With 14 races to get through in this year's Breeders' Cup there isn't much time for long introductions. There is a lot of information to sort through and it can get overwhelming. So let's get right into the Friday races.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Between Dearest Trickski, Dream Rush, Indyanne and Indian Blessing there is a ton of early pace in this wide-open contest. Each of those aforementioned speedsters could easily wire the field for seven furlongs, but this race may set up better for a stalker or filly coming off the pace.
Zaftig, if she finds the Pro-Ride to her liking, could be tough in here. She won her last two stakes by daylights, including the Acorn (gr. I) this summer. She does enter off a 4 1/2 month layoff, which is not ideal for my liking.
Intangaroo has won three grade I races this year but somehow she still doesn't get the same press as the others. All the early speed in here could set up perfectly for this dead closer, who has won three times on synthetics, twice at Santa Anita and three times at this distance.
Of course, Ventura also deserves much respect. She has been terrific all season and the cutback in distance should suit her just fine. She's also 2-for-3 on synthetics
The Pick: Any of six fillies here could win and it wouldn't surprise me. This is a race where horses who like synthetics should be at a huge advantage, which is the determining factor for me. I settled on Indyanne, Ventura and Intangaroo as my top three. I'll box all three of them in an exacta, but if I have to narrow it down to one as of now (Wednesday), I'll go with Intangaroo. She never gives a bad effort and might have the right running style in this race.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this race, frankly, because it interests me less than any of others this weekend. There really aren't many standouts here, so look for a price.
The Pick: Both Saucey Evening and Sugar Mom are interesting here. Saucey Evening broke her maiden on the turf and has been in California since her victory in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride. She gets Garrett Gomez and will be coming from off the pace. Graham Motion is a plus too. I also like Sugar Mom, a Wayne Catalano Arlington shipper who will be making her turf debut. She has won three straight though and at odds of 10-1 or more, she's worth a shot.
Any analysis of this race has to start with Stardom Bound, who looked absolutely sensational is winning both the Debutante and Oak Leaf. The huge moves she made in both races are just not seen very often from 2-year-old fillies. The fact that she won on the Pro-Ride at the same distance as this race makes her even more appealing. Quite frankly, I'm surprised she is only 2-1 on the morning line.
Who can beat Stardom Bound? Well, C.S. Silk's romp in the Arlington-Washington Lassie makes her a big factor and she will likely be the pace here. Sky Diva's Frizette victory was equally impressive and she has worked very well on the synthetics. Dream Empress, the Alcibiades winner, also has a nice score at this distance over the Polytrack. I know from talking to D. Wayne Lukas that he is confident on Be Smart, so she is worth a look at a big price. I can't see any others being serious factors.
The Pick: You guys know me by now, I'm not a chalk player. But in this case I can't pick against Stardom Bound. I've talked to trainer Chris Paasch and he says this filly hasn't even scratched the surface yet. She will be making her last start for Paasch before entering the Keeneland November sale (can't wait to see how much she fetches there), and her closing style should set her up perfect in here. Hopefully she is somewhere around 9-5, which in this case is plenty good enough for me.
Filly and Mare Turf
Wait a While was installed the lukewarm 3-1 favorite based on winning three of her last four, but there are plenty of ways to go here. Mauralakana has been terrific all season, Dynaforce was exceptional in the Flower Bowl and Forever Together has a pair of grade I scores in her last three. Throw in remarkably consistent Pure Clan, and European invaders Halfway to Heaven, Visit and Folk Opera, and you have the makings of a wide-open affair.
The Pick: I am a big Mauralakana fan, but I think the long campaign has worn her out a little and will pass. I also think Dynaforce is a small step below these. I'm going to take the hardest look at Forever Together, who has put up some big speed figures for red-hot Jonathan Sheppard. My biggest concern with her is handling the 10 furlongs, which she has never tried before. I think she will be fine with it. Folk Opera and Pure Clan, also at big prices, are appealing as well. Although I haven't made up my mind completely in this one, I lean towards those three. I also want to see the final price on Halfway to Heaven, who makes his U.S. debut for Aidan O'Brien. Anything over 5-1 would be appetizing.
Can Zenyatta make it 9-for-9? Out here, the overwhelming majority of the people I've run into think it's a foregone conclusion. There really isn't much reason to think the super filly can't get it done. She has accepted every challenge, including taking down Ginger Punch and Hystericalady. Her finishing kick is what separates her most of the time.
All that being acknowledged, she is not a sure thing in my book. The horses who can beat her? Well, my choice is Godolphin's Cocoa Beach, who is no slouch herself. The daughter of Doneraile Court has is 8-1-1 lifetime and has won three of four starts at this distance. Talking with my buddy John Pricci at Equiform, he says her speed numbers from Dubai are comparable to some of Zenyatta's best and her work over the Pro-Ride was excellent, maybe the most impressive all week. I think this filly is really coming into her own right now and she might be primed for a big upset.
The Pick: Zenyatta is a must use in all exotics and pick 4's without a doubt. But from a win bet standpoint, I won't use her at that price. I am going to place my win bet on Cocoa Beach and also play exactas with those two, Carriage Trail and Hystericalady.
Who does everyone else like? I'll be back on Thursday and Friday with the Saturday races. Good luck!!