The same mindset of the powers-that-be that decided seven races simply wasn’t enough for the Breeders’ Cup brings forth five handicappers instead of our usual three for North America’s most lucrative weekend of racing.
That’s right, Joe Clancy, Sean Clancy and Tom Law will be joined this weekend by familiar names for readers of The Saratoga Special with John Shapazian and Chad Summers in the mix. They’ve sharpened their pencils and dusted off their satchels of handicapping tools to hopefully deliver more than a few winners. John did it at Saratoga for sure, delivering 120 wins for the meet and he’s ready to go this weekend. John offers up a bonus pick in the Arabian race finale, too, with Grilla picked on top.
Friday’s five Breeders’ Cup races serve as a good appetizer for Saturday’s nine-race feast led by the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Wise Dan’s bid for a second Breeders’ Cup Mile and Point of Entry’s return in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf.
But back to Friday. More is always better, right? Five handicappers are better than three. Well, we shall see.
Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Post time 4:45 p.m. ET
Stamina test frequently produces big winning mutuel – the average price for the first five runnings is more than 17-1. This edition seems to be fairly well-matched, so coming across a big price might be more difficult. Ever Rider looks to emulate last year’s winner, South American import Calidoscopio, as he ships in from Argentina and lures Gary Stevens to ride. Indian Jones was second in a good prep for this, the Greenwood Cup at Parx, and Worldly, Pool Play, Blueskiesnrainbows and Commander deserve a long look.
Joe: Cease, Pool Play, Commander.
Sean: London Bridge, Old Time Hockey, Suns Out Guns Out.
Tom: Worldly, Commander, Suns Out Guns Out.
John: London Bridge, Old Time Hockey, Cease.
Chad: Cease Old Time Hockey, Worldly.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Post time 5:25 p.m. ET
Good mix of quality Europeans in Giovanni Boldini, Outstrip, Wilshire Boulevard and Shamshon against all winners of key U.S. preps. First four from Keeneland’s Bourbon are here but that race was run on Polytrack, so some might proceed with caution. Pilgrim at Belmont and Zuma Beach at Santa Anita might be the key races, with Bobby’s Kitten and Aotearoa coming out as winners, respectively.
Joe: Giovanni Boldini, Bobby’s Kitten, Bashart.
Sean: Bobby’s Kitten, Giovanni Boldini, Outstrip.
Tom: Bobby’s Kitten, Wilshire Boulevard, Bashart.
John: Bobby’s Kitten, Giovanni Boldini, All Cash.
Chad: Bobby’s Kitten, Poker Player, All Cash.
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Post time 6:05 p.m. ET
Short run to the first turn and probable speed drew all over the place with Taptowne on the rail, Broadway Empire in post 6, Alpha in 7, Verrazano in 10, and Goldencents in 12. Verrazano won the Wood Memorial and Haskell but flopped in the Kentucky Derby and Travers, his only losses. Distance seems more ideal for More Than Ready colt, who hasn’t run since the Travers. Brujo de Olleros, runner-up in the Kelso, is the buzz horse.
Joe: Brujo de Olleros, Hymn Book, Fed Biz.
Sean: Broadway Empire, Brujo de Olleros, Hymn Book.
Tom: Hymn Book, Goldencents, Golden Ticket.
John: Verrazano, Pants On Fire, Broadway Empire.
Chad: Goldencents, Broadway Empire, Hymn Book.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Post time 6:50 p.m. ET
My Conquestadory was either hugely impressive winning Keeneland’s Grade 1 Alcibiades on Polytrack or not that appealing winning Keeneland’s Alcibiades, depending on who’s giving the opinion. Artie Schiller filly beat males winning Grade 2 Summer in her career debut and there seems to be no debate about the merits of that race. She drew post 14, an extremely poor draw but for a filly who makes middle and late runs it might not make a difference. Europe’s best threat is the French filly Vorda, winner of the Group 1 Cheveley Park at Newmarket and runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Morny. Olivier Peslier, who rode Goldikova to three wins in the Mile (two at Santa Anita), returns on Orpen filly.
Joe: Testa Rossi, Vorda, Sky Painter.
Sean: Al Thakhira, Kitten Kaboodle, Chriselliam.
Tom: My Conquestadory, Ready to Act, Granny Mc’s Kitten.
John: Al Thakhira, Chriselliam, Granny Mc’s Kitten.
Chad: Ready to Act, Kitten Kaboodle, My Conquestadory.
Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Post time 7:35 p.m. ET
Six pack for the day’s finale and the consensus is that five could win. Royal Delta seeks her third straight, Princess of Sylmar and Beholder get reacquainted after finishing 1-2 in Kentucky Oaks, Close Hatches looks to add third Grade 1 to bolster her championship credentials and Authenticity bids for an upset before selling Monday at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. Princess of Sylmar hasn’t lost since April, racking up four Grade 1s, but loss and wins by either Beholder or Close Hatches could cost her 3-year-old filly championship. Todd Pletcher-trainee should get pace she wants, with Royal Delta and Beholder set to battle up front early.
Joe: Royal Delta, Beholder, Princess Of Sylmar.
Sean: Royal Delta, Close Hatches, Beholder.
Tom: Royal Delta, Authenticity, Beholder.
John: Princess of Sylmar, Close Hatches, Authenticity.
Chad: Close Hatches, Royal Delta, Beholder.