Breeders’ Cup Saturday Experts Guide

Filly & Mare Sprint

Race 4 – $1 Million – Grade 1

By Bob Neumeier, HorsePlayerNow.com

Analysis: Two fillies have separated themselves from the pack: COVFEFE and COME DANCING. Speed merchant COVFEFE is named for a misspelled Donald Trump tweet. COME DANCING gets her handle from a song by The Kinks (Ray Davies wrote it in memory of his older sister, who had a heart attack and died while dancing).

Main Contenders: The post-position draw is critical. Nobody wants the dreaded rail or even the 2-hole for obvious reasons. COVFEFE is a speedy 3-year-old who should be in the early mix, while the 5-year-old COME DANCING should pounce in the middle of the pack. In her last five runs, COVFEFE’S only loss came when she tackled older horses. However, horseplayers would be wise to eliminate “anecdotal evidence” especially with a small sample size. High-profile trainer Brad Cox will send out the likely favorite COVFEFE. The relatively unknown Carlos Martin trains COME DANCING. Martin comes from a family of training excellence; father Jose (Groovy) and grand-dad Frank (Sham). The history of this event suggests that heroes come from all sectors. Winners can emerge from household names like Bobby Frankel, Mike Smith and Chad Brown or from obscure types like Juan Levya, Elvis Trujillo and Jamie Theriot. Racing Gods don’t read the papers.

Value Plays: Several items must be in play for an upsetter to crash the party. Major ‘bounces,’ poor draws, and traffic problems happen all the time. Shoppers should look to BELLAFINA, SPICED PERFECTION and/or STORMY EMBRACE to possibly upset the top pair.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • • $60 Exacta: COVFEFE over COME DANCING ($60)
  • • $40 Exacta: COME DANCING over COVFEFE ($40)

Turf Sprint

Race 5 – $1 Million – Grade 1

By Ron Nicoletti, GulfstreamPark.com • @ronic17

September 07, 2015. Pure Sensation (#4), Kendrick Carmouche up, wins the Grade III Turf Monster Handicap Stakes by a nose over Mongolian Saturday (#1, with Paco Lopez). Five furlongs, for three-year-olds and upward, at Parx Racing in Bensalem, PA. Trainer is Christophe Clement; owner is Patricia Generazio. (Joan Fairman Kanes/ESW/CSM)

Analysis: This is the 10th time the Breeders’ Cup has been hosted at Santa Anita Park, and there have been 6 previous Turf Sprints contested at 6 ½ furlongs on the downhill course. The 2019 edition will be contested at 5 furlongs. This year’s Turf Sprint has all the ingredients needed to make this a great handicapping puzzle. You have the speed of PURE SENSATION and LEGENDS OF WAR, along with GIRLS KNOW BEST and SHEKKY SHEBAZ (needs defections to compete). World-class stalkers include EDDIE HASKELL, 2-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner STORMY LIBERAL (part of a 3-pronged trainer Peter Miller attack), SO PERFECT and LEINSTER. Last, but not least, the closers waiting to pounce include STUBBINS, TOTALLY BOSS and IMPRIMIS.

Main Contenders: PURE SENSATION, the senior citizen in the field at age 8, still may be the speed of the speed. He will throw down the gauntlet as soon as they spring the latch. EDDIE HASKELL, who should sit an ideal, stalking trip, is a 2-time winner going 5 furlongs on the Santa Anita turf, including a track-and-pounce victory in the Grade 3 Daytona. STORMY LIBERAL will try to make history by becoming a 3-time winner. He should be primed and ready to offer his best in the friendly confines of his home course.
Value Plays: IMPRIMIS, who does his best running in the latter stages of the race, can round out the exotics at an inflated price after being the beaten favorite in Kentucky.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $20 Win/Place: PURE SENSATION ($40)
  • $20 Exacta Part-Wheel: EDDIE HASKELL, STORMY LIBERAL, IMPRIMIS with PURE SENSATION ($60)

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Dirt Mile

Race 6 – $1 Million – Grade 1

By Frank Carulli, Xpressbet.com

Analysis: Santa Anita racing fans caught a fleeting glimpse of soon-to-be millionaire IMPROBABLE when he debuted with a 6-furlong victory in 1:10-2/5 more than a year ago. They got a close-up view of OMAHA BEACH’S triumphant return home in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Oct. 5. They might even remember when GIANT EXPECTATIONS beat last year’s Classic winner Accelerate as a 4-year-old in 2017. The homecoming celebration will come full circle in a BC Dirt Mile field that includes several millionaires and recent graded stakes winners. The list of party crashers includes graded stakes-winning milers COAL FRONT and MR. MONEY, who are a combined 13-for-23 with more than $3 million earned.

Main Contenders: OMAHA BEACH was the morning-line favorite in the Kentucky Derby, but missed the entire Triple Crown with a series of setbacks that included surgery for an entrapped epiglottis. He returned in grand style, surging inside of odds-on favorite Shancelot in his first try at 6 furlongs to win the Santa Anita Sprint Championship in 1:083/5. “He can do it all,” Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith said. IMPROBABLE, the beaten favorite in his last three Grade 1 route attempts, is well-suited to the shorter, 1-mile distance. He lacked stretch kick off a clean trip and prime-striking spot in the Kentucky Derby, and was compromised by a poor start and slow pace in the Pennsylvania Derby. MR. MONEY controlled an easy pace in that race at Parx, but couldn’t hold on. But he won Grade 3 route stakes at 3 tracks prior and, like IMPROBABLE, might be betterequipped to handle the 2-turn mile.

Value Plays: GIANT EXPECTATIONS has been a steady check-getter throughout his career. He finished a game second to last year’s Dirt Mile favorite and this year’s Sprint candidate Catalina Cruiser in the 7-furlong Pat O’Brien Handicap.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • • $40 Win: IMPROBABLE ($40)
  • • $30 Exacta: IMPROBABLE over OMAHA BEACH ($30)
  • • $20 Exacta: OMAHA BEACH over IMPROBABLE ($20)
  • • $10 Exacta: IMPROBABLE over MR. MONEY ($10)

Filly & Mare Turf

Race 7 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Millie Ball, XBTV.com • @camillayakteen

Analysis:  For 7 straight years, the conclusion to the Filly and Mare Turf has been as predictable as night follows day. And unless Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien decides to put a quash on this algorithm and run MAGICAL here with her own gender instead of in the Turf against boys, then one can again expect the inevitable. The best female grass horse over a mile and one-quarter at Santa Anita will either hail from the barn of Chad Brown or from a stable in England.

LEXINGTON, KY – April 14, 2018. #7 Sistercharlie (IRE) and jockey John Velazquez win the 30th running of The Coolmore Jenny Wiley Grade 1 $350,000 for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown at Keeneland Race Course. Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

Main Contenders: Brown has won this race a record 4 times, and his strength this year comes in the form of returning divisional champ SISTERCHARLIE. Unbeaten in three Grade 1s this year, 2 of which were designated ‘Win and You’re In” races, her form appears equally as stellar as in 2018. The crux of Santa Anita’s turf course, favoring tactical speed, conflicts with her deep-closing style, but the more talented members from Europe share her method. Plus, there isn’t a horse in the field who can match her consistency at the highest level. English-based BILLESDON BROOK ran a 16-1 blinder to upset the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket. She had shown the same brilliance when winning the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas last May, but was unable to duplicate such a race until more recently. VASILIKA is a remarkable 11-for-12 at Santa Anita.

Value Plays: From Britain, FANNY LOGAN has a chance on connections alone. The formidable duo of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori have been garnering Groups 1s at a ridiculous rate this year. The daughter of Sea the Stars hasn’t faced anything close to this level, but has won her last 4 by a combined 13 lengths and is improving all the time. VILLA MARINA ran well to win the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera, a race that has produced several winners of this BC division over the last decade. She’s a physically strong filly with a sound constitution, which could allow her to overcome a long season. Her jockey Olivier Peslier owns 4 prior BC trophies.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $25 Exacta Part-Wheel: SISTERCHARLIE over BILLESDON BROOK, FANNY LOGAN, VILLA MARINA, VASILIKA ($100)

Sprint

Race 8 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Dick Jerardi, DRF.com • @DickJerardi

Analysis: This could be the race of the weekend. It has the raw speed of SHANCELOT, the incredible consistency of MITOLE and the sustained brilliance of IMPERIAL HINT. To make a wagering plan, several questions must be answered: Does LANDESKOG have enough early speed to stay near SHANCELOT? Will Jose Ortiz better help SHANCELOT negotiate those final 100 yards? How close will MITOLE be to the expected scorching pace and how will his turn move be impacted if he is too close? Was IMPERIAL HINT compromised by that Vosburgh stretch battle with FIRENZE FIRE or was that tough race exactly what he needed? Plenty of questions with multiple potential answers.

Main Contenders: MITOLE has been dominant in 7 of his last 8 sprint races. The only loss had a gigantic excuse. He was on a dead rail at Saratoga the day IMPERIAL HINT ran by him and set the 6-furlong track record in the Vanderbilt. MITOLE is the most likely winner, but is also likely to be the worst value. IMPERIAL HINT has done everything but win the Sprint – and, in turn, the Eclipse Award as sprint champion. Roy H got the better part of the track when he beat him at Del Mar in 2017. Nothing against Roy H, who may well have beaten him again last year, but IMPERIAL HINT had some physical issues that impacted his third-place finish last year. If IMPERIAL HINT runs back to his very best races, he is the most likely winner, even vs. MITOLE. SHANCELOT is the wild card. That 121 Beyer at Saratoga was very real. The colt has not come near it in a pair of subsequent losses, but the number is lurking there, a tease that could become real if SHANCELOT runs the chasers off their feet.

Value Plays: LANDESKOG makes just his sixth start. The last 2, especially the second in the Gallant Bob at Parx when he got a 108 Beyer, were revelations.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $80 Exacta: IMPERIAL HINT over MITOLE ($80) • $20 Exacta: MITOLE over IMPERIAL HINT($20)

Mile

Race 9 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Jeff Siegel, XBTV.com • @jsiegelracing

Analysis: Up until last year, when the English invader Expert Eye produced a furious late kick to edge US-based entrants who wound up finishing second, third and fourth, North American-raced runners had been on something of a roll in the Mile. Six of the 7 previous editions were captured by the home team, with only Karakontie’s 30-1 shocker in 2014 breaking a string that had dated back to the glory days of three-peat winner Goldikova. This year, US-based runners have an excellent chance to regain dominance, thanks to 2 outstanding females, GOT STORMY and UNI, both of whom have displayed more than enough ability to handle their male counterparts, especially with Bricks and Mortar bound to the Turf.

October 05, 2019 : #4 Uni (GB) and jockey Joel Rosario win the 22nd running of The First Lady Grade 1 $400,000 “Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Divison” for owner Robert LaPenta, Head of Plains Partners, Bethlehem Stables and trainer Chad Brown at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, KY on October 04, 2019. Candice Chavez/ESW/CSM

Main Contenders: UNI is fresh, primed and ready, having started only 3 times in 2019, most recently winning the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland with a career-top 105 Beyer Speed Figure. However, she’s apparently lost some of her tactical speed, and in a 14-runner field over a glib turf course that favors the pace-pressers and stalkers, her task is challenging. When she finished third to GOT STORMY in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga, UNI simply gave herself too much to do. That scenario could occur again, especially against a top-of-the-ground specialist as talented as GOT STORMY.

Value Plays: While he’s not the greatest show on earth – or even in Europe – the Aidan O’Brien-trained CIRCUS MAXIMUS arguably is better than last year’s BC Mile winner Expert Eye. He is twice successful in Group 1 miles this year, most recently in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. He’ll enjoy a race with legitimate pace, will fight under pressure, and may offer the best value; so let’s gamble with him on top. LINE OF DUTY, victorious in the 2018 Juvenile Turf, but winless in 5 starts since, has a chance to regain his best form over fast ground that we suspect will suit him. Use him somewhere.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $10 Exacta Box: CIRCUS MAXIMUS, GOT STORMY, UNI ($60)
  • $2 Exacta Box: CIRCUS MAXIMUS, GOT STORMY, UNI, LINE OF DUTY ($24)
  • $16 win: CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Distaff

Race 10 – $2 Million – Grade 1

By Brian Nadeau, Xpressbet.com • @COTB_Nadeau

Analysis: Typically the Breeders’ Cup race with one of the smallest fields, the Distaff is also one of the most formful events, as favorites have won half of the last 10 runnings, while only 2 winners in that span have paid more than $9.40. MIDNIGHT BISOU will be a stiff favorite as she looks to cap an undefeated (8-for-8) year and a shot at the Horse of the Year title. There’s little doubt the race goes through her; but she’s also danced plenty of dances without a break since January and may not love 1-1/8 miles. You’re allowed to at least consider trying to beat her.

Main Contenders: There’s not much more to be said about MIDNIGHT BISOU, who has defeated Classic-bound Elate 3 times this year, has a winning desire and also can adapt to any pace scenario. She’s also 3-for-4 at Santa Anita (when trained by Bill Spawr). Local favorite PARADISE WOODS (12: 5-3-2 at SA) is as brilliant as she is exacerbating, but when she wants to run, she’s as good as anyone. Her last win in the Grade 1 Zenyatta, and subsequent morning work, says she might be ready to settle down and consistently deliver her best. The veteran BLUE PRIZE and 3-year-old DUNBAR ROAD surrounded Elate when running 1-3 in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland.

Value Plays: MIDNIGHT BISOU will take all the money and you might get 7-2 on PARADISE WOODS, who looks poised to sit a dream trip just off the pace, while getting first run on the favorite. Further outside the box, STREET BAND isn’t getting any attention, but her Grade 1 Cotillion win was sharp—and fast—and you know she’s going to relish the distance, which is not something you can say about all of these gals. If the track is playing to speed, then Kentucky Oaks winner SERENGETI EMPRESS has proven she can run fast early and sustain that pace at this trip. No one else entered will be intent on the lead, so stranger things (see Adoration in this race in 2003) have happened.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $50 Win: PARADISE WOODS ($50)
  • $40 Exacta: PARADISE WOODS over MIDNIGHT BISOU ($40)
  • $10 Exacta: PARADISE WOODS over STREET BAND ($10)

Turf

Race 11 – $4 Million – Grade 1

By Johnny D., Xpressbet.com • @XBJohnnyD

Analysis: Wondering if BRICKS AND MORTAR can get a mile and one-half is like asking me if I can play the piano—the answer’s the same: ‘Don’t know. Never tried.’ Unlike with my ivory-tickling skills, there is some evidence to suggest that BRICKS AND MORTAR might be able to stretch his effectiveness past a mile and one-quarter. Six wins in his last 6 races helps. Plus, trainer Chad Brown calling the shots is also is a positive. This year, BRICKS AND MORTAR has dominated US turf racing from Gulfstream to Fair Grounds to Churchill to Belmont to Arlington. Why not add Santa Anita to the list?

Main Contenders: If MAGICAL comes, and if she’s entered in this race, she will be the main threat to BRICKS AND MORTAR. Still, it’s asking a lot from the talented, well-raced filly to run 5th in the Arc, win the Quipco Champion Stakes 13 days later, and then ship to California to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf. She nearly pulled off the Arc-ChampionsBC Turf triple last year. Only the incredible Enable was able to stop her at Churchill. Horseplayers can toss a blanket over CHANNEL CAT, ARKLOW, CHANNEL MAKER and ZULU ALPHA. There hasn’t been much more between them all year. ACCLIMATE is a California speedster who likes the Santa Anita turf, but he’s not supposed to be this good. ANTHONY VAN DYKE is a 3-year-old colt who finished behind MAGICAL last out in Ireland. He’s faced good ones, but hasn’t beaten older foes yet.

Value Plays: OLD PERSIAN is interesting in that he can be considered a European invader whose connections have planned on running him in this race for quite a while. He’s a well-travelled 4-year-old with races in Ireland, Great Britain, United Arab Emirates, Germany and Canada. He romped in Woodbine’s Northern Dancer by 2 ½ lengths last out. These are tougher foes, but he won easily last out and is a 2-time Group 1 and 2-time Group 2 stakes winner at the distance. He’s sharp and conditioned by Charles Appleby, a man who knows which end of a horse eats.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • • $40 Win: OLD PERSIAN ($40)
  • • $10 Exacta Box: OLD PERSIAN, BRICKS AND MORTAR and MAGICAL ($60)

Classic

Race 12 – $6 Million – Grade 1

Analysis: The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic pits an eclectic mix of accomplished older horses from Bob Baffert (MCKINZIE), Bill Mott (ELATE/YOSHIDA) and Todd Pletcher (VINO ROSSO) versus a quartet of 3-year-olds who have Travers (CODE OF HONOR), Preakness (WAR OF WILL) and regional Derby (MATH WIZARD, OWENDALE) wins to their credit. Interspersed in the affair are tantalizing price players SEEKING THE SOUL, MONGOLIAN GROOM and HIGHER POWER, who own performances that offer prospects of a ‘puncher’s chance.’

Main Contenders: MCKINZIE owns a 5: 2-3-0 record in Grade 1s since acing the Malibu at the end of ’18, but is a vulnerable, yet deserving favorite. He’s been in the exacta in all 7 of his Santa Anita starts and regularly registers the kind of figs that win this race. The question he has to answer for Baffert is whether he will emulate Classic winners Arrogate and Bayern or runners-up Game On Dude and Collected. Taken down in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, VINO ROSSO provides Pletcher with his best Classic hopeful in several years and the colt returns to Arcadia with a May Santa Anita Gold Cup victory in his saddlebag.

September 28, 2019 : Code of Honor #2, ridden by John Velazquez and Vino Rosso #3, ridden by Irad Ortiz, battle to the wire in the Jockey Club Gold Cup during Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont Park Race Track in Elmont, New York. Vino Rosso finished first, but was disqualified and Code of Honor was placed first. Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Value Plays: Like Drosselmeyer in 2011, YOSHIDA has a chance to cap his career in the spotlight for Mott and Mike Smith. Despite a 14-month winless skein, the tough and consistent 5-year-old comes in off the two best consecutive efforts of his career. SEEKING THE SOUL would be the first horse over age 5 to win the Classic, but merits exotics inclusion at the least. He owns a pattern that mirrors his big Dirt Mile try a year ago and has trained at the deeper than usual Santa Anita track since late summer.

$100 Wagering Strategy:

  • $3 Exacta Box: VINO ROSSO, YOSHIDA, MCKINZIE, SEEKING THE SOUL, CODE OF HONOR ($60)
  • $2 Trifecta Part-Wheel: VINO ROSSO, YOSHIDA, MCKINZIE, CODE OF HONOR with VINO ROSSO, YOSHIDA, MCKINZIE, CODE OF HONOR with SEEKING THE SOUL ($24)
  • $16 Win: YOSHIDA ($16)
Breeders’ Cup Saturday Experts Guide
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