October 30, 2014 | Jessica Paquette
From top to bottom, this year’s Breeders' Cup is a super card. There is some real value to be had, particularly on Saturday, and handicapping these races has been an interesting, challenging task. Read on for my selections for Saturday’s star-studded card.
This may be one of my most lukewarm opinions of the day. Angela Renee seems logical – she has a win over this track and at this distance. She has not been the most consistent, nor has she been all that impressive in her recent workouts, however. I was impressed by Cristina’s Journey in her most recent workout at Santa Anita. (TVG's The Works is a must-watch leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, by the way.) She finished very strongly and seemed to get over the track extremely well. I’m also using Feathered and Conquest Eclipse as I think both fillies can move forward off of their last races,
Filly and Mare Turf
I like Dank (GB), I really do. I do not, however, think she is the same horse that won this race last year. She has taken a completely different path this year and after last year’s route worked so well, why change it? No question, she caught a remarkable field in the Prince of Wales (G1) last time out – The Fugue, Treve, Magician – but she did not really hold her own and has been on the shelf since June. It is asking a lot and I am leaving her off my tickets. Emollient is a horse who may offer some value. She does seem to really like Santa Anita’s hard, fast turf course and the blinkers on made a huge difference last time out. She is not consistent, but at 12-1 she is a contender. I’m also using the in-form Just the Judge and longshot Abaco who should get some pace to run into.
Filly and Mare Sprint
This is another race where my opinion has been swayed by
getting the opportunity to watch some final workouts. Stonetastic
looked like a monster in her October 25 bullet at Santa Anita. She
has been keeping good company all year, is relatively consistent and
interesting at somewhat of a price. Leigh Court could very
well be the final horse in the Melnyk silks we see in the Breeders’ Cup and it
would be fitting for them to go out with a victory. She showed a new dimension
last time out and that versatility makes her very dangerous. I also think
Judy the Beauty , the runner-up last year, looks very
Before the draw and the odds came out, I really liked No Nay Never . With the outside draw, a short price and the fact he is unproven over Santa Anita’s downhill course, I am looking elsewhere though I do still think he is a contender . Reneesgotzip has been second and third in the last two editions of this race and while she has never won on the turf, she has proven she can be competitive and seems to be in solid form this year. I’m intrigued by Bobby’s Kitten cutting back to a sprint. He held his own against top class older horses going a mile last time out and is extremely talented. I’m hoping Za Approval draws in but it is not looking likely.
The Great War is looking like a big longshot but I think he is a really interesting horse here. He was purchased for $1 million as a yearling and with his heavily dirt-influenced pedigree, there is a chance he moves up significantly on the surface switch. He has been very competitive overseas and could surprise here, like Vale of York several years back. I also loved Carpe Diem in his win at Keeneland and think this colt has all the makings of a legitimate Kentucky Derby horse. For me, those are my two top horses in this race and will throw in Lucky Player to round out my trifecta.
The scratch of Magician has made this
race a significantly more wide open race. While, as always, the European
contingent should be respected, I am giving my edge to the United States representative,
Main Sequence . Though the gelding has not won by big
margins, he is a perfect three for three since coming stateside and has been
able to significantly improve off of his international form. He has a sharp
turn of foot has shown himself to be a resilient, game competitor.
Flintshire (GB), was second to the brilliant Treve in the Arc last
time out. The Arc to Breeders’ Cup turnaround is extremely demanding and with
the travel, it is a lot to ask. If he fires, however, he should be tough.
Telescope (IRE) is interesting but the question will be
with him whether or not he takes to the very firm Santa Anita turf.
I cannot stress enough how much I loved Fast Anna in his final workout. It was remarkably fast but what was most impressive was how easily he did it. No question he handles Santa Anita’s main track. This colt is seriously talented and for those of you looking for a local connection, he is trained by Kathy Ritvo. Working five furlongs in :57 flat is very fast and the only question is whether or not that took too much out of him. I don’t think it did – I’m all in on him. Watching Indianapolis work with his stablemate Secret Circle served in doing two things – it made me like Indianapolis and confirmed my thoughts that Secret Circle has lost a step this year. I also really like Rich Tapestry who looked very, very strong on the track and has the running style to really work well here.
Without two-time champion Wise Dan, the Mile has become a very different race. Toronado (IRE) looms as a very legitimate favorite and has been in excellent form against top international company. The only question for me with him is whether he is at his best on a truly firm turf course or not. Anodin (IRE) has some big horse shoes to fill. He is the little brother of three-time Mile champion Goldikova. Though at this point he does not appear to be the horse his sister was, he is a legitimate contender in his own right. I wanted to like Seek Again but for a horse with known issues racing outside of horses, the twelve post is not ideal. That being said, he still is a serious talent and maybe the strongest of the stateside based contenders.
Since I saw him in person at Saratoga this summer, I have maintained that Cigar Street is the Classic winner. Though he has been plagued by injuries throughout his brief career, this horse is the real-deal talent wise. There is a lot to like about him – he is making his third start off of an extended layoff and should be poised for a peak effort. Also, Bill Mott. Mott is not the kind of trainer to run a horse solely for the sake of having a horse in a big race – if the horse is in the starting gate, they have a chance. My strongest pick of the Breeders’ Cup. My other selection here is more of a longshot - Footbridge . I’ve been high on this colt since his maiden win and while he has not quite liven up to the potential, his recent races have been encouraging and he is proven at Santa Anita. He doesn’t seem to like to win but could certainly get a piece of the action. Rounding out my exotics with Tonalist and California Chrome .