Breeders’ Cup Friday Experts Guide

Juvenille Turf Sprint

Race 5 – $1 Million – Grade 2

By Matt Dinerman, GoldenGateFields.com • @3coltshandicap

Analysis: KIMARI has been nothing short of outstanding. The daughter of Munnings was dead last early (after an undesirable beginning) before producing a powerful late kick to win the Indian Summer at Keeneland. Her only loss in 4 career starts came as runner-up in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in June. FOUR WHEEL DRIVE sports a 2-for-2 record, breaking his maiden in a stakes at Colonial Downs and scoring an easy win in the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes at Belmont. Wesley Ward campaigns the aforementioned duo, KIMARI is the better of the two. The most notable overseas shipper is A’ALI, who won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot over soft ground and earned a ‘Win and You’re In’ berth. He has won twice since then, proving the Ascot victory was no fluke.

AAli exercises on grass on Thursday morning at Santa Anita 31.10.19
Pic: Edward Whitaker

Main Contenders: No doubt KIMARI and A’ALI are the pair with the most class. KIMARI showed versatility and grit in her last start, while A’ALI has won on soft and firm ground, proving he can be effective over any turf. FOUR WHEEL DRIVE is well-bred by American Pharoah out of stakes winner Funfair, and has plenty of raw talent. He got an easy lead in his last start, but stalked in his first race. He does not need the lead, which only helps his chances to adapt to the pace and earn a good trip.

Value Plays: CHIMNEY ROCK finished like a rocket to run second behind KIMARI in the Indian Summer and merits respect. CAMBRIA most recently won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint in September. The third Wesley Ward entrant is undefeated and well bred. KING NEPTUNE is conditioned by Aidan O’Brien and has plenty of race experience for the aforementioned world-renowned trainer. ENCODER needs a defection to draw into the race, but is enticing if he gets in, cutting back from a mile to this 5-furlong distance. The only time he raced one turn, he was extremely impressive on debut, and he has always been well regarded.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $50 Win: KIMARI ($50)
  • $25 Exacta Box: A’ALI and KIMARI ($50)

Juvenile Turf

Race 6 – $1 Million – Grade 1

By Brian W. Spencer, Xpressbet.com • @Brianwspencer

Analysis: With Line of Duty’s tally last year, Europeans widened their edge on their North American counterparts in the Juvenile Turf, and this year’s field will produce another Trans-Atlantic battle. Aidan O’Brien’s 4 pre-entrants in this race constitute the entire away team, while the North American contingent consists of the top finishers from the traditional final preps.

Main Contenders: ARIZONA looks like the one to beat. He turned in a really good second behind 6-for-6 Pinatubo, and there is simply nothing like that guy signed up here. Joining from the O’Brien yard are: ROYAL DORNOCH, a 16-1 Group 2 upsetter last out under a handy ride; FORT MYERS, a decent, driving winner over synthetic footing last out whose past turf efforts leave something to be desired; and maiden winner NEW WORLD TAPESTRY. As for the Americans, the BRIS Late Pace ratings for the Pilgrim at Belmont and Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland are cause for pause despite some good visuals. ANDESITE’S second in the Pilgrim appears better than it looks on paper. He split horses, then lugged in before truly set down, and it probably cost him the race. He impressively reached out late, and might be sitting on a big effort. In the Bourbon, PEACE ACHIEVED could not have had an easier trip and grimly held off the massive visual run from VITALOGY that the numbers didn’t back up. DECORATED INVADER, one of Saratoga’s more impressive grass maiden winners, looked like the winner every step of the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine.

Arizona canters on Thursday morning at Santa Anita 31.10.19
Pic: Edward Whitaker

Value Plays: GRACEFUL KITTEN will be overlooked for unheralded connections but has been awesome in his 2 stakes wins at Gulfstream. He’s quick early, settles nicely while within himself, and finds plenty late, earning BRIS Late Pace ratings of 90 and 93 in his last pair. The more I watch those races, the more I think he hangs around for a big piece of this at a number.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $25 Win/Place: GRACEFUL KITTEN ($50)
  • $10 Exacta Key Box: GRACEFUL KITTEN with ARIZONA and ANDESITE ($40)
  • $5 Exacta Box: ARIZONA and ANDESITE ($10)

Juvenile Fillies

Race 7 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Dustin Fabian, Xpressbet.com

Analysis: The stats in the right pane on this page point to an interesting conundrum in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. On one hand, favorites have won this race with more frequency (51%) than in any other Breeders’ Cup event. On the other, the last three times this race was held at Santa Anita, the winner has paid no less than $66! So what gives: Historical domination by favorites or a recent flair for the upset? For this year, my money is on the former.

Main Contenders: BAST is the logical starting point. She is based at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert and she won the local prep for this, the Grade 1 Chandelier by a neck over COMICAL. I’ll give BAST a pass for the short margin of victory. A lack of pace in the Chandelier forced her to race closer to the lead than maybe she prefers. With more ‘need-the-lead’ types signed on this time around, BAST should get a more preferential, mid-pack trip. BRITISH IDIOM was a runaway winner of Keeneland’s Grade 1 Alcibiades, and I loved the ‘sit, stalk, pounce and pull away’ style she showed that afternoon. She’s quick, versatile and has stamina, but doesn’t need the lead. BRITISH IDIOM and BAST should be sitting mid-pack and ready to pounce. WICKED WHISPER is speedy and unbeaten in 2 tries. DONNA VELOCE looked incredible in breaking her maiden at Santa Anita on September 28, but a victory here would make her the most lightly raced Juvenile Fillies winner all-time and the only horse to win this race while making her stakes debut. That’s a lot of history going against her, and as a horseplayer, you generally have to let those types beat you.

Value Plays: K P DREAMIN is a closer who ran a sneaky race behind pedestrian fractions in the Chandelier, and should find herself with more pace to run into this time. She doesn’t strike me as a win candidate, but could round out a trifecta or superfecta.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $25 Exacta Box: BRITISH IDIOM and BAST ($50)
  • $5 Trifecta Part-Wheel: BRITISH IDIOM, BAST with BRITISH IDIOM, BAST with WICKED WHISPER, K P DREAMIN and PERFECT ALIBLI ($30)
  • $10 Exacta Part-Wheel: WICKED WHISPER with BRITISH IDIOM and BAST ($20)

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Race 8 – $1 Million – Grade 1

By Stan Salter, LaurelPark.com • @MDHorseRadio

Analysis: I learned my lesson the hard way last year when I went against Chad Brown, who had the favorite in this race. Brown won it then and I think he wins it again this year with the Maryland-bred filly SELFLESSLY. She has run two monster races, including a maiden score when she rallied wide to win the Grade 2 Ms. Grillo at Belmont Park. SELFLESSLY will vie for favoritism with SWEET MELANIA, the American Pharoah filly trained by Todd Pletcher. This two-time winner going long on the turf has more of a foundation than the Brown filly. SWEET MELANIA’S also coming into the race off a huge Beyer Speed Figure when she absolutely galloped by five-plus lengths to win the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland. These two fillies top a strong, full field of accomplished and well-bred competitors that includes French Group 1 winner ABIGNA (IRE).

Albigna (Shane Foley) wins the Prix Marcel Boussac
Longchamp 6.10.19 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Main Contenders: SELFLESSLY is by top sire More Than Ready, who’s offspring have had juvenile turf success, and she sold for $190,000 as a weanling. She is lightly raced, but has unlimited potential and her barn wins at 30% when they have won their previous race. SWEET MELANIA has early speed and used that to her advantage in her last-out romp. She likely will be part of the early pace and her Triple Crown-winning sire is one of the hottest 2-year-old sires in the world right now. CRYSTALLE was a fast-closing second behind SELFLESSLY in the Ms. Grillo and won a turf stakes at Saratoga before that. ABSCOND won the Grade 1 Natalma last out at Woodbine, and this daughter of champion Blame also is likely to be part of the early pace.

Value Plays: ABSCOND’S speed rating in her most recent win wasn’t the highest compared to other top contenders in this race, so she might sneak away at good value.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $50 Exacta Box: SELFLESSLY and SWEET MELANIA ($100

Juvenile

Race 9 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Jerry Shottenkirk, Xpressbet.com • @jlshottenkirk

Analysis: EIGHT RINGS wins races by 6 lengths or so if he can keep from tossing his jockey. In 3 starts, he’s been all alone at the end of 2 of those, and in the other, he ducked in and lost his jockey. A convincing win in the Grade 1 American Pharoah puts him in good shape for this. Speed is the name of his game, but clearly the Empire Maker colt was made to run long. That combination makes him formidable, especially over his home track. John Velazquez picked up the mount for Bob Baffert in his latest and is staying put for the Juvenile. Horses who attempt to go early with EIGHT RINGS probably will compromise their chances more than his. If the pace gets ridiculous, it might make a hero out of a stalker or deep closer.

Main Contenders: EIGHT RINGS won the American Pharoah at 6-5 and wasn’t oddson because of his incident in the Del Mar Futurity. He could be 5-2 this time. DENNIS’ MOMENT has had an eerily similar season to EIGHT RINGS in a different part of the country. He clipped heels and lost his jockey in his Churchill Downs debut. But he was odds-on in his next pair and won in fine fashion, first a 19-length triumph in an Ellis Park maiden race and next in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill. The Dale Romans charge will get his share of play and will be fairly close throughout. MAXFIELD is 2-for-2 following an easy win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. AMERICAN THEOREM was second-best to EIGHT RINGS last out.

Value Plays: SHOPLIFTED and SCABBARD have finished behind EIGHT RINGS and DENNIS’ MOMENT in stakes, and will need some weakening of others out front. But that’s a possibility. Each will have good odds, and if not in straight action, they’re worth the gamble in exotics. STORM THE COURT may be the best of the price horses.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $20 Exacta: EIGHT RINGS over STORM THE COURT ($20)
  • $10 Exacta: STORM THE COURT over EIGHT RINGS ($10)
  • $10 Exacta: EIGHT RINGS over AMERICAN THEOREM ($10)
Breeders’ Cup Friday Experts Guide
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