to win here, having captured the G1 Nearctic last out. Perfect Officer likely in the mix as well.
Winner: Regally Ready ($6.60) * only winning favorite

Race 7—Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (post 4:01 p.m.)
Had his connections so chosen, this race would be at the mercy of Uncle Mo. Instead, we’re left with some tired 3-year-olds cutting back, and a few sprinters stretching out. Preakness winner Shackleford and pre-Derby hype horse The Factor are the early speed, breaking from the two inside posts, but I find it difficult to believe they will have much left at the end. Wilburn who comes in with a 3-race win streak seems to be a progressive type, while Caleb’s Posse should enjoy the cutback (and, remember, he defeated Uncle Mo in the G1 King’s Bishop). Trappe Shot was disappointing in the mud last out, but should improve. For a longshot selection, I see Barclay Tagg-trained Jersey Town reversing form off his defeat at the hands of Uncle Mo in the G2 Kelso.
Winner: Caleb’s Posse ($15.60)

Race 8—Breeders’ Cup Turf (post 4:45 p.m.)
Last year’s F&M Turf runner-up Midday takes on the boys this year—but her biggest competition could be the filly Sarafina While disappointing in the Arc, Sarafina has outperformed her nemesis of late. Lightly-raced Await the Dawn gets the services of Julien Leparoux, but I can’t help but think he’d rather be on Dean’s Kitten, perhaps the best American chance.
Winner: St. Nicholas Abbey ($15.60)

Race 9—Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (post 5:25 p.m.)
Union Rags is the likely winner, but since he’s never run beyond one mile there’s still some query of his ability to stay the 8.5 furlongs. If he had been entered in the Juvenile Sprint, I’d been all over Crusade, first offspring of the talented sprinter La Traviata. Not sure I’m buying him here, nor Daddy Long Legs who looks better suited to grass. However, I do like Optimizer, an English Channel colt with lots of precocious dirt performers on his damside. He lost last out to Dullahan, a Cinderella story in the making, being a 1/2 brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Out of G1 Apple Blossom victress Dream of Summer, G1 Norfolk winner Creative Cause has the highest BRIS speed figure in the field—and a nice mid-field post draw. Farther outside, Florida-invader Fort Loudon is getting no respect, but his 1/2 sister is the dam of G1 victor Jackson Bend.
Winner: Hansen ($16.20)

Race 10—Breeders’ Cup Mile (post 6:07 p.m.)
I love Goldikova, and nothing would make me happier than to see her captured her fourth consecutive BC Mile, but…time has perhaps caught up with her? Courageous Cat finished just behind him in the 2009 edition, as did Gio Ponti last year. Toss in Get Stormy and Turallure, and the top four are in there somewhere.
Winner: Court Vision ($131.60)

Race 11—Breeders’ Cup Classic (post 7:00 p.m.)
Havre de Grace for me, with To Honor and Serve running big for Bill Mott. I find it telling that Jose Lezcano sticks with To Honor and Serve rather than Drosselmeyer, thus give the former a huge chance in here for a placing. I’ve never been a fan of Flat Out, but won’t deny he’s run big this year. I don’t believe Uncle Mo can get the distance, not to mention he’s incredibly light in race-fitness to compete with the likes of these. So You Think is a magnificent horse, but his schedule this year has been too spread out—when in Australia, he thrived on running back quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was there at the end, but hard to factor him the winner over Havre de Grace. Ah, and then there’s Stay Thirsty—my Kentucky Derby pick. Hard to see him defeating Havre de Grace, but won’t discount his chances entirely.
Winner: Drosselmeyer ($31.60)