Breeders’ Cup Friday Thoughts

1 Nov

By Lucky Kalanges

Here’s my quick thoughts on the Breeders’ Cup Friday card.

While I’m not a huge fan of two-year-old races, in general, the last few years it seems I have done well on the Friday programs and would have been best served to just pocket my winnings and passed on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. But we know that will never happen so without further ado, let’s take a look at the Friday BC races from Santa Anita.

Race 5 – BC Juvenile Sprint

This is only the second running of the race, but if we use the Turf Sprint as a guide, the U.S. horses have been dominant, having won all 11 editions to this point. The Europeans just don’t break as fast or are as accustomed to racing around what they call “a bend” overseas.

That said, I don’t see an abundance of gate busting speed in this race, which could set the table for #2 Band Practice (12/1), who has been forwardly placed in three of five victories over the five furlong distance. The only question is whether Jamie Spencer can get him out of the gate on top. If he does, I think he has a chance to wire this field and at 12/1 on the morning line, I’m willing to take that chance.

The U.S. contingent is led by the Wesley Ward trainees and you can take your pick between Kimari (7/2) and Four Wheel Drive (3/1). Kimari has shown the versatility to win on the lead and by circling the field, and also shows a close second in a field of 25 at Ascot. Four Wheel Drive has won both of his starts with relative ease, and broke his maiden in a 100K stake.

A longshot who could drive up your exotic tickets could be Encoder (15/1), who gets Flavian Prat and turns back from a mile to five furlongs for the John Sadler barn. He won his debut at five panels at Del Mar in August. Look for him to be rolling late.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Bulletproof One, who won the Everett Nevin at Pleasanton by nine lengths back in July, as she didn’t draw into the body of the field.

Race 6 – BC Juvenile Turf

The Europeans have dominated this race, winning 10 of the 12 runnings since 2007. That said, there’s only two in here, your 5/2 morning line favorite #12 Arizona and #13 Fort Myers. Arizona has finished behind multiple Group 1 winner Pinatubo, and the fact there’s so few European entries in this race suggest he’s scared them off. I’m going to take a more skeptical view, given the challenge of having to cross the pond, race over two tight turns from an outside post, in hopes of catching a price on a U.S. runner.

Since there seems to be an abundance of horses that want to race on or near the pace, I am going to turn my attention to the top U.S. closers, and I’ll side with the trio of #4 Decorated Invader (4/1), #5 Vitalogy (NOW SCRATCHED) and #3 Peace Achieved (10/1), in that order. The latter might be at a bit of a pace disadvantage given he is a stalker who likes to lay close, but is coming in on a three-race winning streak and should have a shot with an expected ground saving trip. My top two like to come from off the pace, which seems to be the best tactics on grass. Of course, if you are playing the multi-legs, you might consider Arizona and Chad Brown’s Structor (5/1) defensively, because, Chad Brown.

Race 7 – BC Juvenile Fillies

In what like one of the most wide-open editions of this race, I’m finding it hard to split the three 7/2 morning line shots #4 British Idiom (7/2), #6 Bast (7/2) and #7 Wicked Whisper (7/2). It might come down to who offers the best value on the tote board. I like how Idiom demolished 10 rivals in her two-turn debut in the Alcibiades at Keeneland while improving her speed figures both on the Beyer and Brisnet scales. Bast looks tough and you always have to respect Baffert, but there isn’t as much buzz about this one’s works in the morning. If a Baffert horse is going to fire, usually there’s buzz.

Wicked Whisper has done nothing wrong and figures to be on or near the lead two-turning for the first time. Early speed usually dominates these filly races, so I’m leaning toward a Whisper/Idiom Exacta. I’ll take a stand against morning line favorite Donna Veloce (3/1) beating this field out of her impressive maiden win.

Race 8 – Juvenile Fillies Turf

The U.S. runners have a 9-2 advantage in 11 runnings, probably due to the European juveniles having difficulty adjusting to two-turn miles. I’m going to hope that continues this year when backing who I think is the best U.S. closer in the field in #7 Crystalle (8/1). This one topped one of the likely favorites in here #12 Sweet Melania (5/1) two back and nearly got the job done after going nine-wide under Rosairo while falling a half-length short to the Chad Brown trained #13 Selflessly (8/1), who has to carve out a trip from the parking lot.

The concern with my top choice again is Rosario having to take the long route home, but I like her chances at what could be a better price than her morning line.

Of the European’s, Daahyeh (5/1) and Shadn (10/1) are the runners I’m most interested in. With the latter getting Lasix for the first time, she could offer value in the exotics. I’ll take a stand against Albigna (9/2) at an expected short price, coming off a G1 win over soft ground at Longchamp.

Race 10 – BC Juvenile

There doesn’t seem to be much early speed in the Juvenile this year and that sets up perfectly for #6 Eight Rings (2/1) who figures to go right to the lead and have every chance to win if he’s good enough. It’s Baffert, the Juvenile at Santa Anita – nuff said. Budding superstar #1 Dennis’ Moment (8/5) is the major danger and my guess is he will attempt to stalk Eight Rings and blow by him. He could definitely do that and is probably a must use on your multi-race exotic tickets.

If you are looking to split these two to get an Exacta price, #5 Scabbard (8/1) is your best shot. He had to put on the breaks in the Iroquois and re-rally, but once he got clear he came running to finish within a length and a half of Dennis’ Moment. If the top two decide to engage in a prolonged pace battle, Scabbard could upset this field.

I’ll be back Saturday morning to share my thoughts on the big Saturday card. Best of luck everybody.

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