Friday, November 5, 2010

Breeders Cup

Ok, its been a while since I've sat down and looked at the ponies.  Its hard to take time out of your evening or weekend with the kids, to do some serious handicapping, but with the Breeders Cup coming up this weekend I thought I'd get back on the horse - so to speak.  The Breeders Cup will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Friday, from 4-8pm EST; on Saturday it will be broadcast live on ABC from 130-330pm and ESPN from 330-615pm.

So here are the divisions:  Classic, Turf, Ladies Classic, Mile, Sprint, Filly & Mare Turf, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Dirt Mile, Juvenile Turf, Filly & Mare Sprint, Marathon, Juvenile Turf Fillies, Turf Sprint.

This year the Breeders Cup is being held at Churchill Downs, a return to dirt, after 2 years on Kitty Litter at Santa Anita.  Say what you will about synthetics... it does have a place IMO - I'm just not sure synthetics are the solution to breakdowns and injuries.

But I digress... that's a whole other post. We're here to discuss the Breeders Cup.  That said lets get down to business.  And business revolves around two horses Zenyatta in the Classic and Goldikova in the Mile.   These Ladies of Racing are each going for a 3rd consecutive win in a Breeders Cup race, we have the potential to look at history in the making.

So let's break down the race everyone is waiting for the Classic, which happens to be the last race of the card on Saturday. Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Quality Road/J.Velazquez/5-1;
4/First Dude/R.Albarado/15-1;
7/Musket Man/R.Margh/20-1;
9/Pleasant Prince/J.Rosario/30-1;
11/Esponir City/T.Sato/20-1;
12/Looking at Lucky/M.Garcia/6-1

How do you argue with perfection?  Zenyatta is 19-0 and going for 20 against the toughest field of horses she's ever faced, even though she's the biggest of all the field. Bet against her at your own risk - she knows how to win, and win with style.  Her Jockey Mike Smith says he's never had to ask her for everything in the tank to win.  That's dangerous...but she is facing a tough crowd with Blame, Haynefield, Looking at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado and Quality Road.

In my opinion Quality Road should have been pointed to the dirt mile which he's better suited for, but he's in the Classic.  He's got good tactical speed, but his ability to get the distance is still a question and he can be a bit mental - when he's on good luck running him down, but if he's checked out expect antics in the gate like last year.  Blame and Haynesfield are the top older horses in the handicap division.  They keep trading punches.  Blame's a grinder, and Haynesfield can steal a race on the front end when every one else is sleeping.   Then come the 3year olds. Paddy O'Prado, Looking at Lucky, First Dude, Fly Down.  All are good - But I think Paddy O'Prado is the most versitle. He's got wins on dirt, turf, synthetics, and he can get the distance.  Looking at Lucky is probably the most talented of the 3yo -but trouble follows him where ever he goes.  His last race wasn't the most stellar, but it should help him move forward.  First Dude - some people love - meh he's not one that strikes my fancy and Fly Down is a good horse - but I'm not confident he's in the right company... I think he's better suited to the Marathon.  Etched is my long shot. I've always liked this horse.  He's a bit of a grinder who's got some tactical speed. As for every one else - yes they can hit the board but I don't think any of them will give Zenyatta a true run for her money.
Easy bet - Wheel Zenyatta with the field. My picks Zenyatta, PaddyO'Prado, Blame Looking At Lucky, Quality Road and Etched.  I think Zenyatta will win the Classic in heart stopping fashion, keeping the public on their feet or edge of their seats!

Let's look at the Mile. Goldikova has won this race for the past 2 years at Santa Anita.  The turf course there is hard and firm.  With the drought in KY - the turf course will set up hard and firm - and for most Europeans that's a big drawback, as the European horses tend to like a softer going in the turf.  Yet again Goldikova has an outside post.  Can she make this a 3-peat?
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
4/Court Vision/R.Albarado/12-1
7/The Usual QT/V.Espinosa/15-1
8/Get Stormy/J.Castellano/20-1
9/Sidney's Candy/J.Rosario/10-1

Looking at the field the top choices are Goldikova, GioPonti, Court Vision, Sidneys Candy, Delegator, and Paco Boy.   I think the biggest threats to Goldikova's 3peat are Gio Ponti - he's going shorter, and has recently showed he excels at a mile, though a 1 & 1/4 is probably his best distance - he can get the job done.  Court Vision excels at this distance, and when he's on, there's not a horse that can catch him, but when he's off he's beaten going away.   Paco Boy has faced Goldikova 4 times this year and each race was closely contested with Goldikova the winner all 4 times.  If he can transition to going left, instead of right he's got a shot - though his previous attempts at running left didn't turn out as well.  Sidney's Candy is a good horse, good tactical speed that should be out on the lead, if he gets off easy he could steal the race, but there are other pace makers in this field that should press him, I expect him to hold on for place or show.   Delegator - good horse with high crusing/tactical speed, that can lay off the pace, with a good late kick, I expect him to be in the fray. My long shot is Proviso - I've always liked this horse, he might be a little below the 6 I've commented on - but when he steps up he steps up well...  I expect him to be on the lead or rating close behind it. Mike Smith in the saddle helps his chances.

My picks: Goldikova, Gio Ponti,  Delegator - with a battle between Court Vision, Sydney's Candy, Provisio and Paco Boy for place...

Now on to the rest of the races in order:

The Marathon 1 3/4 miles - the marathon is an endurance race for the dirt horses. Its pretty much a wide open division, since its not a distance US horse race at,  and while the Europeans do race longer distances, for many this is their first start on dirt.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
2/Prince Will I Am/J.Castellano/4-1
3/Million Seller/J.Rose/50-1
6/Gabriel's Hill/J.Leparoux/20-1
7/Awesome Gem/D.Flores/7-2
8/Giant Oak/G.Gomes/4-1
9/Bright Horizon/J.Murtagh/10-1
11/Precision Break/J.Spencer/15-1
12/AU Miner/C.Borel/9-2

You can't go wrong with Awesome Gem, Bright Horizon, AU Miner,  and Giant Oak.  Bright Horizon is bred to run all day, and has show a preference to go longer,  Awesome Gem grindes away and can get the distance.   With AU Miner - he's got potential, and with Calvin Bo "Rail" on him - anything is possible.   My longshot is Attoned - I like this horse, and I don't think he's found his niche, maybe the distance will suit him... if he steps up he can easily make your day.

My picks: Bright Horizon, Awesome Gem, Giant Oak, with AU Miner and  Attoned fighting it out for place.

If you've seen my picks from last years BC - you know I don't handicap the 2yo.  They're just starting to come into their legs, and most still are green.   So I'm skipping breaking down the Juvenile fillies turf, the Juvenile fillies, the Juvenile turf & the Juvenile.  If I have to pick someone for the Juvy fillies turf I'll go with More than Real.  If I have to pick for the Juvenile fillies I'm going with Awesome feather.  And for the Juvenile turf I'll go with  McGaughy's Air Support. For the Juvenile I'm sticking with Jacito. Now back to your regular program.

Filly & Mare Sprint

You could call this wide open - but lets be honest - this is a throw down between Sara Louise, Informed Decision, Evening Jewel, Gabby's Golden Gal, Tidal Pool & Champagne d'Oro.  My long shot is Switch.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/My Jen/J.Velazquez/15-1
2/Sara Louise/F.Dettori/15-1
3/Secret Gypsy/R.Albarado/12-1
4/Informed Decision/J. Leparoux/7-2
5/Evening Jewel/V.Espinoza/15-1
6/Moontune Missy/A.Garcia/30-1
7/Gabbys' Golden Gal/M.Garcia/15-1
8/Sweet August Moon/M.Smith/30-1
11/Jessica is Back/J.Castello/12-1
12/Dubai Majesty/J.Theriot/6-1
13/Rightly So/C.Velasquez/3-1
14/Champagne d'Oro/M.Mena/6-1
15AE/Tidal Pool/M.Smith/30-1
16AE/First Passage/G.Gomez/30-1

Filly and Mare Turf
out of this bunch of classy fillies/mares I like Plumania, Harmonious, Midday, and Forever Together. Hibaayeb is my long shot, if you can call her one...
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
2/Eclair de Lune/J.Alvarado/15-1
3/Miss Keller/J.Castellano/8-1
5/Shared Account/E.Prado/30-1
8/Hot Cha Cha/J.Graham/30-1
10/Red Desire/K.Desormeaux/8-1
11/Forever Together/R.Napravnik/10-1

Ladies' Classic
THis is a very nice field, but for me it going to come down to the following four: Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle, Blind Luck, and Havre de Grace. With Persistently as my Long shot.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Life At Ten/J.Velazquez/7-2
2/Its Tea time/J.Leparoux/15-1
3/Malibu Paver/G.Gomez/8-1
4/Milwaukee Appeal/R.Bejarano/30-1
5/Acting Happy/J.Lezcano/20-1
7/seeking the Title/C.Borel/30-1
8/Unrivaled Bell/K.Desormeaux/8-1
10/Blind Luck/J.Rosario/9-5
11/Harve de Grace/J.Rose/4-1

Sprint - this is just one big mele to the wire.  Big Drama and Girolamo are two you can't go wrong with, and you can't skip Smiling tiger. ad Riley Tucker.  My long shot(s) are Atta Boy Roy and Warriors Reward.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Big Drama/E.Coa/7-2
3/Wise Dan/R.Bejarano/10-1
4/Hamazing Destiny/J.Rosario/20-1
5/Smiling Tiger/R.Baze/6-1
6/Pashito the Che/J.Castellano/15-1
7/Kinsale King/M.Garcia/8-1
8/Cash Refund/J.Velazquez/20-1
9/Supreme Summit/G.Gomez/15-1
10/Riley Tucker/R.Dominguez/8-1
11/Atta Boy Roy/C.Borel/12-1
12/Warriors Reward/J.Leparoux/12-1

Turf Sprint:  another Mele to the finishline.  The best horse in the field is Rose Catherine, in my opinion. I'm also liking Silver Timber, Bridgetown, Grand Adventure and California Flag.  Grand Adventure and California Flag will most likely be bet down from their current odds so don't expect to get them for 12-1.  I'm taking Stradivinsky as my longshot.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Chamberlain Bridge/J.Theriot/6-1
2/Central City/R.Albarado/12-1
4/Unzip Me/R.Bejarano/8-1
5/Silver Timber/J.Leparoux/4-1
8/Quick Enough/P.Valenzuela/-1
9/Roase Catherine/J.Castellano/6-1
10/Due Date/G.Gomez/15-1
11/Grand Adventure/P.Husbands/12-1
12/California Flag/V.Espinoza/12-1
13/Tropic Storm/D.Flores/15-1
14/Canadian Ballet/K.Desormeaux/20-1
15AE/Yield Bogey/J.Samyn/50-1

Dirt Mile: Toss up between Gayego, Here comes Ben, Crown of Thorns and Morning Line.  I like Gayego and Morning line as my top 2.   Tisway is also in the hunt on this one as well.  For the Long Shot I'm going to go with Vinyard Haven I'd love to see him return to his 2yo form, but he just hasn't shown his brillance recently.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Dakota Phone/J.Rosario/30-1
4/Mad Flatter/J.Court/12-1
5/Here Comes Ben/A.Solis/6-1
8/Crown of Thorns/R.Bejarano/4-1
9/Hurricane Ike/C.Borel/20-1
10/Morning Line/J.Castellano/7-2
11/Mine That Bird/M.Smith/20-1
12/Vineyard Haven/A.Garcia/10-1
13/Cool Coal Man/J.Leparoux/20-1

Turf: This big story of this week has been the hard going of the turf course, at least from the European perspective.  With the drought, Churchill Down's has been watering the turf course every day to ensure it isn't concrete.  The course should be fair to both the American and Europeans, though probably not as firm as the American horses prefer and not as soft and the European horses like.   That said...there's be rampant rumors that Arc de Triomph winner Workforce might be scratched due to the firmness of the turf course.  We'll see if that happens.  Regardless if Workforce starts or not here's my picks: Telling, Debussy, Behkabad and Al Khali.  That's right I'm not picking Workforce, he's a good horse, but I don't think he's the best horse for the Turf this time out. 
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Champ Pegasus/J.Rosario/10-1
8/Dangerous Midge/F.Dettori/12-1

There it is folks.  my Breeder Cup picks... now go place your bets.

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