Looking at Saturday’s Breeder’s Cup races
In part 1 of this series, I previewed the Friday races of the 2017 Breeder’s Cup. Here, in part 2, I will preview the major storylines and horses for Saturday’s race card. The Breeder’s Cup is the biggest day of the year for North American horse racing and this year promises to be one of the best Breeder’s Cups ever. With coverage on NBCSN and live streaming of select races on Facebook Live, this event is a perfect opportunity for new fans and longtime fans alike to watch the best horses in the world face off for a massive $28 million in total purse money.
Juvenile Dirt Races (14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3:00 PM EDT, Sentient Jet Juvenile, 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 6:58 PM EDT)
These races are some of the most exciting and anticipated of the Breeder’s Cup weekend and could potentially preview next year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks winners. Although not every Kentucky Derby/Oaks horse will be running in these races, you can be sure that the horses that show up here will be remembered as the big 3-year-old races approach.
For the ladies, only one horse seems to really stand out. The 7-2 morning line favorite MOONSHINE MEMORIES is currently unbeaten in her 3 races, making her an obvious choice to win. However, 2-year-old races can be unpredictable and horses at this age can mature fast. Although based on past performances it appears that MOONSHINE MEMORIES is the best of the field, 12 other horses look to challenge her including ALLURING STAR (6-1) and PIEDI BIANCHI (15-1), both of whom lost to her in the Chandelier Stakes but can be expected to run well here. Other contenders include Chad Brown’s SEPARATIONOFPOWERS (4-1) and HEAVENLY LOVE (9-2) from the Casse barn. My bet here would be to use the favorite MOONSHINE MEMORIES with a longshot in an Exacta Box and hope for a strong finish by both horses.
Like the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile for the Fillies, the Sentient Jet Juvenile is the biggest 2-year-old race of the year. And anticipation is especially high this year as many prepare to watch the rising star and 9-5 favorite BOLT D’ORO. BOLT D’ORO, like MOONSHINE MEMORIES, is unbeaten in his 3 career starts. However the manner in which BOLT D’ORO has been able to win has many whispering that he may be a once in a generation type of horse and a potential futures bet for the Triple Crown, however, it still is too soon to jump to those conclusions. Although BOLT D’ORO seems like a sure thing, other good horses including SOLOMINI (6-1), FREE DROP BILLY (5-1), FIRENZE FIRE (6-1), and the European invader US NAVY FLAG (8-1), look to run big races here. Similar to the race above, I would look to put BOLT D’ORO on top in an Exacta with 1 or 2 longer shots below and hope the right horse crosses the line second.
Turf Sprint (5 Furlongs, Turf, 3:37 PM EDT)
This race is one of those rare races that regularly has both boys and girls running at the same time. Although on paper this is a 14 horse race, it looks to me like this is the definition of a two horse race and a battle of the sexes. The inside horse and male side of this battle is DISCO PARTNER, a horse that has won 4 of his last 5 races, and at 9-2 morning line odds, he appears to be worth the money. However, in order for DISCO PARTNER to win, he will have to get out in front of the incredible LADY AURELIA who currently is the morning line odds favorite at 5-2 and has shown blazing fast speed while winning 5 of her 7 career races. Although LADY AURELIA lost her last race out by a nose to the Irish bred MARSHA (7-2), who will also show up here in this race, I think the early speed of DISCO PARTNER and LADY AURELIA will be too much for the rest of the field. I would look for a straight exacta and hope you pick them in the right order.
Dirt Sprint Races (Filly and mare, 7 Furlongs, Dirt, 4:14 PM EDT, Twinspires Sprint, 6 Furlongs, Dirt, 5:37 PM EDT)
In the Twinspires Sprint, the defending champion DREFONG (5-2) looks too good to beat. His only race he has failed to win since breaking his maiden was a race in which he lost his rider breaking from the gate. As long as the jockey stays on, DREFONG can be expected to make the rest of the field look like low-level claimers. If you want to be safe and use other horses, TAKAFUL (5-1) and ROY H (7-2) look to be the only horses that can even keep up.
Similar to DREFONG running with the boys, UNIQUE BELLA (9-5) looks like she will easily outclass the rest of the field in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Although she had a long layoff for most of the year following her impressive 2-year-old campaign, she returned to the track and won easily last month in the LA Woman Stakes at Santa Anita to capture her 5th win in 6 starts. Additionally, her morning workouts have been a thing of beauty cementing her as an easy pick for me in the Filly and Mare Sprint. To make money in these races, look to multi-race wagers (Doubles, Pick 3’s, Pick 4’s) where you can single DREFONG or UNIQUE BELLA to capitalize on their odds.
Turf Races (Filly and Mare Turf, 1 ⅛ Miles, Turf, 5:00 PM EDT, Longines Turf, 1 ½ Miles, Turf, 7:37 PM EDT)
The filly and mare turf race this year is one of those sad races that we know we will be saying goodbye to a great horse. The morning line favorite LADY ELI (5-2) looks for her second Breeder’s Cup win and first in this division after a disappointing 2nd last year before she retires to be a mom. Although LADY ELI is the likely winner here, more than a few horses will be hoping to give her a challenge, many of which are longshots and could potentially pay big. GRAND JETE (6-1), DACITA (8-1), and AVENGE (8-1) are horses that will likely come out with a strong showing. However big longshots including WUHEIDA (20-1) and ZIPESSA (20-1) both have the look of a horse that could shock the field and finish in front of the rest of the field. For this race, I see two good betting strategies. If you like LADY ELI to win I would play her on top of an Exacta with another horse or two beneath. If you want to bet against LADY ELI, pick a longshot or two and bet them to Win/Show.
The boy’s turf race this year appears to be wide open, and therefore might be one of the best betting opportunities of the weekend. The morning line favorite ULYSSES (7-2) looks to me to be vulnerable in this race. The most likely contenders are HIGHLAND REEL (5-1) and BEACH PATROL (4-1). Yet, given how wide open this race is, several longshots can also be expected to run well including OSCAR PERFORMANCE (10-1), TALISMANIC (15-1), and ITSINTHEPOST (15-1), as well as one of my favorite turf horses HUNT (20-1), who does not yet have a G1 Stakes win but has been impressive his last two times out on the Del Mar Turf. Given how wide open this race is, the best betting strategy is to pick a few horses to put together in a boxed Exacta or Trifecta and hope you picked the right ones on top.
The Mile (1 Mile, Turf, 6:19 PM EDT)
Once again, this is a race in which we must say goodbye to a horse that has had an impressive career. MIDNIGHT STORM, who is set to retire following this race, enters as a longshot at 15-1, despite the fact that he has shown time and time again he can run impressive races at many distances both on the dirt and on the turf. The favorite in this race is the Irish Bred RIBCHESTER who enters at morning line odds of 7-2, however, this race appears to be wide open and RIBCHESTER will have to run the perfect race to beat the rest of the field. One such horse RIBCHESTER will have to best is the second favorite, WORLD APPROVAL (9-2). However many longshots could also really show up including LANCASTER BOMBER (20-1) and BALLAGH ROCKS (12-1). Given how wide open this race is, I will look to make money with the longshots and play a few longshots to Win/Place and hope for the big payout.
Breeder’s Cup Classic (1 ¼ Miles, Dirt, 8:35 PM EDT)
A few weeks back I wrote a preview on the Breeder’s Cup Classic and my opinions have not changed one bit. As mentioned earlier, this race is incredibly strong, but it still looks like a two-horse race. Those two horses are ARROGATE (2-1), the current “World’s Best Race Horse” and defending BC CLASSIC champion, and GUN RUNNER (9-5), the horse that looks to take his place. To make this race even more meaningful, it was recently announced that ARROGATE will be retiring following this race, making it the last chance for many to cheer on and bet for, one of the best horses of the last few years. Although ARROGATE has struggled in his last two races, leading many to pick GUN RUNNER as the favorite, his most recent works out have shown that the real ARROGATE might be back and ready to give it all he’s got to finish his career with a victory. In addition, to ARROGATE, Bob Baffert, the unofficial king of the BC Classic, is sending out 4 total horses in the BC Classic including WEST COAST (6-1), COLLECTED (6-1), and MUBTAAHIJ (12-1); all of whom could show up huge in the biggest race of the year. Other horses including European CHURCHILL (15-1), who surprised everyone by opting to run on dirt over turf, and the always competitive GUNNEVERA (30-1) who could impress by running a big race as a longshot. I personally will be looking for the Baffert sweep and will play both the exacta and trifecta with ARROGATE on top and his other horses below and hope that ARROGATE goes out strong and that GUN RUNNER can’t keep up.