Breeders’ Cup Saturday preview & picks

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Japanese superstar Ushba Tesoro trains at Santa Anita Park this week in advance of his run in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup Photo.

The main event, Championship Saturday caps a turbulent North American racing season with nine marquee Breeders’ Cup events on tap at Santa Anita Park.

Several divisions, including Horse of the Year, hang in the balance before a Breeders’ Cup marked with plenty of defections and withdrawals. Strong fields remain, with Cody’s Wish, White Abarrio, Goodnight Olive, Idiomatic, Elite Power, Caravel, Clairiere, In Italian, Randomized, Saudi Crown, Up To The Mark, Wet Paint and War Like Goddess among the top American start set to go. They take on a usual strong group from Europe and another well-meant cast from Japan.

The handicappers are back after some seriously spotty results for Future Stars Friday.

Paul Halloran, playing the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, tabbed three of the five winners on the day with Big Evs in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Just F Y I in the Juvenile Fillies and Unquestionable in the Juvenile Turf. Here’s hoping he used some of those bullets in the contest.

Joe Clancy (Just F Y I), John Shapazian (Unquestionable), Charles Bedard (Unquestionable) and Alec DiConza (Unquestionable) all came up with one winner. Sean Clancy, Tom Law, Rob Whitlock and Jessica Paquette were blanked.

Here are the picks for Saturday, Nov. 4. Be safe, pick some winners and good luck.

BigAss Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile. Post time 2:30 p.m. ET.

The swan song for the legend that continues to grow, Cody’s Wish. Godolphin’s homebred five-time Grade 1 winner looks to defend title in the Dirt Mile off victory in the Grade 2 Vosburgh last time out. He’s won 10 of 15, all to the delight of his namesake and legion of fans, and should go out a winner against field that includes Preakness winner National Treasure,

Sean: Cody’s Wish, Stage Raider, Zozos.
Joe: Cody’s Wish, Zozos, Stage Raider.
Tom: Cody’s Wish, National Treasure, Zozos.
Paul: Cody’s Wish, Zozos, Skippylongstocking.
John Shapazian: Cody’s Wish, Algiers, Stage Raider.
Charles Bedard: Algiers, Cody’s Wish, Charge It.
Rob Whitlock: Zozos, Cody’s Wish, Stage Raider.
Jessica Paquette: Cody’s Wish, Shirl’s Bee, Zozos.
Alec DiConza: Cody’s Wish, Skippylongstocking, Charge It, Zozos.

Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). $2 million, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles, turf. Post time 3:10 p.m. ET.

Inspiral, winner of the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes and Group 1 Jacques Le Marois in her last two starts for John Gosden, takes on fellow Europeans Warm Heart, With The Moonlight, Lumiere Rock and State Occasion, along with the Chad Brown duo of In Italian and McKulick. Fev Rover and Didia add significant depth to tricky race.

Sean: Inspiral, Warm Heart, Didia.
Joe: Inspiral, Warm Heart, Didia.
Tom: Fev Rover, In Italian, Inspiral.
Paul: Inspiral, In Italian, Warm Heart.
John: In Italian, Warm Heart, Inspiral.
Charles: McKulick, Warm Heart, With The Moonlight.
Rob: Inspiral, In Italian, Warm Heart.
Jessica: Didia, Win Marilyn, Inspiral.
Alec: Warm Heart, Lumiere Rock, In Italian, Inspiral.

PNC Bank Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). $1 million, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 7 furlongs. Post time 3:50 p.m. ET.

Defending champ Goodnight Olive returns in search of one last victory before heading through the ring Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton’s “Night of the Stars” sale in Kentucky. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper hasn’t been out since runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Ballerina, but Chad Brown used similar pattern with her before 2022 victory in the Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland. Only eight line up against the champ, a group led by Society, Matareya and Yuugiri.

Sean: Goodnight Olive, Matareya, Society.
Joe: Goodnight Olive, Society, Eda.
Tom: Goodnight Olive, Society, Matareya.
Paul: Goodnight Olive, Society, Kirstenbosch.
John: Goodnight Olive, Society, Yuurgiri.
Charles: Goodnight Olive, Society, Kirstenbosch.
Rob: Goodnight Olive, Clearly Unhinged, Matareya.
Jessica: Eda, Society, Matareya.
Alec: Society, Goodnight Olive, Kirstenbosch, Clearly Unhinged.

FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF (G1). $2 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 3:30 p.m. ET.

Japan enjoyed a powerful day the last time the Breeders’ Cup made its way through Southern California and they’re represented here by the impressive mare Songline, who takes on international field also led by Master Of The Seas, Casa Creed, Mawj, Kelina and More Than Looks.

Sean: Mawj, Songline, Kelina.
Joe: Master Of The Seas, Songline, Casa Creed.
Tom: Casa Creed, Master Of The Seas, More Than Looks.
Paul: Mawj, Songline, Master Of The Seas.
John: Mawj, Songline, Master Of The Seas.
Charles: Master Of The Seas, Songline, Kelina.
Rob: Gina Romantica, Kelina, Du Jour.
Jessica: Songline, Shirl’s Speight, Casa Creed.
Alec: Gina Romantica, Casa Creed, Songline, More Than Looks.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). $2 million, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles. Post time 5:10 p.m. ET.

Always one of the best races of the day, the Distaff lost a major player with Friday’s withdrawal of Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous. She’ll miss the race but is expected to be back in training as a 4-year-old in 2024. Certainly no slouches left to tangle with Idiomatic, Adare Manor and Clairiere all looking for the older dirt female title and Randomized and Wet Paint gunning to upend Pretty Mischievous for the 3-year-old filly crown. Great race.

Sean: Idiomatic, Adare Manor, Wet Paint.
Joe: Clairiere, Idiomatic, Search Results.
Tom: Idiomatic, Search Results, Clairiere.
Paul: Idiomatic, Wet Paint, Clairiere.
John: Idiomatic, Adare Manor, Search Results.
Charles: Randomized, Idiomatic, A Mo Reay.
Rob: Wet Paint, Idiomatic, Clairiere.
Jessica: Clairiere, Adare Manor, Idiomatic.
Alec: Clairiere, Search Results, Idiomatic, A Mo Reay.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). $4 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles, turf. Post time 5:50 p.m. ET.

Consensus this week says this year’s renewal is one of the best ever, with top Europeans Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf and King Of Steel – among others – taking on the likes of Up To The Mark and War Like Goddess.

Sean: Mostahdaf, Auguste Rodin, Up To The Mark.
Joe: Mostahdaf, War Like Goddess, Up To The Mark.
Tom: Up To The Mark, King Of Steel, Auguste Rodin.
Paul: Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, Up To The Mark.
John:Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, King Of Steel.
Charles: Auguste Rodin, War Like Goddess, Up To The Mark.
Rob: Onesto, Bolshoi Ballet, Auguste Rodin.
Jessica: War Like Goddess, Auguste Rodin, Adhamo.
Alec: Up To The Mark, Auguste Rodin, King Of Steel, Mostahdaf.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). $6 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles. Post time 6:40 p.m.

Horse of the Year on the line – maybe, depending on what happens in the Turf with Up To The Mark and Dirt Mile with Cody’s Wish. White Abarrio could stake a claim and possibly Arabian Knight. Possibly. Regardless, not one of the stronger Classic fields in recent memory but a good handicapping puzzle with speedsters Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown figuring to throw down early, White Abarrio, Missed The Cut, Proxy, Bright Future and Dreamlike chasing and Zandon, Clapton and Derma Sotogake looking to come from the back. Toss in Japan sensation Ushba Tesoro and it’s easy to see why it’s a good puzzle.

Sean: Ushba Tesoro, White Abarrio, Bright Future.
Joe: Proxy, Ushba Tesoro, Arabian Knight.
Tom: Saudi Crown, Proxy, Clapton.
Paul: Saudi Crown, White Abarrio, Proxy.
John: Ushba Teroro, Arabian Knight, Zandon.
Charles: Ushba Tesoro, Dermatin Sotogake, Arabian Knight.
Rob: White Abarrio, Ushba Tesoro, Bright Future.
Jessica: White Abarrio, Ushba Tesoro, Saudi Crown.
Alec: White Abarrio, Proxy, Ushba Tesoro, Zandon.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs, turf. Post time 7:25 p.m. ET.

Here’s a twist – but not exactly a surprise since it was announced months ago – with not one but two Breeders’ Cup races following the Classic. Blame it, or credit it, to television. A good one to hit the reset button on, with Caravel back to defend her title against Gear Jockey, Arzak, Nobals and Motorious, along with European imports Bradsell and Aesop’s Fables

Sean: Caravel, Motorious, Gear Jockey.
Joe: Arzak, Caravel, Live In The Dream.
Tom: Roses For Debra, Arzak, Caravel.
Paul: Live In The Dream, Caravel, Motorious.
John: Live In The Dream, Caravel, Bradsell
Charles: Bradsell, Roses For Debra, Motorious.
Rob: Arzak, Motorious, Caravel.
Jessica: Caravel, Arzak, Nobals.
Alec: Nobals, Motorious, Live In The Dream, Roses For Debra.

Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). $2 million, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. Post time 8:00 p.m. ET.

Another heavyweight showdown between Elite Power and Gunite to close the day. Anyone fortunate to be at Saratoga for the Forego and/or Vanderbilt remembers seeing those stars square off. They split those races and meet again, possibly for a championship. Elite Power won last year’s Sprint and saw his eight-race win streak come to an end in the Forego. He hasn’t been out since, while Gunite came back from his 1 3/4-length win to finish third going two turns in the Parx Dirt Mile on a sloppy track. He’s back to sprinting and could be tough from the outside. The others? Well, good luck. Dr. Schivel tries again, while Speed Boat Beach and The Chosen Vron also benefit from running out of their stalls.

Sean: Elite Power, Gunite, Speed Boat Beach.
Joe: Elite Power, Dr. Schivel, Speed Boat Beach.
Tom: Elite Power, Gunite, Dr. Schivel.
Paul: Elite Power, Gunite, Dr. Schivel.
John: Elite Power, Gunite, Speed Boat Beach.
Charles: Dr. Schivel, Elite Power, Gunite.
Rob: Elite Power, Gunite, Dr. Schivel.
Jessica: Gunite, Elite Power, Speed Boat Beach.
Alec: The Chosen Vron, Elite Power, Speed Boat Beach, Gunite.