Breeders’ Cup Saturday Picks and Analysis

4- Juvenile Filles, 8.5f, 2:05

In a tough-to-sort-out field of rapidly improving two-year olds, we’ll focus on fillies that have experience around two turns and that are in a preferable spot in their form cycle. VALADORNA is just a maiden winner at 8.5f and makes her third start, but with two speedy fillies to her inside, should be able to drop back and attain a ground-saving spot to mount her closing kick. While her speed figures appear middling among these (75 Beyer, 88 BRIS), daughter of Curlin has right to improve off of her 10/22 bullet work at Keeneland (5f in :59.3, 1/24). The horse to beat is perhaps NOTED AND QUOTED, who boasts field high speed figures around two turns from her win in the 8.5f Chandelier over this dirt track (80 Beyer, 90 BRIS). Baffert trainee has looked fantastic this week and seems very logical here. The other Baffert entry is BRIS Prime Power selection AMERICAN GAL who has yet to contest two turns, but looked spectacular in winning a listed stakes here at 6f, pulling away through the stretch (84 Beyer, 94 BRIS, both field highs over a dry track). That race came against lesser, but speedy filly draws outside the pace and has been working like gangbusters. She turns around quickly (13 days!) but has as much upside as any. YELLOW AGATE made a fair enough account of herself while stalking and winning the 8f Frizette at Belmont (77 Beyer, 91 BRIS) and fits right in on figures, although she’s another that will be stretching out. Looking for value, you could do worse than to land on WITH HONORS, who led for most of the local prep before losing the lead late to be beaten a half length by NOTED AND QUOTED. If we like that one, we have to like her at least a little bit off that effort, and she does have a bullet work under her belt over the track. The concern is being buried near the rail in a race where she will face more pace pressure. A couple that we will try to beat include JAMYSON N GINGER, whose freaky speed figure earned in her last appears to have been slop assisted, and UNION STRIKE, who was an impressive winner of the 7f Debutante but skipped her two turn prep and now races for a new trainer; bad signals. SWEET LORETTA is a perfect 3 for 3 but also comes in off a long layoff trying to stretch out.

Picks:

1) Valadorna 5-1

2) Noted And Quoted 9-2

3) American Gal 6-1

4) Yellow Agate 8-1

Longshot: With Honors 10-1

5- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, 10f, 2:43

The revival of morning line favorite LADY ELI’s career after her life-threatening battle with laminitis will be one of the feel good stories of this Breeders’ Cup. After winning the 10f Flower Bowl in her last race (102 Beyer, 101 BRIS) she proved that she can handle this distance, and stands as the home team’s best chance. However, she is far from a single, and not even our top choice, in this spot. We’ll take a shot with the three-year old European SEVENTH HEAVEN, who gets Ryan Moore aboard for Aidan O’Brien. This filly beat the highly regarded Arc winner and defending Breeders’ Cup Turf champion FOUND two back, and gets a cutback in distance combined with some class relief here. She also gets first time Lasix and has a considerable advantage over the field in terms of Racing Post Ratings (121 to Lady Eli’s 114). SEA CALISI was 3rd behind LADY ELI in the Flower Bowl, but closing type was up against it coming off a two month layoff since her Beverly D score, and thanks to the slow pace that day. She should see a bit more here and be coming late, but appears just a cut below the top two. Another three-year old shipper is QUEEN’S TRUST, who is Group 1 placed in Britain and actually finished ahead of the top choice in her last. She gets first time Lasix and has the second highest Racing Post Rating in the field (115) but has never won a race over the turf; seems to be more of a contender for the bottom of exotics than for the win. AL’S GAL is a former claimer turned Grade 1 winner, and this rapidly improving Mike Maker mare always shows up, having not finished worse than 2nd in her last six starts, all stakes races. The waters are deeper here but her ability to rate and close make her intriguing in a race that sets up with a fair amount of pace. CATCH A GLIMPSE, SENTERIO ITALIA, AVENGE, KITCAT and ZIPESSA should account for that, but all have shown signs that this distance is at or beyond their limits.

Picks:

1) Seventh Heaven 3-1

2) Lady Eli 5-2

3) Sea Calisi 8-1

4) Queen’s Trust 6-1

Longshot: Al’s Gal 15-1

6- Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 6f, 3:21

The defection of Lord Nelson took a lot of glamour out of this race. He would have been our pick for the winner and the race now stands with just seven runners, a disappointingly short field for a Breeders’ Cup race. This is the one race that year after year, we tend to simply eyeball the speed figures and apply accordingly. This race is rarely won by closers, and usually the horse that has shown the fastest speed at the 6f distance is a pretty safe bet. Unfortunately, this year, that picture isn’t as clear as two of them top out with 107 Beyers and both have been working extremely well.  But they do appear to tower above the rest, and it’s tough to go much deeper than two here in multis considering the small field.  The lightly raced MASOCHISTIC actually has the field’s highest overall Beyer (110), but that came at 7f and was back in August, and he’s only 1/5 lifetime at 6f. He hasn’t raced since then, but has posted an absurd six bullet works over the course off that layoff. He’ll be sent straight to the front, and they’ll all have to catch him. He’s 4/6 liftetime at Santa Anita, and trainer Ron Ellis wins with 31% of his runners off a similar lay.  Horse for the course gets the nod narrowly over A.P. INDIAN, who has done nothing wrong in winning all six of his starts this year. He has also posted two bullet works since his last race. The separation between these two is truly so small, but the feeling here is that this colt may have regressed slightly in his last after such a tough campaign, and he has also never raced at Santa Anita. It’s also worth noting that his two best career efforts have come at 7f, although his record at 6f is superior to the top choice. We won’t split hairs and will try to simply get through this race with one of the two without having to take a hard stand either way. Three-year old DREFONG has upside but looks like an underlay against the above two coming off a long layoff following a 7f win in the King’s Bishop against lesser. He’s 2/3 at Santa Anita but takes a big step up in class; he got away with an easy lead in his last and will need to improve several lengths on his career high 103 Beyer to be competitive here. LIMOUSINE LIBERAL added blinkers in his last and popped a big number in giving A.P. INDIAN all he could handle, but lost to the speedster DELTA BLUESMAN three back; that one actually crossed the wire ahead of A.P INDIAN in May but lost by disqualification. He comes in fresh here off sharp works, and actually owns the field high BRIS figure at the distance (108), will go straight to the lead and could hang on for a share. There shouldn’t be much chance for a pace meltdown in such a short field, but MIND YOUR BISCUITS is the lone closer signed on. He was no match for DREFONG or today’s foe NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR in his last two, but crazier things have happened at the Breeders’ Cup, and race shape players should take notice.

Picks:

1) Masochistic 2-1

2) A.P. Indian 4-1

3) Drefong 7-2

4) Delta Bluesman 15-1

Longshot: Mind Your Biscuits 20-1

7- Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, 6.5f, 4:05

Always one of the biggest crapshoots of the day, this edition of the Turf Sprint stretches out a full furlong from last year’s event at Keeneland and takes place on a downhill course. There are several angles in play here, as a quartet of Euro invaders ship in to run against horses stretching out, cutting back, and returning to their specialist course. Defending champion MONGOLIAN SATURDAY will race out of the #3 hole, which has been successful on this turf course, but pure speed horse has always been better going shorter than 6f. We’ll toss him along with tepid morning line favorite PURE SENSATION, another pace type that will be forced to gun it from the rail and figures to struggle going longer. We’ll instead focus in on those who are true downhill specialists at Santa Anita, as four of the five Turf Sprint winners on this course owned a win on it before the race. We land on HOLY LUTE. He won the local prep for this at the distance (101 Beyer, 98 BRIS) and is 9-2-3-0 lifetime here. AMBITIOUS BREW is another horse for the course, boasting a 10-5-2-0 record here. Despite the slightly better record, he ran a bit slower than the top choice on the same day (96 Beyer, 95 BRIS), although both will be fair prices. Sticking with horses that have run well on the Santa Anita turf, an obvious contender (sorry) is BRIS Prime Power selection OBVIOUSLY, who arguably gets some class relief as he cuts back in distance. Pure speed type is deadly on the lead even at the ripe old age of eight and has made a career out of being a consistent miler. They’ll all have to catch him out of the #2 hole, and we’re not sure they can. Compared to the other cutback horses, including OM, CELESTINE and A LOT, he has the most consistent Beyers (104, 108 and 106 in last three races) and fastest average BRIS E1 and E2 pace figures (108, 113). Of the rest, A LOT looks most appealing on the cutback following a career best Beyer of 105 in his last race but will have a two month layoff to contend with. The Euros are pretty hard to separate here, but the slight edge goes to KARAR, who has kept the classiest company, finishing 2nd at 7f in his last to the highly regarded LIMATO, who goes in the Mile, and holding off fellow contender SUEDOIS. All Euro shippers receive first time Lasix, although no Euro has ever won this race, downhill or otherwise. More plausible as a longshot is probably UNDRAFTED, who has been off form this year but has been racing at distances shorter than ideal, and now gets to stretch out to his sweet spot. Six-year old deep closer was once the most fearsome in his division and while not a downhill specialist, should get ample pace to set up his late run.

Picks:

1) Holy Lute 10-1

2) Obviously 6-1

3) Ambitious Brew 10-1

4) A Lot 8-1

Longshot: Undrafted 12-1, Karar 15-1

9- Breeders’ Cup Turf, 12f, 5:22

Three contenders appear to tower above the rest here. A decided lack of pace may prove beneficial to HIGHLAND REEL, an Aidan O’Brien trainee. We were supporters when he wired the Secretariat at our hometown Arlington track last summer, so his affinity for firmer turf is noted. He gets the nod here on form going back to his Group 1 win in Hong Kong in a head to head matchup with FLINTSHIRE. That one is another who should enjoy the firmer going, boasting field high speed figures at the distance (112 Beyer, 116 BRIS) and will try to turn the tables on the defending champion filly FOUND. She won the prestigious Arc de Triomphe over the top choice and defeated the second choice last year, but may find less pace and firmer ground than she did in either of those events. This will also be her third start in five weeks. All three of them boast equal Racing Post Ratings of 124. BRIS Prime Power Selection MONDIALISTE won the Arlington Million at 10f as our top choice, and finds a bit of an odd spot here, having raced most of his career at shorter distances. But why not give him a shot underneath, as he gave no indication of distance limitations in that win, and his last start at a mile didn’t set up for his closing style up front. Perhaps he will appreciate the added ground. The three-year old Irish colt ULYSSES is regally bred and enters off two solid Group 3 efforts across the pond over firmer turf. He’s trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who has four career wins in this race and two over this turf course, and appears live at a price underneath against a weak contingent of Americans. ECTOT defeated FLINTSHIRE last out (106 Beyer, 97 BRIS), the only horse to do so this year, but that race came over yielding turf and this one won’t; he was losing optional claiming races prior to that. MONEY MULTIPILER and TWILIGHT ECLIPSE have never been any match for FLINTSHIRE, although the former did put up a competitive figure 109 Beyer, 112 BRIS) two back, and may have not liked the yielding turf in his last.

Picks:

1) Highland Reel 3-1

2) Flintshire 3-1

3) Found 5-2

4) Mondialiste 15-1

Longshot: Ulysses 12-1

10- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, 7f, 6:01

Evenly matched field figures to be a smart race to spread in multi-race wagers. TARA’S TANGO goes third off the lay and looks like horse for the course here as she cuts back for Jerry Hollendorfer following a 4th place finish in the 8.5f Zenyatta against far better company. Before that, she won a 6.5f Grade 3 at Del Mar and was gaining ground through the wire (90 Beyer, 103 BRIS). She’s a Grade 1 winner over this track and is 8-2-3-1 lifetime at Santa Anita. She fired a bullet 5f work on 10/16 (1:00.0, 1/59). She has proven ability to relax and rate off the lead and her average Late Pace figures make her competitive here at a price. The most logical winner is HAVEYOUGONEAWAY, who earns morning line favorite status off her win in the 7f Ballerina (99 Beyer, 102 BRIS), which looks like a key race for this. She’s had a two month layoff since then but has fired two bullet works leading up to this, and holds the fastest BRIS Late Pace Last Race figure in the field (104). BY THE MOON was second in that race and also closed well to miss the winners’ circle by just a half length. She’s run her last four at this distance, having bested several of these runners, so she seems to merit inclusion at a fair price here off a two month layoff. If CARINA MIA can reproduce her runaway win in the 7f Eight Belles from May (93 Beyer, 104 BRIS) she may have a say, but she’s tough to endorse off her easily beaten 3rd in the Ballerina. She’ll cut back here and get some class relief after an 8.5f beating at the hands of Songbird, but Bill Mott has won with just 1/25 runners going from a sprint to a route and back to a sprint. IRISH JASPER looks light on figures following a closing 6f win in the TCA at Keeneland (89 Beyer, 94 BRIS) but stands a chance to pick up a share from off the pace as she stretches out here; could be to her liking. Defending champion WAVELL AVENUE hasn’t been in the same form this year and looks to require a total pace meltdown, having lost to several of these foes head to head this year. PAULASSILVERLINING could be the speed of the speed here, but strikes us as more of a 6f type as she faded in the Ballerina after leading, and the decent figures (94 Beyer, 102 BRIS) she earned at 6.5f in winning her last came over the mud. GLORYZAPPER is 4-1-3-0 over this track and shows a sharp work here recently (5f in :59.0, 1/41) but takes a class leap and would need to improve figure-wise, appears to be part of the early pace.

Picks:

1) Tara’s Tango 8-1

2) Haveyougoneaway 3-1

3) By The Moon 8-1

4) Carina Mia 7-2

Longshot: Irish Jasper 10-1

11- Breeders’ Cup Mile, 8f, 6:40

This looks like the deepest race on the entire two-day card, with a whopping 10 Grade 1 winners signed on, any of which one could make a case for. The race appears to have a fair amount of pace, which is not to say it will be blazing up front, but fractions of :23.0 and :46.0 on the lead seem a reasonable estimate. IRONICUS closed like a freight train into slow fractions when just missing the win by a head in the Shadwell Mile, (106 Beyer, 100 BRIS) gobbling up three lengths in the stretch in his first try off a long layoff. He looks to have the most devastating turn of foot in the field (103 Late Pace Last Race is tops here by double digits) and should improve on that effort in his second start off the lay. With the right trip he could upset here at decent odds, and has been working very well for Shug McGaughey. It would be impossible to exclude defending champion and all-world mare TEPIN, who had won eight in a row, including a Group 1 win at Ascot, before being upset in her last by a loose-on-the lead PHOTO CALL. Egregious and collective jockey error played some role in the odd outcome of that race, but one has to wonder if Tepin was fully cranked for that race to begin with or whether that was simply a workout for this. She’s as classy as they come (121 Racing Post Rating) and knows how to stalk and pounce on the leaders. The two primary speeds in this race both merit looks on a “horse for the course” angle. MIDNIGHT STORM comes in fresh off a ten week layoff and shows a 5-2-1-0 record over this turf course, including a win in the 8f Shoemaker Mile in June where he posted a field high Beyer figure (110). He backed that up in his most recent start with a 106, and if the pace goes slower than expected, he could be very difficult to pass on his home turf. We prefer his chances to WHAT A VIEW, another speed type, who draws the rail here. He’s undefeated in five starts over the turf at Santa Anita, but threw in a real dud when 8th in the Shadwell last out. That was his first start in six months though, and perhaps he needed the race and could improve returning to this track. We’ll stay away from PHOTO CALL, who was allowed to set easy fractions when separating from the field on the lead and upsetting TEPIN; they won’t let her get away with that trick again. MISS TEMPLE CITY is another that won her last on the lead while setting easy fractions, and TOURIST has been tough to figure out recently, showing just one win in his last seven starts. Both appear in pretty deep here despite our preference on top for a horse that ran right with them in their last. That turns our attention to the formidable Euro contingent. LIMATO comes in highly credentialed, and boasts the highest Racing Post Rating in the field (126). The concern with him is the distance, as he has never won beyond 7f, and his only career off-the-board finish came in his only career 8f try. He’ll get first time Lasix but will also encounter firmer turf than he is accustomed to and while he should certainly have a say at the end, may be worth beating on the top line and in exotics. ALICE SPRINGS is more accomplished at the distance, winning three of her last four races, all at 8f and all in Group 1 company, and has every right to win this. We’ll go four deep here in multis.

Picks:

1) Ironicus 8-1

2) Tepin 3-1

3) Midnight Storm 12-1

4) Alice Springs 4-1

Longshot: What A View 20-1

12- Breeders’ Cup Classic, 10f, 7:35

The main event seems focused around two primary contenders that come into this race with an equal amount of hype for completely different reasons, as one seems to have Horse of the Year all but locked up, while the other has catapulted into contention for the Three-Year Old Eclipse award after one of the most stunning performances in recent memory. If ARROGATE’s towering 13 length win in the 10f Travers is to be believed, then they are all running for second. The 122 Beyer and 124 BRIS speed figure he earned there simply puts him double digit lengths ahead of the next fastest horse. There’s certainly an argument to be made that he has to prove it again against older, stronger foes, but at 5-2 on the morning line, the price is right to find out. He’s been layed off by design since that romp, and has been working impressively over the local track, where he already has won twice. He reminds us of the great Tiznow, another west coast based three-year old who came out of nowhere that fall and won this race. CALIFORNIA CHROME will take a lot of beating however. The 2014 Kentucky Derby winner has been in career form as a five-year old, winning all six of his starts here and abroad in Dubai. He’s back on his home track and if the top choice doesn’t fire, should win rather easily off his prior form (113 Beyer, 112 BRIS). There isn’t a blazing pace expected in this edition of the Classic, but MELATONIN figures to go to the lead. He’s 4/4 lifetime at Santa Anita and has competitive figures at this distance (109 Beyer, 107 BRIS). If he gets too easy of a lead up front, anything is possible, as he has no limitations getting 10f. He has a four month layoff to contend with, however. FROSTED turned in one of the year’s greatest performances when he annihilated the Met Mile field by 14 lengths, earning a 123 Beyer. However, after failing to hit the board in last year’s Derby, we were reminded that he is better going a bit shorter than this, and the Dirt Mile would probably have been a more logical spot for him. Expect him to tuck in behind the pace and make a fair account of himself, however. HOPPERTUNITY, by contrast, is a colt that thrives with added ground, and finally got his first Grade 1 victory in the 10f Jockey Club Gold Cup last out (105 Beyer, 103 BRIS). He’s familiar with the track here, showing an 11-3-4-2 career record. He’s kept strong company all year and actually finished ahead of FROSTED at this distance in Dubai, so he stands a chance to crash the board at decent odds; he’s consistent and always brings it late. EFFINEX was 2nd in this event last year and should be placed close to the place, but he seems to be just a step slower this year and finished just a half length behind HOPPERTUNITY in the Jockey Club. KEEN ICE and SHAMAN GHOST will both be coming from the clouds but may find less pace here than is ideally conducive to their style.

Picks:

1) Arrogate 5-2

2) California Chrome 1-1

3) Melatonin 12-1

4) Frosted 5-1

Longshot: Hoppertunity 15-1

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