Breeders’ Cup 2018 Friday picks

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The two-day Breeders’ Cup returns to Churchill Downs for the first time in seven years and opens with five World Championships races on the newly designed “Future Stars Friday” topped by a pair of $2 million races and the first running of a turf dash for juveniles.

The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – which almost always crown a champion – anchor the day that hopefully goes under better weather than the rain that blew into Louisville Wednesday afternoon and lingered into Thursday.

The five races card for Friday are part of the 15-race extravaganza worth $25 million as Churchill hosts for the first time since 2011 and for a record ninth time in the 35 editions of the series. The action starts on a 10-race card with a first post of 12:55 p.m. EDT. The first Breeders Cup race of the day, the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint, goes of at 3:21 p.m.

The handicapping trio from This Is Horse Racing – Joe Clancy, Sean Clancy and Tom Law – are back to take more swings at the big races and they’ll be joined by The Saratoga Special’s handicappers John Shapazian and Donald Phillips and The Special staffer Ben Gowans making picks.

The five races will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on cable from 3-7 p.m. ET.

Here are the picks for Breeders’ Cup Friday:

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Post time 3:21 p.m. ET

Inaugural running of 5 1/2-furlong event leads off and features an international cast with Europeans Soldier’s Call, Well Done Fox, Sergei Prokofiev, So Perfect, Queen Of Bermuda and Pocket Dynamo taking on the home team led by the Wesley Ward international-venturing quartet of Stillwater Cove, Shang Shang Shang, Moonlight Romance and Chelsea Cloisters. Want another option? How about Strike Silver, who won the first edition of the Indian Summer last time at Keeneland for Mark Casse.

Joe: Bulletin, Shang Shang Shang, Soldier’s Call.
Sean: Soldier’s Call, Sergei Prokofiev, So Perfect.
Tom: So Perfect, Shang Shang Shang, Soldier’s Call.
John Shapazian: Soldier’s Call, Shang Shang Shang, Sergei Prokofiew.
Donald Phillips: Strike Silver, Sergei Prokofiev, Bulletin.
Ben Gowans: Sergei Prokofiev, Soldier’s Call, So Perfect.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Post time 4 p.m. ET

The Irish-bred, American-based Newspaperofrecord – our team at The Special is a fan of the name and the paper – meets what looks like a strong group of overseas runners led by Lily’s Candle and Just Wonderful. La Pelosa already scooped a Grade 1 here in North America, winning the Natalma at Woodbine.

Joe: Just Wonderful, Newspaperofrecord, Concrete Rose.
Sean: Newspaperofrecord, My Gal Betty, East.
Tom: Newspaperofrecord, La Pelosa, Pakhet.
John Shapazian: Newspaperofrecord, Lily’s Candle, Just Wonderful.
Donald Phillips: Newspaperofrecord, My Gal Betty, La Pelosa.
Ben Gowans: Newspaperofrecord, Concrete Rose, Just Wonderful

Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Post time 4:40 p.m. ET

First race on the main track is $2 million Juvenile Fillies going 1 1/16 miles and as always it looks like an East vs. West showdown. Jaywalk, Serengeti Empress and Restless Rider are tops from points East while the morning-line favorite Bellafina and Vibrance, 1-2 in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes – will carry the flag for California.

Joe: Jaywalk, Bellafina, Cassies Dreamer.
Sean: Cassies Dreamer, Restless Rider, Belafina.
Tom: Bellafina, Restless Rider, Cassies Dreamer.
John Shapazian: Bellafina, Jayhawk, Sippican Harbor.
Donald Phillips: Restless Rider, Vibrance, Bellafina.
Ben Gowans: Jaywalk, Restless Rider, Bellafina.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Post time 5:22 p.m. ET

Back to the grass one more time on the day and they all might be chasing Anthony Van Dyck from Aidan O’Brien’s powerful yard at Ballydoyle in Ireland. He’s 3-for-6 and coming off two close defeats in Group 1 stakes. Three of the first four under the wire in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Bourbon – winner Current, runner-up Henley’s Joy and fourth War Of Will – and the Grade 3 Pilgrim exacta of Forty Under and Somelikeithotbrown are also in the full field of 14.

Joe: Anthony Van Dyck, Current, Forty Under.
Sean: Line Of Duty, Forty Under, Anthony Van Dyck.
Tom: Forty Under, Anthony Van Dyck, War Of Will.
John Shapazian: Line Of Duty, Forty Under, Uncle Benny.
Donald Phillips: Current, Line Of Duty, Forty Under.
Ben Gowans: Line Of Duty, Anthony Van Dyck, War Of Will.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Post time 6:05 p.m. ET

Champagne winner Complexity puts his 2-for-2 mark on the line and looks to give Chad Brown back-to-back winners in the day’s finale after he won with Good Magic last year at Del Mar. Son of Maclean’s Music won his two starts by open lengths, including his Champagne by 3 lengths over the troubled Code Of Honor. Speaking of Code Of Honor, he spiked a temperature Friday morning and scratched out of the race. That changed our picks somewhat, now with Complexity, Game Winner, Mind Control and Signalman garnering support. 

Joe: Mind Control, Complexity, Game Winner.
Sean: Complexity, Game Winner, Signalman.
Tom: Game Winner, Mind Control, Knicks Go.
John Shapazian: Complexity, Game Winner, Standard Deviation.
Donald Phillips: Game Winner, Standard Deviation, Gunmetal Gray.
Ben Gowans: Signalman, Game Winner, Complexity.