Breeders’ Cup Friday Picks and Analysis

6- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, 8f, 4:25

In a deep, contentious 14-horse field such as this, it’s surprising to note that it includes just two last out-winners at the 8f distance on turf, and we will focus on them as our keys in this race. Bill Mott sends out the undefeated GOOD SAMARITAN with Joel Rosario aboard off his win in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine from off the pace at this distance, where he posted a 95 BRIS speed figure and a towering field high 94 Beyer. He figures to get a similar setup here with some one-way speed types signed on, and has the fastest closing punch in the group (96 BRIS Late Pace Last Race and 94 Average Late Pace tower over the field). With two bullet works under his belt for this since his last start, he appears to be sitting on a big one. The only colt to have won over this Santa Anita turf course is BIG SCORE, who showed improvement winning a listed stakes here while posting a field high BRIS Speed Figure of 96. He’s another that likes to come from off the pace and should be suited by the potential race shape. It’s always difficult to discount the chances of Aidan O’Brien trained shippers in this spot, even on the firm turf course. He sends two here, neither of which have ever contended a route race. The nod goes to LANCASTER BOMBER, who shows a Group 1 placing at 7f in his last, and whose 115 Racing Post Rating tops the field. He draws a tough post at the rail but likes to run on the lead anyway. He fits well on class in this spot and gets first time Lasix along with his stablemate INTELLIGENCE CROSS, but that one has never gone beyond 6f and looks slightly less credentialed on form (not Group 1 placed). The speedy OSCAR PERFORMANCE drew far outside but could work out a nice trip just off the leaders. Son of Kitten’s Joy should enjoy the slight cutback here, although his career best effort in the 8.5f Pilgrim came over yielding turf, and his Racing Post Rating of 104 lags well behind the top choices, and he’ll run without Lasix. An interesting longshot and hometown favorite of ours is the BRIS Prime Power selection WELLABLED, who takes a class leap while making a surface switch from the Arlington polytrack, where he easily wired the field in the 7f Futurity. Son of Shackleford runs without Lasix but figures to go straight to the lead and see how far he can take them.

Picks:

1) Good Samaritan 9-2

2) Big Score 8-1

3) Lancaster Bomber 6-1

4) Oscar Performance 4-1

Longshot: Wellabled 12-1

7- Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 8f, 5:05

 Heavily favored DORTMUND certainly appears in a great spot here. In six career starts over the dirt track at Santa Anita, he shows five wins and a second. He’ll actually get a bit of class relief here following a three race campaign that featured the likes of California Chrome and Beholder, and pacesetter should benefit from the cutback in distance. He’s posted triple digit BRIS Speed figures in all three starts this year, topping out at 108 for his 8.5f runner-up effort in the San Diego. This lends credence to the idea he is better at shorter distances, and is ideally drawn here. While he is a must-use in this spot on the top line, he isn’t necessarily a single. BRIS Prime Power choice GUN RUNNER is another with two turn experience cutting back here that figures to sit a bit further off the leaders, and could be ready to pounce should the pace unfold faster than expected from the widest post of all. Consistent colt has yet to miss the board this year on a fast track in races spanning 8.5f-10f; trending upward. We’ll key in on these two off their two turn experience and distance cutbacks. TAMARKUZ is more of a one-turn specialist but would be interesting otherwise coming off his field high BRIS Speed Last Race figure (105) when 2nd in the 8f Kelso. He was hot last winter in Dubai and hasn’t won since shipping back, but his last was his best effort to date, and a duplication of that race puts him squarely in the mix. Defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion RUNHAPPY must be respected as he stretches out in this spot, but has a lot going against him as he makes his second start of the year following a sub-par when 4th last out at this distance in his return from injury. He’s never won at this distance and may not be in peak form, but deserves a look underneath on talent alone. VYJACK closed impressively two back at 7f on dirt but has been most successful on turf this year, while TOM’S READY has been more effective as a one-turn closer. If the race completely falls apart up front, TEXAS CHROME may be more likely than either to pick up the pieces as he cuts back following three straight wins that have included field high BRIS Late Pace numbers.

Picks:

1) Dortmund 6-5

2) Gun Runner 9-2

3) Tamarkuz 8-1

4) Runhappy 3-1

Longshot: Texas Chrome 20-1

8- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 8f, 5:50

It’s interesting to note that U.S. bred fillies have won five of the seven editions of this race, and that no filly trained by Aidan O’Brien has ever won it. Perhaps this is the year though, as he ships two competitive entrants. We’ll side with HYDRANGEA, who drew poorly to land on the rail, but considering her tendency to make the lead, shouldn’t be compromised terribly as long as she breaks, and should save ground on the lead. She was nosed out for the win in the 7f Moyglare Stud over yielding by one of today’s foes, and managed an impressive 2nd again in a successive Group 1 that came over 8f on a surface labeled good. We like the spacing between races, the fact that she has run a route against top competition, and that she did so over firmer ground. His other shipper is morning line favorite ROLY POLY, who ties the top selection with a 112 Racing Post Rating. While she has never raced beyond 6f, she has been closing hard at the end of those races, and her pedigree (by War Front out of a Galileo mare) doesn’t seem to indicate any obvious distance limitations. The top selection was narrowly defeated by INTRICATELY in the aforementioned Grade 1 in something of an upset. Trained by Aidan’s son Joseph and ridden by another son Donnacha, INTRICATELY is the only Group 1 winner in the race. Having beaten the top selection and boasting a field high 113 Racing Post Rating, the feeling is that both must be used, but the firmer turf may provide a bit more of an issue as she was 3rd in weaker company in her only attempt on turf no labeled yielding, and also comes in on a 54 day break. We’ll take a stand against SPAIN BURG, who is a Group 2 winner at 7f, but has also never run a route. Trainer Kathy Ritvo is 0/12 lifetime with “1st at route starters”, and the filly’s Racing Post Rating of 109 is just a touch below the other shippers. There is a large drop of in terms of those numbers to the Americans, but LA CORONEL, poorly drawn in the widest post of all, appears the best hope for the home team (103). She’s one of just two runners to have a win at a route distance over firm ground and gets a cutback here. The other is VICTORY TO VICTORY (103), winner of the Grade 1 Natalma at this distance, from the same prep race and connections as last year’s winner Catch A Glimpse; appears interesting at these odds.

Picks:

1) Hydrangea 6-1

2) Intricately 6-1

3) Roly Poly 4-1

4) La Coronel 9-2

Longshot: Victory To Victory 12-1

9- Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 9f, 6:35

What an absolutely fantastic edition of this race is lined up this year. With six of the eight entrants Grade 1 winners, one could argue that this will be the greatest Distaff field ever assembled. While all six could make a case for the win, there is a three-headed monster that will be awfully difficult to leave off tickets. All three have sparkling records over this Santa Anita dirt surface, and are very hard to separate as such. We’ll lean towards the older runners in this spot though. It could certainly be a fitting end to the career of the 6-year old mare BEHOLDER to earn the win in this spot after being sidelined from last year’s attempt against the boys in the Classic. One could argue that she’s lost a step, but she draws perfectly for a stalking trip here outside the other speed, and hasn’t exactly been disgraced in her three second-placed finishes this year, posting consistent BRIS speed figures of 106-107-106. She’s won at distances beyond this one, shows the highest career figure at this distance (112) and is 15-13-2-0 lifetime over the Santa Anita surface. All systems go with Gary Stevens back in the saddle. We’ll look for her to turn the tables on 4-year old STELLAR WIND, who has defeated her in their last two meetings at 8.5f and missed winning this race by a neck last year at Keeneland. We are really splitting hairs here between these two, as they tower over the field in terms of figures (110 Beyer, 107 BRIS in last meeting), but the clincher here is that STELLAR WIND has never won at 9f. She’s 5-4-1-0 lifetime at Santa Anita though. BRIS Prime Power selection SONGBIRD looms the favorite off her undefeated record in 11 career starts, 5 of which came at Santa Anita. Something will have to give between these three, as none have finished worse than 2nd here in 25 combined career starts between them. The younger filly does look a cut below on figures (101 Beyer, 103 BRIS) and takes a class leap, but is tough to deny on talent. From the rail, she’ll be sent and it would be no surprise to see her wire the field in her first start against elders, but for double the price, we’ll side, with reservation, with the more experienced runners. CURALINA was 3rd in this race last year and stands every chance to hit the board again here, although she may have been more intriguing cutting back. She’ll run off a long layoff but her two biggest career romps have come in similar spots in her form cycle and her works can’t be easily dismissed. The 105 Beyer she earned at this distance two back looks competitive but came over slop. I’M A CHATTERBOX has won three of her last four but lost to two of today’s foes this year after finishing just 8th in this race last year as a 3-year old. Most interesting underneath though if the race falls apart up front is FOREVER UNBRIDLED, a winner of a 9f Grade 1 in her last. That came over slop as well, but she’s split her two head to head meetings with CURALINA and shows field high BRIS Late Pace numbers.

Picks:

1) Beholder 5-2

2) Stellar Wind 5-2

3) Songbird 6-5

4) Forever Unbridled 12-1

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