Friday, October 16, 2009

Breeders' Cup Top 5

October 16th

Ladies Classic
1. Zenyatta (2)
2. Music Note (3)
3. Careless Jewel (4)
4. Mushka (new)
5. Icon Project (1)

Dropped: Acoma (5)

It has become rather popular to go against Zenyatta recently but in reality she deserves this #1 slot. Her Beyer was not that impressive in the Lady's Secret but she's never lost a race and she certainly did not look like losing last weekend. She made an earlier move and ended the race as a contest in the upper stretch. It's going to take a real runner to beat her and I don't think anyone can.

I did believe in Icon Project but her latest fitness issues put her firmly on the fence. She realistically may not even make the race.

Careless Jewel has the ideal running style for a possible upset of Zenyatta but then again we've never seen an upset so it's really hard to say what might get the Moss filly beaten. Careless Jewel is in fine form though and she will a major pace threat especially since it looks like pace will be scarce.

I added Mushka to the list not because I thought she ran a better race than Proviso but because I think she has a better chance of repeating that performance than Proviso. I'm not a fan of Europeans second time off the plane. Especially when they run big first time off the plane. Mushka is a horse I loved as a 2yo. I was all over her in the Demoiselle and she more than justified my confidence. That was a huge performance. Unfortunately she has rarely looked good since. She has won 4 of her last 13 races but has missed the board in 5 of them. Her last two races have been the turning of a page for her. She won the Glens Falls fair and square and now the Spinster on the DQ. Her two Polytrack races have yielded Beyers of 97 and 101. That puts her in the mix and her good current form only adds spice to her intrigue. Maybe Mushka will be the horse I hoped after all.

Filly and Mare Turf
1. Dar Re Mi (1)
2. Midday (2)
3. Forever Together (3)
4. Pure Clan (4)
5. Gozzip Girl (5)

I moved Forever Together off her perch in this division a few weeks back and the decision to do so looks better and better. I'm not going to be hard on her for the loss in the First Lady. It was a soft course and a flat mile. Neither of those play to her preference but it seems clear that the Europeans are probably stronger. Forever Together is definitely the #1 North American Turf filly in my opinion but Dar Re Mi and Midday look pretty scary.

Dar Re Mi has been running at the highest levels all year long and it's not much of a stretch to say that she could be as impressive as Ouija Board. She is simply a really phenomenal horse. If she has held her form she's the one to beat.

Midday must be feared even if it's simply because of her stable. Juddmonte farms is flying at the moment, much like Godolphin. Even the terrible underachiever Visit nearly took a G-1 race. I know Midday comes from another barn but the Juddmonte crew often does very well in the fall. Midday could be a monster.

Pure Clan looks solid but ordinary while Gozzip Girl has it all to prove in the QE II this weekend. Really only Gozzip Girl and Miss World look capable of catching my eye in Keeneland's main feature. It would take something really special from one of the other fillies to see them included.

Woodbine's E.P. Taylor stakes looks like a doozy with several top notch Europeans coming. Rainbow View and Look Here would certainly be well backed in the Breeders' Cup but because they're getting a preliminary start in North America I'd toss them if they reappear. Europeans do very poorly second time off the plane. What I'd look for instead is any North American that can give these fillies a run for their money. Maybe someone like Treat Gently for Juddmonte and Bobby Frankel.

One filly I would not touch with a ten foot pole is Magical Fantasy. She has fraud written all over her. I expect her to be well and truly crushed in the Breeders' Cup.

Filly and Mare Sprint
1. Ventura (1)
2. Informed Decision (2)
3. Indian Blessing (3)
4. Sara Louise (4)
5. Carlsbad (5)

There is little doubt in my mind that I have the right 5 horses in my top 5. What I struggle with is the precise order that they should be ranked. I decided to leave them be because on accomplishments I think this is an accurate ranking. But workouts, current fitness, pace and post position will decide the proper order for these fillies.

Informed Decision looked beaten at Keeneland in the TCA but she's just relentless on synthetic surfaces and she got to Carlsbad just like she got to Ventura earlier this spring. I'm not sure that even Ventura could handle her but I think freshness may be a factor.

Carlsbad ran her heart out and she nearly got it done. She should have lots of confidence going into the Breeders' Cup because she definitely proved that she can mix it with the best. Don't be surprised if she's very tough to catch going back home to Santa Anita.

Juvenile Fillies
1. Always a Princess (new)
2. She Be Wild (2)
3. Blind Luck (3)
4. Awesome Maria (4)
5. Beautician (1)

Dropped: Midst (5)

It took a while for this division to really take shape, it usually does but this year it seemed to take an especially long time. The Oak Leaf, Alcibiades and Frizette should be the key determining races. I think the quality we saw in those events ensures that the winner won't likely be coming from some maiden or allowance.

I was completely impressed with Always a Princess in the Oak Leaf. She was taken out of her game when given the inside post and she responded well to the adversity. I know she eventually succumbed to Blind Luck but I think she'll definitely be the better horse when it counts. With more experience and a better pace setup the Baffert filly looks like one of the best picks of the entire Breeders' Cup.

She Be Wild looked a shade unlucky in the Alcibiades. I thought the quality of the race was good and the winner, Negligee, looks like a decent sort. But I still think Catalano's filly is the better of the two. She moved a little sooner and that maybe told on her late. One thing I always shy away from is big upset winners in their very next start. Few of them are able to turn the trick twice in a row. It's better to stick with the established quality and She Be Wild is definitely the established quality.

Blind Luck will likely be the favorite for the Juvenile Fillies and she deserves it. She's the best closer in the race and everyone else will be praying that the pace is not too quick up front because if it is she'll roll on by this field. I worry that she might not be versatile enough to catch a good stalker though and that's why I have her placed in third. Both Always a Princess and She Be Wild have better tactical speed and very similar talent.

Awesome Maria didn't win the Frizette but I think she is the highest quality horse to come out of it. Pletcher's Devil May Care is undefeated but I thought Awesome Maria had the tougher trip and was unlucky to miss out. I know this means that I've got the three second place finishers from the major preps in my top 5 while only one of the winners made it but I really think that Always a Princess, She Be Wild and Awesome Maria are a much better group than Blind Luck, Negligee and Devil May Care. Awesome Maria is no sure thing to actually contest the Breeders' Cup but I'm hoping that connections send her. She deserves it in my opinion.

Beautician fell from my number 1 spot all the way to 5th. She's lucky that she stayed on the list at all. I'm willing to give her another shot because she really did have all kinds of trouble. She seemed to get over the track okay it was just the traffic she encountered that disadvantaged her. I still prefer her chances over the rest of this crop that has gone unmentioned.

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