The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships started in earnest Friday with the five Future Stars Friday events and the action continues Saturday at Santa Anita Park with the headline acts topped by the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Nine championship events are carded, including the Classic, $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf and one of the strongest renewals of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff in recent years. Everything starts with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, which goes at lunchtime on the West Coast and mid-afternoon back East. The Filly and Mare Sprint is carded as the fourth race of the day with a post time of 2:55 p.m. ET. Santa Anita’s 12-race card starts at 1:07 p.m. ET, a shade past 10 a.m. in California.
The 1 1/4-mile Classic headlines the day as always. A field of 11 lines up for the 36th renewal, a group led by top 3-year-old Code Of Honor, Whitney winner McKinzie, leading older mare Elate, Vino Rosso, Yoshida and Higher Power. Post time for the Classic is 8:44 p.m. ET.
The first eight Breeders’ Cup Saturday races will be shown on the NBC Sports Network on cable from 3:30 to 8 p.m. ET with the final hour of coverage moving to flagship NBC – in prime time on the East Coast – from 8-9 p.m. The Horse Racing Radio Network will also carry the entire card from 3 to 9 p.m.
The handicappers didn’t fare too well on Day 1 but head into Saturday optimistic for more winners. Three of our five handicappers go to Saturday with a winner. John Shapazian and Rob Whitlock picked Structor in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Sean Clancy picked British Idiom in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Joe Clancy and Tom Law were blanked Friday.
The quintet went back to work Friday morning, afternoon and night in search of some winners among the nine races Saturday. Here are their picks:
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). Post time 2:55 p.m. ET.
Covfefe starts from the rail in 7-furlong championship opener and takes on salty group led by Ballerina winner Come Dancing, Spiced Perfection and Bellafina. She’s 2-for-2 at the distance, the most notable her brilliant effort in the Grade 1 Test.
Joe: Selcourt, Covfefe, Come Dancing.
Tom: Covfefe, Come Dancing, Selcourt.
Sean: Come Dancing, Spiced Perfection, Dawn The Destroyer.
John: Covfefe, Special Perfection, Come Dancing.
Rob: Selcourt, Spiced Perfection, Covfefe.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Post time 3:33 p.m. ET.
One of the toughest races on the card, at least on paper, with two-time defending champ Stormy Liberal chasing history and a return to better form. He’s lost all six of his starts in 2019 but he brings 8-for-19 record at Santa Anita to the table and picks up the services of John Velazquez. Three other top threats line up from the rail out – Totally Boss, Pure Sensation and Imprimis with Eddie Haskell perfectly drawn toward the outside.
Joe: Eddie Haskell, Totally Boss, Leinster.
Tom: Final Frontier, Pure Sensation, Eddie Haskell.
Sean: Legends Of War, Totally Boss, Pure Sensation.
John: Eddie Haskell, Pure Sensation, Totally Boss.
Rob: Shekky Shabaz, Leinster, Imprimis.
Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Post time 4:10 p.m. ET.
All eyes on Omaha Beach, who made brilliant return from layoff to take down top sprinter Shancelot last time in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Richard Mandella toyed with the Sprint or Classic but figures son of War Front fits best in this spot. Fellow 3-year-olds Mr. Money, Improbable and Spun To Run will give him a test.
Joe: Omaha Beach, Mr. Money, Coal Front.
Tom: Mr. Money, Omaha Beach, Coal Front.
Sean: Omaha Beach, Mr. Money, Coal Front.
John: Omaha Beach, Improbable, Spun To Run.
Rob: Mr. Money, Omaha Beach, Giant Expectations.
Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1). 4:54 p.m. ET.
Similar thoughts going into this event as the Sprint, with Sistercharlie looking to come through as the favorite and complete a perfect season. She’s won three straight, all Grade 1s and returns to defend her title in her Santa Anita debut.
Joe: Mrs. Sippy, Sistercharlie, Fanny Logan.
Tom: Sistercharlie. Next best: Mrs. Sippy.
Sean: Sistercharlie, Fanny Logan, Villa Marina.
John: Sistercharlie, Villa Marina, Fleeting.
Rob: Fanny Logan, Sistercharlie, Villa Marina.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Post time 5:36 p.m. ET.
Field of 10 and plenty of challengers for Mitole, who could stake a claim at Horse of the Year honors if he adds this to season that also includes wins in the Grade 1 Met Mile, Churchill Downs and Forego. Catalina Cruiser shortens up from the rail – and stays away from the Dirt Mile – while Shancelot tries to return to form that saw him blast the field in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga. And how about Imperial Hint? The little horse just keeps rolling, now at age 6 with 14 wins and more than $2.1 million in the bank.
Joe: Imperial Hint, Catalina Cruiser, Mitole.
Tom: Imperial Hint, Hog Creek Hustle, Mitole.
Sean: Mitole, Imperial Hint, Engage.
John: Mitole, Imperial Hint, Shancelot.
Rob: Hog Creek Hustle, Mitole, Whitmore.
TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Post time 6:20 p.m. ET.
One of the biggest puzzles of the weekend, hands down. The Europeans are of course within a chance despite showing up with a group that might be a notch below some from recent years. Circus Maximus, winner of the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp last time out, could amazingly give Aidan O’Brien first victory in the Mile. He leads the overseas team, along with Space Traveller, Lord Glitters and Hey Gaman. The home team is led by two females – Uni and Got Stormy. The former rolled to victory in the Grade 1 First Lady last time while the latter, the winner of two stakes at Saratoga in a seven-day span, made the lead a bit early and didn’t last when second last time out in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.
Joe: Circus Maximus, Suedois, Without Parole.
Tom: Circus Maximus, Uni, Suedois.
Sean: Space Traveler, True Valour, Got Stormy.
John: Circus Maximus, Got Stormy, Uni.
Rob: Suedois, Hey Gaman, Lucullan.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Post time 7:00 p.m. ET.
Best race of the weekend. Even without Elate, who goes in the Classic, the 9-furlong Distaff features a loaded cast led by Midnight Bisou. We mentioned Horse of the Year with Mitole and his stablemate Midnight Bisou could continue to be in the conversation with her eighth win in as many starts. She’s 3-for-4 at Santa Anita, too, so no questions about how she’ll handle things out West. Challengers aplenty though, with Blue Prize, Paradise Woods, Dunbar Road, Wow Cat, Street Band and Serengeti Empress all packing top-class credentials and potential on their best day.
Joe: Midnight Bisou, Paradise Woods, Blue Prize.
Tom: Midnight Bisou, Blue Prize, Dunbar Road.
Sean: Midnight Bisou, Paradise Woods, Dunbar Road.
John: Midnight Bisou, Dunbar Road, Blue Prize.
Rob: Street Band, Midnight Bisou, Secret Spice.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Post time 7:40 p.m. ET.
Without sounding like a broken record, how about Bricks And Mortar for North America’s top prize? The four-time 2019 Grade 1 winner needs to seal the deal first and if he does it will be Chad Brown’s first victory in this race. The task won’t be easy for the son of Giant’s Causeway with Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Old Persian, Arkow and Channel Maker in the field.
Joe: Old Persian, Bricks And Mortar, Anthony Van Dyck.
Tom: Bricks And Mortar, Anthony Van Dyck,
Sean: Old Persian, Bricks And Mortar, Alounak.
John: Bricks And Mortar, Anthony Van Dyck, Old Persian.
Rob: Old Persian, Bricks And Mortar, United.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Post time 8:44 p.m. ET.
The headliner. Who’s it going to be? Can Code Of Honor keep it rolling at the 10-furlong trip, like he did in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The latter came via DQ of Vino Rosso, who looks to avenge that loss at a track where he’s already won going the distance in Grade 1 company. What about Elate? The superstar mare who rewarded her connections with so many top efforts makes one final start, against the boys. When Bill Mott does things a little out of the box, take note. How about McKinzie? Can he negotiate the distance and return to his form that landed him in the winner’s circle for the Whitney? Higher Power won the Pacific Classic going 1 1/4 miles two starts back and could give trainer John Sadler back-to-back wins in the race. Like we said, the headliner.
Joe: Code Of Honor, Vino Rosso, Elate.
Tom: Code Of Honor, Vino Rosso, Owendale.
Sean: Elate, McKinzie, Code Of Honor.
John: Code Of Honor, Vino Rosso, Owendale.
Rob: Elate, Code Of Honor, Seeking The Soul.