The main event. With Future Stars Friday in the books it’s time to turn the attention to Championship Saturday as the 38th Breeders’ Cup rolls on at Del Mar.
Nine races are on tap, led by the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. All the stars are out for those races, including defending Turf champ Tarnawa and leading Horse of the Year candidates Knicks Go and Essential Quality in the Classic. Elsewhere there’s Gamine, Golden Pal, Life Is Good, Audarya, Jackie’s Warrior, Got Stormy, Letruska, Malathaat, Hot Rod Charlie and Medina Spirit. Don’t let anyone tell you this Breeders’ Cup is light.
Everything starts at lunchtime here on the West Coast, with the Filly and Mare Sprint going at 12:05 p.m. PT. Conclusion comes with the 10-furlong Classic at 5:40 p.m., or 8:40 on the East Coast and in prime time.
Want to watch? The NBC Sports Network carries the races from 2:30 to 8 p.m. ET before switching to NBC from 8-9 p.m. ET.
Want to listen? Our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network will carry the races from 3-9 p.m. ET.
Want some winners? Hopefully our handicappers will uncover plenty over the nine championship events. How’d they do Friday?
Three of our handicappers – John Shapazian, Sean Clancy and Joe Clancy – picked three winners on the day.
Sean tabbed Twilight Gleaming in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Echo Zulu in the Juvenile Fillies and Corniche in the Juvenile.
John picked Echo Zulu, Pizza Bianca in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Corniche. Joe picked Echo Zulu, Corniche and Modern Games in the Juvenile Turf.
Joe originally picked Albahr, who was scratched at the gate, leaving him with his second pick Modern Games. Of course, Modern Games was announced as a late scratch, then as running for purse money only before running a blinder in the finale before a chorus of boos from the stands. Since Joe picked him and he won the race, we’ll give the winner.
We’ll do the same for Jessica Paquette, who picked Tiz The Bomb in the Juvenile Turf. He didn’t win but finished second to the purse-money-only Modern Games so if you played Jessica’s picks you were rewarded with a $17.60 payoff. That wound up as Jessica’s lone winner.
Tom Law picked two winners – Echo Zulu and Corniche – while Charles Bedard picked Corniche and Paul Halloran also came up with Modern Games. Rob Whitlock was blanked.
Here are the picks for Championship Saturday. Good luck.
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). $1 million. 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 7 furlongs. Post time 3:05 p.m. ET.
Short field to start the day with just five following the scratch of Estilo Talentoso after entries were drawn Monday. Gamine won last year’s edition at Keeneland and returns to defend title in her first start at Del Mar. Bella Sofia brings 4-for-5 record to the West Coast and comes off two brilliant efforts in the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Gallant Bloom.
John: Gamine, Bella Sofia, Ce Ce.
Jessica: Gamine, Ce Ce, Bella Sofia.
Joe: Gamine, Ce Ce, Bella Sofia.
Charles: Bella Sofia, Gamine, Ce Ce.
Rob: Bella Sofia, Ce Ce, Gamine.
Paul: Bella Sofia, Gamine, Ce Ce.
Tom: Ce Ce, Bella Sofia, Edgeway.
Sean: Gamine, Ce Ce, Bella Sofia.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). $1 million. 3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs, turf. Post time 3:40 p.m. ET.
Full field of 12 for first grass race of the day with stablemates Golden Pal and Kimari representing the home squad against Europeans A Case Of You, Emaraaty Ana and Glass Slippers. The American contingent doesn’t end with the aforementioned Wesley Ward duo, with Gear Jockey, Extravagant Kid, Caravel and Lieutenant Dan all with a big chance on their best day.
John: Golden Pal, Emaraaty Ana, Lieutenant Dan.
Jessica: Caraval, Fast Boat, A Case Of You.
Joe: Golden Pal, Caravel, Extravagant Kid.
Charles: Kimari, Glass Slippers, Gear Jockey.
Rob: Gear Jockey, A Case Of You, Emaraaty Ann.
Paul: Emaraaty Ana, Golden Pal, Gear Jockey.
Tom: Extravagant Kid, Gear Jockey, A Case Of You.
Sean: Gear Jockey, Golden Pal, Kimari.
Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). $1 million. 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile. Post time 4:19 p.m. ET.
All eyes on Life Is Good in his return to Del Mar, where he broke his maiden impressively last November to put his name immediately on the Kentucky Derby watch lists. He never made the spring classics after back-to-back graded wins for former trainer Bob Baffert, going to the sidelines with an injury. He returned at Saratoga with Todd Pletcher and tested Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite Jackie’s Warrior all the way in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens before a blowout win over lesser in the Grade 2 Kelso. He’s the one to beat but Silver State, Ginobili and Eight Rings could score an upset.
John: Life Is Good, Ginobili, Silver State.
Jessica: Silver State, Life Is Good, Snapper Sinclair.
Joe: Life Is Good, Silver State, Ginobli.
Charles: Silver State, Life Is Good, Restrainedvengeance.
Rob: Life Is Good, Silver State, Ginobili.
Paul: Life Is Good, Silver State, Ginobili.
Tom: Life Is Good, Silver State, Snapper Sinclair.
Sean: Life Is Good, Silver State, Ginobili.
Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1). $2 million. 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 3/8 miles, turf. Post time 4:59 p.m.
Back to the grass for perhaps the toughest race of the day. Europeans hold their usual strong hand with defending champ Audarya back with Aidan O’Brien’s Love and Cedric Rossi’s Rougir taking on the U.S. squad led by War Like Goddess, Going To Vegas, Pocket Square, My Sister Nat and Dogtag.
John: Love, Loves Only You, Rougir.
Jessica: Loves Only You, Dogtag, War Like Goddess.
Joe: Love, War Like Goddess, Audarya.
Charles: Love, Loves Only You, Audarya.
Rob: Rougir, Love, Going To Vegas.
Paul: Loves Only You, Queen Supreme, Love.
Tom: War Like Goddess, Audarya, Love.
Sean: Love, Audarya, War Like Goddess.
Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). $2 million. 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. Post time 5:38 p.m. ET.
Jackie’s Warrior looks to lock up the Eclipse Award for champion male sprinter – and he might have it already – against fellow 3-year-olds Following Sea and Dr. Schivel and proven veterans Firenze Fire, Aloha West, Lexitonian and Special Reserve. Only nine but a strong nine.
John: Jackie’s Warrior, Special Reserve, Aloha West.
Jessica: Jackie's Warrior, Lexitonian, Firenze Fire.
Joe: Aloha West, Jackie's Warrior, Dr. Schivel.
Charles: Jackie’s Warrior, Firenze Fire, Special Reserve.
Rob: Aloha West, Following Sea, Jackie’s Warrior.
Paul: Jackie’s Warrior, Dr. Schivel, Aloha West.
Tom: Aloha West, Jackie’s Warrior, Following Sea.
Sean: Jackie's Warrior, Following Sea, Dr. Schivel.
FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF (G1). $2 million. 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 6:20 p.m. ET.
Another puzzler on the grass with a full field and mix to Europeans and Americans, fillies and even a Japanese runner in Vin de Garde. Charlie Appleby holds strong hand with Godolphin’s duo of Master Of The Seas and Space Blues. The latter comes off back-to-back wins, including the Group 1 Prix de la Foret. Those two are complimented by Aidan O’Brien’s 3-year-old filly Mother Earth and Paddy Twomey’s 4-year-old filly Invincible Spirit. Paulo Lobo sends out the last two winners of the Keeneland Turf Mile in In Love and Ivar, while Chad Brown runs Blowout and Raging Bull. And don’t forget about 2019 runner-up Got Stormy.
John: Spaces Blues, Mo Forza, In Love.
Jessica: Got Stormy, Space Blues, Mother Earth.
Joe: Mo Forza, Space Blues, Smooth Like Strait.
Charles: Space Blues, Pearls Galore, Mo Forza.
Rob: Space Blues, Blowout, Vin de Garde.
Paul: Space Blues, Mother Earth, Ivar.
Tom: Space Blues, Raging Bull, Casa Creed.
Sean: Space Blues, In Love, Smooth Like Strait.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). $2 million. 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/8 miles. Post time 7:00 p.m. ET.
The brilliant Letruska looks to cap near unbeaten season and collect her fifth Grade 1 of the season against good group led by 2021 Kentucky Oaks and Alabama winner Malathaat, 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, Beldame winner Royal Flag and Bob Baffert’s duo of Private Mission and As Times Go By. Letruska comes off back-to-back powerhouse scores in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster, both at the Distaff’s 9-furlong trip.
John: Letruska, Malathaat, Private Mission.
Jessica: Letruska, Malathaat, Dunbar Road.
Joe: Letruska, Malathaat, Royal Flag.
Charles: Letruska, Malathaat, Marche Lorraine.
Rob: As Time Goes By, Letruska, Royal Flag.
Paul: Malathaat, Clairiere, Letruska.
Tom: Malathaat, Letruska, Shedaresthedevil.
Sean: Malathaat, Letruska, Clairiere.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). $4 million. 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles, turf. Post time 7:40 p.m. ET.
The race took a hit with the scratches of Domestic Spending and United. The former could have vied for favoritism but now that role falls squarely on defending champ Tarnawa. Five-year-old mare won at Keeneland last year and comes into this year’s marathon test with a win in a Group 3 at Leopardstown in August and seconds in the Group 1 Irish Champion and Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Bolshoi Ballet and Channel Maker draw into the race, the latter figuring to bring some additional pace.
John: Tarnawa, Walton Street, Gufo.
Jessica: Tarnawa, Teona, Channel Maker.
Joe: Tarnawa, Bolshoi Ballet, Acclimate.
Charles: Tarnawa, Domestic Spending, Friar’s Road.
Rob: Walton Street, Sisfahan, Yibir.
Paul: Teona, Tarnawa, Yibir.
Tom: Walton Street, Tarnawa, Gufo.
Sean: Tarnawa, Teona, Yibir.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). $6 million. 3-year-olds and up, 1 ¼ miles. Post time 8:40 p.m. ET.
The gangs all here for the headline event. Brad Cox’s powerful duo of Knicks Go and Essential Quality will be extremely tough to beat but Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit, Art Collector and Max Player would not be a total surprise. Knicks Go, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, figures to control things on the front end while his Belmont- and Travers-winning stablemate might do like usual and just enough to get it done. Medina Spirit passed the finish post first in the Kentucky Derby so he’s a known commodity at the 10-furlong trip. And a win by him certainly makes for some interesting days ahead.
John: Essential Quality, Art Collector, Knicks Go.
Jessica: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Max Player.
Joe: Art Collector, Knicks Go, Medina Spirit.
Charles: Knicks Go, Hot Rod Charlie, Essential Quality.
Rob: Knicks Go, Tripoli, Essential Quality.
Paul: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Art Collector.
Tom: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit.
Sean: Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie.