Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Breeders' Cup Playbook

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf:
Hootenanny is the morning line favorite  and although I expect Luck of the Kitten will actually go off favored here, they both figure in the same way for me, that being as pace presences. Both of these two are headstrong and quick, and to top if off they're drawn near each other, which makes the possibility of a speed duel a real one. Even if that doesn't formulate, though, the pace should be a healthy one and for that reason, I'm looking for runners who'll settle well off the pace early on. I've had Aktabantay penned in this spot for a while. He's one who clearly wants firmer ground, as well as a slightly longer trip and although he can be one to lose focus at times, the blinkers seemed to help as he stayed on well late against much tougher last time out. The probable race shape should suit him as well as Danny Boy, who although drawn poorly, I'd expect to drop out the back early and make one run late. He may be left with too much to do, but at those odds and coming off of a solid run in the G3 Bourbon last time out, he's worth using in my book. As far as a few of the more well fancied Euros in the betting go, Commemorative is an honest enough type, but I don't believe the pace will suit his typical running style and I'm not going to play a 2yo at single digits in essentially what will be a discipline test being that he's drawn between the two main speeds. War Envoy is presumably taking a bit of steam due to his connections, but he's the most exposed of the shippers in here and even if he did win somehow, he'll surely be an underlay in the betting, so I'll pass. 
Choices: #9 Aktabantay (12/1) (scratched), #14 Danny Boy (20/1)

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: 
I really tried to find someone who I felt confident could beat Goldencents, but that didn't entirely work out, so instead I'll try to find a bit of value underneath (and box it just in case), although I'll play the race itself lightly. (Of course, pay attention to the probable payouts to ensure you'll make a profit on the day). Vicar's In Trouble isn't the flashiest type and I didn't like his race in the Indiana Derby (I was there and really thought he should've won). Regardless, he's remarkably consistent and has a big chance of hitting the board if he can pull the same move he did in the Risen Star going when turning for home. 
Play: Exacta box: #1 Goldencents (6/5) / #3 Vicar's In Trouble (12/1)

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf:
Sunset Glow is taking quite a bit of steam and while I understand how people view her talent level, she figures to struggle with a probable fast pace early and I'll instead look elsewhere. Osaila is a filly I've been a fan of overseas and class-wise, she's just better than these. A Group 3 winner in England, she finished no more than one and a quarter lengths behind perhaps the two most well regarded juvenile fillies in Cursory Glance and Found. Her most recent win was what I viewed as a perfect prep run. Quality Rocks was a runner-up behind Rainha Da Bateria last time out and in my opinion ran just as good of a race as the winner being that she chased a very fast early pace that burned several others. She'll be second time turf  and second time Mott. I'm not sure she can sit further off the pace here, but she's worth taking a gamble on at a big price. 
Choices: #2 Osaila (5/1), #10 Quality Rocks (20/1)

Breeders' Cup Distaff: 
She may have ran a bad one without excuse last time out, but Close Hatches looks to be the lone speed of this one and I'm more than willing to excuse her for that poor run given her class and due to the likelihood of her receiving a soft lead. Plus, we'll get a much better price than anticipated due to that clunker and the praise that Untapable is receiving despite looking quite tired when weaving down the stretch last time out. 
Choice: #11 Close Hatches (3/1)

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies: No Bet

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf: 
Dayatthespa figures to get a soft lead here and anything near her best should be plenty good enough in a race where I have queries about nearly all of the top contenders. Dank will be a heavy favorite, and deservedly so, but coming off of the long layoff, I couldn't play her to win. That being said, I'm not leaving her off of my multi-race wagers. There just won't be the value there for a win/place/show wager, but she'll likely track Dayatthespa and could get a beautiful run if the former falters. Irish Mission has impressed in her two most recent stars and she ran on well in her most recent start despite a troubled trip. Her tactical speed and good form warrant a play on her at a big price. The pace setup likely won't work in her favor, but Stephanie's Kitten enters here in the form of her career and will be coming on late. She's a must-use in multi-race wagers, but similarly to Dank, we won't play her standalone in this race.
Choice: #4 Dayatthespa (8/1), #8 Irish Mission (20/1)

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint:
As has been the theme to this point, "pace makes the race" and here we have another potential lone speed in Stonetastic. The tricky seven furlong distance shouldn't be a query for her given that she used to run over further and in her limited tries sprinting, it took an all and out speed duel to defeat her and she still held well to get third in that one. A bullet work last weekend only adds to the appeal. 
Choice: #3 Stonetastic (8/1)

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: 
Everything about this race screams FAST EARLY to me particularly with the likes of Reneesgotzip, No Nay Never, Something Extra, and Bobby's Kitten in the field. Home Run Kitten, who is 2-for-2 over course and distance, caught my eye in a big way last time out when tackling a G3 going down the hill after putting in several solid runs routing on the turf this season. His turn of foot is something special and he'll most certainly get the pace setup, not to mention he's drawn well. If he gets any sort of a clear run, he figures to go very close. Bobby's Kitten is cutting back from the mile distance and has always shown talent despite his nature. He relaxed the best I've ever seen him in his most recent run, however, and is worth taking a shot on at a likely nice price. If his head doesn't get in his own way, he could be the first one to take a crack at the early speed. 
Choices: #6 Bobby's Kitten (10/1), #10 Home Run Kitten (12/1)

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: 
American Pharoah may not be in the field, but the Breeders' Cup Juvenile still figures to be plenty fast early on with most of the main speed drawn out wide. I've been high on Calculator since the Del Mar Futurity, in which he was seen running wide and off the pace aka exactly where you did not want to be on that day at Del Mar. He appeared to have closed the gap to American Pharoah in the Frontrunner and a ground saving trip plus a pace to close into could see this maiden taking the win. Texas Red is another who would benefit from a fast pace upfront in his second start on the dirt. Not sure what to make of The Great War routing, but the dirt shouldn't be an issue given his pedigree and he is first-time Lasix. I expect him to be relatively ignored in the betting given this is a dirt race, so he's one to use if his morning line price holds on the chance he puts in a big performance first time dirt. 
Choices: #1 Calculator (15/1), #4 The Great War (12/1), #7 Texas Red (20/1)

Breeders' Cup Turf:
Without much true speed in this race, Telescope and Brown Panther figure to go forward, which should give them a tactical advantage at this distance. Telescope is slightly preferred at this distance, but there are still queries on whether or not he'll take to the tight turns of Santa Anita. Brown Panther figures to be relatively ignored in the betting after running off in his last race, but that's not typical of him and his ability to carry his speed over a distance of ground could see him getting a nice run in a race that lacks a true speed horse up front. I can understand why Flintshire appeals to some, but his season was undoubtedly pointed towards the Arc and I'd be surprised if he didn't regress off that effort and that's on top of him being tough to win with in the first place.
Choices: #1 Telescope (4/1), #4 Brown Panther (8/1)

Breeders' Cup Sprint:
Rich Tapestry figures to get the run of the race with the main speed drawn just to his inside. He should be able to slot in behind them and allow the wider drawn speed to press forward. He made a big impression when winning in his debut on American soil and the fact of the matter is that he has on several occasions ran against far better sprinters than these, including Lord Kanaloa and Lucky Nine. He's impressed in video of every work I've seen of his over the Santa Anita dirt and taking all of that into account, he's my best bet of the meet. 
Choice: #6 Rich Tapestry (5/1)

Breeders' Cup Mile:
Toronado really should just win this race. He was impressive on debut, and his form via Kingman and Charm Spirit is rock solid. I've waited over a year for him to race in the states, as he was expected to make the trip last year before a poor work at home resulted in a change in plans, and in what will be his ideal conditions, we should see the best of him. 
Choice: #5 Toronado

Breeders' Cup Classic:
He impressed me in a big way when seen winning the Haskell and I've had him penned for this race ever since. For once, Bayern will be running against the big boys on his home turf (instead of having to ship east) and if the track favors speed in any way, shape, or form it benefits him more than anyone else. Moreno's most recent work was poor in my opinion and that only firms my opinion on Bayern, who is the only other real speed in the race. I've long said Bayern is plenty fast, but doesn't NEED the lead. He's shown no tendency of being headstrong in the slightest and if Moreno gets out front out of the gate, who's to say Bayern can't range up on him at the quarter pole? If he does, I think a clearly below peak Moreno could very well spit the bit and it's smooth sailing out front from there. In case something cooky happens out front pace wise, however, we'll also use Tonalist, who looks to have returned to his best when seen winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, in multi-race wagers.
Choice: #7 Bayern (6/1), #11 Tonalist (5/1)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Down to the Wire + Weekend Quick Picks

This week on Down to the Wire we discussed the Raven Run, which will be run on Saturday at Keeneland and has drawn a very competitive field, as well as, the two feature races from Woodbine on Sunday: the E.P. Taylor and Canadian International. For in depth analysis of those races, you can watch the video below (my for those races are also listed below).

Weekend Picks: 


Ascot Race 1 -- Group 2 Champions Long Distance Cup
While Leading Light's form puts him ahead of this group, the heavy going is a serious concern for him in my eyes and for that reason I'll take a stand against him at a short price. Forgotten Rules looked a good thing when blowing them away after being well backed in his bumper debut at Punchestown and in a race that will be a true stamina test, he's the one to be on as he looks good for even further than this distance.

Ascot Race 3 -- Group 1 Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
Under good conditions, this is a competitive field, but I have distance concerns over testing ground for nearly every runner in here other than Silk Sari, who has won well going further. The ground is the obvious query for her, as she's never been tested under these conditions and her half siblings haven't exactly been wet track lovers. That being said, Dalakhani's influence may make the different on that front, and against a questionable group at this distance under these conditions, she stands out to me. 

Ascot Race 4 -- Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
It's hard to knock the form of Charm Spirit in this race after having won three straight, the most recent of which being over the likes of Toronado. The ground is not a concern and although he finished behind Night of Thunder in the 2000 Guineas, that form was reversed in their most recent start and over testing ground, Charm Spirit holds an even bigger advantage over his fellow market leader, in my opinion. While Night of Thunder doesn't appear to have progressed much since his Classic win, Charm Spirit is the later developer who appears to hold the edge at this point in time. At a bigger price, Captain Cat intrigues as a place chance over more testing ground than he's ever faced given that he narrowly missed over further than this earlier in the season. 

Ascot Race 5 -- Group 1 Champions Stakes 
Cirrus Des Aigles is clearly your most likely winner and even moreso with him getting his ideal conditions, but Pether's Moon is incredibly intriguing to me for e/w value as he currently sits at a big price. Not only did he win in testing conditions in Turkey, but he's good for further than this and enters here in solid form having won two straight and three of his last four. He's only finished outside the top three once in four attempts at Ascot, as well. Surely this consistent fellow is overpriced here. 

Keeneland Race 9 -- G3 Raven Run S
1. #4 Pirate's Trove (8/1) -- looks to get an ideal pace setup in first dirt attempt, dirt breeding, has won all three starts to date
2. #6 Divided Attention (6/1) -- classy juvenile came back in a big way in delayed 3yo debut at Saratoga, visually impressive when drawing away off a wide move in that one
3. #10 La Madrina (8/1) -- Tapit 1/2 to Verrazano has always shown promise, surely well meant in this spot


Woodbine Race 6 -- G1 Canadian International
#4 Brown Panther (2/1) -- Classier and more versatile of the two Euro raiders, any rain only helps his cause as he's the one true stayer in the field, Lasix & Ryan Moore for Hillstar means this runner may actually drift a bit oddswise, defeated Hillstar at Chester this season

Woodbine Race 10 -- G1 E.P. Taylor
1. #6 Deceptive Vision (2/1) -- Extremely impressive when seen winning the local prep even if she had everything go her way, solid season locally could be topped off with a win here
2. #1 Eyeful (20/1) -- Form is a bit muddied up, but she wants good ground, further, and enters here in good form

Friday, October 3, 2014

Down to the Wire + Weekend Quick Picks

This week on Down to the Wire we previewed the G1 Champagne for juveniles at Belmont, in addition to the G2 Indiana Derby and the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, which features two defending Breeders' Cup winners in Secret Circle and Goldencents. 

Weekend Quick Picks:


Flemington (AUS B) Race 7: Turnbull Stakes -- #8 Puissance De Lune
Darren Weir's popular grey seems to be rounding into form at the right time, as was most recently shown in his third place finish behind Dissident over 1600m last time out. He was one of the eye-catchers in that run and fourth start off the layoff, in addition to the stretch out to 2000m, puts him right in the mix here.  
Others to consider: #17 Stipulate, #4 Hawkspur

Randwick (AUS A) Race 8: Coolmore Flight Stakes -- #7 Lady Sharapova
Form has been a bit muddy this year with her perhaps disappointing in her last two starts after winning first time up. Her most recent start was ran at a very slow pace, however, which is completely counter to her style, so I'm willing to forgive that effort. While I respect the chances of the market leaders Winx and First Seal, neither of them appears to be a worldbeater, at least at this stage, so I'm willing to take them on in this short field of relatively unexposed fillies. This distance should certainly be right up Lady Sharapova's alley based on her pedigree and if they go at a quicker tempo then she experienced last out, she looks a nice chance to make the frame at a big price. 


Keeneland Race 7: G1 First Lady -- #1 Flimbi
Impressive daughter of Mizzen Mast cuts back to a mile, which should better suit her. She came up empty over slightly further last out, but a short break should have her ready to fire here in a race in which the pace setup should suit. 
Others to consider: #9 Centre Court, #8 Somali Lemonade

Sha Tin Race 7: The Celebration Cup -- #10 Secret Sham
This race features a few of Hong Kong's stars including Designs on Rome, Gold Fun, and California Memory, but with all of them being first up here and carrying quite a bit of weight, I'll side with Secret Sham who enters here as one of the lightweights and should be well placed early on, particularly if the pace is fairly slow. Moreira gets the mount for this Moore trainee, who is better suited to this distance than several of the others who are just beginning their campaigns. 


Longchamp Race 5: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe -- Tapestry
Throw out her last race, which was over a mile -- a distance she does not thrive over, and this daughter of Galileo fits right in here. She's drawn beautifully and gets Ryan Moore back aboard, who guided her to victory over the highly regarded Taghrooda two back. She was a late supplement for the race, which indicates to me that they surely think she has a decent chance back home and, of course, she receives the much talked about three-year-old filly weight allowance.