Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Races

Here’s a quick rundown of today’s races:

Juvenile Turf: With scratch of Aktabantay, I’ll move my Euro money over to War Envoy, who has raced well in top competition for world-class connections. I’ll also include the well-regarded Startup Nation, tossing the last flop at odds-on, and hoping for a rebound.

Mile: If Goldencents is in fact 4-5 or lower, I will bet him alone to win. But, if he stays at even money or above, I’ll mix in exactas under Tapiture, and perhaps put Goldencents under other low-priced contenders as well (5-1 or lower).

Juvenile Turf Fillies:  Don’t have greatest read of Breeders’ Cup JT Fillies, and likely won’t play it very heavy. At most, I’ll put a small win ticket on Sivoliere, who makes her debut in the Chad Brown barn. He’s good with the all, and especially the ones he brings from Europe.

Distaff: This race feels chaotic. Untapable might be the best, but she’s facing older and I’m worried she regressed. I’m tempted by Euro L’Amour De La Vie. The dirt try is curious, but she’s run very well in past. I’ll play her if the odds are in the middle range, but will avoid her over 30-1. In that case, I’ll use her underneath. I’ll also watch the board for opportunities in the Distaff. I’m against Close Hatches, who may have lost her desire.

Image: Rennett Stowe, Copyright 2009.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

After researching this year’s race, I have found what I expect to be a solid mid-price horse with a good chance to win. Read on for more. At the Breeders’ Cup, 2YO’s are asked to run 8.5 furlongs, which at Santa Anita is around two turns.

This race starts with two time G1 winner American Pharoah (that’s how it’s spelled — perhaps in honor of SNL’s Jay Pharoah?). He has plenty of speed and ran lights out over the track and at today’s distance in the G1 Frontrunner. To be fair, he hasn’t beaten much of anything and hasn’t rated successfully. When the highly-regarded Om got the lead on him in a maiden race, he didn’t run particularly well. However, American Pharoah’s behavior that day was especially unsettled, and it’s tough to draw too many negative conclusions from a horse’s first start.

Carpe Diem was scintillating in winning the Breeders’ Futurity, which was now on the new Keeneland dirt. His Beyer didn’t match the visual impressiveness of the performance. Yet, I’m a bit cautious of putting too much stock in the Keeneland Beyer, especially after only 3 weeks of racing on the track. Daredevil certainly must like the mud — he’s raced twice over wet tracks and been scintillating both times. He has every reason to be a good horse over a dry track, although it is a unknown, so you need to price accordingly.

Moving past the big three, Upstart is another who ran second last out in the slop at Belmont in the Champagne. He has been training well for Violette, who can train them when he gets a good one. Importantly, we still haven’t seen him go two turns, which creates both risk and profit possibility. Calculator is worth a serious longshot look. I like horses that sold at auction for many times their stud fees. Calculator’s sire, In Summation, only stands for $4k, but sold in April for $132,000. He ran a lifetime best in his first route, and may improve his second time out.

The two Aidan O’Brien international entrants are worth deeper looks. The Great War and War Envoy have not raced on dirt, although may very well handle it with War Front as their sire. Neither is terribly accomplished — with only a minor stakes for The Great War and some nice placings for War Envoy. One Lucky Dane had a tremendous maiden win in early October and goes straight to the Breeders’ Cup. Last year’s winner, New Year’s Day won this race straight out of a maiden for Baffert, although it took place one month earlier than One Lucky Dane’s win.

Without a dominant favorite here, I am looking for a potentially underrated horse, and I may have found that in Upstart, who still hasn’t raced around two turns. I trust Violette to have his horse in peak condition, and the work pattern suggest that he will be. I expect him to be about 8-1, although he could get forgotten a bit with the top three contenders (American Pharoah, Carpe Diem, Daredevil) getting more action. He’ll be a bet to win, and possibly in some exotics as well.

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: Lisa Andres, Copyright 2009.