Breeders’ Cup Sprint
I think the Sprint is rather straightforward despite it’s reputation for being a hard race to predict. There are four main contenders: Cost of Freedom, Street Boss, Fatal Bullet and Fabulous Strike. The rest of the field is running for third money at best. The Californian duo of Cost of Freedom and Street Boss are the main horses I’m going to use on top. There is plenty to like about both of them. I think home track advantage will be a factor throughout the Breeders’ Cup and both of these horses clearly like the surface. Cost of Freedom is simply on an extremely hot run of form. Sometimes things just click for older horses. Remember Thor’s Echo a few years back? This is the same type of transformation and I really struggle to envision a scenario that sees him well beaten. There is some decent early speed in the race so he should sit a nice trip behind them. The inside post is a slight worry. He may have to be used a little more than connections prefer but you know he’ll be able to come out at least a bit with Street Boss and Midnight Lute dropping to the back. He is 5 for 5 at the distance, it’s hard to argue with that. Street Boss is the most consistent high-level sprinter in the nation. I always suspected that his wide and late style would catch up with him and last time it did. That is simply the danger of running that way but with that race in mind I think his connections will be wary of getting him on the engine a little sooner. He and Cost of Freedom are quite likely to have the same stretch battle they did in the Ancient Title but this time it should be closer. I think whenever you look at the Sprint you have to give extra consideration to the fastest horse and that is definitely Fabulous Strike. I think the injuries he’s had have robbed him of showing the monstrous form he is capable of. Synthetics are a question so I rate him lower than the Californian pair but in terms of brilliance only Midnight Lute gets close to him and the Lute’s had an even worse year health wise. If Fabulous Strike takes to the surface everyone else will struggle. Fatal Bullet has one loss on synthetics in 8 starts. That loss came in his second lifetime start. He is a perfect 5 for 5 at the distance and his last race at Turfway Park was simply a tour de force. He’s got Cajun Beat written all over him. The one thing that I dislike about him is that he’s not fresh. I pretty much require my sprint picks to have recent layoffs but he’s been on the go since April. I think he will sit a perfect trip just to the outside of the speed and if he’s still got juice in those legs he will be tough to deny. I like him more underneath instead of on top because of the layoff issue.
Cost of Freedom
Breeders’ Cup Turf
This race looks pretty wide open on paper but I think there is a good chance that a few horses will prove to be dominant over the others. The race is full of trap horses in my opinion and the three big traps are Grand Couturier, Winchester and Eagle Mountain. Those three will come in for some support and I can’t fathom backing any one of them. Each one is a trap because they all come in off of good races, in most cases career best performances but their full body of form shows that they’re all worse than a specific rival in this race. Grand Couturier may be the American horse of the moment but let’s not get carried away. He has never been as good as Red Rocks, not when they faced each other in Europe and not when they’ve faced each other in America. Red Rocks is simply a better horse and I prefer his freshness over Grand Couturier’s spiking form. Winchester did blow them away at Arlington but really you have to ask whom exactly did he blow away? Good summer form at Arlington almost never translates into a good race on BC day. Besides he has never been anywhere close to the level of Conduit. There is much talk about how Eagle Mountain is a much better horse over 12f than he is over 8f and that is true. But Soldier of Fortune is a much better horse period and with his recent summer freshening he is primed for a huge race in the Turf. Soldier of Fortune may simply be too good for the rest of the field. Class tells over this distance and I think even Conduit will struggle to keep pace once the real running starts. Only Red Rocks, the firm turf specialist, really has a chance to keep up with him. Both Red Rocks and Soldier of Fortune are just better than everyone else and unless something unfortunate befalls them I expect them to make up the exacta. Conduit has to be used in all minor places and you could probably use Eagle Mountain underneath as well. One horse I may just have a flutter on is Spring House. I’ve loved him for this race ever since last December but his last effort turned me off. I still think he has a good race in there somewhere. 12f is his favorite distance and this is his favorite course. I always upgrade any horse running at the course and distance he loves most. Spring House has never shown the requisite brilliance to beat the favorites but he has come along very well in the morning and Canani is very shrewd in campaigning his turf horses. Maybe Spring House could upset the apple cart and juice up the exacta.
Soldier of Fortune
Breeders’ Cup Classic
Can anyone beat Curlin? Yes. Will anyone beat Curlin? I doubt it. The race may just be that simple. Curlin is the best horse in the race and even with the surface question he is a solid bet. My observation with this synthetic track is that heavy bodied gradual accelerators often get the best results. Curlin is just such a horse. Extreme traffic seems to be the only big danger to him. There are a few others I respect though and I’m not going to simply concede this race to Curlin despite the fact that he’s the most likely winner. I will dedicate a portion of my bankroll for this race to seeing him defeated. The horse that I like to possibly upset him is Fairbanks. I don’t like him because of the pace scenario. I looked at possibles for this race three weeks ago and he jumped off the page as a contender who is coming in the best form of his life. It seems I had more faith in him than his connections because they’re only in this race because most of the speed dropped out. That’s fine, whatever gets him in the gate. Fairbanks has speed but he’s not quick, his style is to click off steady :12’s and hope that no one is good enough to rally into that pace. I don’t think he’ll get a free ride here. Raven’s Pass is likely to be on the muscle as well as Casino Drive. But everyone will be thinking primarily about Curlin so we shouldn’t see any kamikaze assaults on the pace setter. Fairbanks outside post actually gives him the advantage of seeing how things develop before committing to the front. He can just as readily sit off the pace. Being by Giants Causeway he should likely handle the surface well. I think it’s all systems go for Fairbanks, he is the only horse that I give a legitimate upset chance to. Underneath I think you have to look at Go Between, my problem with him is that he is a poor man’s Curlin in terms of style and ability. It’s not hard to see him running second but it is hard to see him beating Curlin while getting the same trip. Duke of Marmalade is the best of the Europeans. I worry that he could be over the top but if he isn’t he represents the best chance for Europe. I do respect Raven’s Pass though just because he’s a very hard trying horse. That can overcome a lot of things. I think Champs Elysees also has to be used everywhere underneath. On the evidence of a single race his best surface might be synthetics. He comes from a long way out of it but he will be coming and he definitely stays the trip unlike Tiago who will suck a lot of money. Tiago is an ace at 9f and not so hot at 10f. Although his last prep was good I don’t think it’ll matter much going further. Student Council wants traditional dirt and Colonel John simply isn’t good enough at this stage of his career.