All times CST.


These are my top 3 picks for each of the 12 races I’ll be playing at the Breeders’ Cup. In the cases that I list more than three, I list them in order where I plan to use more than three horses in exotic bets and/or multi-race wagers. I also list horses, without rankings, that I felt were also worthy of consideration.




5:05 Dirt Mile


1) Brujo de Olleros (8-1)- With both favorites landing in vulnerable wide posts, this race may set up for a longshot. Improving sort gave Graydar all he could handle in his return, missing by less than a length after making steady progress throughout in what visually seemed the perfect prep for this. Figures to move forward in 4th start off a long layoff, and he was quote successful racing in Uruguay, winning his last race in that nation by 14 lengths at this distance over a dirt surface that should prove similar to this one. Should get a great ground-saving stalking trip from the 4 post with the speedy favorites drawn wide.


2) Goldencents (4-1)- Was closing professionally at 6f when missing by a neck to the ill-fated Pointsoffthebench in his last over this course, posting a 109 Beyer which is the highest last out figure in the field. He’s also the only horse in the field to have won at Santa Anita, and he’s done it three times, and once around two turns. Colt has matured and learned to rate and looks quite tough here stretching back out, but won’t benefit from the widest post of all heading into the short run into the first turn which may force him into the pace battle sooner than would be ideal. Definitely a race to spread.


3) Verrazano (3-1)- At his best, probably the most talented colt in the field, but has struggled on the big stage while searching for his ideal distance, which might just be a tad longer than this but a tad shorter than the Classics. Still, field high Beyer of 116 posted in the 9f Haskell demands respect. Also draws wide and could lose ground heading into the tight first turn which comes quicker here than in any other race; hand will be forced early.


4) Pants on Fire (6-1)- Veteran may be overlooked here, coming off three straight ascending Beyers as his races have shortened and landed on this distance, culminating in a smashing win at Churchill in the one turn 8f Ack Ack (107 Beyer), which is the highest last out figure at the distance. Dangerous if he can maintain current form, with easy wins over Taptowne and Hymn Book showing he fits in this field, but has yet to race west of the Mississippi, and also draws wide.


5) Hymn Book (15-1)- Late runner didn’t miss by much in the 8f Kelso but probably needs a bit more ground to make his ideal move, might get a decent setup at long odds with the amount of speed here, though. Recent losses to Brujo De Olleros and Pants on Fire makes it tough to place on the top line but certainly will be coming late and must be used underneath in exotics.


6) Golden Ticket (12-1) Another one that has been successful in longer races, including last year’s Travers, he’ll shorten up for this and will hope to pick up the pieces of a potential pace meltdown with Rosario aboard. He’s actually won a 10f race on the lead before and won at 8f from off the pace in an optional claimer back in May, but may lack the pure speed necessary to win this one.


5:50 Juvenile Fillies Turf


1) Vorda (4-1)- Classiest Euro form for sure, winning 4/5 including a Group 1 in the UK, all at shorter distances (5-6f) but have to like that she shows three wins over firm turf in France, and shows no apparent issue stretching out based on how she was finishing in those. Draws well, in the center of the field, will depend on how much the trip from Europe demanded of her, but looks like the top contender.


2) Testa Rossi (8-1)- French filly enters off a four race win streak, having won overseas at shorter distances and parlaying into a closing score at Belmont at 8.5f, posting a field high 88 Beyer over the turf course. Looks difficult to exclude on top line, but this is a free for all.


3) My Conquestadory (9-2)- Lightly raced filly posted an 80 Beyer in her career debut, a commanding 8f turf win at Woodbine over firm turf against the boys, which leaves a lot of room for upside. She didn’t disappoint winning as the heavy favorite in the 8.5f Alcibiades, run over the poly at KEE, which didn’t hurt as a tune-up; appears by far the best American hope here, but draws the widest post of all, which could severely compromise her chances in a fully subscribed field.


Clenor (8-1)- Figures to take the more action than ML odds imply coming off three straight California wins (DRF still has her as the 4-1 favorite), and 83 Beyer at 8f appears competitive on paper. Have to wonder about trajectory over six races this year; competition hasn’t been great and ceiling may have been reached with this one, respect but may be worth trying to beat horse for the course angle for the win in a wide open race.


Sky Painter (15-1)- Has to be respected off hard-closing runner-up finish in last, missing four-time winner Testa Rossi by just a nose and posting a highly competitive speed figure (88). She finds herself quite wide today, and it’s worth wondering whether she needs a bit more ground than today’s 8f race offers.


Chriselliam (6-1)- Euro shipper is royally bred and has an 8f win to her credit in Group 1 company; certainly belongs. Like many of these Euros, surface is a question, as she has yet to run over truly firm ground in five career starts.


Al Thakhira (6-1)- Group 2 winner at 7f in France in commanding fashion, but lightly raced filly has seen soft turf in both career starts; looking elsewhere.


Ready To Act (8-1)- Endured a bizarre spectacle last out when veering into the rail and unseating her rider with the race in hand, if not for that she’s 2/2 coming into this and half of these odds, and represents value as such. Rosario doesn’t hurt over the turf either.


6:35 Distaff


1) Beholder (5-2)- In this small field, there’s no reason to pass on the front-running filly showing the fastest last out Beyer on this very course (106). Her tenacity on the lead could very well wear down Royal Delta, who hasn’t always fired this year, and who she draws outside of. She’s never won beyond 8.5f but has been training to add bottom, putting in long gallops over the track. Remember, she was only a half length from Princess of Sylmar when 2nd in the 9f Kentucky Oaks, and won the BC Juvenile Fillies over this course a year ago, and she’s a better horse now. I’ll take the sharp filly who appears on the top of her game in the all-important third race off the layoff, and in such a short field, have no choice but to single for the win.


2) Royal Delta (8-5)- Mare will shoot for a third consecutive victory in this race, but has appeared vulnerable on the lead when pressed this year and I’m not sure she’s nearly as sharp as the top pick when push comes to shove. At short odds, she may be worth trying to beat with the bullseye on her behind. Always a formidable foe, however.


3) Princess of Sylmar (9-5)- A win here puts her squarely in the Horse of the Year conversation, and connections had to supplement a fee to run here, which is important to note because this race was not part of the plan for her. The small field and likely controlled pace plays against her closing style, especially coming off a career effort in the Beldame, posting a 105 Beyer while upsetting Royal Delta.


Close Hatches (6-1)- Improving 3 yo was a highly impressive winner of the Mother Goose and posted a 102 Beyer there, but did not duplicate that figure when winning the 8.5f Cotillion. She does show a win over Princess of Sylmar from April, and if you toss out her Kentucky Oaks flop, she isn’t as far behind these as she appears. She could get a nice stalking trip behind the speed, but will need to improve by about six lengths over her career best effort to have a shot at the winner’s circle.


Authenticity (8-1)- 6 yo mare likes to lay back and make one run, so she needs a hot pace; she wasn’t able to get to Beholder in her last due to the soft fractions that one was allowed, but still posted a 104 Beyer which appears competitive. Tough to see her cracking the top three, and Princess of Sylmar figures to be the main beneficiary of a pace collapse, but crazier things have happened.




2:05 Juvenile Fillies 8.5f


1) Untapable (5-1)- Daughter of Tapit was impressive stretching out from 5.5f to 8.5f in just her second career start when winning Pocahontas Stakes at CD with an 81 Beyer in a stalking trip, figures to improve off that and will be very tough in this spot; has upside and a great post, and has been impressive in workouts. Rosie Napravnik aboard.


2) Artemis Agrotera (3-1)- Perhaps not getting enough credit for Frizette win (88 Beyer), is eligible to improve on that solid effort and has been working well, will press pace from the rail, which wasn’t a problem in her two wins in two starts to date.


3) Sweet Reason (5-2)- Obviously best when second after breaking poorly in the Frizette, 98 Beyer at 7f before that race towers over this field, although that was over a sloppy track and favorite will try two turns for the first time. Is there enough pace here to benefit her late move? A must use in horizontals, but beatable in outrights. Track reports leave something to be desired.


Secret Compass (8-1) Improving filly won Chandelier over this two turn course while switching to dirt and stretching out and figures to be wise guy pick based on that effort, but appears beatable for the win based on speed figure there and middling prior form (80 Beyer).


She’s A Tiger (6-1) Front-runner gets Gary Stevens aboard but looked better at shorter distances over the polytrack, traded races with Concave and Secret Compass, extra distance doesn’t look suitable here.


2:43 FM Turf 10f


1) Dank (3-1)- No need to get cute here- if she runs within 5 lengths of her Beverly D romp (107 Beyer), she wins easily. That performance, in the US and over firm turf at a distance just a touch shorter than this, provides some separation against the rest of these. Main cause for concern is the lack of races and frankly, works, since that effort, but still trust she will be on top of her game.


2) Romantica (6-1)- Dank’s Beverly D win showed how superior the Euro form is in this division, and while this shipper doesn’t have the advantage of having run successfully in the US yet, she must be considered dangerous coming off of a Group 1 win at this distance two back overseas. Her last three have come over soft turf but she does show a win at this distance over firm turf just before that, albeit against weaker foes. Fabre won this race with her Dam Bank’s Hill, and will have daughter of Galileo ready for this.


3) Tiz Flirtatious (7-2)- Deep closer is in career form right now and has four wins over this course to her credit, but the feeling is that she will be at a disadvantage due to the lack of perceived pace. Expect to see her coming late, but run out of ground.


Laughing (8-1)- Once again, she appears to be lone speed, and has been dangerous as such, even holding on to win at 10f in the Flower Bowl over weaker foes when allowed to set easy fractions. Still, with so many favorable trips over her four race win streak, one would have to figure the gig is up against this group- right?


Marketing Mix (7-2)- Once automatic, this mare seems to be on the wrong side of her form cycle, losing her last two races as even money favorite. These odds look a bit short to me based on her current form and will look towards sharper runners.


3:21 Filly Mare Sprint 7f


1) Dance To Bristol (5-1)- Hasn’t faced top competition but shows the best form over this distance on the dirt, and has the field high Beyer to boot (105), granted that was 6 starts back, but she seems most tractable and consistent with steady figs in the 95 range over her last four starts with two at this distance; no worse than 2nd in 9 starts. Had an excuse in her last when she laid off the pace on a track that was highly speed favoring and a bit soft.


2) Book Review (6-1)- Needs fast pace, career high Beyer of 97 came on synthetic after shortening up to 7f, closed to be narrowly beaten a neck by top choice in last, so must be respected, but hasn’t raced since August, could enjoy ground saving trip near rail to time late move.


3) Dance Card (8-1)- First race off a long layoff was deceiving as she laid off the pace on a speed favoring course on a wet track at a shorter distance. Winner of four straight last year before sidelined including a 96 Beyer in 9f Gazelle, and dangerous at a price on the lead.


4) Groupie Doll (5-2)- 2013 speed figures on par with rest of field and is beatable this time around barring huge return to prior form; has lost twice on dirt since her last win over it, doesn’t feel automatic like last year was, and not as impressive working out this week either. Still must be used in horizontals but looking for more value in outright bets.


5) Teddy’s Promise (6-1)- Won impressive 6.5 tuneup over this course in last, posting a competitive Beyer (95), but horse for the course will need to improve further to actually win this; was 8th last year after setting quick fractions. This may be just a touch beyond her ideal distance, as Book Review took down this front runner two back in the 7f A Gleam; that was on synthetic. Moves up for sure if speed seems to be holding.


Sweet Lulu (8-1)- Tough 3 yo has yet to finish outside the place spot and cutback angle off tough runner up finish in 8.5f Cotillion last out makes her playable, but the feeling here is that she is a cut below these in terms of pure speed (91 Beyer in 7f Test win). Draws widest of all, which could compromise front-running style.


Judy The Beauty (6-1)- Last two on synth, but crushed defending champ in TCA upset, shows highest last out Beyer from that effort (100). Wonder if it was surface that helped her there…she’s never won on dirt or beyond 6.5f, so might be worth beating for the top line.


4:05 Turf Sprint 6.5f


No bet


4:45 Juvenile 8.5f


1) Tap it Rich (6-1)- Son of Tapit takes a big class leap but this isn’t the toughest Juvenile field ever assembled by any stretch; dazzled in career debut, drawing away and winning over two turns on this course at 8f with a competitive Beyer (89) which is the second highest in the field at 8f or beyond. Has Baffert in his corner and the fact that he’s even here in the first place off of one career start merits attention if you trust the connections, which it’s hard not to, big shot coming out of a perfect post with speedy favorites drawn far wide.


2) Bond Holder (6-1)- Like that he broke maiden in 5th try in a Stakes while both trying two turns and moving to dirt for the first time; he clearly needed the distance for late running style, and dirt races make more sense based on his pedigree. Would have liked to see a better speed figure, (78) but his central post inside the speed should benefit, as should the expected lively pace.


3) Havana (5-2)- Deserving favorite was running out of gas after pressing pace in last, could be vulnerable on the lead here especially out of such a wide post, but does show field high Beyer (93) off last and might get away easily in similar fashion to the last three runnings of this race. Still, looks like a lot of pace to contend with, a lot of it cheap speed, but will try to beat on the top line.


New Year’s Day (8-1)- Win over 8f on the poly last time out in MSW at Del Mar was flattered when runner-up Bond Holder won a stakes race over this course, but that one was getting to him late. Lightly raced colt takes a big step up into stakes company for his first dirt start but has the pedigree to compete well, as long as he doesn’t get caught up in the speed duel up front. There’s not quite enough to go on here to make a strong case for him but he certainly appears and exotics contender on potential.


Mexikoma (12-1) Another maiden winner who exits an impressive 8f race in Delaware (14 length winner) following a disastrous turf debut. Son of Birdstone could enjoy the added ground here but takes a big step up in class.


Strong Mandate (6-1)- Threw in a real clunker in his last when making no impression as favorite in the Champagne. It is certainly worrisome that his Beyer figures have been decreasing as the race distances have been getting longer (92, 85, 74 at 6.5f, 7f and 8.5f), but if you can conclude that the last race was a toss out, his figures certainly fit, and his pedigree doesn’t seem to indicate any distance limitations. Interesting at an inflated price off last, but the 14 post is a big drawback for early runner, and trainer Wayne Lukas didn’t mince words about his chances out of that spot.


5:25 Turf 12f


1) Real Solution (8-1)- Arlington Million winner looked like he had a ton of gas in the tank before he was bumped by The Apache in midstretch, and looked poised to make a similar move in the longer Hirsch but hung badly in the stretch after a slightly wide move. He’s one of the few major players to have never won at this distance, but he has been outworking his stablemate and may have needed the Hirsch anyway. Remember, Little Mike finished off the board in the Hirsch last year and came back to win this for the first time at the distance, so maybe he needed the tuneup, and that performance looks great comparatively. Generous ML matches his Million win odds.


2) The Fugue (3-1)- Outclasses the field, having won last two Grade 1 races overseas against the likes of top turf male Al Kazeem at 10f, and another at this distance against males. Was third against the girls after an unlucky trip last year and appears in better form now anyway, will try to knock off the boys this time over firm footing, which she shouldn’t despise, but it bears mention that her last four races have come over turf labeled “good.”


3) Indy Point (9-2)- Toss his last place finish when he grabbed both front feet following clipping heels at the start while favored in the Arlington Million, Argentine import rebounded to win over this course in driving fashion in his most recent start. Has won at this distance internationally on super firm ground and if you liked him going into the Arlington Million, he’s done nothing to change that attitude going into a race distance that is probably better suited to his running style. Mandella has won this race twice.


4) Point of Entry (4-1)- Last year’s runner-up is a bit of a mystery following a layoff from a condylar fracture injury sustained in June in his 10f Manhattan win. McGaughey wouldn’t run him if he wasn’t ready but this is an awfully tough spot to make a comeback attempt. Still it bears mention that he hasn’t been worse than second in his last eight starts before the injury, so if he is indeed healthy he could be dangerous, and figures to get an ideal pace setup as he should be able to stay close early without using much energy.


5) Big Blue Kitten (6-1)- Had a tough trip when bottled up on the rail in runner-up finish in 12f Hirsch and was probably best, but tough to separate top three in that race, perhaps his impressive win at the same distance in the Sword Dancer gives him the slight edge. That sure looked like a grueling effort though in his second straight race at the distance, pace could play against his style here, and late-runner would be well advised to not leave himself too much work to do against the likes of these.


Little Mike (6-1)- I have a long history of betting against him and being wrong, including twice at this distance. Defending champ is back in form, can rate and has every chance to repeat, but expect he will go to the lead this time without any serious pace threats, and while that strategy has worked in shorter races, both of his 12f wins have come from off the pace. He may have benefited from a perfect trip in Hirsch win; will try to beat him again for the win in this tough, deep field as that one was his third off the layoff and a bounce may be coming for this horse, whose name I curse.


Vagabond Shoes (15-1)- Ran on well to close within 1.5 lengths of Indy Point in last start over this course, not impossible, but requires a leap of faith with playable prices all over the board.


6:05 Sprint 6f


1) Private Zone (3-1) Impressive winner of last two following layoff, now heads back west where he was successful earlier this year. Will be part of early speed but wasn’t bothered in the Vosburgh, which produced last year’s runner up, training lights out for third race off the layoff in a big spot. You have to like the way he set fast fractions in that race and battled back to win after being eyeballed and challenged by Justin Phillip.


2) Fast Bullet (6-1) Toss his last over the slop at a longer distance, his return from the layoff in the True North back in June might have been the best sprint performance all year and his field high 110 Beyer there confirms it, changes hands to Lukas now though and front-runner will have company on the lead this time, but draws outside of Private Zone with Rosario aboard.


3) Justin Phillip (4-1) A game runner up in the Vosburgh, has had a tough campaign but always seems to fire and might be better than ever as a 5 yo. Tough to overlook how easily stablemate dusted him in True North, and coming out of the inner post is far from ideal in this race, but he was game as can be through the Vosburgh stretch, where he claimed foul but settled for 2nd.


6:42 Mile 8f


1) Wise Dan (1-1) Might offer more value than usual following upset loss in race moved from turf to poly although looks shorter than he should be on ML, so who knows; should be primed to repeat against a thinner than usual field, and pace scenario sets up well for stalking/ pouncing style. Looks to be the most comfortable single of the day, but one has to wonder when he will finally throw in a clunker. He hasn’t lost a turf race in quite a while.


2) No Jet Lag (8-1)- Rapidly improving 3 year old son of Breeders’ Cup winner Johar knocked off the highly regarded Obviously on his home track in his most recent start, posting a 105 Beyer from off the pace at this distance. He should see similar fractions here and could enjoy a ground saving trip from the rail to set up his late move. Only the top pick and Obviously, who he just bested, show a higher speed figure at the distance. Seems quite a bit better on firm ground than he was in Europe. Seems more likely to hit the board than actually win the race, so this is an outright and exotics play.


3) Olympic Glory (4-1) Top Euro hopeful wheels back quickly following Group I win in the QE II two weeks ago at this distance; combination of shipping over and running back so soon a lot to ask, but class can’t be overlooked in weaker edition of this race. His 2nd place finish over firm ground just ahead of Intello in the 8f Prix Jacques le Marois was heavily flattered when that one ran back to finish 3rd in the Arc de Triomphe, arguably the most competitive race in the world. Seems more accustomed to soft ground outside that one effort, so Santa Anita surface may pose problems, and can’t shake feeling that he wasn’t pointed to this and doesn’t want any part of it. The more highly regarded Excelebration didn’t hit the board last year, remember. Still, on his best day, he stands the right to win. Feel he either wins or finishes last. Putting him 3rd for balance; will use on smaller multi-race tickets.


Silver Max (5-1) Has gotten really good again, posting a career high 104 Beyer two back in the 8.5f Baruch over yielding turf, but how much did career effort over new surface take out of him in upset Shadwell win over the top pick? Won’t get easy lead with California speedballs Obviously and Bright Thought to his immediate outside either, but has proven ability to carry speed.


Obviously (10-1) Price looks long considering this is his home track and he was third in this race last year, but recent form has really tailed off and the 107 Beyer he ran back in May seems like an eternity ago. He’ll likely force the early pace issue as he lines up in between Silver Max and Bright Thought, and if his last race is any indication, where he went out in :45.5 and faded badly, that won’t be a good thing.


He Be Fire N Ice (15-1)- Has quietly put together an impressive turf season in 2013, finishing just a half length off No Jet Lag and Obviously respectively in his last two races, and winning his prior three starts before that against weaker company. A deep closer, he could be the type of bomber to light up the exacta tote board if the pace collapses as expected, but would surprise as the winner, and this isn’t the type of race that makes one feel compelled to play exotics.



7:35 Classic 10f


1) Mucho Macho Man (5-1)- Win over this course in 9f Awesome Again was perfect prep for this, added distance will help and he was runner-up last year, training lights out and all trajectory signs point towards a career effort here as a 5 year old, and remember that he was a very late foal so he may just now be coming into career form as a horse. Stands to sit a good trip in the second flight of horses just off the pace, which could be fairly hot, with Game on Dude, Moreno, Paynter and Fort Larned all wanting the lead.


2) Game on Dude (8-5)- Impossible to dismiss off Pacific Classic romp, which proved dirt should be no problem as he posted a field high 116 Beyer at the distance, and has been working lights out since. Drew an ideal post outside all of the considerable speed. Still, it’s fair to wonder if he peaked in that race, especially off the layoff. He threw in a dud as heavy fave last year, remember, and he’ll be a short price, although probably not as short as the ML implies. Would be pretty scary to leave off the top line in multi-race wagers, but worth trying to beat there within the race.


3) Palace Malice (10-1)- Wasn’t disgraced in runner-up effort at Belmont versus older, and winner ran the type of freaky race you’d prefer to save for today. Improving and dangerous at a price in a race his Daddy won as a 3 YO, and always fires. Running style should suit if he is able to rate, working fantastic, and seems to be forgotten. It bears mention that running in the Jockey Club Gold Cup but not winning has been a good recent strategy; the last three winners of this race (Fort Larned, Blame, Drosselmeyer) have used that race as a fitness prep and then capitalized on the bigger purse.


4) Declaration of War (10-1)- The usual Euro suspect comes across to make his first start on dirt following two Group 1 turf wins this year, one at this distance over the highly regarded Al Kazeem, and should enjoy the firmer ground but the dirt surface is more of a question. At 10-1 or higher, worth it to find out? His pedigree looks great for dirt and trainer Aidan O’Brien said this week that he is the best suited horse for this race as any he’s ever had, presumably including Giant’s Causeway, who finished 2nd in 2000.


Fort Larned (6-1)- Defending champ over speed-biased track has been hit and miss this year but 9f Homecoming Classic win sure looked like an ideal prep for this, although if Game on Dude breaks this year he’ll have more pace to contend with, especially with Moreno signed on with blinkers. Really seems like more of a 9f horse that caught a favorable track last year; not quite ready to put him in the company of Tiznow as a repeat winner of this race.


Flat Out- Old-timer makes another visit to this race, where he finished 3rd last year and 5th the year before as my win pick. His distant third in his most recent start, the Jockey Club Gold Cup over a track he relishes, seemed to indicate that 7-year old may finally be running out of gas. Difficult to support as the winner, but late-running style could land him into the exotic mix.


Will Take Charge (12-1)- Grinding sort has gotten hot following grueling Triple Crown campaign, yet is consistently overlooked. Coming off closing victories in the 10f Travers and 9f Pennsylvania Derby, he could be one to benefit from all the presumed speed, but will need to take a step forward in terms of figures and negotiate traffic for his best chance; exotics contender at best.

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