2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day Two Handicapping Analysis (11/6/21)

I’ll start off this column with a disclaimer: If you don’t want to bet Saturday’s races because of the three-ring circus that happened before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, I completely understand. A lot of people got the short end of the stick with what happened, and I couldn’t write anything else before writing something I posted to Twitter late Friday.

If you want to play, though, there’s plenty to digest Saturday at Del Mar. As with Friday’s races, I’ll spend more time on races where I have a strong opinion and less time on races where I don’t. Let’s take a look!

“Champagne and J.D.,” cued up to our analysis of Saturday’s card!

RACE #1: We’ll start things off with an optional claiming event for older horses. I’m not sure which runner will go favored, but #1 ONE FAST BRO would intrigue me a bit if others took money. His lone recent poor race on turf came in a paceless race at Santa Anita, and it sure seems like he’s taken a step forward late in his 4-year-old season. He’s a stone closer that may need some luck breaking on the rail, but Joe Bravo’s riding style should fit him like a glove, and the jockey got to know this gelding a bit last time out, when he ran second behind next-out stakes-winner Subconscious.

RACE #2: The Grade 2 TAA is the annual marathon race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, and I think the morning line is off. Yes, #2 LONE ROCK was beaten last time out as a very heavy favorite, but I can’t see #4 TIZAMAGICIAN challenging him for favoritism. I think Lone Rock comes down from his 6/5 morning line price, and that Tizamagician drifts up.

I focused on that because, handicapping-wise, this looks chalky to me. Lone Rock still looks very imposing, and anything close to his races from mid-2021 would make him very tough to beat.

RACE #3: We start cooking with gas in the Grade 2 Goldikova. I respect 8/5 favorite #2 PRINCESS GRACE, who’s won six of seven career starts and wouldn’t be surprising. However, I think there’s value to that one’s inside.

Instead of the chalk, give me #1 ZOFELLE, whose last race is a clear throw-out. She’s shown she detests Belmont Park and its funky one-mile configuration, and she’s also shown she shines going two turns. Her races from early-2021 are sharp, and while the layoff is a concern, she’s been working steadily for a barn that can get fresh horses ready to run.

Zofelle’s best race can win this, and I think things will set up for her. This race isn’t without some early zip, and the faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be. 6-1 hits me as an overlay, and I hope we get that price (or something close to it) come post time.

RACE #4: Many handicappers detest this race, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. It’s down to a five-horse field, and the likely odds-on favorite, #5 GAMINE, has been in the news several times for the wrong reasons.

However, I think there’s money to be made, as Gamine shouldn’t be alone on the front end. She may be joined by #3 EDGEWAY or #6 BELLA SOFIA, and while she may be good enough to overcome that pressure, I think her likely price is an underlay, and that such a scenario would set things up for #4 CE CE.

Ce Ce didn’t get her desired trip in the Ballerina two starts back. Gamine ran her first quarter-mile in :23 and change, and the race was over at that point. That shouldn’t happen again here, and when Ce Ce gets a pace to run at, she’s very, very good. I wish we were likely to get the 4-1 morning line price, but we’ll probably have to make due with 5/2 or so. Still, she’ll be a single for me on multi-race exotics tickets, and if Gamine loses, the payoff potential on those goes up significantly.

RACE #5: Singling Ce Ce is handy, because the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is a puzzling race. I’ve been a big fan of #3 GOLDEN PAL all year long, and a win here wouldn’t surprise me. However, if the 3-year-old misfires against open company, any number of his rivals could potentially get the money.

#1 GLASS SLIPPERS won this race last year, and her stablemate, #2 EMARAATY ANA, may be even better than she is. Golden Pal’s stablemate, #9 KIMARI, hasn’t run since April, but she’s been working consistently at Keeneland and is a world-class sprinter when she’s right.

The one I’m most intrigued by at a price, though, is #11 FAST BOAT. Closers in turf sprints make me nervous, but Del Mar’s surface was a fair one on Friday, and a few closers did reasonably well. Additionally, he’s capitalized on several meltdowns against these types this season, and a similar situation may present itself here. His best is certainly good enough to win this, and he’ll be on all of my tickets.

RACE #6: #5 LIFE IS GOOD is a single for me in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (TV won’t say the sponsor, but I will because I’m a rebel and play by my own rules). I can’t see him getting challenged early, and if he gets comfortable, I think he’ll coast.

RACE #7: The Filly and Mare Turf will be a blast. I’m pumped to see #7 WAR LIKE GODDESS tackle the likes of #6 LOVE and #8 LOVES ONLY YOU, who ship in from England and Japan for this event. Consider this: #12 AUDARYA is the defending champ in this race, and she’s the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line!

The top three choices are all world-class talents, and Audarya would merit attention if not for a terrible post draw. However, there’s another that I need to advise you to consider. #1 GOING TO VEGAS did sit a dream trip last time out in winning the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, but everything says she could sit that trip again here. There just isn’t a lot of early speed signed on to chase her, and if she gets comfortable, I think she’ll have every chance to grab a big piece of this at a very nice price.

RACE #8: Neither of my two opinions in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint should surprise you. The first is that #2 JACKIE’S WARRIOR looks very tough, by any conceivable measure. His figures only seem to be going up, he’s very fast out of the gate, and he’s shown an ability to grind his foes into dust. He’s my top pick.

My other opinion is that #7 LEXITONIAN, a first-ballot inductee into the Andrew Champagne Gambling Hall of Fame, hits the board. Toss the Forego, where he got left at the gate, and toss the Met Mile, which I think is a toss for every horse that ran in it (it was a WEIRD race). His two-back Grade 1 win in the Vanderbilt was sharp, and it also helps that he ran very well in his lone Del Mar start, when he fell by a dirty nose after a big late run in the 2020 Bing Crosby. Lexitonian’s an honest horse that should be going the right way late, and I think he’ll clunk up for a piece of it at a big number.

RACE #9: The Breeders’ Cup Mile is always a blast. Some of my favorite horses (Lure and Wise Dan, to name two) have won this race over the years, and from a handicapping perspective, you can make cases for a bunch of these runners.

I’m spreading in multi-race exotics. #3 SPACE BLUES is a win machine from Europe, and his best race would absolutely put him right there, but he’s stretching out to a mile from seven furlongs, and that’s not insignificant. By contrast, #9 MOTHER EARTH has won at this distance before and ran into Aunt Pearl last fall in her lone stateside start to date. I need to use her, too, especially since she’s run very well over firmer going in the past. Of the American runners, I prefer #6 MO FORZA and #7 IN LOVE, who both come in off of strong wins in prep races a few weeks ago.

RACE #10: The Breeders’ Cup Distaff features #6 LETRUSKA, who enters on a five-race win streak and figures to be one of the day’s heaviest favorites. However, I’m against her in here. I think there’s a lot of other early speed signed on (specifically #7 HOROLOGIST and #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL), and I think the race shape could set up for a closer to come from out of the clouds.

With that in mind, I prefer #2 ROYAL FLAG on top. She exits a very nice win in the Beldame at Belmont, where she won by more than four lengths despite a pretty slow early pace. She’s shown an ability to rally from well back in races without much early zip. Given the likelihood of some fast fractions, I think her chances go way up, and 8-1 hits me as an overlay.

Of the front-running types, I prefer #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL, who beat Letruska earlier this year and has shown she doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. Given how fast they’ll probably be going, that could prove valuable.

RACE #11: I could wind up having plenty of fun in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. #13 TARNAWA is logical and hasn’t run a bad race in more than two years. She could win this for the second year in a row, but there’s another runner I like at a significantly bigger price.

Toss the Arc de Triomphe, and doesn’t the form of #8 BROOME look a lot better? He’s run plenty of races at this distance that would be good enough to win, and I love the presence of Frankie Dettori, whose record in this race is excellent. The same can be said of trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race six times. At his likely price, Broome is a must-use, and he’d be a day-maker for me.

RACE #12: We’ll finish, of course, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I can’t go too in-depth on this, as I’ll have a longer, race-specific writeup available on Oddschecker US. However, I think #5 KNICKS GO will be very tough to beat, and you can head over there for my reasoning and betting strategy.

2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day One Handicapping Analysis (11/5/21)

This week’s “Champagne and J.D.,” filmed before news broke about Jack Christopher scratching out of the Juvenile.

It’s Breeders’ Cup time, and I’m going to do things a little bit differently this year. In the past, I’ve written walls of text on every race. This year, I’m going to follow my own advice about being smarter with time and money management.

I’ll still take looks at every race, but I’ll expound far more on ones where I have strong opinions. Friday’s card, for my money, is far more intriguing than Saturday’s, and I’m looking forward to getting things rolling and hopefully setting us up for more success over the weekend. Let’s dive in, shall we?

RACE #1: We’re bringing some firepower right off the bat. #4 TRIPLE TAP is American Pharoah’s younger half-brother, and he’s been on the sidelines since an impressive first-out score in March at Santa Anita. He’s been working very well, and I think he’s well-meant, but I also think the likely race shape may be kind to others. There’s a lot of other speed in this event, and as a result, I’d advise you to use two closers in your exotics tickets.

#2 I’LL STAND TALLER has rounded into form for Doug O’Neill. He’s won two of his last three starts, and the race shape in his most recent effort didn’t set up for a closer. He’s a Cal-bred stepping up into open company, but his connections saw fit to run him in two stakes races earlier this year, and perhaps he’s just getting better as he gets older.

I’ll also get a little crazy and include #8 EL DIABLO ROJO, whose record looks far better if you toss the turf races. I’m not entirely sure why he’s been running on it, since it’s clear he’s better on dirt, and he has back form from early-2021 that would make him dangerous at a price.

RACE #2: I don’t find the Qatar Golden Mile nearly as appealing. Likely favorite #8 READY TO PURRFORM looms large off of an impressive win in a similar spot at Laurel, and the most appealing alternative will be the likely second choice, #3 DEGREE OF RISK. That one exits a decent third in the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine and adds both blinkers and Flavien Prat.

RACE #3: One of my strongest opinions of the undercard is here, in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies. It looks like a fantastic betting race if you have one of those, and I like a runner enough to single her in multi-race exotics.

#9 VIVACIOUS VANESSA ran exceptionally well in her debut. Gary Mandella’s first-time starters aren’t usually fully-cranked, and going two turns at first asking isn’t easy to do. However, she broke slowly, uncorked a big rally, and won going away. The fast pace did help her that day, but that’s not the kind of effort that can simply be chalked up to a race falling apart.

Vivacious Vanessa goes turf to dirt here, and the dirt works tell me she’ll take to the new surface just fine. I think there’s plenty of pace signed on to set up for the way she wants to run, and if she wins, it’ll provide a nice stake for the rest of the weekend.

RACE #4: The Ken Maddy is a grass grab bag with a 10-horse field, and many of these fillies and mares have shown plenty of talent. #8 SUPERSTITION loves Del Mar and doesn’t need the lead, which are both good things. She’s not a bad favorite, but she also doesn’t tower over this group, and I think there are two others worthy of consideration.

#1 HEAR MY PRAYER is probably my other “A horse” in multi-race exotics. She’s run just once since February, but that was a winning effort at this route, and she’s been training lights-out at Santa Anita ahead of this event. Given the layoff lines, it’s safe to assume she’s had her issues, but when she’s right, she’s very fast.

I’ll also have some saver tickets with #5 TIME LIMIT, who gets a significant class test but hasn’t run a poor race on turf. She’s got plenty of early zip, but showed she can rate a bit in two wins at Saratoga. One of those wins was over a very good turf sprinter named Risky Mischief, who’s run some fast races and wouldn’t have been out-of-place in this race. Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride for Mike Maker, and we’ll likely be assured a square price on a very nice horse.

RACE #5: The brother race to the third event of the day, the Golden State Juvenile for 2-year-old colts has drawn another big field. I do have a lean here, and while it’s not strong enough to single the horse on all tickets, it’s probably a “lone A” situation.

#11 SLOW DOWN ANDY won his debut like a very good horse. He cruised home clear by nearly five lengths, and that day’s runner-up (#10 MOOSE MITCHELL) came right back to win at next asking. Doug O’Neill’s first-time starters aren’t always fully-cranked, but when this barn gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there. I don’t know if we’ll get 5-1, but I also don’t think he’ll be favored, so we should get a little bit of value.

If Slow Down Andy doesn’t win, I’m not quite sure who does. #1 JOKER BOY will likely be favored, but I just don’t think he beat much in his two wins earlier this year. The bigger price that intrigues me is #4 BILLY’S BET, who led at every call in a five-furlong turf sprint and gets a big class test for a small barn. For a 2-year-old sprint, there isn’t a metric ton of early speed signed on, so maybe he’ll get comfortable and give the field something to think about turning for home.

RACE #6: And now we punch the accelerator, because this is the first Breeders’ Cup race of the day. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint has attracted plenty of speedy, precocious 2-year-olds that will go five furlongs. Traditionally in these races, speed is king, but there’s so much of it signed on that I need to back a closer, and there’s one in here I really like.

#7 ARMOR had nowhere to go most of the way last time out in a Group 1. Still, once he finally got a seam, he finished very nicely and was beaten less than a length by multiple Group 1 winner Perfect Power. Perfect Power would almost certainly be favored in this spot had he shipped over, so it’s tough to see a narrow loss to that rival as a bad thing.

Between his back class and the likely race shape, I think there’s a ton to like here. I don’t think we’ll get the 6-1 morning line, but 9/2 and up would hit me as a pretty fair value. If you’re looking for a closer at an even bigger price, #11 DERRYNANE’s two-back clunker over a boggy turf course is a total throw-out. Her score at Woodbine was excellent, and while the post is awful, she’s got enough talent to where I’ll still be alive on a few tickets if she pops at a price. Having said that, Armor is the heavier lean.

RACE #7: It stinks that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies only drew six horses. Having said that, it’s headed by the flashy #6 ECHO ZULU, who’s 3-for-3 and has never been truly tested.

On one hand, I’m not crazy about betting a horse, as the favorite, doing something it’s never done before (hi, Harvey Pack!). On the other, she’s bred up and down to get better as the distances get longer. She’s by Gun Runner, out of a Menifee mare, and sure looks like the controlling speed. This race won’t get much of my money, as I think the favorite is legitimate and the field size is too short for vertical exotics to pay much.

RACE #8: I’ve got a play here in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I don’t think there’s much in the way of early speed signed on, and I think a filly stretching out in distance for a top-class barn will sit an ideal trip.

#5 BUBBLE ROCK broke her maiden like a very good horse two starts ago at Saratoga. She finished powerfully, which is no shock since she’s bred to go much longer than that 5 1/2-furlong route. She’s since added a win in the Matron, and while that was more workmanlike than I anticipated, I think it’s entirely possible she just bounced off of her big performance prior to that. She’s shown sprinter speed, and she’s bred to go two turns. Her second dam is a multiple stakes-winner going two turns, and her dam is a half to Blue Chipper, who ran third in the Dirt Mile a few years ago.

Maybe Bubble Rock turns out to just be a sprinter, or maybe she peaked too early in the season. However, at her 8-1 morning line price, I’ll absolutely pay to find out. She’ll be a “separator single” for me on at least a few of my tickets, and while I respect the likes of #11 HAUGHTY and #13 MISE EN SCENE, Bubble Rock would be a day-maker if she runs like I think she can.

RACE #9: I was looking forward to this race a lot more before the scratch of #1 JACK CHRISTOPHER. I didn’t like him, I thought he was a beatable favorite, and I thought his presence would help set things up for a closer.

Now that he’s out, I don’t know what to think. Bob Baffert has three runners in here, including #12 CORNICHE, who will likely assume the favorite’s role. I actually think #9 PINEHURST has some appeal given his two-turn pedigree and a recent stretch of excellent workouts, but he hasn’t yet shown that he can rate.

I’ll use both of those as well as a pair of runners from the Todd Pletcher barn. #10 COMMANDPERFORMANCE sure seems like a wise guy horse, given how many people on horse racing Twitter seem to love him, but there’s no doubt he made up a lot of ground in the Champagne. I’m also intrigued by #5 DOUBLE THUNDER, who’s bred to run all day and has been taking steps forward with each start. These two would benefit from a pace meltdown, as well as a scenario where the Baffert runners just aren’t that special.

RACE #10: In my opinion, they saved the most puzzling Breeders’ Cup race for last. The Juvenile Turf features several well-meant runners from Europe, and those would be my two “A horses,” but there are two Americans that intrigue me a bit, too.

Charles Appleby has a very powerful hand here. He trains #1 MODERN GAMES and #2 ALBAHR, and they’ve combined to win seven of 10 races with just one off-the-board finish (Modern Games was fifth in his debut). Neither would surprise me, though I’d probably give the slight edge to Modern Games, whose Group 3 win at Newmarket last time out was excellent.

Of the Americans, I prefer #4 TIZ THE BOMB, who has won three straight and has shown some versatility in his two recent stakes wins. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was fairly close to a soft pace, which might be set by the other horse I have my eye on, #10 PORTFOLIO COMPANY. I’m not crazy about him having set a very slow pace last time and still getting beat, but I think he’ll be the controlling early speed in here, and the presence of Flavien Prat is encouraging.

Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: Aqueduct and Del Mar (11/18/17)

I really like the Saturday cards at Aqueduct and Del Mar. I find the multi-race sequences at both tracks very challenging, and if you hit, I think you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

One quick note: Next week, I’ll be in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving/my 29th birthday, and I’ll be writing a few articles from there for this site with racing and sports bets, as well as any amusing anecdotes I may have from my travels. If you’re looking for stuff that’s sordid, that won’t be my speed. I’m happily taken, so I don’t do clubs, I don’t do pools, and I certainly do not interact with the people outside of casinos whipping cards around. I’m an old-school degenerate who believes in things like the blackjack grandfather clause, all-you-can-eat buffets (especially when someone else is paying; hi, Dad!), meeting random groups of outgoing people in sports books, and (best of all) backdoor covers. If any or all of that intrigues you, chances are you’ll like what I’ll be posting.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Aqueduct and Del Mar, and try to get some seed money for the trip!

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$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1,2,4,5
R2: 6
R3: 4
R5: 6,9

80 Bets, $40

We start off the Saturday card at Aqueduct with a tricky claiming event. I’m going four-deep, and I hope that’s enough. I’m most intrigued by #4 HARDLY MATE, who came from way back last time out to win going away in her first start with Lasix. Yes, it took a class drop to get her into the winner’s circle, but she ran into at least two next-out winners two back, and there’s reason to believe she’s getting better with experience.

I’ve got two straight singles in the second and third legs. #6 GANGBUSTERS ships up to New York for the second race, and I like her a lot. She’s raced very wide in each of her last two outings, and it’s not like this is a stellar field. #5 LADY BY CHOICE is the 7/5 favorite, but she goes to a lower-percentage barn and drops down in class. I think that’s a favorite you should try to beat, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

My third-leg single will be a popular one. #4 SCHIVARELLI makes his first start off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez following a race where he had a strange trip. At one point, he was six-wide in a seven-horse field, and he was still beaten less than two lengths. His usual race would make him very difficult to beat, and given my approach to the fourth race, I had to take another stand somewhere.

That fourth race, for my money, is the toughest race on Saturday’s Aqueduct program. It’s an incredibly competitive turf event, and I didn’t have a clue. Thanks to my two singles, I can buy the race, so if we get through my cold double, we’ll be one leg away from cashing.

The fifth race is a turf sprint for New York-breds, and I went two-deep to finish things out. #9 MISSION COMMAND took to the turf well last time out, running away with a claiming race at Belmont. Javier Castellano rides back, and I’m using him, but my top pick is actually #6 PSYCHIC ENERGY, who probably found seven furlongs a bit too long last time out. His four races before that effort were all quite good, and in those races, he beat several horses that also show up in this spot. Hopefully, he can win and get this ticket home at a bit of a price.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 4,5,6,9,11
R7: 6,7
R8: 5,9
R9: 4,10,12,13

80 Bets, $40

I did not think this was an easy sequence. The bookends of this sequence could go any number of different ways, and if you’ve got deeper pockets or a mid-sequence single, the “ALL” button may be your friend.

The sixth is a maiden event on the turf, and a number of these exit the same few races. #9 UNLEVERAGED will likely be favored in his debut for Chad Brown, but I thought there were others in here with big chances. Of note, #11 WICKED TRICK ran really well at bonkers odds in his debut at Kentucky Downs and was the victim of a surface switch last time out in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. He’s 10-1 on the morning line, and that seems like way too big a price.

I’m using the two favorites in the two middle legs. I prefer #6 SCARLY CHARLY over #7 WILL DID IT in the seventh, largely due to the class drop and the switch to Joel Rosario. Meanwhile, in the eighth (the Artie Schiller), I think the only entrant that can beat #9 DELTA PRINCE is #5 BLACKTYPE, who seeks his third consecutive victory.

That brings us to the finale, which boasts a field of 14 maidens. #13 MISS HOT STONES seems logical on paper, but she was beaten at 1/2 at this level last time out. Maybe she’s just better than these, and I’m using her, but I can’t back her with any enthusiasm. The first-time starter that most intrigues me is #12 QUEENOFEVERYTHING, who’s been working very well at Saratoga and attracts Jose Ortiz. If Miss Hot Stones does not fire, it’s anyone’s race, and the works lead me to believe this daughter of Pomeroy could have some talent.

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$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1,2,3,9
R3: 3
R4: 8
R5: 2,3

64 Bets, $32

Right off the bat, I’m going against a likely favorite. That’s #4 LITTLE JUANITO, who’s made a career out of collecting minor checks. He’s had chances, he’s taken money, and at this point, I’m going to try to beat him. The three horses to his inside will all get some play, but #9 DRAMATIC VICTORY is my price play at 20-1. She runs against the boys here and showed speed in her debut down the hill. She faded, but Kent Desormeaux did not persevere with her when he knew she was beaten. Here, she gets top gate rider Edwin Maldonado, and she may be the one they’ve got to catch turning for home.

If we get the likely favorite beat in the opener, we’ll be two-fifths of the way home. I found the second race fascinating, and I needed maximum coverage. None of the eight entrants would be a shock, so I’m sitting back and hoping for a price.

Like at Aqueduct, I’ve got a cold double on my Pick Five ticket. My first single may be the shortest-priced favorite of the day. That’s #3 HELEN’S TIGER, who drops in for a tag and has back form. Anything close to her race two back would make her incredibly difficult to beat, and even her race three back would probably be good enough. If you can forgive the last-out clunker, which may have just been a bounce, she looks tough.

The fourth is a grass grab bag, and I’m taking a stand with #8 JERSEY’S HEAT. He improved considerably at second asking, and despite some trouble negotiating the dirt crossing, he rallied for third and earned a 67 Beyer Speed Figure. A repeat is probably good enough to win in this spot, which doesn’t feature many other horses with proven turf form. If he doesn’t win, I don’t know who does.

The payoff leg is the Saturday feature at Del Mar. It’s the $100,000 Desi Arnaz, and I’m taking a stand against another likely favorite. #6 DREAM TREE was all-out at 4/5 last time out, and while she could improve, the Bob Baffert barn is ice-cold this meet, and I’ll look elsewhere. #2 MS BAD BEHAVIOR chased two top-class fillies in her first two starts before breaking through last time out, and in that race, she overcame some trouble, which is encouraging. I’ll also use #3 MIDNIGHT BISOU, who nearly caught Dream Tree in her debut and attracts Rafael Bejarano.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 1,3,6,7,9
R7: 4,5
R8: 3,4,8,9
R9: 1,8

80 Bets, $40

Yep, another Pick Four ticket with no singles. I think you need lots of coverage, and nowhere is that more evident than in the sixth. This is a wide-open turf sprint, and I’ve gone five-deep. I’m most intrigued by #7 BOWIE, who almost definitely needed her last race off a long layoff and figures to be the main speed in this spot. She could easily take a leap forward for Richard Mandella, and if she does, she could start off the sequence at a price.

I’ll use the two favorites in the seventh, a confusing starter allowance with many horses that have not won in a while. #4 PARTY HOSTESS just missed last time out and runs for red-hot trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, while #5 GO ON MARY has significant back class and lost all chance at the break last time out.

We go back to the turf for the eighth race, and while #4 RADIO SILENCE may be the buzz horse, I don’t think he’s unbeatable. There isn’t much quality speed signed on, and that could bode well for #3 FLY TO MARS, who cruised home in his turf debut and could get first run at the tiring pace-setters around the far turn.

Finally, I’ll use the bookends in the Saturday finale. #1 BRADDOCK generally runs the same race every time out, while #8 MAKE IT A TRIPLE loves Del Mar and is wheeled right back by trainer Mike Machowsky, who has quietly had a very strong year (he’s hitting at 20%).

Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: Aqueduct, Laurel, and Del Mar (11/11/17)

Just because the Breeders’ Cup is over doesn’t mean that quality racing has taken a holiday. In fact, Aqueduct, Laurel, and Del Mar all have compelling Saturday cards with plenty of wagering opportunities, and I’ve got multi-race tickets at all three tracks. One caveat: It’s supposed to be very cold on the east coast, and it’s not impossible that turf races get moved to the main track. If that happens, my analysis for the turf races at Aqueduct and Laurel becomes irrelevant.


$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1,2,4,6,9
R2: 3,10
R3: 3,9
R4: 7,12,13
R5: 7

60 Bets, $30

Aqueduct’s bookends, for my money, are two of the three toughest races of the entire day across the three tracks I looked at. If you’ve got deeper pockets and want to punch the “ALL” button to start the Pick Five (or, for that matter, skip the Pick Five and play the early Pick Four), I absolutely get it. I narrowed it down to five horses, and I hope that’s enough coverage.

The second race is a fun turf affair, and your likely favorite is #10 RAPPEL, who breaks from the far outside and drops down in class. The drop is substantial, and he could win, but I need to use #3 JO’S BOLD CAT, who is 8-1 on the morning line despite a few solid tries at this level. That one’s lone win came over this turf course, and I think he could get an ideal setup with plenty of early speed signed on.

I’m also two-deep in the third. #3 GIANTINTHEMOONLITE may go favored off of a few strong recent efforts, and I’m using him, but he’s 2-for-22 lifetime and has not won since October of 2015. My top pick is actually #9 HEAVY MEDDLE, who showed a new dimension last time out when rating at Belmont. The outside draw should help that one, and I love the recent fast works, which aren’t necessarily typical of Bill Mott trainees.

The key to the fourth race, for me, is if #13 WORK OF ART draws in off the AE list. If he does, I think he’s the horse to beat off of an impressive debut where he was a late-running third at big odds. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win, and this barn does well with second-time starters. If he does not draw in, I think it’s a two-horse race between #7 IRON JOHNNY and #12 COLLECTIVE EFFORT, and if my top pick doesn’t run, those will probably be the two wagering favorites.

My best bet on the card is my lone single on this ticket. That’s #7 TROPHY ASSET, the likely favorite in the fifth race. His debut at Belmont was very sharp, and Chad Brown’s barn is white-hot. Further improvement is logical at second asking, and if he doesn’t win, I lose (and chances are, many other tickets lose as well).

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 1,4,5
R7: 5,10
R8: 2,5
R9: 2,3,5,6,7,12,14

84 Bets, $42

I thought this sequence was incredibly tough, and I do not have a single on my ticket. It starts with a 2-year-old maiden race going seven furlongs, and because that’s a tough distance to debut at, all three betting interests have races under their belts. #4 ALLURED and #5 VARIANT PERCEPTION both go out for Chad Brown, while #1 BLINDED VISION did everything but win in his debut. By using Blinded Vision, we also get #1A VINO ROSSO, and of the first-time starters, he’s the one I like most. He fetched $410,000 at auction, and his dam is a half to Belmont Stakes runner-up Commissioner, so he may want this distance right away.

I’m two-deep in the seventh. #10 CLASSIC COVEY may be favored off of two strong wins at Belmont. He’s undefeated since coming back from a long layoff, but I also need to use #5 SLIM SHADEY, who has returned to form for Jason Servis. Both of his two-turn races this past summer were strong, and he returns to such a route in this spot, which boasts a race shape that should favor a closer like him.

The eighth is the Grade 3 Red Smith, and I’m two-deep here as well. #2 MONEY MULTIPLIER could be a popular single, as his effort in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic was too bad to be true. Anything close to his races two or three back would make him tough. Additionally, I’m using #5 OSCAR NOMINATED, who’s quietly had a very strong season despite only winning once. He was last seen running second in the Grade 1 Canadian International, and 8-1 seems like too big a price given his consistency.

If you’ve got deeper pockets and want to buy the ninth, go right ahead. As it stands, I’m using half of this 14-horse field, including several big prices. The price I’m most intrigued by is #14 ST. PATRICK FROST, who finally drops to the appropriate level after struggling against straight maidens most of his career. If you go back to his debut in April here at Aqueduct, though, you see a race that was not horrible. If he can repeat that race, I wouldn’t be stunned to see him in the winner’s circle at a gigantic number.


$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: 3,4,6
R9: 5
R10: 4,8,10,11
R11: 2,7,8,12

48 Bets, $24

Of the multi-race sequences at Laurel Park, I most prefer the late Pick Four. I think there are some live prices in here, and my single likely won’t be favored.

We start with the James F. Lewis for 2-year-olds, and while some may see this as a two-horse race between #4 BARRY LEE and #6 KOWBOY KARMA. I’m using them both, but I also need to include #3 WHERESHETOLDMETOGO. I’m drawing a line through his effort in the Sapling, which was longer than he wants to go. He’s a sprinter with tactical speed who does not need the lead, and at his likely price, I need to have him on my ticket.

My single comes in the ninth, the Richard W. Small. I respect #4 PAGE MCKENNEY, who will likely be favored, and he’s probably the standard-bearer for war horses that have been around forever and always seem to run well. However, my single is #5 WATERSHED, who spent most of the spring running against some of the best older horses on the east coast. He comes off a layoff to run here, but his workouts are consistent, and his recent bullet workout at Belmont inspires confidence. He’s 9/2 on the morning line, and I’ll be very happy if we get that price.

I’m four-deep in each of the last two races. The tenth is a turf sprint, and while #11 QUALITY TIME could certainly win, that post position is a red flag, and her 0-for-3 record in the U.S. doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The horse I’m most intrigued by is #4 ISABEL’S ON IT, who flopped in her North American debut after a horrible break. However, she adds blinkers here for one of the top local barns, and if you liked her at 3-1 in her debut (where she had an excuse), how can you not take another shot here when she’ll probably be three or four times that price?

The Saturday finale is a maiden claiming event, and I hope I’m going deep enough. This is another race where, if you’ve got deep pockets or a light ticket elsewhere, it may be wise to punch the “ALL” button. My top pick is a bit of a price. That’s #12 NANNY ROCKS, who showed a bit of speed in her debut against much better at Belmont. Ollie Figgins’s trainees tend to improve with experience, and the outside post position should help her.


$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 4,7,8
R2: 5
R3: 2,6,7
R4: 3,4,8
R5: 2,3,5

81 Bets, $40.50

This Pick Five is a pretty fun sequence. The fields are short enough to where one can play an affordable ticket, but not so short that there’s no value, plus the favorites (with one possible exception) don’t figure to be very short prices.

The opener is a turf race for state-bred fillies and mares. My top pick is #4 WEATHER MARKET, who’s bred to love the turf and goes out for a barn whose horses tend to improve with experience and surface switches. The two betting favorites, #7 GEE STREET and #8 ROLLING SHADOW, are both logical, although the former is 0-for-9 and has had several prime chances.

My single will be a pretty popular one. #5 DANGEROUSLY CLOSE takes a big drop in class for a barn that’s enjoyed a good start to the meet. She’s shown ample early zip and adds blinkers, and these waters are much shallower than the ones she’s been swimming in to this point in her career.

The third is a maiden race for state-bred 2-year-olds. I went three-deep, and I used the three likely betting choices. #2 VIOLENT RIDGE should improve at second asking, while #6 ISHI goes to the red-hot Peter Miller barn and #7 MAVERICKS gets top gate rider Edwin Maldonado.

The fourth, though, represents a chance to take a swing. While I’m using logical horses #3 RED KING and #8 RUN LIKE RHETT, my top pick is 15-1 on the morning line. That’s #4 CURLY’S WATERFRONT, who I liked a lot last time out. He ran up against a speed-biased turf course that day, and he’s since been gelded by new trainer Reed Saldana. I’m more than willing to take another shot with him, as his best race would make him competitive in this spot.

The fifth race is the Saturday feature, the Grade 3 Bob Hope. If I’m alive, I’ll be alive to the three horses that figure to take money. #2 MOURINHO may have bounced off of a very strong debut and should like the added distance, while #3 RUN AWAY is a three-time stakes winner and #5 BEAUTIFUL SHOT is 2-for-2 and should improve with more experience.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R7: 3,8
R8: 3,8
R9: 1,6,10

96 Bets, $48

And here we have what I felt was the toughest sequence of the day. I usually don’t like giving out tickets that exceed $40 in value, but I had to break that soft cap here.

The first leg is the type of race I HATE handicapping. It’s for older horses who have not won a race this year, and I have absolutely no confidence in any of these entrants. Thankfully, this is only a field of eight, not 12 or 14, so hitting the “ALL” button isn’t crippling.

The second leg is a 2-year-old maiden race, and #8 COOL BOBBY will be tough to beat. He missed by a neck in his debut, and this barn does not always have first-time starters fully cranked. I’ll also, though, be using the unfortunately-named #3 PITINO, who fetched $950,000 at auction and has been working lights-out ahead of his debut.

The third leg is a turf sprint, and this figures to be a race where most horses want the lead. #8 TIZANILLUSION makes her local debut and should sit an ideal trip beneath top local turf rider Drayden Van Dyke. On the off chance speed carries, I’ll also use #3 PAINTING CORNERS, who was dueled into submission last time out coming down the hill at Santa Anita.

If we get to the final leg, we’ll be alive to three horses. There’s not much speed in the race, and #10 JONNY’S CHOICE loves Del Mar, so he’s my top pick. I don’t love the post for #1 FREDDIES DREAM, and #6 ROMAN TIZZY gets a negative rider switch, but each horse is talented enough to win with their respective best effort.

2017 Breeders’ Cup: Saturday Analysis, Selections, and Wagering Strategies

Saturday is arguably the biggest day of the year in horse racing. It’s the second day of the Breeders’ Cup, and nine Grade 1 races are on tap, most with year-end championship implications. Furthermore, even the sport’s top horses will be bettable prices (most of them, anyway), which gives the event an extra layer of intrigue. I’ll preview all nine Breeders’ Cup races below, and hopefully, we can work our way to a nice score!

NOTE: To view Friday’s analysis, selections, and wagering strategies, click here.


Right away, we’re met with a real head-scratcher. The Juvenile Fillies drew a field of 13 2-year-olds, and there are reasons to like most of them. Furthermore, a few of the betting favorites wound up with post positions that were, to be kind, less than ideal.

I’ll get to a few of them in a moment, but my top pick is #7 MOONSHINE MEMORIES. She’s 3-for-3 in her career, and two of those wins came in Grade 1 races. Her first two-turn effort was a sharp one, as she was comfortably best in the Chandelier at Santa Anita. Additionally, when trainer Simon Callaghan gets a horse good, they tend to stay good. Over the past year (through Wednesday), he’s 8-for-17 with last-out winners on dirt, and she’s worked as though more improvement is in the cards on Saturday.

#1 HEAVENLY LOVE and #13 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS also won important prep races, but they’ll bookend the field after getting the worst of Monday’s never-ending post position draw (shoutout to friend Ed DeRosa, who quipped that they’d brought back the Breeders’ Cup Marathon and renamed it the Breeders’ Cup post position draw!). Both can win, but of this pair, I prefer Separationofpowers, who was very green but still powered away late in the Grade 1 Frizette. She runs like a horse that wants two turns, and if Jose Ortiz can save even a bit of ground early and keep this daughter of Candy Ride out of trouble, she can certainly win.

The wild card in this race (to me, at least), is #11 WONDER GADOT, one of three in here for trainer Mark Casse. She’s 2-for-3 and took a major step forward in winning the Grade 3 Mazarine. The caveat here is that she’s never run on dirt, but her works on dirt at Churchill have been quite good. It would not be a shock if she takes to this surface, one that can be very kind to the early speed she’s shown she possesses.


The Turf Sprint has drawn some of the fastest horses in the world to go five furlongs. This includes some sharp European invaders, and your favorite is a horse that has made seven starts across three countries.

That’s #3 LADY AURELIA, and when she’s right, she’s probably the top turf sprinter on the planet. Her effort two back at Ascot in the Group 1 King’s Stand was sensational, and she did everything but win last time out in the Group 1 Nunthorpe. She has plenty of tactical speed but does not need the lead, and all signs point to her sitting a dream trip.

This race, though, features a rematch with #6 MARSHA, who won the Nunthorpe head-bob before finishing second in a Group 1 at Chantilly. She’s incredibly consistent, with 15 top-three finishes in 17 lifetime starts, and her best race is certainly good enough to win this (especially given the addition of Lasix in her North American debut).

Of the horses that have spent most of the year in the U.S., I most like #1 DISCO PARTNER, who has won four of five starts this year. The lone defeat came in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, which was run over a very wet turf course at Saratoga going much longer than he wants to go. The rail draw does not scare me one bit, and in fact, it could be an advantage. Deep closers are traditionally up against it going five furlongs, and this could mean Irad Ortiz Jr. keeps him a bit closer to the pace out of the gate.

Of the horses that may get bet a bit in here, the one I want no part of is #12 PURE SENSATION. If this race were contested at Parx, where he’s been flat-out unbeatable sprinting on turf, he’d be one of the favorites. However, this is a far different surface, and horses breaking from the far outside in Del Mar turf sprints traditionally do not do well. He’s got some speed, but if he goes too fast early on, it probably compromises him turning for home. As such, he’s a bet-against for me at his likely price.


One of the shortest favorites of the day runs in the Filly & Mare Sprint. While that favorite is my top pick, I don’t think she’s unbeatable, and there may be room for a few prices in the exotics.

#11 UNIQUE BELLA has been sensational, winning her last five starts. She was sidelined for much of the year, but she came back running with a win in last month’s Grade 3 L.A. Woman. Her workouts have been jaw-dropping, and all signs are that she’s ready to go ahead of her biggest test to date.

However, there are reasons to think that she may not be a cinch. Her Beyer Speed Figures don’t tower over this group, although part of that is because of how easily she’s won and how Mike Smith has geared down on her. With that said, he had to ask her in the L.A. Woman, and it’s not like that was a stellar group she beat that day. I’m using her, but I’m not singling her.

#9 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM had every excuse to run poorly in the Grade 2 TCA at Keeneland. She broke poorly and rated behind slow early fractions that day, but she still found a way to win. She’s 9-for-12 lifetime with two second-place finishes, and 6-1 seems like an overlay for a horse with her talent.

There are several other contenders, especially if you’re looking for “underneath” horses. #2 PAULASSILVERLINING’s race in the Grade 1 Ballerina was too bad to be true, #8 CONSTELLATION goes to Bob Baffert’s barn and could sit a stalking trip at a great price, and #12 SKYE DIAMONDS hasn’t been beaten in five one-turn outings this season. Yes, Unique Bella is a deserving favorite, but I feel like there are ways to find value in this spot.


Due to the configuration of Del Mar, this year’s Filly & Mare Turf will be run at a mile and an eighth, as opposed to its usual distance of a mile and a quarter. This benefits a likely favorite immensely, and the draw also helped that one, too.

Of course, I’m referring to #9 LADY ELI, one of the best stories in racing. She can write an improbable ending Saturday with a win in this race, one that seems likely given her recent form. It’s not like she’s incapable of running well at a mile and a quarter, but she’s probably better going a mile and an eighth. If that was last year’s distance, she probably holds off #10 QUEEN’S TRUST, who nailed her on the wire and returns in search of her second straight Breeders’ Cup victory.

Del Mar’s turf course is a bit quirky, and the horses who like it REALLY like it. With that in mind, I think #6 CAMBODIA merits a long look at a nice price. She won both the Yellow Ribbon and John C. Mabee earlier this year over this turf course, and while this spot represents a class test, it’s clear she does her best running here. At her likely price, I’ll at the very least want her on some of my tickets.

The big loser at the post position draw was #14 RHODODENDRON, who will somehow need to work out a trip from the far outside. Essentially, this is a three-turn race given the chute that the field will exit before coming under the wire the first time, so the far-outside post is unfortunate for this one’s camp. With that in mind, she may very well be talented enough to overcome it. She ran second to top-class fillies Enable and Winter in separate Group 1 races earlier this year before breaking through and nabbing such a win in last month’s Prix de l’Opera. If you’re playing exotics, I still think this talented 3-year-old is a must-use.


I think this is the most wide-open race of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup slate. A logical case can be made for as many as seven of the 10 horses signed on, and I’m very thankful that the folks in power kept this race out of the late Pick Four, as it probably would’ve been an “ALL” race for me. It IS the payoff leg of the early Pick Four, and that fact makes that wager very tricky.

#2 DREFONG won this race last year, and he seems like every bit the horse he was 12 months ago. His erratic behavior in the Bing Crosby is a red flag, but he was extremely impressive when romping in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. Is that enough to make me think he’s a cinch here? Not even close.

We don’t have any idea how good #10 IMPERIAL HINT is. He’s won his last five races and stopped the timer in 1:07 and change when last seen in September. Can he respond to the jump in class and the change in location? #8 ROY H has won four of his last five, and his lone defeat in that stretch was a tough-luck second in the Bing Crosby when he was hindered by a rider-less Drefong. The winner of that race was #9 RANSOM THE MOON, who may have needed his clunker in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and has worked well since then.

But wait! There’s more. #7 TAKAFUL’s lone loss around one turn came in the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens, and he rebounded from that with a sharp win in the Grade 1 Vosburgh when rating behind talented sprinter El Deal. Furthermore, #5 WHITMORE and #6 MIND YOUR BISCUITS were both highly-regarded earlier in the year, and both could benefit from a pace meltdown (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility given the early speed that’s signed on).

See how one could find this race challenging? I wouldn’t be stunned if Drefong won by daylight, but I also wouldn’t be surprised with any number of other scenarios.


The late Pick Four starts here, and it boasts a guaranteed pool of $3 million. I’d be a fool not to take a shot, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that this race seems like the most likely in the sequence to feature a big price in the winner’s circle.

#10 RIBCHESTER is squarely the one to beat. He’s won three prestigious Group 1 races overseas, and he generally runs the same high-class race every time out, as evidenced by 14 top-three finishes in 15 career starts. His lone start over anything close to a firm turf course this year was a win in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, and if he’s ready to run, he’ll be tough.

Having said that, this will be Ribchester’s third race in three different countries in less than two months. If he turns out to be over the top, the door is wide open for an upset. With the race shape setting up for a closer, my second selection is #8 SUEDOIS, who capitalized on a similar scenario last month in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. They flew home over a pretty slow turf course that day, and while he’s done solid work sprinting on turf, there’s evidence that says he may have been a miler all along. He’s 2-for-3 with a second-place finish in starts at eight furlongs, and given the likely fast pace, I think he’s got a big chance.

It wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see #5 WORLD APPROVAL win. He’s won four of his last five starts, and that stretch includes decisive wins in a pair of Grade 1 races at a mile. He’ll likely get first run at the leaders turning for home, and a repeat of the Woodbine Mile would put him right there. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because the early pace may be quick enough to fry anyone close to it. Additionally, Woodbine form sometimes does not travel well. That’s a one-turn mile with a very long stretch run, and this race is a two-turn affair with a short stretch. It’s a minor strike against him, but it’s worth noting.

In playing my late Pick Four, I want closers that could come flying in the event of a pace meltdown. That includes #4 LANCASTER BOMBER, #7 OM, and #11 BALLAGH ROCKS, all of whom should be going the right way late. I’ll also throw in #12 ROLY POLY, who’s won three of his last four (with all of those races being Group 1 events at a mile) and goes out for the powerful duo of Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. That’s seven of 14, and I haven’t even touched on #1 MIDNIGHT STORM, #2 HEART TO HEART, or #13 BLACKJACKCAT, all of whom are talented enough to win on their respective best days but may not get a scenario conducing such an effort. Midnight Storm and Heart to Heart figure to duke it out early, while Blackjackcat has to negotiate a trip from the 13-hole.


Hey, Breeders’ Cup? You know what we handicappers could really use? How about a race with a consensus single, one that would need to regress considerably off of his best effort in order to lose? Think you could make that happen?

Oh, hey, here we are with the shortest-priced favorite of the entire weekend! That’s #11 BOLT D’ORO, who will likely be shorter than his 9/5 morning line odds in the Juvenile. He’s 3-for-3 and was supremely impressive in the Grade 1 FrontRunner, where he stormed away to win by nearly eight lengths in a very fast time. He earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and only one other horse in the race, #3 FIRENZE FIRE, has earned as high as a 90.

Bolt d’Oro would probably need to regress in order to lose, and one of the others would likely need to run a new career-best as well. Is that impossible? No, but it’s pretty unlikely. Bolt d’Oro will be a single for me (and, I imagine, for many others) in the late Pick Four, and if he doesn’t win, I lose.

If you’re hell-bent on playing this race in vertical wagers, the one I’m intrigued by for “underneath” purposes is #1 U S NAVY FLAG, who has established himself as Europe’s top 2-year-old following three consecutive graded stakes wins. He’s never tried dirt before, but his last-out Timeform Rating of 112 translates pretty well to this event and he gets Lasix for the first time. If you think Bolt d’Oro can’t lose and want a bit of a price underneath for a Dave Weaver-style “ice cold exacta,” U S Navy Flag may be worth a shot.


This race was marred by the scratch of #5 ULYSSES, who may have gone off as the favorite. He was fourth in this race last year and seems to have gotten better since then. With his scratch, another European looks much more imposing.

#3 HIGHLAND REEL won this race last year thanks to a heads-up, aggressive ride. Some have said he’s taken a step back this year, but I don’t agree with that assessment. Highland Reel has always done his best running over firmer ground. He’s run five times this year. Only twice this year has he caught ground rated “good” or better, and on both occasions, he’s won Group 1 races. He goes second off the layoff in here, and I think he’s every bit the horse he was a season ago when he went wire-to-wire.

Of the Americans, I most prefer #12 BEACH PATROL, who may have wanted to run marathon races all along. He romped in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont last time out, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 109 in the process. Some regression is possible, and if you’re playing a skinnier Pick Four ticket, I could understand leaving him off. However, he’s the last horse I’m throwing onto mine. I simply can’t justify leaving a Chad Brown trainee that finally seems to have put it all together off of this ticket.


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, this is your main event. $6 million is on the line in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which doubles as the likely spot where a Horse of the Year will be crowned. Bob Baffert has four in here, including 2016 Classic winner #1 ARROGATE, while Steve Asmussen will saddle #5 GUN RUNNER, who has won his last five stateside starts and was a strong second behind Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup.

I’m not getting cute. I’m using the two horses I mentioned in the late Pick Four, and of the two, I narrowly prefer Gun Runner. The son of Candy Ride has never been better than he is right now, and while he has tactical speed, he can sit off the early leaders and make his move turning for home. The classic distance of a mile and a quarter is a bit of an unknown, but it’s not as much of a problem as it could be. Del Mar’s track configuration is such that the stretch is very short compared to other tracks, and as such, horses that may not get 10 furlongs elsewhere can sometimes get it where the turf meets the surf.

Gun Runner gets my top pick, but I’ll be covered if Arrogate channels his previous form. The rail draw does not concern me, as he won the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup from a similar post. His lack of an affinity for Del Mar is a concern, for sure, but it isn’t like he ran a horrible race in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. He earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and a similar performance likely puts him right there in this spot.

Of the others who may get bet, the one I do not want any part of on top is #11 COLLECTED. Yes, he won the Pacific Classic at this route. However, there’s other early speed in here, and he won’t have nearly as easy a trip as he did that day. This is a significantly tougher group, and in seeking out key stats, I found a big negative one. Per DRF Formulator, Bob Baffert and Martin Garcia are 0-for-20 together over the past six months with horses going off at odds of 4-1 or higher. That’s a damning statistic, and while I could see Collected hanging on for a piece of it, I’ll be pretty stunned if he fends off all comers once again.


$0.50 Pick Four: Race #5

R5: 1,3,6
R6: 9,11
R7: 9

60 Bets, $30

I constructed this ticket to where I could hit the “ALL” button in the Sprint without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, this means I could not include Cambodia in the Filly & Mare Turf. I think she’s got a real shot, but Lady Eli is my top pick, and I feel more comfortable singling her than Unique Bella. If you don’t mind spending an extra $30 (or can narrow the Sprint down), Cambodia is the one I’d encourage you to use, and I will be hedging with her in doubles.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #9

R10: 11
R11: 3,12
R12: 1,5

56 Bets, $28

If the Mile is formful, this may not pay much. What I’m banking on is that the $3 million pool will guarantee a reasonable return on investment, even with the consensus single (Bolt d’Oro) in the second leg. With some luck, we’ll get a price home in the Mile, the rest of the sequence will be formful, and we’ll wind up with a nice score.