To begin with, I am NOT wagering a dime. I don’t really have a dime to my name at this moment. I wish I did, so I could do some practical things like pay bills and such. Getting personal a bit, I’m struggling to make ends meet and have zero dispensary income for gambling.
Nevertheless I attempt to handicap this year’s 2-day Breeders Cup, held this year at Santa Anita Race Track. This post focuses on the Friday races. Overnight, I will publish the Saturday findings.
Outside of these picks I’m involved in two different handicap challenges: Derby Wars features the first 5 races of the Santa Anita card, this the pre-meet races, all good races themselves. I am not delivering picks here, but I will post what I have at the tourney page (I’m cblue456): I have to be in the top 5 of 45 to earn points.
Further aside I’ve heavily involved in another free challenge, this at Remington Park. 123racing’s series of challenges are fun and you can win in several ways. I believe prizes are for the top 10 in wins and in virtual $ won. I’m cblue456 there and I have publicly given picks in the tourney’s ‘stables’ areas. I’m pretty excited as I am top 10 in $ won there. 3 races tonight, scheduled to run after the BC’s.
BC MARATHON: 3-10-4-5: Commander is running 3rd race under reclaim by Dennis Terry. Since the reclaim, he was a competitive 2nd in a 50k stake, and won the Grade 3 Premier, both at Hastings. More importantly, I feel he’s ready to win today. Track bias is playing favorably to inside posts during routes. In fact, his last 3 wins have come from a rail post. He, and Indian Jones proved to have had the best trips last out from this field. Worldly also carries value here. Recovered in form after a 4 month layoff, running relatively solid Brisnet numbers around 100 in each. The 102 he scored last in the Homecoming Classic at Churchill was just past his lifetime best of 100. This may suggest a further increase here. It is, tho, part of a triple high, and probably a bounce downward for this early-stalking horse. Nevertheless he is rated as the fastest horse here. Ever Rider is slightly favored in morning-line. The great unknown matter here is that he’s raced exclusively at Argentina and he makes his North American debut here. As an Argentinian bred horse, he does have some interesting average winning distance numbers: 10.7 from sire line Candy Stripes, having Blushing Groom and Nasrullah in direct male line, and 6.8 by Il Corsaro as the dam-sire, a son of Northern Dancer. Ever Rider won a Grade 2 race last time out, plus 6 works right at Santa Anita, the 2nd last work a bullet. Suns Out Guns Out is a longshot that should get consideration. Was a winner for today’s jockey, Julien Leparoux, who has had just the one race with trainer Dale Romans in the last 60 days. The question is whether lightning can strike twice again here. This horse also in recovery form, running in the mid 90s for pace. Those races since a 6 week layoff were a triple high spike in pace numbers, so a bounce is possible. 4 works since last race, 2 at Santa Anita, 2nd last very fast at 6 furlongs, 3rd last a bullet work at Churchill.
Based on morning line numbers, we could see some good betting across the board, as it were, and the Argentinian as favorite is probably not going to win this. Good betting race.
BC JUVENILE TURF: 7-11-10-5: I actually have 3 longshots out to destroy the chances of the morning-line fave. Aotearoa (how does Trevor Denman pronounce this? Ay-tee-uh-row-a) won the ungraded Zuma Beach last time out on this track, 3rd lifetime effort, with an 89 Brisnet. This is the best pace number of those who have won at the track and among routers. Also has Corey Nakatani aboard, with Leonard Powell training, combining to have best win % of the field. Their only combo together in the last 60 days was with this horse (yes, small sample, I know). The 89 was the best of Aotearoa’s 3 lifetime races, slight possible bounce here. A good trip from there should lead to a good trip here. Poker Player is the lone closer. Broke maiden last time in winning the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. Paired up Brisnet number of 85, could bounce from here. I rate him as the fastest of the field, should he get the proper trip to make a stretch run. Ontology I don’t give much weight to here, but he has worked out well: 3 works at Santa Anita, 2 of them competitively fast. Bobby’s Kitten is out of two convincing wins, one a 95k maiden race, and the Grade 3 Pilgrim. He has the best turf numbers of the field, and also at risk from bouncing off a sharp gain pace (ran a 97 in the Pilgrim).
Might be good to use Bobby’s Kitten with these 3 longshots, those 3 for wins each if odds form holds. Another good betting race.
BC DIRT MILE: 12-6-8-7. No sign of morning-line fave Verrazano in the top 4. Goldencents, 2nd favorite, gets the nod from me. The Santa Anita Derby winner comes out of a 107 Brisnet at this same track, winning another Grade 1 race. No other horse has such a home course advantage from this field. There is the chance he could bounce down tho. Was on 2 month layoff, then ran 3 sprints, and now returns again to routes. Broadway Empire is off of two Grade 3 wins, and a winner of 4 of 6 lifetime. Early-stalking style is fastest of the field. Seems to like the middle post. Convincing win last time makes him a contender here. Holy Lute is in the money for all 4 lifetime races. Mike Smith aboard for trainer James Cassidy. They have won all 3 races as combo in last 60 days, for a 6.07 ROI. Best win % combo of the field too, buoyed by Smith’s 37% win rate in 30 races at the meet. Holy Lute forged lifetime best of 101 last time, running 3rd in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby, might bounce from this.Alpha, winner of last year’s Travers (OK, dead heat) and this year’s Woodward, was last of 12 in last year’s BC Classic held here last year. The pedigree is undeniable (Bernardini-Munnaya, out of Nijinsky II). He ran his lifetime best in the Woodward, then put in an off race last time in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, so a bounce back may be in order. At the same time, the Woodward was just a few ticks past his 3YO best in the Travers, so it strengthens the case for future progress.
No chalk to be found in this race.
BC JUVENILE FILLIES TURF: 4-3-10-11: More good value to be had here. Kitten Kaboodle broke maiden in style, winning the Grade 3 Jessamin at Keeneland last time. She equaled her lifetime best of 87 and could bounce down from that here. Gets an inside post again here and should relish this,especially after the big win. Colonel Joan was 3rd in the Surfer Girl held 3 weeks ago here, still seeking first win. Paired up scores in the 80’s from last 2 races, might bounce. She’s a straight closer, and needs perfect trip to succeed. If she does, she will be fastest of all. Clenor began career in Ireland, now at home on the West Coast, and 4th US start, 2nd at Santa Anita. Hasn’t disappointed yet, winning all 3 North American starts including the aforementioned Surfer Girl. The 89 scored here is best performance on this track of this field, as well as best among routers. Also the best jockey/trainer combo in Rafael Bejarano and Doug O’Neill. Also out of a pair of races in the 80’s and could bounce. Ready To Act in 3rd lifetime race. Last time out, lost rider in the Grade 2 Natalma. Entered this race on layoff, as he did in first race, a winning 80k maiden effort. No reason to think she can’t win again off layoff, or at least contend. 5 works since the Natalma, 2nd last a bullet.
Another very good betting race.
BC DISTAFF: 5-3-6-4. Absolutely tough to separate much of the 6-horse field based on trips, post and track bias, categories that I give the largest weight too. Nevertheless, here’s how I see it. Beholder is my best bet of today’s prime races. Ran 1st or 2nd in 10 of his 11 lifetime races (the one miscue came in his first race). Winner of 4 Grade 1 races, all at Santa Anita, including the Zenyatta last time. true horse-for-course, 5 wins in 6 races, and a 110 best Brisnet scored in an allowance race last year. Plus, he has Gary Stevens aboard with Richard Mandella training, strong combo here. 4 works since the Zenyatta, all here, 2 were very strong. Not much to add here, really. Pace form is good, tho might bounce; should do well with the outside post. Close Hatches is 5 of 7 lifetime, winning the Cotillion and the Mother Goose, both at Grade 1, in last 2 races. I’ve rated him fastest of the field with her early pace. Princess Of Sylmar dueled a win over my 4th choice, Royal Delta in the Beldame Invitational last month. 8 of 10 lifetime, also a winner of 4 Grade 1 efforts. Interestingly, the win in the Beldame was a drop in pace to 99, this down from a lifetime best 107 in the Alabama, last of a triple peak of runs. Bounce back to triple digits again is very possible. As for Royal Delta, she has the best pedigree (Empire Maker, Delta Princess, out of AP Indy). Has the best Brisnet number of the field for the distance, at 110. Must consider with these despite the losing stretch duel.
This is the one race I’d avoiding wagering if I were you. All the others show promise of good value.
I’ll post overnight tomorrow with thoughts on the 9 Saturday races.