An Early Look at the Breeders' Cup Picture

With most of the major prep races of the fall in the books, it’s time to take a brief look at the main contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Races, which will take place over the weekend of October 26th and 27th. We’ll concentrate on the non-Juvenile races in this edition, as a few of large Juvenile division races are yet to be run. I’m also going to assign horses to races based on my best guess; many horses will pre-enter two different races and make a decision further on down the road. For now, I’ll only assign a horse to one race, but that doesn’t mean that horse won’t end up running in a different race. Finally, we’re going to put the European invasion on hold for the time being and simply look at the American horses. (This will certainly be a much different picture in the turf races once we get a better idea of who is making the trip over the pond). So, without further adieu, here is who I see as the main contenders:

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile, 8 furlongs, dirt

1. Midnight Lute (2-1-0-0, 125 Beyer)

Off-the-charts speed fig in the 7f Forego. Could opt for the 6f Sprint, but he’s the one to beat here.

2. Corinthian (4-3-0-0, 108 Beyer)

Met Mile win still puts him among the favorites. Sixth place finish in the Suburban can be attributed to the extra two furlongs. He’s a dirt miler all the way.

3. Discreet Cat (2-0-0-1)

Third place finish in 7f Vosburgh was a good tuneup for this talented colt. We’re all still waiting to see his real stuff, and this could be his moment. Failed at Dubai at 10f, and 8f may suit him better.

4. Lava Man (6-3-1-0, 109 Beyer)

Accomplished old-timer appears to be opting for this race over the Classic. Primarily a 9f horse, he has had trouble at shorter and longer distances than that. Suppose the Classic field looks like the tougher challenge, but he’ll still have his hands full here; not impossible.

5. Flashy Bull (6-4-1-0, 107 Beyer)

Front-runner has been successful at 9f so this looks like the spot for him. Has tactical speed to win it with the right trip.

Filly and Mare Sprint, 6 furlongs, dirt

1. Dream Rush (6-4-2-0, 103 Beyer)

Experienced at 6 and 7f. Talented three-year old hasn’t finished worse than second this year; can’t leave her out.

2. Hystericalady (6-3-1-1, 108 Beyer)

Probably better at 7f, but will struggle in the Distaff so I see her here. Late closing style tends to win these races often, so she’d have a real shot.

3. La Traviata (3-3-0-0)

Impressive in winning the 7f Victory Ride and undefeated this season. Takes a step up in class, but she seems to have the talent to get the job done.

Filly and Mare Turf, 11 furlongs, turf

1. Nashoba’s Key (7-7-0-0, 107 Beyer)

Winner of the 10f Yellow Ribbon in her first try on the turf, undefeated in previous six starts on the dirt. Connections want to put her here over the Distaff, and they must know what they’re doing; has to be the favorite.

2. Irridescence (2-0-2-0, 108 Beyer)

Closed hard in the 9.5f Beverly D, should be well-rested and ready for a huge effort. Should also like the added distance.

3. Honey Ryder (5-1-2-0, 104 Beyer)

The classiest mare in the field; closed hard to hit the board in this one each of the past two years. Had no excuses after a rare no-show in the 9.5 f Beverly D, but she’ll be ready for the longer distance.

4. Wait A While (5-2-1-1, 107 Beyer)

Doesn’t seem to be quite the world-beater she was last year, although maybe she’s just been sandbagging. Third place finish in the 10f Flower Bowl was a nice tune-up after her shorter warm-up races this year; can’t be ignored.

5. Lahudood (4-2-1-0)

Ran a spectacular 1:59.0 in winning the 10f Flower Bowl last time out. Her struggles have come at shorter distances, so she might be right at home here if that effort didn’t drain her.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 6f, dirt

1. Fabulous Strike (4-3-0-0, 118 Beyer)

Has run the consistently best speed figures and got back on track after dusting the field in the 6f Vosburgh last time out. 5th place finish in Smile Sprint his only blemish, on any other day, he appears to be the fastest.

2. Smokey Stover (6-5-0-1, 113 Beyer)

Finds ways to win but hasn’t faced top tier competition outside of a 3rd place finish in the Smile. Still very experienced and successful at this distance, a force to be reckoned with.

3. In Summation (3-3-0-0, 111 Beyer)

Undefeated at this distance, has the experience and speed to fly under the radar in this one.

4. Benny The Bull (3-1-1-0, 119 Beyer)

Has been more successful at longer distances, but belongs here based on speed alone. Had a tough trip in the 6f Vanderbilt; should improve here, especially after a blazing 2nd place finish in the Forego.

5. Attilla’s Storm (2-0-1-1)

Hasn’t posted the speed figs, but this is his distance. Nearly wired the Vanderbilt field before fading to a close second.

Breeders’ Cup Mile, 8 furlongs, turf

1. Shakespeare (2-2-0-0, 107 Beyer)

Talented six-year old is back and perhaps better than ever. Very impressive 1:33.3 in winning the Woodbine Mile.

2. Kip Deville (5-2-1-0)

Still one of the best milers around, game 2nd place finish in Woodbine Mile proves he’s still lurking.

3. Crossing The Line (1-1-0-0)

Lightly raced, but blazing fast 1:32.3 in the Del Mar Mile win has to get some attention in this one.

4. Remarkable News (5-3-0-0, 110 Beyer)

Firecracker win still boasts the highest speed fig of any American turf horse this year, and that one was 8f; still looks outclassed by the top two, see 4th place finish in the Woodbine Mile.

5. Art Master (1-1-0-0, 108 Beyer)

Win in 8f Poker Hcp was impressive; still waiting to see him race again.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 9f, dirt

1. Unbridled Belle (4-2-2-0, 106 Beyer)

Huge win in Beldame makes her the one to beat here after the class of the division (Nashoba’s Key and Rags To Riches) appear to be skipping the Distaff.

2. Ginger Punch (7-4-2-1)

Was the hottest female in training after winning the 8.5f Ruffian, then finished a disappointing 3rd in the Beldame. Distance issues or just a bounce? I think she’ll be ready, has a real shot.

3. Indian Vale (6-2-1-1)

Hasn’t won since four races back in the 9f Fleur de Lis Hcp, but is tested at the distance and always shows up. Could step up from her 2nd place finish in the Beldame.

4. Octave (7-2-4-1)

The classiest three-year-old filly remaining will have her hands full here, but has the experience and talent to surprise at her favorite distance.

5. Balance (6-2-1-2)

Hasn’t won in awhile, but hadn’t missed the board at 9f before a 4th place finish in the Beldame. Rivaled Nashoba’s Key early in the year, and can’t be ignored.

Breeders’ Cup Turf, 12 furlongs, turf

1. English Channel (6-3-2-0, 106 Beyer)

Leads wide-open group that is likely to be dominated by the Europeans. In any case, recent Hirsch victory proves he’s still America’s best shot at 12 furlongs.

2. Jambalaya (6-3-0-3)

Arlington Million winner is tested and successful at this distance, and hasn’t missed the board yet this year. Could be a good price.

3. The Tin Man (3-1-2-0)

Nine-year-old gelding is a sentimental favorite, and still has kick. Lightly raced this season, could move up in his last race.

4. Doctor Dino (2-1-0-1, 108 Beyer)

Big win in 11f Man O’War shows he’s in the picture here, and may love the extra furlong. Finished strong to hit the board in the Arlington Million.

5. Sky Conquerer (6-2-1-1, 105 Beyer)

Has struggled of late, but he’s been running shorter races and I still think 12f is his best distance. A great sleeper pick.

Breeders’ Cup Classic, 10f, dirt

1. Any Given Saturday (7-4-1-1, 113 Beyer)

Hottest horse in America has won his last three. Seems to have overcome early troubles; hasn’t raced 10f since a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby and came out of that one with a bruised foot. Should benefit from the extra distance and proved he loves Monmouth in Haskell romp. All class.

2. Curlin (8-5-1-2, 114 Beyer)

Monster colt made top one look good after a stretch-driving win in the 10f Jockey Club Gold Cup. Has proven himself at the distance, never seems to bounce, will be a major factor. Top Beyer of any 3-year old this season.

3. Lawyer Ron (6-3-2-1, 119 Beyer)

Was the one to beat after thrilling speed figs in 9f romps (Woodward, Whitney) but raised some distance questions after hard fought 2nd place finish in the Jockey Club. Still the most consistently impressive figs, and he didn’t lose that one by much.

4. Street Sense (7-4-3-0, 111 Beyer)

Has the heart and the kick to get the job done with an ideal trip, but hasn’t improved as quickly this fall as the top two. Recent races in the 10f Travers and 9f Kentucky Cup Classic leave something to be desired, and still hasn’t topped the speed fig he ran back in May.

5. Political Force (7-3-1-3, 108 Beyer)

Still a step behind the top four, but is always there in 10f races. Was impressive winning the Suburban and was a game 3rd in the Jockey Club. Don’t dismiss completely.

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