A look at Friday’s races during this year’s Breeder’s Cup
The biggest weekend in North American horse racing has arrived. The 2017 Breeder’s Cup, an event in which the best horses from around the world gather to compete for $28 million total purse money, will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 3-4 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, CA. The event will be televised on NCBSN and select races will be streamed on Facebook Live and Periscope. For longtime fans and new fans alike, this event is one that should not be missed at will mark the final race before retirement for some of the best horses of the last few years.
With the big weekend quickly approaching, here is part one of my two-part guide on how to watch and who to bet on to make this weekend worth it for everyone. In this article, I will be highlighting some of Friday’s major storylines, introducing some of the biggest stars, and giving my own picks on who I think has the best chance of winning so that this weekend can be as profitable for you as it is for the horses, trainers and owners running in the big event. For a complete list of races to be run including morning line odds, check out breederscup.com/entries.
Juvenile Turf Races (Juvenile Turf: 1 Mile, Turf, 6:50 PM EDT, Juvenile Fillies Turf: 1 Mile, Turf, 5:25 PM EDT)
These races are the first chance for many of the young 2-year-old horses to show what they’ve got. With both North American and European horses entered, these horses hope to make a name for themselves on the biggest stage in the sport.
On the fillies side of things, RUSHING FALL looks to be the most competitive to be sent out from North America, making her the morning line favorite at 7-2. However, the European horses HAPPILY and SEPTEMBER, both from the barn of the renowned Aidan O’Brien, look to make a big splash with morning line odds of 9-2 and 6-1 respectively. My own personal longshot in this race is the 15-1 FATALE BERE who will be ridden by the Del Mar turf specialist, Kent Desormeaux. My betting strategy for this race will be to pick two horses to bet Win/Show and in an exacta box and hope they get their noses down in the right order.
The boys’ race may be even more wide open than the fillies with the morning line favorite MASAR currently sitting at 9-2. The good news is that means it should be an exciting race and one in which money can be made; the bad news is picking a winner might be tough. My current favorite is MY BOY JACK, a local horse currently sitting at odds of 8-1, who has already shown he likes the Del Mar turf by finishing 2nd in his last two races at Del Mar. The east coast horse, UNTAMED DOMAIN, however, looks ready to come west and prove his worth at 8-1 morning line odds. Like the fillies, Aiden O’Brien hopes to flex the muscle that is European turf horses by bringing the 2-year-old MENDELSSOHN (8-1) across the pond to prove he has what it takes to be this year’s juvenile king of the turf. My best bet here would be to pick your favorite horse to Win/Show and cheer him down the stretch knowing that in this race whichever horse wins will pay big.
Las Vegas Dirt Mile (1 Mile, Dirt, Post Time 6:05 PM EDT)
Slightly shorter than the BC Classic but longer than the sprint, this dirt race promises to be competitive with many big names hoping to step up. The morning line favorite, MOR SPIRIT (3-1) is unbeaten in his last 3 starts and looks tough to beat here. The speedy SHARP AZTECA (9-2) however is the favorite in the minds of many and could easily break to the front and wire the field. The young PRACTICAL JOKE (6-1) has been a beast in his last few starts, however, the horse has not yet won a race running two turns. Although some thought he would be pointed toward the one turn sprint, his connections opted to put him in the mile and hope that he will get that elusive 2 turn victory. ACCELERATE (7-2), a horse that beat ARROGATE two starts back, has already shown he can thrive on the deep, slow Del Mar dirt. My personal favorite, however, is the California Grey, CUPID. Despite his poor performance last time out, in which he was beaten by fellow Breeder’s Cup horses MUBTAAHIJ and MIDNIGHT STORM, CUPID looks ready to come back and prove his worth and should pay well to do so at 8-1 odds. With how wide open this race looks, I would pick 2-3 of the listed horses and put them together in a boxed exacta or trifecta and hope for a big payout with a Win/Place bet to whichever horse is your favorite.
Longines Distaff (1 ⅛ Miles, Dirt, Post Time 7:35 PM EDT)
Not only is this the best looking race of the day, but the Distaff is looking to be the likely best race of the whole weekend. Although the beloved SONGBIRD recently retired and will therefore not be able to compete in this years Distaff, this year’s Distaff looks to be the most competitive race of the weekend. The most likely horse to take over SONGBIRD’s title of best filly or mare is the experience STELLAR WIND, who currently stands to be the favorite with morning line odds of 5-2. She will face tough competition however in FOREVER UNBRIDLED (4-1), a horse that beat SONGBIRD last time out and who finished third in this event last year. But like in every sport, the younger generation is always hoping to step up and make a name for themselves, and the 3-year-old crop in this division is no different. The beloved east coast ELATE (3-1) and west coast ABEL TASMAN (4-1) have both stepped up to show their dominance in the 3-year-old division this year and look ready to take on older competition. But they are not the only 3-year-olds that look like they can make an impact in the most competitive division of the year. PARADISE WOODS (9-2) shocked everyone just a few weeks ago in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita when she beat the field by more than 5 lengths and demonstrated her incredible speed. With so many great horses ready to go, this race not only will be exciting to watch but could also have massive payouts. Given the strength of the field, I recommend picking the two horses you like the best and placing a two-horse boxed exacta.
Stay tuned for part two of the Breeder’s Cup Preview where I will preview the races to be run on Saturday.