Breeders’ Cup Marathon
This is not a race I’d play too heavily unless the prices are far different from what I’m expecting. I think Sixties Icon, Zappa and Cedar Mountain are the horses you have to consider. Sixties Icon is riding a three race winning streak in Europe and you know he stays the trip easily. He is the only G-1 winner in the race and at one point in his career he looked good enough to win the BC Turf. Those days are past for him but he still has a major class advantage over everyone else. Synthetics and hot weather are the question marks with him. I don’t think there is a clear cut answer to either of those. One thing that does cool me slightly on him is the fact that he’s been on the go since the season opened in Europe. Most of the Europeans who run well here did so off a break of some kind in the summer or fall. Conversely most of the Europeans who fail badly didn’t get any breaks at all. Sixties Icon is the horse to beat but he’s not a confident selection. The first American I like as an alternative is Zappa. With Fairbanks out he might be able to control the pace. He likes a route of ground going 2 for 3 past 10f on the main track and as he showed at Del Mar he is capable of running huge when he feels like it. Cedar Mountain is the horse I’ll likely settle on depending on the prices. He is underrated and I don’t think many people realize his level of class. He wants at least 12f, he is all stayer. He has already won on synthetics although that was in Europe. His Turf races were good enough to make me believe that he can handle anyone in this race aside from maybe Sixties Icon at his best. The extended layoff is not ideal, in my opinion, for going this far but Drysdale is quite competent. I have to trust that the horse is ready.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
Turf Sprint’s tend to be difficult races to handicap. I had quite a time with them at Saratoga but I am thinking that Santa Anita’s course is odd enough that some horses will have a very hard time with it. I am hoping the specialists dominate. The eastern horses like Mr. Nightlinger, True To Tradition and Salute The Count will be at a disadvantage for not having tried the downhill course before. Not only does the downhill and right handed turn throw a wrench in the mix but crossing the dirt track is a huge distraction for a lot of horses. I think the pace is going to be breakneck. The downhill course always sees quick early fractions but this may be the fastest field ever assembled on this course. I count no less than 5 pure speed horses and a few of them really need the lead. So basically in this race I’m looking to focus on stalkers or closers with a good record on the course. The logical horses are Get Funky and Desert Code. Get Funky is a great bet in this race. He suffered his first ever Turf sprinting loss last time when California Flag freaked out but with more pace in here Get Funky is looking at a better setup. He’s been prepped all year for this race and I suspect connections are thrilled with him. His loss last time means he’ll avoid favoritism. If money flows for the big reputation eastern horses he could even be something like 6/1 which I think is a great price for a horse as solid as he is. Desert Code is not as brilliant as Get Funky but he does have a few stakes wins over the course and he has the favorable second off a layoff angle working for him. His best races come when closely stalking the speed. A lot of pace means he might get shuffled back more than he prefers but it may help him if this field goes the first quarter in sub :21 which they’re capable of doing. He is definitely worth having a few quid on. Of the Europeans I really respect Fleeting Spirit. She likes firm ground and her best race might be better than anyone else’s. The question with her is similar to the questions concerning the easterners. Will they handle this unique course. If her price happens to be better than the big guns from the east then lump on. She is as good as them if not better and the risk of her not performing is similar. I don’t think anyone has managed to forget what Mandella did the last time the Breeders’ Cup came to Santa Anita. He’s got One Union in this race and the horse, while not the most likely winner, does have a good chance of hitting the board. He basically runs the same race every time and that race might be good enough to get a piece. Also if you’re looking for a contrarian trainer angle consider this. Salute the Count was impressive in his last win. It was a career best effort and he has been freshened up since but his recent training according to Dutrow has left his participation in doubt. A few days ago he said he might not even send him. In 2005 we had nearly the same occurrence. He had a horse that last ran a career best race but was coming off a layoff. He said his training was so poor he might not run. Well he did end up running and Silver Train paid $25.80
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
I suspect a collective groan went through the ranks of opposing trainers when it was announced that Well Armed was coming to this race instead of the Classic. For the record I think he ought to have taken his shot at the big price but he is the horse to beat here and I’m not sure than anyone can. If I were looking for a single of the day this horse would likely be it. Well Armed has been a monster this year, especially on synthetics. All of his last five races are better than anything anyone else in this field has run all year. I think he simply outclasses this bunch. He can adapt to any pace so there is little chance of catching him out that way. He simply looks like money in the bank. There still could be a chance to make money with exotics though. I kind of like the Lacombe Tiznow brothers of Slew’s Tizzy and Slew’s Tiznow. $10 says that Denman mixes them up at least once during the race. Slew’s Tizzy is the more established but I prefer his younger brother. I think Slew’s Tizzy has already sort of established that he needs to be right on the pace to win. He is inside of all the speed but I think he’ll get covered up by some faster horses. Slew’s Tiznow may well prove to be better than his brother. He was certainly far more precocious. He needs to improve to be competitive, which is why you’ll get a price, but he is at a stage in his career where massive and sudden improvement is normal. He’s already as good as horses like Rebellion and Two Step Salsa. A step up could see him match up well with Surf Cat, Albertus Maximus and Lewis Micheal. He’s got good tactical speed and he has already shown an affinity for synthetics. He’s drawn outside Well Armed which could aid him in pacing himself properly. I suspect Bejarano will get a good look at the whole field from his position and be well placed to make a run when appropriate. Lewis Micheal, Surf Cat, Albertus Maximus and Rebellion are also logical horses to use underneath Well Armed.