This is the second writing of this analysis as it had to be totally changed when Cry An Catch Me scratched. She was my primary selection and the race will miss her greatly. I love races where it looks like the main choice is a good bet against. I’m not positive that Indian Blessing is going to be the favorite at post time but she will be well backed and she won’t win this race. Yes she destroyed the Frizette field but her closing fractions were horrendous. That speaks badly of both the winner and the horses who were chasing her. All that is ever said about Indian Blessing is that she’s fast, even Bob Baffert has a sort of “cross your fingers” type of attitude. Izarra is getting plenty of support because of the way she came charging in the Oak Leaf but personally I was more impressed with Cry and Catch Me. I saw Izarra’s stretch run as an underperformance. She hooked the winner at least a 1/16th from the line and looked like she had to go by but she couldn’t get there. Two fillies I do really like are Grace Anatomy and A To the Croft. Grace Anatomy’s Alcibiades was reminiscent of Street Sense’s Breeders Futurity last year. Although she did not display the same electrifying burst of pace there was plenty to like about her. She broke all in a tangle and gave the field some ground. On the backstretch her jockey decided to make a big run into contention and she did that with ease. She then made another move to get to the front but could not hold off Country Star and A To The Croft. I love playing late runners/stalkers who made premature moves in their prior start. With a more patient, well timed ride, Grace Anatomy could sweep by this group. At To The Croft might be the best show bet on the card. This filly is classy and consistent and will love every step of this race. I do not like the fact that she has problems winning but I think of her as this year’s version of Octave. She should run big even if she doesn’t win. Blinkers could also help to focus her. The fact that these fillies have drawn outside is not a real worry, they’ll drop off the pace anyway. I don’t really like anyone else in this race I might use Tasha’s Miracle, Zee Zee, Izarra and Irish Smoke underneath or even Clearly Foxy but nothing inspires.
A To The Croft
I could be totally on the wrong track with this race and even in Breeders Cups where you seemingly do no wrong you almost always have a race where the top 3 finishers are horses you never considered or those you intentionally stood against. This might be one of those races because my top pick Dixie Chatter has scratched and I’m still choosing to stand against War Pass, eventhough he’s the obvious choice. I think the pace will be hotter in the Juvenile and I think that two turns may be his undoing. Globalization, Slew’s Tiznow and Wicked Style all have speed and I think this race is not likely to be wired. War Pass only knows one way to run and I don’t like the way he shortened stride in the Champagne. I’m also going to go against Tale Of Ekati. He was visually impressive in the Futurity and he’s got some nice figures but he lacks experience in a route race. I think that’s critical in this race. He is marvelously talented so I’m not all out standing against him, I just can’t make him a win selection. He’ll be the clear second choice and his lack of two turn experience coupled with his “too fast” work make him a bad gamble. Many people will support Pyro but I’d only use him underneath. I think much of his closing kick was due to War Pass slowing down. I think he’d need a meltdown to win. A meltdown is possible but it’s likely going to be hard to close in this race. Wicked Style has my respect because no matter how impossible the situation looks he has overcome it so far. Riley Tucker went by him at Arlington and he came back for the win. Even the 12 post and supposed anti speed bias at Keeneland couldn’t stop him. The horse has some serious class and I think he’ll be the one they’re chasing in the lane. Kodiak Kowboy is a bit of a contrarian play. Conventional wisdom says that his best days are already done, people say he’s a confirmed sprinter who is an easy bet against. My opinion is he is a class horse who could easily hit the frame. He’s never done anything wrong and we don’t know for certain that he can’t go long. He might actually get overlooked. At more than 10/1 he’s worth using. The Juvenile often has sprinter types who hit the frame like Henny Hughes and Chapel Royal. He is another without route experience but he does have more bottom in general and despite getting slashed by Ekati in his last I think he’s just as likely to go long but at a much better price. I also like Salute The Sarge as both he and Kodiak Kowboy have the ability to sit just off the pace. I think that will be the best place to be pace wise. Salute The Sarge has never been on dirt and who knows how he’ll handle off going but so far he’s acted on every track he’s been on. He and Kodiak Kowboy are actually the most experienced stakes horses in the race so maybe that will count for something. I do not have a win selection for this race, I may just dabble in exotics. Salute The Sarge and Kodiak Kowboy will be a part of anything I play but I may even end up using them defensively with the two favorites.
Filly And Mare Turf
Very confusing race with, still, so many unknowns at this stage. A big one is whether or not Wait A While will run. Wait A While has the talent to win an event like this and more importantly she may effect the pace if she runs but since no one knows what the weather will be like we don’t know if she’ll be in. The pace is a major issue in this race as it appears that on paper Precious Kitten is the only horse with speed. I am pretty sure that Frankel and Bejarano will try to repeat the feat they pulled off with Intercontinental. Precious Kitten may not be Intercontinental but Nashoba’s Key isn’t Ouija Board so it is possible that this race could be a procession. Precious Kitten although untested at the distance is bred for it so there you go, keep an eye on this 30/1 shot. I do suspect though that All My Loving and Wait A While might make life difficult for Frankel’s filly. Nashoba’s Key reminds me Azeri in a way. She seems almost mechanical, not really brilliant but a win machine who runs as fast as necessary to win the race. So far no dynamic of pace or surface has fazed her and it’s a reasonable bet to think that this will continue here. She should stalk the pace and come with that trademark grinding run. The risk here is that she does not get to the front too soon. Horses like Nashoba’s Key who only do what is necessary can often be vulnerable to a late runner on the outside, because they strike the front early and slow themselves up. Hopefully that won’t be the case here but the horse I like to run her down if any is Honey Ryder. Forget her last race, Arlington is not her favorite course, that is something that was noted by many including me prior to the Beverly D. Honey Ryder is all class and loves the distance. The encouraging thing about her is that she basically never runs poorly twice in a row. You have to go back to 2004 to find a place where she ran off the board then did not win next out. The Monmouth course is apparently very long and lush right now which will be new for Nashoba but right up the alley for Honey Ryder. She’ll be flying late and I’m nearly certain she’ll be in the top 3. As for the Europeans I am mostly against Passage Of Time. I think her reputation is inflated and I much prefer All My Loving who actually proved herself to be superior. Although Passage of Time does become more appealing with soft ground. Use her defensively. All My Loving has come off the boil a bit and her last race was just last weekend but O’Brien prepared L’Ancresse much the same way and she was narrowly denied victory at 46/1. This is a better horse than L’Ancresse and she likes to be forwardly placed. American racing may wake her up. They may not be the most interesting selections but I’m sticking with Nashoba’s Key and Honey Ryder hoping that class will prevail.