The most-talented Classic field ever

In a rare moment of social media accord, it was mostly agreed upon that the Breeders' Cup Classic fields from either 1998 or 2004 were the best not only for the Western Hemisphere's richest race but also in the history of the North American Turf! I'll muddy the waters a little bit and include 2009 in the discussion because of the international flavor of that event and because the most popular horse (Northern Hemisphere) of the 21st century won it.

You can click on any of the years above for Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances for the races in question (these are the same past performances you'd have seen before the race). For information related to this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships, check out the Brisnet.com Ultimate Breeders' Cup Handicapping Package.

There are several ways to distill the quality of a race: Accomplishments of the horses going into it, what they did afterward, and proprietary metrics such as Speed Ratings. I focused on the first and third of these items because races such as the Breeders' Cup Classic are almost always the end of the season for really good horses and sometimes the end of their careers. However, if a horse went on to do something truly spectacular (e.g. Roses In May winning the Dubai World Cup in 2005 or Zenyatta Horse of the Year in 2010) then I considered it.

Grade 1 winners in each race (number in parenthesis is Grade 1 wins on the page [i.e. last 10 starts])

1998: Arch (1), Awesome Again (1), Coronado's Quest (2), Gentlemen (3), Swain (3), Touch Gold (2), Victory Gallop (1), Skip Away (7), and Silver Charm (4). Nine of 10 starters were Grade 1 winners.

2004: Azeri (4), Birdstone (2), Funny Cide (3), Ghostzapper (2), Perfect Drift (1), Personal Rush (1), Pleasantly Perfect (2), & Roses In May (1). Eight of 13 starters were Grade 1 winners.

2009: Colonel John (2), Einstein (2), Gio Ponti (4), Mine That Bird (1), Richards Kid (1), Rip Van Winkle (2), Summer Bird (3), Twice Over (1), & Zenyatta (7). Nine of 12 starters were Grade 1 winners (Quality Road scratched; he'd have made it ten of 13).

I think 1998 wins this tale of the tape since 9/10 is an imposing fraction, and a glance at those names basically defines Thoroughbred racing in the late 90s, but there are some wrinkles to the numbers that could swing the conversation in favor of 2004. Of those nine Grade 1 winners in the 1998 field only Swain was entering the race off a Grade (Group) 1 win. I.e., no American horse entered the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic off a Grade 1 win. That's a metric that allows 2004 to compare favorably, as despite having the fewest number of Grade 1 winners of any of the three races (despite the most starters), six of the 2004 entrants entered off a Grade 1 win. For 2009, four horses came in off a Grade 1 win.

Could Brisnet.com's proprietary data that measures the strength of a horse's performance give us any clues regarding which race was best? The two numbers I'm most interested in for this purpose are PRIME POWER and CLASS RATINGS. Both ratings are exclusive to Brisnet.com's Ultimate Past Performances and "designer" data files such as MultiCAPS and ALL-Ways. I see Prime Power as being able to tell us how competitive the particular race was while Class Ratings give an indication of the type of competition these horses had been facing when amassing their incredible record.

Prime Power unquestionably favors the 1998 Classic as the most competitive race while Class Ratings favors the 2004 Classic field as having the best horses. The 2009 field achieves the bronze in both categories.

The average Prime Power score for the 1998 Classic was 161.18 with only 2.2 points separating top-ranked Skip Away (168.8) with second-ranked Silver Cham (166.6); Victory Gallop was in third with 165.9. The 2004 Classic had Ghostzapper on top with a 165.8, but it was 7.3 points back to Funny Cide second with 158.5. Azeri was third with 156.2. Amazingly, that sextet included four Racing Hall of Fame inductees (SA, SC, GZ, & Az), three Horses of the Year (SA, GZ, & Az), and five classic (Triple Crown race) wins. Anyway, Ghostzapper delivered on his 7.3-point advantage (top-ranked Prime Power horses with a 6-point advantage win 46% of the time) while Awesome Again (ranked fourth with 164.4 Prime Power points) won his edition of the Classic.

Because Prime Power measures horses against each other for only the race in question, it's difficult to say the 1998 Classic was better with five horses above 163.9 versus just one above that threshold in 2004, but 1998 certainly was more competitive.

Class Ratings favor 2004 in that the average Class Rating of the 12 horses who had such ratings (Japense Group 1 winner Personal Rush had no Class Ratings) was 124.25 in their last start and 123.37 in their last three starts. The 1998 field had an average of 123.59 in its last start and 123.05 in its last three starts. When comparing the top ten Class Ratings in the 2004 field to the ten-horse 1998 field the difference is 124.01 to 123.05, and when it comes to Class Ratings, a point is legitimate.

So what conclusion do *I* draw from all this? Well, I'm going to hedge my bets and say that going into the race the 1998 Classic had more star power at the top of the game while after the fact the 2004 looks better because of Ghostzapper's tour de force and that I'd rank him as the best of all 23 starters in the 1998 and 2004 Classics.

Want to read more about great Breeders' Cup history? Check out the Blood Horse's "30 years in 30 days" series. And if takling great horses has you angling to handicap great horses, get a jump start on your 2013 Breeders' Cup handicapping with the Brisnet.com Ultimate Breeders' Cup Handicapping Package!

41 Comments

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doctor roy

I think 2006 compares favorably with any Classic field.

17 Oct 2013 3:21 PM
Rusty Weisner

I had never seen the Azeri Classic until Steve Haskin posted it recently.

Nevertheless, I think this field compares well with 2004 and 2009, with GOD, Flat Out, BC Classic winner Fort Larned and RTG in the top flight along with G1 winners  MMM and Graydar and G1 3-yo's Palace Malice & WTC. We'll see about Paynter, too.  I like this field.

17 Oct 2013 4:28 PM
GunBow

The 2009 field is often criticized as weak, typically by zenyatta detractors. But for what it was, a championship race on synth, it was a good field made up of a mix of top dirt, synth, and turf performers.  Still, I would rank it 3rd among the 3 fields listed.

I too would probably go with 98. Going in, there is no question the 98 field was superior.  Skip away and silver charm already had hof credentials.  However, the fact skip away ran his 2nd subpar race in a row in that classic, that touch gold bombed again, that gentlemen bled, that swain went nuts, and that Stevens on silver charm followed the crazy swain, has clouded the ex ante quality of the field.

The biggest disagreement I have is with your statement that ghost zapper was the best horse of the three fields.  I could maybe agree that ghost zapper was the most talented.  Maybe.  Because while zapper put up buyers of 128, 124, 122, and 120, skip away ran buyers of  125, 122, 121, and 120. Not enough of an advantage for ghost zapper to offset the accomplishment gulf in favor of skip away.  Skippy won 10 grade 1s, zapper 4, skippy won grade 1s in 6 states, zapper in 2, and skippy won graded stakes carrying 131, 130, 128, and 127 lbs while zapper never had to run under more than the 126 lbs of two weight for age races.

And while zapper did run some fast races, skippy had a streak of 15 consecutive races in which he never ran lower than a 109  Breyer, and in 14 of those 15 he ran a 114 or higher.  In perspective, zapper only made 11 starts in his career.

Also keep in mind that the 04 classic was the one and only grade 1 win zapper had around two turns.

I've  always framed the comparison between skippy and zapper the following way.  In a hypothetical ten race series between the two, zapper would win three of the first five but then skippy would win the final five because zapper wouldn't be able to deal with a physical gladiator like skippy that long before getting injured.

Like it or not, soundness is a prerequisite for greatness. And skippy was the iron horse.

18 Oct 2013 4:01 AM
GunBow

And before the Ghostzapper supporters respond by pointing to his versatility at difference distances, I will concede that he was superior to Skip Away as a sprinter-miler.  

However, when most people discuss the greatest horses of all-time, usually the focus is on classic distances; typically, the horse has to be bonafide at classic distances, and if it is, its ability at other distances can be brought in so as to expound upon the narrative.

My biggest issue with Ghostzapper, aside from durability, is that he was far more proven at sprints and miles than at classic diatnces; again, the 04' BC Classic is the only race Ghostzapper ever ran in beyond 9 furlongs.  And he only ran 3 races beyond a mile.  The first was as part of a 4 horse field in the grade 3 Iselin in which the runner-up was Presidentialaffair(but, oh my, he earned a 128 Beyer that day so we have to count it as a great race?).  The 2nd was when he outdueled a legitimately top horse in Saint Liam(although still a year away from being at his best) in the grade 1 Woodward, but that was at a one-turn 9 furlongs.  

And I won't dispute that Zapper ran an outstanding race in the 04' Classsic.  But how can I ignore the fact that Frankel and Ramsey had decided before to turn it into a boat race(that their horses would go 1-2 around track with the horse that broke 2nd conceding the lead), that Zapper was able to get the first half in a moderate 47, and the first 6 furlongs in a comfortable 1:11 and 1?  To place that 6 furlong fraction in perspective, the 3 other two-turn maintrack races on that Breeder's Cup day, the Distaff, BC Juvenile Fillies, and BC Juvenile, produced respective 6 furlong fractions of 1:10 and 2, 1:10 and 3, and 1:11 and 1.  

And it's not like there is another two-turn grade 1 win on Zapper's resume to point to as evidence that he didn't need such a nice pace setup to win grade 1s at classic distances.  I can't say that he wouldn't have been able to win a classic-distanced grade 1 if he was forced to go 1:09 and change early or forced to come off the pace, but neither can anyone definitely claim that he could have; there is just not enough evidence.

For me, as brilliant as Ghostzapper was, he reflected a lot of what I don't particularly care for in the 21st century thoroughbred.  He was a fragile horse managed with kid gloves who was only once tested at a classic distance.  And we want to hold him up as the best horse of the last 17 years?  Not when that time period featured a horse like Skip Away.

18 Oct 2013 4:48 AM
GunBow

Sorry, in my first post I intended to write Beyers, not buyers or Breyers.  I couldn't get auto spell check off on the machine I was working at.

I could see how it would be easy to dismiss the points being made about Beyers if the author didn't know enough about it to even spell it correctly.  But that's not this case.

18 Oct 2013 4:54 AM
EJXD2

GunBow: No question that Skip Away is the more accomplished animal, but in a 1 1/4-mile race featuring the top 14 horses since 1981 (a year I picked because it is the year after Spectacular Bid retired), I think Ghostzapper wins.

But yeah, Ghostzapper only won four Grade 1s and on career accomplishment he is way off the likes of Skip Away, Zenyatta, Sunday Silence, etc.

18 Oct 2013 8:54 AM
Rusty Weisner

GunBow,

I'm glad to see you back.  Just in time, too.

18 Oct 2013 9:57 AM
Rusty Weisner

I liked Private Zone as a single before this workout, but that kind of clinches it.  I think GOD and Wise Dan are legitimate favorites.  Havana may be a vulnerable favorite in the Juvenile, but I'm remembering how Hansen won.

18 Oct 2013 10:18 AM
-Keelerman

Welcome back, GunBow! Your posts have been missed!

18 Oct 2013 5:40 PM
Pedigree Ann

Don't forget about 'grade inflation', not just for high schools anymore. More and more short races are climbing the ladder to G1 status, when most started as preps for later, longer races. 'G1 winners' is not a criterion for class at 10f if the G1 wins were at a flat mile or 6f.

18 Oct 2013 9:06 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

I'm with you on Private Zone in the Sprint. And, I'm starting to lean towards Mucho Macho Man in the Classic. Don't think I'll be playing that as a single but he'll see my outright bets most likely...Game on Dude might be more vulnerable than some think coming off such a long layoff and with extra speed (he certainly was vulnerable last year). MMM seems to be peaking...

The Turf is the race that appears to be an utter debacle for handicapping purposes. Anxious for pre-entries to see which Euros are coming...it's pretty wide open even without them.

Very sorry to hear about Dullahan this morning. He was one of my favorites.

20 Oct 2013 7:55 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I am against MMM because he hasn't won at the distance.  But I will look closer.  I'll also treat GOD with some skepticism, though I think last year's suprise makes him more dangerous this year.

That said, I'm betting everyone anyway on one ticket or another.  Well, not literally, but I will play for/against on most races on the card in the running P3s.  So, if I think Wise Dan, Private Zone and GOD are legitimate singles I'll bet them all but hope that only one of them -- any one -- wins and hope for luck against the others.  I've devised an approach that neutralizes the two weaknesses in my game:  handicapping and betting.  Ha ha.  But seriously, I'm going at it with a combine harvester approach and a lot of money, with multiple tickets on each 50-cent P3 sequence.  If need be, a "single" will be from one to three horses instead of my usual rule of one horse.  I will probably try two or three P4 tickets in the late sequence unless I'm already broke.  This will be like taking candy from a baby, right?

I really did poorly with the turf races last year (with all of the races, actually).  I gave the Europeans more of a chance on the surface than they warranted -- it seems rare that they really find one that likes the firm surface and turns; Dangerous Midge was an example of one a couple years back where the trainer and the British racing press really convincingly made a case that the turf was right for his horse.

I really messed up the Sprint, too -- I took all four horses out of the SA Stakes.  I don't remember what I was thinking.  After that I was broke, which was too bad, because I liked Fort Larned.  

21 Oct 2013 3:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I really feel like the BC is just a different game for a multi-race player.  I'll forget last year, where I stunk (though at least I stuck to a $350 budget).  But I picked enough winners in 2011 and 2012 that I should have walked away with four figure profits, but ended up with about $100 total.  What happened?  Horses like Dakota Phone and Court Vision (I totally avoid vertical exotics) broke up my sequences.  I'll have to use ALL where I feel the race is a tossup more than I usually would.  This entails tolerating the risk that I actually lose money on chalky winning tickets -- from my analysis investing up to $300 on multiple tickets in a single 50-cent P3 sequence will nearly always net you some profit, even on chalky winning tickets.

I'm curious to hear what kind of betting strategies others have for BC day 2.

22 Oct 2013 11:23 AM
Rusty Weisner

Beyond the big three in the (turf) Mile of Wise Dan, Obviously and Silver Max what do people know about the Euros?  Excelebration was a better horse than any of these and he was well beaten.  

22 Oct 2013 3:24 PM
Rusty Weisner

I like The Fugue right now for the Turf.  I'll bet his jockey's learned a lesson.

22 Oct 2013 3:44 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

Lots to respond to here! But I am also very much looking forward to this day of racing, as I will focus my bets on Saturday as well.

MMM has never won at 10f, however he was 2nd in this race last year and 3rd in the Derby two years back so it's not as if he's never been successful at this distance. And, in my opinion he was not in the form he is in right now for either of those races. I love that he prepped over this course at a shorter distance, he's been working lights out and I just feel that he is sitting on a huge one at the mature age of 5.

The betting strategy debate is an interesting one. I too have been burned over the years on exactas and trifectas, I can recall three or four years back literally missing four exactas at the same Breeders' Cup by a single horse, and two of those in photos. However, I did hit the Superfecta in the Classic the year that Blame beat Zenyatta so I do like to dabble in these to some extent, though not on the level that I would during the rest of the year as it seems to just be a money vacuum unless you are willing to really spread yourself deep.

One of the most successful Breeders' Cup days that I ever had was two years back. I was traveling and unable to watch live but still wanted to have some money on the races, but not so much that I felt bad about not getting to watch them live. I simply threw place bets on the horses that I thought were the best value choices among my possible winners. These included Caleb's Posse, St. Nicholas Abbey, Turallure and Amazombie. Not a huge score by any means but I more than tripled my initial investment. Sometimes keeping it simple within the races themselves is the best play for a day that can produce some wild winners, as well as some very logical ones in the 5-1 to 10-1 range.

I'll likely stick to only one multi-race Wager, and that will be the Pick 4 encompassing the Turf, Sprint, Mile, and Classic. I usually avoid the Turf Sprint because I am simply am terrible at handicapping such things and that pretty much kills my sequencing in the middle. I might take a shot with the early Pick 3 as well I suppose, we'll see.

In the Mile, the horse to be afraid of in my opinion (if he comes) is Toronado. Very accomplished overseas at this distance and may be overlooked coming off a 6th place finish in the Group 1 Juddmonte in his last, but that is a 1 5/16 mile race. If he doesn't come then Wise Dan is a single. Obviously is off form and Silver Max isn't beating him twice in a row (or once on turf, for that matter).

The Turf to me is the most intriguing race on the entire card. This would be a good one to use ALL on if you ask me. I'll be trying to narrow it down to 4 or 5, however. I'm not sure that The Fugue will be among them considering she was 3rd against the girls last year, but I can't argue with her class. A horse that could be a big price here that really interests me is Grandeur.

Looking forward to seeing these pre-entries tomorrow!

22 Oct 2013 5:00 PM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner,

If Declaration Of War takes to the dirt the local have not chance.

I am sure his trainer will have Lasix administered and that will be a bonus.

The locals with a chance of winning will use their speed and try to hold on.

From what I have seen of the SA surface since the start of the new meet, closers are doing very well.

Declaration of War is share power and the flat America surface on which he will compete, does not compare to the obstacle courses he has raced on in Europe.

The 6YO GOD will not know what hit him. Kettle Corn and Clubhouse Ride will be in their stalls when the BCC is being contested.

Those are the two he has been feasting on all year.

23 Oct 2013 11:32 AM
Coldfacts

Monarchos Matt,

“Wise Dan is a single. Obviously is off form and Silver Max isn't beating him twice in a row (or once on turf, for that matter)”

I is my intention to single Silver Max if certain Euros do not show up. However, you have specified that he will not defeat Wise Dan twice. I would appreciate the reasons for your declaration.

Wise Dan won his 1st G1 race as a 4YO in the Clarke Handicap. It was his 8th victory from 14 starts.

Silver Max won his 1st G1 race as 4YO in the Shadwell Mile. It was his 11th victory from 22 starts and he was runner up 5 times.

When Silver Max met Wise Dan in the Shadwell Mile it was his 22nd start. Wise Dan was making his 26th. This means between ages 2 and 3 Silver Max contested 15 races just one short of Wise Dan’s total of 14 as 4YO.

It is clear Silver Max was over raced as 3YO with 10 starts covering 80F. He was rested for 5 month and brought back as a bigger and stronger 4YO. The horse that defeated Wise Dan is not one that is ordinary. He has won 11 races and he is just a 4YO.  

Wise Dan is an aging 6YO who will be making his 27th start in the BCM (Turf). A bigger, stronger  and talented 4YO will defeat an aging 6YO every time. He just got away from the 4YO Animal Kingdom who had one race for the year entering the 2012 BCM.

Do you seriously believe it is wise to single Wise Dan?

23 Oct 2013 12:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

Thanks.  I am always looking to beat a favorite so I will give Declaration of War a long look.

As far as the surface goes, they can be souped up race day so what's happened at the meet so far may be meaningless.  I'll stick to watching Friday.

23 Oct 2013 12:47 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Don't be deceived by the Turf sprint.  At a track other than SA it's been chalky in recent years, enough for me to make a single of a winning favorite two years back, Regally Ready.

At SA, however, it's a totally different race on the downhill at a long distance of 6.5f.  It's not really a turf sprint.  Routers have chance, and locals.  Check out the top three last year.  A longish-odds horse I'd take, for example, would be Caracortado.  Maybe I'll be wrong, but I'm going to cross off the 5f and 5.5f sprinters from back East.

I really like The Fugue.  I had an epiphany watching the replay of her bottled up last year and then watching her last victory in Ireland:  there's no riding the rail over there.  Her jockey got taught a lesson at SA last year that I expect him to remember.  This horse fits a profile I mentioned:  the owner and trainer have a credible case for wanting the firm ground at SA.  If you read coverage of the Irish Champion Stakes they were worried about rain and soft ground.  They've also skipped the Arc to focus on this.

23 Oct 2013 1:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

You forgot to mention Dank.

23 Oct 2013 1:09 PM
Rusty Weisner

I am impressed with Sweet Reason but am inclined to treat her as a vulnerable favorite exporting her style to SA.  

23 Oct 2013 1:32 PM
Monarchos Matt

Coldfacts,

I don't disagree with you that Silver Max is a talented horse who may be stronger now after having been overused as a 3 Yo. However, up until the Shadwell, which I am sure you agree was contested under unusual circumstances, he had won impressively but with noticeably lower Beyer figures than Wise Dan:

Winning turf races:

Wise Dan- Maker's Mile (100), Woodford Turf (104), Firecracker (101), Fourstardave (106), Woodbine Mile (108)

Silver Max- Oceanport (102), Bernard Baruch (97)

Of course Beyers are not the defining handicapping tool, but they can be useful in determining separations in form cycles and in overall body of work. They can also help to uncover throw-out races. For as much as has been made regarding Wise Dan having won over poly before, the horse has focused strictly on turf races for the last year and a half.

Two additional considerations:

1) Who is likely to be tired from a career best effort on a relatively unfamiliar surface- Dan or Max?

2) Who is more likely to be compromised by the presence of Obviously in the Mile- Dan or Max?

I will pose the same question to you- do you really believe it is wise to leave Wise Dan completely off your multi-race tickets?

To answer you- no, I will not single Wise Dan, as it appears Olympic Glory will make the jump across the pond. He must be feared...

I do however like Declaration of War as a value play in the Classic. It is a big IF as to how he handles dirt, but 15-1 might be worth finding out...

23 Oct 2013 1:48 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

I need to watch some tape of The Fugue. Are you of the opinion that she is better at 12f than 10f? That's a key point if so...

Otherwise I feel like I'm having to re-handicap the Arlington Million at a longer distance, while throwing in two proven 12f horses in Big Blue Kitten and of course Point of Entry, who is a total question mark after the layoff; I lean towards avoiding him.

Of course I will also avoid Little Mike and will not be persuaded otherwise.

I should point out that in the Arlington Million, my two top selections were Indy Point and Real Solution, but that if the race had been contested at 12f, my choice would undoubtably have been Grandeur.

As for Dank, she'll probably be my most certain win pick all day, but isn't likely to offer much value.

23 Oct 2013 2:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

Not biting.  I think Declaration of War is one of those usual suspects we see every year.  I won't make him a toss-out, but I don't like a horse that has never won on dirt.  And is this the distance for him, anyway?

23 Oct 2013 2:48 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I like it when I'm faced with Which One Doesn't Belong scenario. Three of the strongest contenders -- BBK, Little Mike and Real Solution come out of the same race.  I feel like if I take one I have to take them all.  I'll opt for the single alternative I like better. I don't see where distance is an issue for The Fugue.  In fact, it just gives her more ground to make up for any mistakes.

I'm against Point of Entry, too.

Regarding Dank, I wouldn't worry about value on BC day; better to nail one down.  A P3 with Uncle Mo and Goldikova paid $60-1, if I recall correctly, and the chalky Uncle Mo P4 was $1100-1, so there's a good chance of recouping bets even if it's all chalk in one sequence.  Plus, crude as it is, on BC day I choose singles in most races and play for/against:  if my favorite loses I have a good enough chance of getting a longshot on an alternate ticket. I likely come out ahead if I get just two singles on the day, while if I were to get three or more...

I will also likely try two or three longshots as win, exacta, DD or P3 singles, but I don't have any in mind yet.  That's why I'm here!

23 Oct 2013 3:10 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Grandeur likes SA but is considered a cut below The Fugue.  She should be the favorite, but I'm still hoping that the crowd likes the rest of this strong bunch to make her an overlay.

23 Oct 2013 3:19 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Watch, it'll be a Skyring/Teaks North exacata, a la Court Vision/Turallure.

23 Oct 2013 3:27 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

That's a good point about having to use all three of BBK, Little Mike and Real Solution if you use one. Still makes me a bit uneasy to play against any of them, especially Real Solution, who I think had a wide trip and was probably best despite flattening out late. Then again maybe he is more of a 10f horse, although it didn't look that way in the Million the way he was coming on late.

Are you saying that you plan to single The Fugue on one ticket and then go deeper in others that are live to other singles? Makes sense to me. I just am not sure I can support her as my top pick if she goes off as the favorite. Grandeur is definitely a horse that needs the extra ground. He had a terribly wide trip in the Million and still made up 6 lengths over the last furlong to finish only 4.5 lengths off the winner. Then he came back to win his next race overseas. As you mentioned, he's won at Santa Anita. Lots of shipping around this year I guess, but at likely 5 times the odds of the favorite, I like what I see.

I would LOVE to use Dank as a single to anchor that early pick 3...but I have a lot of work to do on the races on the other side of that. The Juvenile Fillies is as wide open a race as I see on the entire card, and anything could happen in the FM Sprint. I'm leaning towards Dance to Bristol as my top pick. She seems to have had an excuse in her last and is the most tested and successful at 7f on dirt.

Skyring should have something to say about the pace in the Turf if anything...And, I actually liked Turallure that year as my top pick in the Mile. Not Court Vision, though.

23 Oct 2013 3:58 PM
Rusty Weisner

I think the F&M Sprint is wide open with a vulnerable returning champion.  Besides the obvious favorites, 3-yo Sweet Lulu, on the turnback, intrigues me because she seems to have a chance of being unchallenged speed.  Judy the Beauty seemed to run right by Groupie Doll.  

23 Oct 2013 4:22 PM
Monarchos Matt

The turnback angle is a good one but I just fear that Sweet Lulu is a cut below her older peers here. But I agree, Groupie Doll appears extremely vulnerable as the favorite...not sure I want to play against her altogether though. I think the synthetic versus dirt angle is important here and Dance to Bristol is the only one that fits that bill and has run consistent 95+ figures. Her 106 tops the field in fact, although that was back in April.

23 Oct 2013 4:35 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Pace is a thing I have a hard time predicting.  Skrying and Teaks North both make me a little queasy in that regard, but I think I'd be nuts to bet them.

I like Dance to Bristol best, too, though she'll be a co-favorite.

I use the P3s as hedges and crazy longshot catchers and take more of a stand on the P4s.  Dank will be a single in the early P4 (R4-7) and I don't think I'll play any other tickets in that sequence; all the other races look pretty wide open.  I'll play multiple tickets in the late P4, with The Fugue and one or possibly more of Private Zone, Wise Dan and Game On Dude.  My preferences among these are The Fugue and Private Zone, so I hope to win some money on them in P3s before the last two races. I think Wise Dan and Game On Dude are legitimate favorites and should be the poorest odds of the day, so don't relish the thought of either betting for or against them.

23 Oct 2013 4:42 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Mizdirection might be a legitimate favorite in the Turf Sprint but, like you, this is not a race I'm real confident about and will hope for a longshot; in any case, I'll wait on PPs.

23 Oct 2013 4:54 PM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner,

The transition from turf to dirt is always a concern. You will note I specified that if he takes to the dirt he will be tough. I happen to think he will.

It is reported that he likes firm fast ground. The surface at SA will be fast.

4YOs have dominated the BCC with 13 victories. He is a 4YO.

His sire raced on dirt. His dam sire hails from the Blushing Groom line. What is significant about the Blushing Groom line? Three horses from that broodmare sire line have done well in the BCC:

Giant’s Causeway: Storm Cat by Miraih’ Storm by Rahy by Blushing Groom (2nd BCC)

Awesome Again: Deputy Minister by Primal Force by Blushing Groom (1st BCC)

Macho Uno: Holy Bull by Primal Force by Blushing Groom (4th & 5th BCC)

Declaration of War: War Front by Tempo West by Rahy by Blushing Groom??

It will be a big gamble but it's one I am willing to take.

23 Oct 2013 6:03 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I want to be against Havana because beyond him it seems wide open, but after Hansen and Shanghai Bobby (particularly the former) I won't understimate a very fast horse that can run straight over supposedly more "classic" competitors in this race.

24 Oct 2013 12:02 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

I respect taking a big gamble and hope I can find one worth taking.  Maybe you can suggest one for me in either of Saturday's Juvenile races?

Any idea what O'Brien's record is in the BC?

24 Oct 2013 12:05 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I'm not sure how much I like Little Mike but I think this race could set up well for him -- it could be like last year, where he follows two outclassed horses with early speed.

24 Oct 2013 12:13 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

This turf sprint could be chalky. I've succumbed many times to the costly fallacy that a race I don't know how to handicap is necessarily "wide open".  Mizdirection is a deserving favorite and comes back off the same lengthy layoff as last year after a no-chance effort at Belmont on yielding turf.  The two and three finishers from last year also come back.  Newcomer Chips All In is a specialist for the course and a contender.  The presence of Jeranimo demonstrates this is not a classic "sprint".  There are some I'd consider throwouts (Havelock, Tightend Touchdown, Tour Guide, Spring to the Sky). In any case, I don't want to make it an ALL, and can't anyway, with a field of 14.

24 Oct 2013 12:24 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

That's a good point you make about the running style of the recent Juvenile winners...keeping in mind of course how ridiculously speed biased last year's races were.

Speaking of Hansen, the horse I think I'm picking to win this is another Tapit colt, Tap It Rich. He's only raced once but broke his maiden over this course going 8f around two turns and posted an 89 Beyer, which is second in the field to Havana's 93. He's also got Baffert in his corner and should have a lot of upside in a pretty weak edition of this race. I won't be playing multi-race wagers that include this one I don't think since I want to avoid the Turf Sprint altogether, but will probably play outright money on him and try to keep Havana off the top line of the exacta. Bond Holder is a bit interesting as well but I'm a bit concerned he'll be the wise guy horse off his SA win and is not fast enough to get to Havana.

Interestingly, the filly I like to upset the Juvenile is also by Tapit, and that is Untapable. She is also lightly raced but improved greatly when moving from 5.5f to 8.5f, and looks to have a lot of upside. Secret Compass has also won over two turns and did it on this track, albeit a bit more slowly, and I could see a horse for the course angle with her, but I don't feel like she is improving as rapidly.

Re: Little Mike- at this point I have to abandon all handicapping logic and try to beat him again for old time's sake. If he wins and ruins my only Pick 4 play of the day, I've still got the late Pick 3 right? Leaning towards Grandeur still as an upset pick there for outright bets and using The Fugue, BBK and Indy Point as well to start the Pick 4. Still early, of course.

24 Oct 2013 2:28 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I like your thinking on the Juvenile.  You're encouraging me to follow my brain and go against Havana.

By the way, that Teaks North continues to make me queasy.  This is a long longshot but he's won at G1, he was competitive with BBK at the distance, his last was probably better than it looked and sometimes these horses, particularly Euros, are late getting their act together reeling in a loose leader.  All I'm saying is that I might move this 30 or 40-1 longshots from the ALL ticket only category into the "possible" bin.  

I'm at the newer BC thread now.

25 Oct 2013 11:41 AM
Coldfacts

Monarchos Matt,

“He's also got Baffert in his corner and should have a lot of upside in a pretty weak edition of this race.”I

Below are some derails for the BCJ probables:-

Strong Mandate - 1st G1, Hopeful

Havana – 1st G1, Champagne

Ride On Curlin – 3rd G1, Champagne

Bond Holder – 1st G1, FrontRunner

Cleburne - 1st G3, Iroquois

We Miss Artie 1st G1, Breeder’s Futurity

New Year Day’s  - last Out winner

Tap It Rich – Last Out winner

Mexikoma – Last Out winner

Smarty’s Echo – 2nd G1, Breeder’s Futurity

Diamond Bachlor – 2nd , Zuma Beach Stakes

Dance With Fete – 2nd, G1, Del Mar Futurity

Rum Point -  4rh G1 , Breeder’s Futurity

There are four G1 winners in the field. In addition to a G3 winner, there are several other horses that have been in the top four in graded races. This is probably one of the best Juvenile fields on paper.

BTW: No Breeders Cup Juvenile winner has been a second out MSW winner. Tap It Rich will be starting against 4 G1 winners and multiple grades placed horses.

Tap It Rich has a very high mountain to climb.

An interesting longshot is Rum Point. He has been struggling on the synthetic. He will make his dirt debut in the BCJ.

He is well bred being by Derby winning sire Malibu Moon out of a mare sired by Quiet American of Bernardini and Saint Liam broodmare sire fame.

26 Oct 2013 9:48 AM

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