Breeders’ Cup Mile
This is always my favorite race on the card, for some reason I just love the Mile. This is another cracking renewal and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. We’ve got quite a few talented specialists. Bold Chieftain, Goldikova, Kip Deville, Precious Kitten, Thorn Song and Whatsthescript are all the type of horses that could win. In many years it’s just a case of playing the specialists against everyone else. This year it’s about finding which specialists are primed for a big effort. In that regard I think Goldikova is a standout. This filly is better than Six Perfections and Banks Hill. She has a very quick turn of foot, which is a killer trait in the Mile. She is capable of beating any miler in the world. Her preparation has been spot on. She’s had a nice rest and will be ready for a big effort. I suppose there is a chance that America won’t suit her. That is a risk I’m willing to bear even if she’s the favorite. She is the likely winner of this race. The top American hope is Whatsthescript and I’ll use him as the alternative in case Goldikova doesn’t like the hot weather. Whatsthescript has been a bear this year and his form over the trip is exemplary. As with most races I’m going to prefer Californian’s to easterners. Kip Deville still has a huge chance in this race despite his loss last out. He is 8 for 10 in two turn miles and 1 for 3 in one turn miles. Woodbine was never going to be his best chance for success. What does worry me about him though is the lack of a recent sharp race and the fact that he’s been at Aqueduct for months. He’s been shipped out west twice during his career and both were big failures. His only successful races in California came when he was stabled there. He likes Santa Anita but I’m only going to use him underneath if at all. I don’t like the way things have set up for him. I’m also not that high on Thorn Song, he lacks a recent layoff and with Daytona in the race he will surely be hard pressed to get an easy lead. He’s a likable horse but I just don’t think it’ll be his day. Still use him underneath though. He’s a pretty stubborn customer and just because he gets softened up doesn’t mean he’ll be out of the frame. Precious Kitten is interesting. She is not as good as Goldikova and Whatsthescript but she is good at the distance and is 5-4-1-0 in California. She will be able to sit just off the pace and make a quick move at the leaders. Frankel is also confident about her chances. She is a very dangerous horse. Lastly I’ll be using Bold Chieftain in every spot underneath my big two. He is a talented miler whom I prefer over Kip Deville and Thorn Song. He is already out west, he has experience over the course, he is fast enough to compete, he has a perfect milers style and unlike those two he has almost no reputation. He could be one of the longest shots on the board. I’m pretty much set on ignoring any of the horses outside my top 6 and among the 6 I rate them in this order: Goldikova, Whatsthescript, Precious Kitten, Bold Chieftain, Thorn Song and Kip Deville. Hopefully Goldikova gets a clean trip and adapts because I really think we could see a special performance.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
I adore Midshipman in this race. He will likely be the subject of my heaviest support for the day. There are so many things to like about Baffert’s budding star. I think he has a lot more potential than any horse in this race. Although physically he is reminiscent of Congaree his juvenile campaign reminds me more of Point Given. Once Point Given found his feet (albeit as a 3yo) he was nearly untouchable. I think Midshipman is due to find his feet in the Juvenile. His speed figures, despite being all earned on synthetics which yield slower numbers, are as good or better than everyone else’s. His first attempt at two turns resulted in his first loss but Baffert said he learned some key things about him that day and that he’ll improve. I actually picked against him in the Norfolk because I thought he was being pushed a bit hard. Baffert got him good in time to break his maiden then essentially ran him twice off that same fitness. With more time between starts but harder works in the morning I think the horse is perfectly primed for a big effort. The outside post doesn’t bother me. There is plenty of time to get in the right spot and Baze likely wants to be stalking the pace on the outside anyway. I think Square Eddie and Munnings are both sucker horses. Square Eddie screams Euro bounce and we can’t forget that Keeneland bears little resemblance to Santa Anita. He is trying to do something completely new just 3 weeks after romping to a lifetime best performance. Munnings may be the best eastern juvenile in the race and I do think he has a nice future. But this is the wrong spot to be risking any money on him. He wants to be near the pace but he doesn’t break that well. The inside draw will likely force him to be shuffled way back. He’s also trying two turns for the first time. Amazingly someone made him the morning line favorite for this race. I honestly hope that holds up. The main danger to Midshipman I see is Street Hero. He is not as brilliant but he is just as gutsy. I think he is a great bet to hit the frame. Street Hero is what I like to call a benchmark horse. You know exactly what kind of performance you’re going to get from him. Sometimes it’s good enough to win, sometimes it’s just good enough to hit the frame but he’s a great horse to judge your form off of. He’s already faced Midshipman three times and his results against him have gotten progressively better. He is a danger for sure but I still prefer Midshipman. For a couple of longshots I like Elusive Bluff and Terrain. Elusive Bluff’s entry in this race made me scratch my head for a while. He looks like a great prospect for the other juvenile race. But his trainer Eric Guillot is an underrated master with juveniles and I do put some stock in his judgment. So much was made of Juvy Turf favorite Bittel Road’s gutsy win last time out but Elusive Bluff looked exactly the same in his. He seemed to be struggling to accelerate but he just kept grinding. It was actually quite remarkable that he got up for the win. Synthetics may help him along a little. Gradual accelerators have done pretty well on the surface. He is dangerous. There is a bit of support coming in for wise guy play Pioneerof the Nile and I have to say I just don’t see it. I much prefer the horse who handled him easily last time, Terrain. No one is going to bet Terrain but he’s going to get a good ground saving trip and if we get a wacky pace like we sometimes do in this race he’s the one I want my money on. He’s a good, consistent deep closer. He’s been on 4 different tracks and liked them all so I think he should adapt well. I respect the chances of West Side Bernie just because he seems to tick all the right boxes but the extreme outside post is not ideal.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
I think the odds maker did a decent job with this one. There are 6 horses below 10-1 and I think 5 of them make of the group of “horses to beat”. The winner should likely be one of these five: Bittel Road, Westphalia, Skipadate, Grand Adventure and Coronet of a Baron. The trouble is three of these horses (Bittel Road, Grand Adventure and Skipadate) drew the outside posts. In the Mile I don’t really care about outside posts unless they’re committed speed horses. Most of the milers are old pro’s who can get themselves sorted and settled by the turn. This race is a different story and I fear that if any of these three try to take up a more tactical position they’ll get hung out. Unfortunately it means they likely have to drop out the back and work their way through the field. That’s not a huge problem for Bittel Road and Skipadate has experience with that as well but Grand Adventure looks compromised. It’s a real shame too because I love Sam-Son farms and I’ll be rooting for this guy. He looks like he could be a really good router with some maturity. This may not be his day though. Bittel Road also looks like an accomplished router in the making but I’m not going to make him my primary pick. I think he still needs to learn how to run a complete race. He goes to sleep in spots and in a field this good I think it’ll be too much to overcome, especially when you factor in traffic as well. Skipadate has more of a miler look to him. He’s small, he’s quick and he’s tough. He also apparently waits on horses so connections outfitted him with blinkers to give him more focus. He is the most live out of the outside three. Westphalia has to rate a huge chance. He is a much better horse than the ones that came last year. He does not have much early speed so likely he’ll just break behind the rest, save ground and try to get a clean shot in the lane. He will count on some luck in running but his talent is beyond question. No matter who is in front at the 1/8th pole keep looking back to see where this guy is. The horse that could be in front at the 1/8th pole is Coronet of a Baron. I think this is a better place for his two-turn debut than the Juvenile. I think he is talented enough to run with the main track horses but this is an easier spot for him to stretch out. The last two times he was gunned to the front prematurely by Nakatani and got caught. Garcia should handle him more patiently and hopefully he won’t fully expose him around the turn. I think because of the post positions and the pace he becomes the horse to beat. So I’ll likely use Coronet of a Baron as my primary then Westphalia and Skipadate as secondary picks. Grand Adventure and Bittel Road still need to be used underneath. The only outsider I’d consider is Orthodox. He doesn’t look nearly good enough but he is the only Californian in the race and his best race was definitely on the grass. If home court advantage counts for anything he could pick up a piece.
Coronet of a Baron