By Patrick Patten, Handride
Look, I'm on the fence too.
I think Curlin is a horse for the decade: An absolute monster who has proven his mettle
on more than one continent. He is a
horse whose races will be watched years from now, both wins and losses.
HOWEVER, I don't believe he's a lock in the Breeders' Cup Classic, so instead of trying to
come up with an excuse I'll just pretend he's not in the race and let reality
provide the need or non-need of an excuse.
He's not a speedster so he wouldn't affect the pace of the race
What is the pace of this race? I'm guessing Smooth Air and Fairbanks play a
game of "You take it. No you take
it. By all means you take it." Colonel John, Raven's Pass, and maybe Go
Between should occupy the second flight.
I'm imagining a pretty bunched up group with not a lot of pace. Now, all the jockeys are probably thinking
the same thing, so look for a surprise horse to try and steal away early or
entering the final turn.
We all know that the track has made it a little easier on
the early speed types, but with none in here I'm looking for a horse who might
make the middle move and keep that pace going.
(Remember we're pretending Curlin, who fits that bill perfectly, isn't
in the race). Raven's Pass interests me
when I read his trip comments. He's
rated, led throughout, sustained his run over 1f, and gets the hands of Dettori
- sounds pretty enticing. In fact, both
Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator have some good things going for them,
but I'm not betting an all Euro trifecta (famous last words?). Duke might have peaked a while back and the
Arc was a sign for a horse going downhill, and Henry might have the same case
of being tired. So, I'm left with the
Americans who have nice middle moves.
I've seen Smooth Air do it, and while that's a bomb of a pick, I feel
good that he'll outrun his odds. Go
Between is on the rail, which has been a death sentence recently at Oak Tree,
but Gomez is the best jockey in the country and I'm sure he could get a donkey
home in any race.
If there was no Curlin:
Top Pick: Raven's Pass
Minor Awards: Smooth Air, Go Between,