Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
$2 Win: 2- With Honors
$1 Exacta Box: 9- Union Strike / 10- Noted And Quoted / 11- Daddys Lil Darling
$2 W/P/S: 11- Daddys Lil Darling
This might seem a bit odd, but hear me out – I think Daddys Lil Darling is the most likely winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies this year. She will have a reasonable pace to run at and was, in my opinion, the best horse in the Alcibiades. She passed the winner Dancing Rags with ease after the wire and continued to gallop out strongly, and I think her proven ability to overcome trouble, as she did in her maiden victory, will prove useful here. That said, Noted and Quoted is a deserving morning line favorite. She was game in defeating With Honors in her first try routing in the Chandelier. But if you like Noted and Quoted, you have to like With Honors as well, as she ran equally well in what was her first start on a dirt track. The difference in prices will likely be significant, and I can’t let With Honors beat me, so the $2 win pick on her is a bit of a saver just in case. I think Union Strike, being by Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, will relish the extra distance, and will improve off of an impressive score in the Del Mar Debutante. This race is highly competitive, and I honestly could make a case for ten of the twelve entrants in here, but I do feel very good about Daddys Lil Darling running big at a very fair price.
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
$2 Win: 8- Lady Eli
$1 Exacta Box: 3- Seventh Heaven / 7- Sentiero Italia / 8- Lady Eli
$2 W/P/S: 7- Sentiero Italia
I feel odd picking Lady Eli on top, as she is by and far the sentimental choice of the year for me in this spot and I pride myself on being able to handicap objectively, especially when the horse in question is likely to be favored. However, I really couldn’t get past her. On Beyer figures, she is better than ever, and she will be ready to roll in this third race off the layoff. I’ve always been a huge believer that this horse is very special, and between her natural talent, her versatility, and the fact that she seems to be on the improve at age four, I couldn’t pick against her.
I do think that Seventh Heaven is the obvious European threat. A multiple G1 winner overseas, she’s a daughter of Galileo cutting back to 1 1/4, which will be the first time since her maiden win that she went shorter than 1 1/2 miles. This is her second race off of a two-month break, and Aiden O’Brien will have her ready for her best race here. She is the biggest threat to Lady Eli.
Sentiero Italia is one of the most consistent horses in the race, and she always brings her game. She has chased Lady Eli home in her last two races, and was fourth in this race last year as a three-year-old. She will be in a great stalking position behind Catch a Glimpse and Avenge, and I would be very surprised if she didn’t hit the board here.
Breeders Cup Sprint
$2 Win: 5- A.P. Indian
$1 Exacta Box: 5- A.P. Indian / 7- Masochistic / 9- Limousine Liberal
$2 W/P/S: 9- Limousine Liberal
I was devastated at the scratch of Joking in this race, who I was really looking forward to seeing in a race chock-full of speed. Alas, without the likes of him and Lord Nelson, it looks to be a match race between A.P. Indian and Masochistic, with the intriguing 3yo Drefong looking to upset them. I’m going with A.P. Indian on top. He’s done nothing wrong all year, he is capable of sitting off of any horses dead set on going for the lead, which Masochistic will likely be.
Looking at Masochistic’s form, I am tempted to think that he may be a bit better going seven furlongs. He is, of course, very fast, but looking at races like the 2015 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and this very race last year, I’m not sure that he has the kind of speed necessary to excel at six furlongs. That said, this race may be a short enough field that he could win even if he is better going just a bit farther, and he may just be too good, but I am inclined to look elsewhere for a straight win bet.
My longshot here is Limousine Liberal. If the likes of Drefong and Masochistic and even Delta Bluesman go too fast up front, this could be the horse that is capable of pouncing from just off the pace. He ran huge in his first start with blinkers against A.P. Indian last time out – it looked as if A.P. Indian would be winning handily, but Limousine Liberal was incredibly game and even came back on his rival to just miss in a head-bob.
I see Drefong as the Arrogate of this race. Unlike Arrogate, however, Drefong’s debut loss was not an impressive display of him overcoming trouble, but rather a race that I think he should have won, though to be fair he was not persevered with after shifting in at the 16th pole. Since then, he has not been challenged and I am going to let him beat me – which he very well may do.
Breeders Cup Turf Sprint
$2 Win: 12- Om
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Obviously / 12- Om / 13- Holy Lute
$2 W/P/S: 16- Green Mask
Obviously and Om are both milers cutting back to go down the hill, and I think the trip will fit both of them, but I prefer Om because he has shown the ability to rate in the past and I like that in a horse cutting back to tackle the 6 1/2 furlong course at Santa Anita more than a straight speedster like Obviously. I expect Om to enjoy the quick pace up front and be able to pounce more effectively than he could at a mile. I included Holy Lute because of his proven ability over the downhill turf course. Green Mask is my longshot here, drawing into the field after a pair of defections. He has been solid throughout the year without any breakout performances, was third in this race in 2015, and will be a good price. He will require a pace meltdown up front to be effective, but I think that is a possibility and in a wide-open race, he has as good of a chance as any of them.
Breeders Cup Juvenile
$2 Win: 5- Classic Empire
$1 Exacta Box: 5- Classic Empire / 10- Not This Time / 11- Looking at Lee
$2 W/P/S: 11- Looking at Lee
I don’t have anything interesting or unique to say in this race, I just think Classic Empire is the best horse. Mark Casse got his issues sorted out with the addition of blinkers, and aside from the Hopeful Stakes debacle, he has done nothing wrong. I expect Syndergaard to go wild on the front along with Gormley, with Three Rules sitting behind the two of them. Theory is the big unknown here for Todd Pletcher, and while I like him moving forward I’m not sure that he’s ready for this kind of field just yet. Not This Time was very impressive in the Iroquois, and I don’t think that was due solely to the wet track. Looking at Lee has been steadily improving while chasing my top two choices in his last two starts, and I think continued improvement will keep him right behind them here.
Breeders Cup Turf
$2 Win: 4- Flintshire
$1 Exacta Box: 4- Flintshire / 10- Found / 12- Highland Reel
$2 W/P/S: 2- Da Big Hoss
This race goes through the two Aiden O’Brien horses and Flintshire. Found won this race last year off of the same two preps in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and I think she has a very good chance to be the first horse to pull off the Arc-BC Turf double. Highland Reel was just behind her in the Arc and proved his affinity for the American firm turf in last year’s Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. Flintshire was the undisputed champion of the U.S. Turf this year until his loss in the Turf Classic at Belmont in his last start, but it has been well-documented that this horse loves a firm turf course, and the yielding going at Belmont was not to his liking but they needed a prep. I think he’ll rebound just fine in the Breeders’ Cup.
The crazy longshot here is Da Big Hoss, who has been having a quietly good season. He loves this distance and always runs his race. He wasn’t embarrassed when splitting the field to run 6th in this race last year, and has been doing better this year if you look at his speed figures. I doubt he can win, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Florent Geroux managed to get him up for third at a major price.
Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
$2 Win: 2- Haveyougoneaway
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Haveyougoneaway / 7- Gloryzapper / 8- Carina Mia
$2 W/P/S: 7- Gloryzapper
Tom Morley has done a fantastic job with Haveyougoneaway this year, running her through a season that culminated last time out with a G1 win in the Ballerina at Saratoga. For a sprint, this race doesn’t have a ton of dedicated speed. Carina Mia is likely the fastest horse in the race, and one turn is her game, without a doubt. Gloryzapper also has a fair bit of early speed, but has proven that she can sit and pass horses in the past, and if you toss her turf try last time out – where she was only beaten three lengths, despite finishing eighth, in the John C Mabee, by Avenge – she has never run a bad race. This is a major class test for her, without a doubt, but her speed figures are competitive enough that with a little improvement she could be right in the mix late.
Breeders Cup Mile
$2 Win: 8- Tepin
$1 Exacta Box: 2- Alice Springs / 8- Tepin / 9- Ironicus
$2 W/P/S: 4- Miss Temple City
Everyone seems to be against Tepin after her loss in the First Lady, but I think she is just as good as ever this year. The First Lady was a bizarrely run race where Photo Call got loose on a crazy lead. Nobody was catching her that day. Tepin is the reigning champion in this race and I have no reason to suspect she will bring her A game. The one horse that I think may be able to beat Tepin’s A game is Ironicus, who was huge in the Shadwell Turf Mile off of a 4-month layoff to just be defeated by Miss Temple City (who I would LOVE if this race was at Keeneland again, but still believe will hold her own here based on her form at Ascot). There will be a lot more speed in this race than there was in that one, with What A View, Photo Call, and Midnight Storm all contesting this race. Alice Springs is my pick among the Europeans, as a 3-time G1 winner at a mile. She was second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, so we know she can handle the trip to the United States just fine.
Breeders Cup Classic
$2 Win: 4- California Chrome
$1 Exacta Box: 4- California Chrome / 9- Hoppertunity / 10- Arrogate
$2 W/P/S: 6- Melatonin
I can’t say much about California Chrome that hasn’t already been said, so I won’t. When it comes to Arrogate, I wanted to find a way to exclude him but after watching his first four races, I can’t do it. His debut effort, his lone loss, was actually what sold me on him in the end. He overcame significant trouble, breaking slow and having to angle out around horses to just miss in a race where he was much the best. Between this race and his race two back, where he sat behind two others on a dawdling pace in a three-horse race, I am convinced that he is not a runaway speedster type of horse that needs the lead. Because of this, I am thinking that Melatonin has a chance to hit the board at a huge price. He loves this racetrack and I think that he could be left alone on the lead, with Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith choosing to sit just off of him and watch each other. And when this horse gets loose on the lead, he can get brave. I don’t think he’s good enough to hold off the likes of California Chrome and Arrogate, but I think he could run a big race if things set up in that way. Hoppertunity may be a better WPS bet, as one of the most consistent horses in the country, but I’ll take a shot with Melatonin, while still including the ever-present Hoppertunity in the exacta.