The Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The Distaff is the feature race on the short 4-race Friday Breeders’ Cup card. The Friday Breeders’ Cup races are great; always like to take the afternoon off (same for Kentucky Oaks day) and I highly recommend it. I’m willing to take chances on Friday as long as I have budgeted for my potential plays on Saturday. It is a long event, but you need to jump on opportunities whenever they arise.

The scratch of Beholder immediately changes the complexion of this race. At the outset, I’m against Close Hatches. When these great fillies put in a clunker, I’m cautious moving forward. Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar come to mind as recent examples. The public tends to hold on for one or two more races, hoping for a rebound, but the torch has passed to another younger filly. That’s enough of a reason to play against her. When it comes to next in line, Untapable is the best 3YO filly in America. The downturn in her speed figures recently is a bit concerning, especially for anyone thinking of her as a potential single. That said, she very well could win this race by open lengths.

Tiz Midnight ran well with Beholder last time out in her Grade 1 debut. I consider her a very strong contender although I worry about a pace battle between here and two-time Grade I winner, Belle Galantey. Don’t Tell Sophia, an 11-time winner who just won the Grade 1 Spinster, looms a decent threat to pick up the pieces from a pace battle. That said, I am always extra cautious betting expected pace — so many things can happen, including human error, that make the unexpected happen.

L’Amour de Ma Vie (“The Love of My Life”) won a G2 in Dubai on the turf. Here is a video of that win.

In that race, she beat Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf champion Flotilla and others. However, she was humbled in G1 company next out. She ran well in her two starts over the summer, including a strong second in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Dirt is a question; she has run well on synthetics. I’ll be listening to the buzz around her all week, but she certainly will be on all tickets. Unbridled Forever will most likely hit the board, but will not win. Dallas Stewart, a fine trainer otherwise, has only had two horses win graded stakes in 63 tries. However, 17 of these starters have been in the money. Finally, Ria Antonia deserves a mention, but not much more. Its been a bizarre tale for this horse that has not crossed the finish line first since her maiden at Woodbine in the summer of 2013. It’s a weak division, but a win by her, while possible, would still be quite a surprise.

My early feelings about this race is that it is a spread race.This means that I don’t feel there’s an overwhelming favorite, and I’m not convinced in the superiority of the contenders over the rest of the field. As a result, I will likely cover horse contenders in multi-race wagers (final tickets will be released on Thursday, October 31). However, I will not have either Close Hatches or Unbridled Forever on my tickets to win, and instead, will likely spread with every other horse under 30-1 in multi-race wagers. I also may play L’Amour De La Vie to win at 10-1 or more, depending on post and bias. But I won’t play her at 30-1 or over.

Update (October 28):

L’Amour De La Vie is 12-1 on the morning line and drew the rail. With my $100 bet, I will bet:

$75 win on L’Amour De La Vie

$25 straight exacta Untapable/L’Amour De La Vie

Update (15 MTP):

L’Amour De La Vie is above 30-1, which is over the acceptable range for a win bet. If she goes well under, the bet will stay the same, but I’ll assume that I’m the one making the mistake when they are that high. I don’t love her, but I don’t love much in this race. So, I still like her underneath, if she likes the turf (a decent if). I’ll start with a small $25 tilt avoiding win bet — if she does win, I don’t want to spend the rest of the weekend chasing the missed profits. I’ll add a $51 straight exacta with Untapable/L’Amour De La Vie. With the remaining $24, I’ll do 4 $6 exactas with L’Amour De La Vie in second (under Don’t Tell Sophia, Ria Antonia, Tiz Midnight, Iotopa.) If she takes to the dirt — a risk – and runs to potential – then the bet should pay.

Check out “Stealing Money from the Crowd,” a contrarian guide to the Breeders’ Cup. Available here and on Google Play. Coming soon to iBooks.

Image: Dave Cooper, Copyright 2009.

Churchill Downs, The Kentucky Oaks, 5:49 P.M. ET

Race of the Day, May 2, 2014

Churchill Downs (Louisville, KY), Race 11, The Kentucky Oaks

Post Time: 5:49 EST   Purse:  $1M

For the fillies, the Oaks is the equivalent of the Derby.  It’s a bit shorter — only 1 1/8 miles — and only has 13 horses, instead of the 20 (19 with the scratch of Hoppertunity) that will go forward in the Derby.  While not as big as the Derby among the general public, for insiders, this is an extremely important race, almost equal in importance to the Derby.

Who is in this race?

These are simply the best 3-year old fillies in the United States. Racing economics tend to push fillies into tough competition fast, and fillies tend to get retired quickly.  This always puts a big of a drag on this race.  That said, it takes a very good horse to win here.

What are the questions?

  • This race starts and ends with the heavy favorite, Untapable (#13, 4/5). Everybody loves her.  That, of course, pricks my ears up to see if she can be beaten.  Sure, she’s the fastest in the race by far.  But will she duplicate her previous efforts at the Fairgrounds here at Churchill?nThat’s far from a given, especially considering the likely very short price.
  • Who will improve?  These are top notch 3-year olds.  It’s likely that some horse will have a unforeseen, much improved effort.
  • Ria Antonia (#2, 10-1) , the juvenille champion, hasn’t moved forward yet.  She’s reportedly training well under Baffert.  Are her workouts meaningful?
  • Unbridled Forever’s (#9, 12-1) mom — Lemons Forever — won this race.  Can she run to this pedigree and turn the tables on Untapable?


I think it’s wise to try to beat Untapable here.  There’s a significant question as to whether her speed will translate, and there’s no reason to take a short price in a field of improving, well-bred horses.  The difficulty, of course, is figuring out who else to go with.  Nothing can be more frustrating than being right about the favorite and not being able to bring home the winner!  Of the other contenders, Unbridled Forever seems to have the ability to rate what could be a fast pace.  Just like her mother!  If not her, I’d look to the Rosario-piloted Rosalind (#4, 8-1)  to pick up the pieces.


Wow!  Untapable was not just a Fairgrounds horse, but is a superstar.  She’s a once-a-generation talent.  Still, she only paid even-money and, although she answered the questions, they were still there.  Unbridled Forever ran a strong third.  We’ll see if she improves, or whether she’s hit her ceiling.