Selections

BREEDERS’ CUP 2018

By Jessica Paquette

Image may contain: Jessica Paquette, smiling

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF SPRINT

#8 SERGEI PROKOFIEV has not been the most consistent in Europe but has been running against quality horses and does seem to be better suited as a true turf sprinter at five furlongs rather than six. He gets Lasix for the first time here and that could move him up significantly for his first stateside start. He was purchased for $1.1 million and has the pedigree to make an impact. #7 SHANG SHANG SHANG is a perfect two for two and this filly has already proven she can run against and defeat male rivals. Her victory at Royal Ascot was impressive and she showed a lot of grit and tenacity for a young horse. At this point, there is no telling how good she may or may not be but she figures to be a top contender. #3 WELL DONE FOX (GB) is one of the more experienced juveniles here with nine career starts already but that is not unheard of at this point of the year for these European youngsters. He has been holding his own against some of the better turf sprinters overseas and should have no issues over what may be a softer turf course.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLY TURF

#14 EAST (GB) could be an interesting longshot in a very wide open, very contentious field. This filly is a daughter of the great Frankel and at this point, it is still an exciting novelty to get to see any of his offspring in America. She is two for two and while she is unproven at a mile, she has the sort of pedigree that indicates she will just keep getting better with more ground. She gets Lasix for the first time and may be worth a good look. #6 NEWSPAPEROFRECORD (IRE) is obviously the one to beat here – she comes out for the red hot Chad Brown barn and could not have been more impressive in her stakes debut last time out. It was one of the more visually impressive performances all year and she just poured it on in the stretch. She checks all the boxes and should be very tough. #9 VARENKA could offer some value here – though she is still a maiden, she ran well enough to finish second behind Newspaperofrecord last time out and does seem to be steadily improving with age and experience. She is a multi-generational homebred for George Strawbridge, Jr. and trainer Graham Motion isn’t the type to throw a horse in a big race unless he feels they have a legitimate shot. Rounding out my super with #5 LA PELOSA (IRE).

 

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES

#7 JAYWALK has passed every class test with flying colors and has proven herself to be as versatile as she is talented. She may be the quickest out of the gate here and has proven she can stretch her speed to two turns. #4 RESTLESS RIDER is a perfect two for two at Churchill Downs and home track advantage could really give her an advantage over some of the West Coast invaders. She seemed to move up with the addition of Lasix last time out and handled her first time around two turns very well. #2 BELLAFINA has been green in the stretch despite three impressive victories in a row. The outside post does not seem advantageous and she may be a favorite to take a shot against here.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF

#5 LINE OF DUTY (IRE) may be my strongest opinion of the Friday card and this colt looks like he is getting very good at the right time. The Europeans are always dangerous in these juvenile turf races and this well-bred colt has done little wrong from four starts and was very professional in victory last time out. He should have no issue overcoming a little bit of traffic and the morning line of 10-1 is appealing. #14 ANTHONY VAN DYCK (IRE) looms as another formidable European here and has been keeping top international competition. He has won going a mile and seems like one that could move forward first time Lasix. #12 CURRENT has a terrific female family – he is a half to Grade 1 winner Weep No More and out of a daughter of the great mare, Flute. Despite a pedigree that really leans towards dirt, he has two wins from three outings on turf and has done everything right so far.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE

#6 COMPLEXITY was awfully impressive in the Champagne Stakes but did seem to indicate that he may have some distance limitations that could catch up with him sooner rather than later. He is obviously a quality horse and right now one of the more impressive among his peers but the question remains if he can stretch out another sixteenth of a mile. #8 STANDARD DEVIATION is the other Chad Brown here and, unlike his stablemate, should have zero issues as the distances grow. He is getting blinkers on today after a competitive effort in the Breeders’ Futurity and the equipment change may help him focus and engage a bit better early. He may get overlooked and may be one to watch both this weekend and next year as a sophomore. #5 WELL DEFINED may be a sentimental choice here but the rider change to Mike Smith does not hurt his chances of being a contender. He is a homebred for New England Hall of Famer Gil Campbell’s Stonehedge Farm and was an impressive winner against state bred stakes company in Florida last time out. He earned a shot in the big leagues and it would be a well deserved win for his connections. #9 GAME WINNER is yet another Bob Baffert two year old who looks physically like a man among boys and seems to have no bottom to him. He could win for fun, but this is a race with some more interesting horses at better prices.

 

Saturday

BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY AND MARE SPRINT

#13 MARYLEY’S FREEDOM looms as a legitimate favorite and a chalky way to start the Breeders’ Cup races on the card. She has been undefeated since joining the Baffert program and has handily defeated some of the more formidable rivals she will face here. Couple that record with the very sharp workout at Santa Anita and she seems poised for a big effort.  #11 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM has home track advantage on her side here and it is tough to argue with her very impressive Churchill Downs resume – 6 wins from 7 tries. That said, she has been on the shelf since an average effort at the Spa and her form this year has not been as strong as in 2017. Her recent worktab has been encouraging though and she could surprise. #9 STORMY EMBRACE has proven that she can extend her success beyond the state bred ranks in Florida and has been in strong form all year. She had a nightmare trip last time out and with a clean break, she is quick enough to at least hold her own early.  If longshot #15 DREAM PAULINE draws in, she vaults to the top of my selections. Though very lightly raced and unproven against top class competition, she has a terrific pedigree and could be the real deal.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT

#5 DISCO PARTNER has some local rooting interest here as he is a homebred for New England Hall of Famer Patricia Generazio. He has turned into a serious force to be reckoned with and was half a length shy of winning this race last year. He gets a rematch with the two horses that finished ahead of him but he is one contender who does not seem to mind some moisture in the turf and that could work to his advantage with some unpredictable weather recently in Kentucky. He had a sharp win last time out and seems to be coming into this race in strong form. #7 LOST TREASURE (IRE) could offer some value here and has several interesting variables going into this race. He is going blinkers off after wearing them in a good effort last time out but has been successful without them, as well. He is also going first time Lasix which is always an interesting angle with the Europeans. #9 STORMY LIBERAL, the defending champion, deserves some respect after a really ambitious campaign since winning this race last year. He finished up 2017 in Hong Kong and then went to Dubai in March to run a dynamite race. He seems to have really rounded into form this second half of the year and while this particular turf course is a question, he should fire.

BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE

#10 CATALINA CRUISER is undefeated from four starts and has been very impressive as he has risen up the ranks in California. He has some questions to answer here and this will be the toughest field he has faced to date. At 8-5, he may be a vulnerable favorite and the outside draw did not do him any favors and could leave this race open for an upset like #8 BRAVAZO. This is the type of horse that looks like he could just get in the mix and ruin exotics or even win and blow up a multi-race wager. Though his form has been average at best against a strong sophomore crop, he has been lighting up the track in the mornings and could be sitting on a peak performance for D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas should always be considered dangerous on these big days and this one could surprise. #1 CITY OF LIGHT shows up and runs his race every time and his consistency makes him a top threat. He is one that should benefit from this race being a one-turn mile and has been training forwardly since his last race.

BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY AND MARE TURF

#3 WILD ILLUSION (GB) has been the model of consistency against some of the top fillies and mares in Europe. Her win in the Nassau Stakes (G1) was impressive and only looks better as both the runner up and third place finisher have already won again. She has yet to run a bad race and has been successful over several different tracks and handled a variety of turf conditions well.  #6 SISTERCHARLIE (IRE) comes out for trainer Chad Brown who is no stranger to success in this race – he has won the Filly and Mare Turf three times.  This filly has done everything right since coming stateside last summer and though she has been sparingly campaigned, she rounded into strong form this summer and may be the strongest of Brown’s loaded hand here. #10 MAGIC WAND (IRE) has been holding her own against horses like Wild Illusion and Sea of Class overseas and her form should translate to a competitive performance here. She has not yet broken through and notched a major Group 1 victory but her running style should translate well here and she may pose a front running threat.

BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT

Call this one a sentimental selection, but I am rooting awfully hard for #6 ALWAYS SUNSHINE – this big longshot is a homebred for New England Hall of Famer Gil Campbell and is trained by a fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Ned Allard. There is no question he is up against it here and may be a cut below the top group but he has been training well and should at least be able to rebound off of his last race. Logically, #5 IMPERIAL HINT looks like a top contender and has won four of his five starts this year. It is worth noting that his one poor performance did come under the Twin Spires and he is 0 for 2 at Churchill Downs. #8 LIMOSINE LIBERAL on the other hand, has proven to be a true horse for the course at Churchill Downs. Of his nine career wins, six of them have come at Churchill and he is as consistent a contender as you will find.  He has been holding his own against similar company all year and is one to leave off of a ticket at your own peril. #1 WHITMORE has always seemed like the kind of horse that has a big win in there. His hard fought victory in the Forego (G1) two starts back was an impressive performance and there is no question of his tenacity. It is tough to find fault with his consistent form and he is another one that looks likely to show up and run his race.

BREEDERS’ CUP MILE

This race has shaped up to be one of the most intriguing and wide open on the card. #7 EXPERT EYE (GB) has a very sharp turn of foot and could benefit from a race that should have honest opening fractions. This colt has been knocking on the door of a breakthrough victory and has been extremely consistent. He is a multi-generational Juddmonte homebred and is from the female family of horses like Tates Creek and Sightseek. #4 POLYDREAM is taking on the boys here and should have no issue holding her own. Her effort on the ‘Arc undercard is actually better than it appears on paper – she had a terrible trip and actually ran on pretty well. While a mile may be stretching as far as she really wants to go, she is good enough to be a top contender here. #15 DIVISIDERO draws in and the addition of him to this field does add to the interest. While this veteran may have lost a step this year, he is just so good on this particular turf course and could fill out the exotics at a big price.

BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF

#5 WONDER GADOT is as good as any of them here at her best and while she has been ambitiously campaigned this year, she has not run a bad race with the exception of the Travers (G1). She has been training with enthusiasm since her last race and has really looked full of herself this week at Churchill Downs.  She seems to still have some energy left in the tank after a full season and the consecutive bullet workouts are encouraging. #1 CHAMPAGNE PROBLEMS ­– Calvin Borel, the rail and Churchill Downs can be a dangerous trifecta. While she has not been competing against top competition all year, she has stepped up recently and done everything right. She is game, proven at Churchill Downs and could offer some value if you are trying to find a way to get past the big stars here.  #9 WOW CAT (CHI) was much the best last time out and while she is up against a significantly tougher group here, she just seems to be getting better with each North American start. Chad Brown looks poised to have a big Breeders’ Cup and this mare may get overlooked.

You may notice a major horse missing from my selections – I am opting to toss Monomoy Girl out entirely here. Take nothing away from the stellar campaign she has had – she finished first in all six and would be undefeated if not for the DQ last time out. That said, I didn’t love how tired she looked in the stretch and think her season has caught up to her.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF

Along with pretty much everyone else, I am very excited to see #2 Enable (GB) – it is not every year U.S. racing fans are treated to a dual ‘Arc winner coming for a Breeders’ Cup race. This filly is an absolute star and seems to handle any type of turf course. She appears to have shipped very well and has given a favorable impression on the track this week at Churchill Downs. She is strictly the one to beat here and looks like the toughest favorite to topple this Breeders’ Cup.  Do not underestimate #6 ARKLOW – this colt has been quietly very consistent and has proven himself to be the most legitimate of the domestic turf horses in this race. He has a win at Churchill Downs on the turf and at what is likely going to be a big price, he could add some value to the exotics. #12 WALDGEIST (GB) seems like the logical top choice if by some chance Enable fails to fire. He was no match for her last time out but strung together four consecutive wins prior to that and hung tough last time out to finish a competitive fourth.

BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

#10 YOSHIDA (JPN) switched to dirt last time out for the first time and, like his pedigree suggested he would, took to it handily. He is a seriously talented horse and is coming in for a barn that, when they take am ambitious swing, usually hit it out of the park. He has developed into a powerhouse on either surface and while there is some criticism that his win in the Woodward (G1) was not eye-popping, I think it served as a perfect prep race. He has been training very strongly. #9 MENDELSSOHN ran his best domestic race yet last time out and I think it was a case of jockey Ryan Moore really figuring out how to use this horse’s strengths to his best advantage in an American racing system. He was my pick in the Kentucky Derby and I was very close to him on the walkover as he was becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the rain, the ponchos and the crowds. Physically, he is not an imposing specimen and the field size of the Derby wound up taking a toll on him. I maintain there is a huge victory waiting in this horse and unfortunately, since he is retiring at the end of the year, this is likely his last shot to prove that. #1 THUNDER SNOW had one of the most memorable Kentucky Derby efforts of my memory but has proven since then that his strange behavior out of the gate was a one off. While he has not been the most consistent, he notched a big win in Dubai and I loved his effort in the JCGC. He gets a chance for redemption at Churchill Downs here.