Here's a look at the Friday Breeders' Cup races. Back tomorrow with Saturday picks.
I don't have a strong opinion on this race. Nothing in here blows me away. I do think the favorite, Awesome Gem, is a play against, as is the co-second choice Prince Will I Am. Awesome Gem wants no part of 1 3/4 miles. I don't think Prince Will I Am will have the same turn of foot on dirt as he did on the Belmont turf. It's very tough to close from that far back at Churchill.
The horses I like the most are Alcomo and A. U. Miner. The marathon is a specialist kind of race and I think these three are best suited for the distance. Alcomo and A.U. Miner were separated by a neck in the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup and both are bred for the distance. Alcomo is entering third off a layoff, while A.U. Miner should be sharper in his second start back. Eldaafer is a grinder and has a chance to grab some money. Same with Giant Oak, who hasn't won since May, 2009 but is usually around the money and ran well on this track in the Stephen Foster and Clark. Gomez doesn't hurt either. Precision Break is my top European to consider.
2. A. U. Miner
3. Giant Oak
4. Precision Break
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Winter Memories is the logical choice based on her exceptional Miss Grillo effort. If you haven't watched it yet, take a look. Her turn of foot at the top of the stretch was extraordinary. But I'm anxious to see what she goes off at because her 2-1 morning line is too low for a group of 14 inexperienced 2-year-old fillies.
Others I have taken hard looks at are More Than Real, New Normal, and Kathmanblu. More Than Real and New Normal ran one-two in the Natalma, and ran significantly faster than the boys did on the same day in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine. New Normal should be on or near the lead again, along with Fancy Point, and has proven she can carry her speed. More Than Real will race mid-pack and has shown a nice closing kick in both starts. Todd Pletcher is very hopeful of her chances. Kathmanblu dominated the Jessamine and should be coming hard under Leparoux. Fancy Point defeated Kathmanblu in the P.G. Johnson and will be in the mix at the top of the stretch. Many others have decent chances at big prices, including Arch Support and Quiet Oasis.
1. More Than Real
3. Winter Memories
4. New Normal
Filly & Mare Sprint
Anyone have a dart? This is one of the most wide-open races of the weekend. Strong cases can be made for many: The 3-1 favorite Rightly So, who was dominant in the Ballerina and should be controlling speed; last year's champ Informed Decision, a grade I winner over this strip; Evening Jewel, who most people seem to forget missed by a nostril hair to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks and never runs a bad race; Gabby's Golden Gal, coming off a lengthy layoff but has been very strong in recent works; Sara Louise, a top-class filly for her whole career; My Jen, who defeated Sara Louise in the Gallant Bloom; Secret Gypsy, a winner of three straight; and Champagne d'Oro, who has developed into a nice, one-turn filly.
It's very difficult to separate these 14 so I think a dart is the best way to do it.
1. Sara Louise
2. Rightly So
3. Secret Gypsy
4. Informed Decision
This one isn't much easier, but there may be a little more separation at the top. Nobody was more impressive than A Z Warrior in their last race and she has looked just as good in her subsequent works. R Heat Lightning did not have the best of trip in the Frizette and still was coming hard at A Z Warrior at the end. Both of them will be a handful.
Tell a Kelly had a nice effort in her two-turn debut in the Oak Leaf and makes her first start on dirt, which she should improve from. The switch to Borel makes a big difference. Look for him to save ground and make his patented late run along the rail. Awesome Feather is undefeated in five starts but is stepping way up in class. English shipper Theyskens' Theory, Jordy Y, and Joyful Victory are also playable.
1. Tell a Kelly
2. A Z Warrior
3. R Heat Lightning
4. Jordy Y
Filly & Mare Turf
Midday could go off as the biggest favorite of the weekend. She seems to be in even better form than last year. She is clearly the best in here, but will she like the turf? If you take a stand against her there are many ways to go.
Red Desire seems the most logical choice if there is to be an upset. The Japanese invader was very good in her U.S. debut when third in the Flower Bowl over soft turf. She is a top-class filly who has only run one bad race in her career-and that was in the Dubai World Cup. Don't forget, she defeated the World Cup winner--Gloria de Campeao--in the Maktoum Challenge. She's going to be tough. Other longshots with a chance are Plumania, who is also a very consistent filly. If your toss her Arc, she fits very well here. Hot Cha Cha and Keertana have run well over the Churchill turf course. Harmonious was awesome in the First Lady and could have a lot to say at the end. Forever Together has lost a step, but does she have one more big one in her? Hibaayeb is inconsistent but good when on her game.
In the end I think Red Desire has the best chance of upsetting Midday and her price will be much more attractive. She's worth a shot, and is a must use in pick 3s.
1. Red Desire
3. Hot Cha Cha
Blind Luck is a terrific, game filly that fires every time and is the deserving favorite. But will the long campaign takes its toll on her here? I expect her to run a solid race, but I think Life At Ten, or even Malibu Prayer, could pull the upset.
Throw out the Personal Ensign, where she was in a suicidal speed duel with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, and Life At Ten has been flawless for nearly 11 months. She will have a tactical advantage over Blind Luck in that she can stalk the pace and have a lot less to do in the stretch. If she runs back to the Beldame I think she wins. I also wouldn't be surprised if Malibu Prayer ran a big race. She could get away with an unpressured lead, as she did in the Ruffisan, and go a long way under Gomez.
Obviously, Havre de Grace has a good chance off her last two efforts. Acoma is 2-for-2 at Churchill.
1. Life At Ten
2. Malibu Prayer
3. Blind Luck
4. Havre de Grace