|The Great Race Place|
Some random thoughts regarding Day 1 of the Breeders' Cup:
- No matter how good the television coverage may be, nothing beats being at the races;
- Speed held. You didn't HAVE to be on the lead, but you needed to be close to have a chance. "Break and gun" was the strategy of the day - you were NOT coming from far off the pace today;
- Gorgeous southern California beats Minnesota winter...at least for a few days. The traffic out here would drive me insane outside of a week;
- Beholder is the real deal - she was magnificent;
- Every horse looks like a million bucks.
- Santa Anita is indeed one of the prettiest places in America to watch a race.
- The crowd was decent but certainly manageable. I never had to wait more than one or two people deep in a line to make a wager. We'll see what today brings, but day 1 was right on the money.
- I was close but no cigar WAY to often. Regrouped after the races and back at it Saturday.
And on to Saturday's picks:
It really looks like on paper that Artemis Agrotera is just better than the rest. I would tend to agree but in looking for some value, I really like Untapable. She has nondescript works which makes me a bit nervous, but she has stalking speed, back to back wins, was unsettled early in her last and still managed to win the Grade 2 Pocahontas at this distance. A win at this distance is big for a baby, in my opinion.
If Rosie can have her settled early she could be in line for a big final run at the favorite coming for home.
Sentimental choice is Canterbury maiden breaker Designer Legs...though I won't use her on my ticket.
FILLY & MARE TURF
Dank is the choice for most in here and it's certainly easy to see why. She came over from a solid campaign in Europe and dusted the Beverly D field at Arlington impressively.
Marketing Mix has been one of my favorite mares but I think she's outclassed in here, which makes me a bit sad.
I'm going with what I perceive to be as the only real speed in the race, Laughing. Lezcano has ridden her enough to know how to ration that speed and this race could set up very nicely for her, especially breaking from the center.
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
How do you not love Groupie Doll? She has been magnificent and has had a wonderful career but her 2013 has not been near as dominant as her 2012 campaign and she's certainly beatable here.
One also has to love the way Dance to Bristol is in every race. You leave this filly out of your exotics at your own peril - 13 of 14 races in the exacta. Remarkable consistency.
My choice in this one is, however, Sweet Lulu. Sweet Lulu, a 3-year old, has started her career by beating up on older. When she stepped way up into graded stakes company she stuck with her own age and took the Grade 1 Test at the Spa. Next out, going two turns, she hung tough with Distaff contender Close Hatches before the mile and a sixteenth became just too tough. Dropping back into a sprint she should be tough and with a morning line of 8-1, should have some value as well.
Caracorado, a former claimer, is a great story and Jim Rome's Mizdirection has been a remarkable lady who beat the boys here last year, but I'm looking at Chips All In in the turf sprint. The colt won over the downhill turf course in the Grade 3 Eddie D and should be able to have the location behind the leaders to get first run. Between Mizdirection, Rennesgotzip and Tightend Touchdown, there should be plenty of early speed to run at.
There are plenty of nice babies in here but I'm looking at Mike Smith to extend on his Breeders' Cup record riding victories with Tap It Rich. The ridgeling had a terrible start and was wide throughout in his debut and was still able to win by a comfortable 4 1/4 lengths earning a stellar 89 Beyer Speed Figure. He may not have the experience of the others in big races, and that may show, but if he's calm and relaxed, he could light this field up.
I love Point of Entry. I love everything that Shug has been able to do with him, This horse was on the bench from last year's BC Turf until February when he came back and beat Animal Kingdom in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Then he waited until June to run in the Grade 1 Manhattan, where he handled Optimizer. Now he's pointed to the BC Turf. This is his year to go 3 for 3 and take home a cool million for the effort.
Sprints are always hard to figure for me with horses of this caliber. It's hard to come off the pace and the good ones can hold their speed for a long way. I'm not thinking that any of the early speedsters (Private Zone, Sum of the Parts, Trinniberg) are going to just run away with this one so maybe a solid pace stalker could jump up and get it. That's why I'm going with Justin Phillip. He had some trouble in his last and still just missed catching Private Zone in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and I'm hopeful that Private Zone will have a bit more pressure early to weaken him up for the other Zayat runner. He best be close, though...
MILE & CLASSIC
Now I get chalky. I really think that the two best horses in training right now are Wise Dan and Game on Dude. In the Mile, while Wise Dan was upset last out by Silver Max, I think that Obviously and Bright Thought will put enough pressure on him early to soften him up for ol' Dano.
Game on Dude is just better this year. Now you can certainly pile on and say that he spent virtually all year in California, but when he did go east in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, he held off Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek to notch another win. Last year's beaten favoritism probably still stings for Baffert and Smith and they'll be sure he is razor sharp for this. He could be softened up early by some of the other speed in here, but I think he's just THAT much better this year.
Good luck, enjoy the day and follow me on Twitter (@tlgrevelis) for some updates live from the 30th anniversary Breeders' Cup from Santa Anita.