Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
$2 Win: 13- Marley’s Freedom
$1 Exacta Box: 1- Selcourt / 7- Skye Diamonds / 13- Marley’s Freedom
$2 WPS: 7- Skye Diamonds
I think Marley’s Freedom is going to be tough to beat in this spot – she’s tactical but versatile, and in a race with a lot of speed, she is the most likely winner of this race. However, she will be a very short price, and I think Skye Diamonds is a very live contender. She got back to the winner’s circle in her most recent start, and she’s overall a very consistent mare who always runs her race. Selcourt must be respected by virtue of her win in the Santa Monica, but that was back in March and she hasn’t raced since. She’s wickedly fast, but breaking from the rail will force her to gun early, and with other talented speed horses such as Anonymity and Mia Mischief in the race, it’s hard to pick her with any confidence. That said, I think she’s good enough to stick around for a piece of the purse even with significant pace pressure, so I’ll absolutely include her in my exacta.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
$2 Win: 9- Stormy Liberal
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Bucchero / 5- Disco Partner / 9- Stormy Liberal
$2 WPS: 2- Bucchero
Stormy Liberal was 30-1 when he won this race last year at Del Mar, and this year he’s coming into the Turf Sprint off three consecutive victories where he earned triple-digit Beyers. He’s another very versatile sort of runner, capable of passing horses with a quick late turn of foot or being right there with the pacesetters. If he’s around his 4-1 morning line price, I think he’s a solid bet. He was very impressive when finishing second on a good turf course to the venerable Jungle Cat in the Al Quoz Sprint earlier this year, so I don’t think the turf condition will be a problem for him. However, I think the better value lies with Indiana-bred Bucchero. He ran huge to be fourth beaten only a length in this race last year, and if he gets a clean trip I think he is plenty good enough to win. I’d be remiss not to mention the incredibly talented Disco Partner, who was third in this race last year. This world-record setting stallion is as good as ever at age six, but I think that as the 7-2 morning line favorite he is vulnerable. I think 5 1/2 furlongs may be a bit shorter than his best distance, but he was ultra impressive in his most recent prep over a good turf course at Belmont, and he deserves the utmost respect. Another horse that I think has an upset chance and should not be left out of the bottom of vertical bets is Rainbow Heir, who will absolutely be coming with a late run at the end of this race.
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
$2 Win: 7- Firenze Fire
$1 Exacta Box: 1- City of Light / 7- Firenze Fire / 8- Bravazo
$2 WPS: 8- Bravazo
I’m taking a stand against the morning line favorite Catalina Cruiser in here, which may prove to backfire tremendously, as the four-year-old son of Union Rags is undefeated in four starts and has been impressive in every one. However, I think he has a lot of questions to answer in here. I don’t think he’s ever faced a horse with the quality of the other top contenders in here (Battle of Midway, while he won this race last year, has been uninspiring since his return). I like the three-year-old Firenze Fire on top. He was ultra impressive in his Dwyer win at this distance, and ultra game in his score in the Gallant Bob last time out, where he was savaged by Whereshetoldmetogo but was able to keep that rival at bay regardless. He won’t let the pacesetters get away from him, and if it comes down to a stretch battle, I’d rather have him than the untested Catalina Cruiser. City of Light is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, and I think he’s the horse to beat. I think a mile will suit him perfectly, and he has been up against some incredibly talented horses throughout his career.
I’ll take Bravazo to fill out the exacta, and as my across the board wager. I like the cut back in distance for this horse, and he’s coming into this off of a series of very good workouts. I’m willing to toss his lackluster PA Derby effort, as he was caught wide and close up to the pace. I think cutting back to a mile will allow him to finish up with more energy. I thought his effort in the Travers was very commendable, and I think that 20-1 on the morning line is a huge overlay on this D Wayne Lukas trainee.
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
$2 Win: 3- Wild Illusion
$1 Exacta Box: 3- Wild Illusion / 6- Sistercharlie / 10- Magic Wand
$2 WPS: 9- A Raving Beauty
Chad Brown will be sending out five runners in the Filly and Mare Turf, and leading his contingent is Sistercharlie, who is a neck and a head away from being undefeated since coming to America for the Belmont Oaks last July. She’s the best of the Americans in my estimation, but she has some solid competition coming from both overseas and her own barn. Godolphin’s Wild Illusion is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, and is coming into this race off two consecutive G1 wins in Europe at 1 1/4 miles. She’s also shown a bit of speed in races overseas, and I think she’ll be able to be tactically positioned here. The Aiden O’Brien trainee Magic Wand was most recently second to Wild Illusion, but got the better of that rival back in June in the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes at 1 1/2 miles.
I think the race sets up nicely for Chad Brown’s 10-1 ML runner A Raving Beauty, who will likely get the lead in a race without a lot of dedicated front-runners. She’s coming off a career-best 102 Beyer speed figure in her G1 First Lady victory at Keeneland. She hasn’t raced farther than 1 1/8 miles since coming to America, and has some questions to answer about whether she really wants to go this far, but she will be on the front end and is a talented mare who can be tough to pass once she gets to the lead.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint
$2 Win: 9- Roy H
$1 Exacta Box: 1- Whitmore / 8- Limousine Liberal / 9- Roy H
$2 WPS: 8- Limousine Liberal
I think Limousine Liberal is coming into this race ready to roll, and while many people have noted that this year’s Sprint is a bit lacking in speed, but I think that Imperial Hint and Roy H will be able to keep the primary speed, Promises Fulfilled, honest on the front end and set it up for the closing kicks of Limousine Liberal and Whitmore, who also won’t be too far removed from the front end. I think Roy H is simply the best horse in the race, and it’ll take a huge effort for anyone else in here to defeat him.
Breeders’ Cup Mile
$2 Win: 5- Oscar Performance
$1 Exacta Box: 5- Oscar Performance / 7- Expert Eye / 11- Lightning Spear
$2 WPS: 11- Lightning Spear
With the scratch of morning line favorirte Polydream, I think Oscar Performance is the most likely winner of this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. I expect to see him go to the front end, with Analyze It right to his outside. European Lightning Spear is my second choice in here, though. I’m willing to dismiss his poor effort behind Roaring Lion in the QEII at Ascot last time out, and I really think he’ll appreciate getting back to carrying 126lbs here, after carrying 130 in his last two races and 134 to victory in the G1 Sussex Stakes three starts back over Expert Eye. His 2018 form has been incredibly solid and while I don’t think there’s any chance you get the 20-1 ML price, I think he should be a reasonable midprice horse. To round out my exacta, I’ll go with Expert Eye, who Lightning Spear defeated in the Sussex and who turned the tables to beat him by about a length when finishing third in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.
Breeders Cup Distaff
$2 Win: 2- Abel Tasman
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Abel Tasman / 10- Blue Prize / 11- Monomoy Girl
$2 WPS: 10- Blue Prize
Abel Tasman is absolutely the horse to beat here in my book; Baffert said that she had the same illness in the Zenyatta that had swept through his barn, and the race was so lackluster that I’ll completely disregard it. Abel Tasman has been a very talented filly since the beginning, and she has no problem digging in against a tough opponent if needed. Three-year-old Monomoy Girl, who should get the lead, has shown similar tenacity. I think she was best in the Cotillion, and to my eye she beat Midnight Bisou on the square in that race. She will need to prove that she can defeat her elders in here, though, and I don’t think she’s anywhere close to a lock. I do firmly believe that she’ll hit the board though. To round out my 3-horse exacta box, I’ll take Blue Prize. Another who won’t back down from a fight, this Argentina-bred mare has never been off the board at this distance and is coming in off three straight graded stakes wins.
Breeders Cup Turf
$2 Win: 7- Glorious Empire
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Enable / 7- Glorious Empire / 12- Waldgeist
$2 WPS: 11- Sadler’s Joy
Enable is by and far the best horse running on the entire Breeders’ Cup card today, and I think she will be exceptionally tough in this spot. Traditionally, Arc winners have not fared well in the Breeders Cup Turf, with the also-rans in the race often outperforming the victor in this spot. However, the Arc was only the second race of Enable’s four-year-old year, and while the way she barely held on was a stark constrast to her strong victory in the race at age three, it’s hard to imagine she got much out of her G3 prep where she won wire-to-wire with absurd ease. I think she’s ready for a big run now, and she might honestly be a horse that you could single in multi-race wagers.
That said, I think Glorious Empire is the best chance America has to upset the great European filly. The gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor should either be leading or tracking the rather speedy Hi Happy early (though I think that Hi Happy, breaking from the 10 post, will choose to sit just off of Glorious Empire). At age seven, he has shown the best form of his career, backing up his 22-1 upset of the Bowling Green with a victory at 15-1 over Channel Maker in the Sword Dancer. He hasn’t raced since August, but James Lawrence is 30% from 20 starts of a 61-180 day layoff. I’ll also use Waldgeist in my exacta. He was most recently seen finishing less than two lengths behind Enable in the Arc, and prior to that he handed last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic a solid defeat in the Prix Foy. This will be his third race off the short layoff from July to September, and I think he’ll move forward and be perfectly primed for this race. I don’t think he’s good enough to defeat Enable on that rival’s best form, but if Enable regresses at all off the tough victory in the Arc, he is probably the most likely upsetter.
The other horse that I think needs mentioning in here is Sadler’s Joy. I have never once in my life bet this horse because I feel as though he’s always an underlay, but he’s been installed at 30-1 on the morning line and this five-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy always makes a late run. He hasn’t won since the Mac Diarmida in March, but he’s such a consistent horse and has been a factor in the division for a few years now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs huge or even wins this race.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
$2 Win: 14- Accelerate
$1 Exacta Box: 1- Thunder Snow / 11- Mind Your Biscuits / 14- Accelerate
$2 WPS: 6- McKinzie
This year’s Classic is a superbly competitive event, and I am honestly pretty all over the place with my opinion. At the end of the day, I think Accelerate is the best horse in the country at 10 furlongs, and he is without a doubt the horse to beat here. With so many logical competitors, though, I think he’ll be a rather lukewarm favorite and is worth a straight win bet. Thunder Snow was most recently seen being just denied by longshot Discreet Lover in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and he’s proven to be a legitimate world-class horse on the dirt. To fill out the exacta, I’ll side with Mind Your Biscuits, who is just such a consistent horse and I trust that trainer Chad Summers will have him ready to run his best race here. With the way he won the Lukas Classic over this track, I am not too concerned with the distance.
McKinzie is the horse that scares me the most to break up my exacta. I was all over this tenacious colt earlier in the year, and think he’s the best three-year-old left in training. However, he didn’t beat much in the PA Derby and will really be jumping into the deep end here as a result. There are a lot of horses in this race with tactical speed who want to sit second or third, and I think we might see McKinzie further back than he has ever been as a result. That said, I think he might be even better with a target to run at, and I think this horse has a world of raw ability. I don’t know if that’s enough for him to defeat a solid group of older horses along with fellow three-year-old Catholic Boy, who returned to the dirt in the Travers for the first time since the Florida Derby and won impressively by four lengths.
I’d also like to touch briefly on Yoshida, who won the Woodward in his first attempt on a dirt track last time out. However, I’m not sure he wants to go a full mile and a quarter – his Belmont Derby is probably the worst race on his page, and I’ll side against him in this spot although he wouldn’t be a shock to me if he finds himself in the winners’ circle again.
If I were playing horizontally, I would absolutely need to use at least Accelerate, Thunder Snow, Mind Your Biscuits, McKinzie, and Catholic Boy in order to feel fairly safe, and could make a case for using the likes of Roaring Lion, one of the best that Europe has to offer who is out of a mare by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense; Gunnevera, who always tries hard; West Coast, who many people assumed would inherit the division after the retirement of Gun Runner and who I cannot make a strong case against but who I just don’t trust; and Pavel, who was very impressive in winning the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and who has always been sneakily talented. I actually liked Pavel in this race last year, when he flopped terribly, and I think he’s gotten better at age four. He wouldn’t shock me. I think Accelerate is the most likely winner of the race, but I think that any one of them could step up with a huge effort to win this year’s Breeders Cup Classic.