With the draw now complete for all 14 Breeders' Cup races, here are 10 (okay, 11) longshots I will be strongly considering. Back on Thursday and Friday with final picks.
Marathon--Precision Break (15-1)
Has some negatives being that this will be his first start in the United States and on dirt, and it will be his graded stakes debut. But he fits in this wide-open race based on his win two races back on the Doncaster turf. Unlike many of the horses in here who have never travelled 1 3/4 miles, Precision Break has been running marathon distances for most of his career in England. If he improves on dirt, could be an interesting contender. All this being said, I'm not crazy about this race.
Filly & Mare Sprint--Champagne d'Oro (6-1)
She will be an overlay based on post 14 and her fourth-place finish in the TCA, but that was on Polytrack, a surface she is not as good on. She also did not run well in her only start at Churchill in the Kentucky Oaks, but she had a bad trip and was going long. That was her only poor effort in seven starts this year. Has a series of sharp works at Churchill since her last race. If she can clear horses under Miguel Mena, she should be near the pace. One turn suits this filly much better. Post certainly isn't ideal, but you will get more than fair value.
Filly & Mare Turf--Red Desire (8-1)
Midday will be the heavy favorite and rightfully so, but if you're looking for a better price the Japanese invader could be worth a look. Her third in the Flower Bowl in her U.S. debut was very good considering she was running over soft ground and it was off a lengthy layoff. She has a good chance to improve in her second U.S. start and fits well in a field that, once you get past Midday, is not all that intimidating.
Juvenile Fillies Turf--New Normal (10-1) and More Than Real (10-1)
The one-two finishers of the Natalma are both legitimate contenders at big prices. New Normal will be on or near the lead in a large field, which could be ideal since she will avoid trouble. The heavy favorite in here, Winter Memories, while very impressive in the Miss Grillo, will likely have to circle the field to win, as she will be coming from way back.
Todd Pletcher loves the way More Than Real is training. She is the stalking type, which suits Javier Castellano just fine.
Sprint--Wise Dan (10-1) and Atta Boy Roy (12-1)
Wise Dan is lightly raced and will be up against his toughest competition yet, but there is no sharper horse entering the race and comes from in a barn that is as hot as anyone around. The half-brother to Keeneland star Successful Dan, he has a decisive win at Churchill two races back (on slop) and should get a perfect stalking trip.
Atta Boy Roy has been pointing toward this race ever since he dominated the Churchill Downs Stakes in May. He hasn't run back to that race in his subsequent four starts, but his stakes win at Remington two back was good enough and was razor sharp in his recent works. Oh...and a guy name Borel will ride him.
Turf Sprint--Stradivisnky (10-1)
Should be the controlling speed in a wide-open and very difficult race to handicap. There are a bunch of horses that have excelled over this course and Stradivinsky is one of them. Lost to Chamberlain Bridge, who is the co-second choice, by a half-length last out. The price will be much better on this former claimer who has clearly found his best stride.
Dirt Mile--Vineyard Haven (10-1) and Aikenite (50-1)
I'm shocked at the morning line on both of these. Had Vineyard Haven won the Forego he would have been the favorite here. As it was, he was a bit flat for that one in his second start of the year and then they decided to bypass the Kelso to keep him fresh. I expect him to be sharper in his third off a layoff. The one-turn mile should be perfect for a horse that I think is the most talented in the race.
As far as Aikenite, I'm not predicting he will win, but 50-1? He nearly set the track record at Keeneland in his last start at seven furlongs and he was a solid runner-up at Churchill in the Derby Trial in April. He is a much better one-turn horse and has a chance to hit the board at a huge price. Remember, it's still Pletcher/Velazquez. He's worth using in a wide-open race.
Classic--Paddy O'Prado (15-1)
Everyone will be looking for Zenyatta, Blame, and Lookin At Lucky to come flying at the end. What if it's Paddy? He certainly has proved himself a top turf horse and is probably better over that surface, but don't forget how well he ran in the Derby while he was still learning. He is one of the few horses in here that has won at 10 furlongs. Yes, it was on turf, but the turf-to-dirt angle has been used with success before. Romans and Desormeaux have won a few races at Churchill before, I think. Just sayin.'
Back Thursday and Friday with picks.