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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Breeders' Cup Analysis and Selections

By Andrew Champagne

With the Breeders’ Cup just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at the races that’ll comprise the two-day event taking place this Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita. As a reminder, we’ll also be publishing a Breeders’ Cup Pink Sheet that’ll be released on Friday, we’ll have a pair of Pink Sheet Insider videos going up later this week, and we’ll also be holding a Breeders’ Cup live chat on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern at

Got a comment about my analysis and selections? Tweet me at @AndrewChampagne, and we’ll throw the best ones into Thursday night’s live chat. Off we go!


Juvenile Sprint (4:06 p.m.; six furlongs on the main track)

Beholder going longer is unfortunate, as she probably would’ve had this field over a barrel. With her gone, the race looks pretty chalky. #3 Merit Man (8/5) is a perfect two-for-two, including a runaway win in a minor stakes at this route last out. He looks very hard to go against here, but if you’re looking for a price underneath, you may find one in #6 Hazardous (8-1). He’s making a big leap in class, but couldn’t have been much more visually-impressive than he was in his first start over dirt last out.

1. Merit Man 2. Hazardous 3. #4 South Floyd (6-1) 4. #7 Sweet Shirley Mae (4-1)

Marathon (4:46 p.m.; 1 ¾-miles on the main track)

This may be one of the most wide-open races on the entire card, mainly because nobody’s ever quite sure who’ll FINISH the 14-furlong race, let alone win it. I’ll be using #12 Worth Repeating (5-1) on top. If you go back to last year, his run in the Grade 3 Tokyo City going a mile and a half over the Santa Anita strip was sharp, and he comes in off a really nice win last out to boot. Value underneath could lie with #11 Commander (15-1), who’s making a huge class jump but has been really impressive in winning his last six. Commander at least won a Grade 3 going 1-3/8 miles last out, which is more than many of these have done. I may also throw #1 Atigun (9/2) and #6 Calidoscopio (8-1) into exactas, as both have run big races going long in the past.

1. Worth Repeating 2. Commander 3. Calidoscopio 4. Atigun

Juvenile Fillies Turf (5:28 p.m., 1 mile on turf)

If #13 Flashy Ways (10-1) had a better post, she’d be one of my best bets of the Breeders’ Cup. Her first two starts, both wins, have been really impressive, and the last one came at this route against stakes opposition. The outside post may mean trouble, but she should still rate, and as a result still poses a big threat here. I’ll use her with #5 Spring Venture (5-1) and #6 Watsdachances (4-1), and I’ll also throw in longshot #2 Summer of Fun (30-1). If you toss the Grade 2 Natalma over a yielding turf course she probably didn’t care for, she certainly fits here, and the addition of top turf rider Ramon Dominguez can only be a good thing.

1. Flashy Ways 2. Spring Venture 3. Watsdachances 4. Summer of Fun

Juvenile Fillies (6:08 p.m., 1-1/16 miles on the main track)

A ton of chalk here, as I think #2 Executiveprivilege (2-1) is going to be very tough to beat. She’s a perfect five-for-five lifetime, and couldn’t have won a Grade 1 at this route much easier in her last outing. I’ll probably pass the race for lack of value, but if I was to play exactas, I’d use #5 Dreaming of Julia (5/2) and #1 Beholder (5/2), in that order, in my bottom rungs. #8 Kauai Katie (3-1) is a good horse, but is going way too long and will be extremely overbet, so I’ll put #4 Renee’s Queen (30-1) into my fourth spot. She’s stepping up in class and trying conventional dirt for the first time, but has several really sharp works over the Santa Anita strip.

1. Executiveprivilege 2. Dreaming of Julia 3. Beholder 4. Renee’s Queen

Filly & Mare Turf (6:48 p.m.; 1-1/4 miles on the turf)

I’ll be pretty excited to bet this one, as I really like #6 Lady of Shamrock (12-1). 12-1 is a gift for a horse that hasn’t run a bad race in over a year, a stretch that includes two Grade 1 wins and a perfect three-for-three record at Santa Anita. One of those Grade 1’s came at this distance in July, where she closed into a very slow pace, was bumped in the stretch, and still won. I’ll be using her in exactas with European invader #4 The Fugue (7/2) and #9 Marketing Mix (9/2). The Fugue loves the 10-furlong distance, just missed in a Group 1 race going longer, and should love the cutback in distance. Meanwhile, Marketing Mix is a head away from having won her last four. However, while her last win in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive was visually-impressive, she closed into a suicidal pace duel, and I don’t think she’ll get those kind of fractions here. Also, it’s not often you get double-digits on an Aiden O’Brien horse, but you may with #7 Up (12-1). She’s gotten better since faltering in the Beverly D., but before that won a Group 2 at 10 furlongs and may have a shot here.

1. Lady of Shamrock 2. The Fugue 3. Marketing Mix 4. Up

Ladies’ Classic (7:30 p.m.; 1-1/8 miles on the main track)

The most stacked Ladies’ Classic in years, arguably ever, is one I’ll likely be passing from a betting standpoint. There’s a lot of unknowns here. Will #1 Awesome Feather (3-1) be ready after having just one race since January? How will #2 My Miss Aurelia (4-1) and #4 Questing (4-1) do facing older horses for the first time? Will #8 Love and Pride (8-1) be worn out in what figures to be a multi-way speed duel early? Ultimately, in this situation, I’ll go with the more defined quantity, and that’s #6 Royal Delta (9/5). At her best, she beats all of these, and may throw herself into consideration for Horse of the Year honors in the process.

1. Royal Delta 2. My Miss Aurelia 3. Questing 4. Love and Pride


Juvenile Turf (2:50 p.m.; 1 mile on turf)

Usually, the European contingent is pretty tough, and this year’s no different. However, I’ll go for a little bit of a price in the form of #4 Gervinho (15-1). He’s two-for-two, including a stakes win at this route earlier this month. If he gets a pace to run at, he could be dangerous. Some would say the top Euro in this race is #6 Dundonnell (4-1), and while he may have a chance, I think two other Euro’s in the race are just as talented at better prices. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever bet against jockey Frankie Dettori at the Breeders’ Cup, and he’s got a good one here in #2 Artigiano (8-1). Also, #3 George Vancouver (8-1) has run well in a pair of Group 1 races, and a similar effort puts him right there here.

1. Gervinho 2. Artigiano 3. George Vancouver 4. Dundonnell

Filly & Mare Sprint (3:35 p.m., seven furlongs on the main track)

#9 Groupie Doll (1-1)
is the most overwhelming favorite of the entire weekend. That said, as good as she’s been, she’s never run at Santa Anita, and I just can’t bet her at even-money. As alternatives go, I may as well shoot for the moon and land on #1 Teddy’s Promise (20-1). Last year, she won a Grade 1 at this route, and she’s always preferred conventional dirt to synthetic and grass surfaces, which she’s been running on most of this year. #3 Dust and Diamonds (9/2) has won three in a row, albeit on the East Coast, and I’ll also throw in #5 Rumor (20-1). Richard Mandella knows how to win these races, and she has four top-two finishes in five starts at Santa Anita.

1. Teddy’s Promise 2. Groupie Doll 3. Dust and Diamonds 4. Rumor

Dirt Mile (4:14 p.m.; 1 mile on the main track)

#7 Emcee (5/2) has run one bad race in his career, and his two races at Saratoga were both top-notch. He shouldn’t have a problem stretching to a mile, and at his best, he’s certainly capable of an impressive win. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m valuing experience at Santa Anita very highly. As such, I like #5 Fed Biz (6-1) a good deal here. His two wins at this route were both solid, and he should run big at a decent price. #6 Shackleford (2-1) is the favorite, but I think his huge run in the Met Mile took a ton out of him. His race in the Kelso was OK, not great, and if he goes off the favorite, he’ll have been way overbet in doing so. There’s a ton of early speed here, and while I think his win in the Kelso was a little fluky, #3 Jersey Town (4-1) could close late to pick up a share of the purse.

1. Emcee 2. Fed Biz 3. Shackleford 4. Jersey Town

Turf Sprint (4:57 p.m.; 6-1/2 furlongs on the turf)

Perhaps no race in the Breeders’ Cup is consistently tougher to handicap than the Turf Sprint, which is horse racing’s answer to the chaos theory. The downhill sprint route doesn’t do handicappers any favors, so I’ve narrowed this down to horses that have run here in the past. #13 Unbridled’s Note (5-1) won a Grade 3 here in his first-ever turf start last out. He beat a few of his opponents in this race that time, and could very easily take this one as well. #1 California Flag (6-1) is five-for-seven on the course. He’s been off since April, but a lot of horses here are coming off layoffs, and at his best, he’s certainly a contender. #12 Chosen Miracle (15-1) came off a long layoff to run second to Unbridled’s Note, and has never run a bad one over this surface (a win and two second’s in three starts). Also, as a longshot, #11 Mizdirection (20-1) is two-for-two at Santa Anita, including a Grade 3 win.

1. Unbridled’s Note 2. California Flag 3. Chosen Miracle 4. Mizdirection

Juvenile (5:36 p.m.; 1-1/16 miles on the main track)

Much has been made about the Lasix ban in 2-year-old races this year. However, even with regression, #4 Shanghai Bobby (2-1) is still the horse to beat. He’s been working well for this, and the rest of the field isn’t in his class if he’s right. #8 Fortify (9/2) is the only horse in this field that has never run on Lasix, and as such may be at an advantage. There’s a big gap between him at Shanghai Bobby, but this one should like the added distance and pick up a check. #9 Power Broker (5/2) is the hometown favorite, and won a Grade 1 here last month in his first dirt start. There’s some bounce potential, and this is a better field, but he should still run well. #1 Title Contender (6-1) went wire-to-wire here last out in breaking his maiden. The figure he ran ties for the second-best last-out number in the race, so he could surprise at third asking.

1. Shanghai Bobby 2. Fortify 3. Power Broker 4. Title Contender

Turf (6:18 p.m.; 1-1/2 miles on the turf)

As good as #1 Point of Entry (3-1) is, I hope he gets bet, because he’s beatable. I’ll be backing #5 Shareta (7/2), who, at his peak, is one of the top horses in Europe. He’s won a pair of Group 1 races at this distance, including one over The Fugue, who may win the Mile. Point of Entry could win, but 3-1 is a short price in a talented field. I’ll be using him in multi-race bets, but no more than that. #11 Slim Shadey (10-1) is live because of how much he loves this Santa Anita track. He’s won three of five races over it, including two graded stakes. I’ll also mix in #6 Cogito (30-1), who ran very well two back in a Group 2 in Europe and follows the previously-mentioned “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever bet against jockey Frankie Dettori at the Breeders’ Cup” rule.

1. Shareta 2. Point of Entry 3. Slim Shadey 4. Cogito

Sprint (6:58 p.m.; six furlongs on the main track)

One of the most intriguing horses all weekend is #6 Fast Bullet (12-1). He’s run just twice, and not since November of 2011, but his two races have been stellar and his works leading up to this have been fantastic. He gets the nod in a very competitive field. #11 Amazombie (4-1) won this race last year, and is very fond of the Santa Anita surface. He doesn’t need the lead, and that could suit him very well for a second straight season. #4 Coil (5-1) ran a big one in taking a Grade 1 here last out off a layoff. He likes Santa Anita, and hasn’t run a bad one since last year’s Travers. #7 The Lumber Guy (6-1) ran well in winning the Vosburgh, and he’s three-for-three in sprints. If he likes Santa Anita in his first start off the East Coast, he should be a factor.

1. Fast Bullet 2. Amazombie 3. Coil 4. The Lumber Guy

Mile (7:40 p.m.; 1 mile on the turf)

Upset alert! There’s not a lot of early speed here. As such, #3 Obviously (6-1) is a huge threat to slow down the early pace and run huge. There are a few big-name horses here, but Obviously’s run three big ones in a row, including a freakish mile at this route last out, and for value, this is a good spot to take a stand. #2 Wise Dan (9/5) is a freak. 9/5 is a very short price with this big a field, however, and you can argue that he hasn’t beaten much in his three straight wins at a mile. If he wins, he wins, but I won’t apologize for taking a stand against him and  #6 Excelebration (2-1). #1 Mr. Commons (12-1) always seems to run big races, and while he hasn’t won since February, he did win a pair of Grade 2 races at this route last winter. Excelebration is the second-best horse in Europe, and fits here. Still, he just raced on October 20th and comes over from England to run just two weeks later. That’s a red flag, and one I can’t ignore.

1. Obviously 2. Wise Dan 3. Mr. Commons 4. Excelebration

Classic (8:30 p.m., 1-1/4 miles on the dirt)

In what’s been a bit of a down Classic due to injuries, there’s some value here with #10 Ron the Greek (6-1). He won the Santa Anita Handicap at this route earlier this year, and with the early pace in the race, he should have a perfect setup for his late-running style. #5 Game On Dude (9/5) may go off as the overwhelming favorite. This is his home track, but there’s a considerable amount of early speed in here, so I can’t put him on top. #11 Mucho Macho Man (8-1) has had a couple of bullet works this month at Belmont and seems to be rounding into form at the right time. 10 furlongs may not be his cup of tea, but a repeat of his Suburban win two back certainly gets him a share. #8 Nonios (20-1) hasn’t shown an affinity for winning lately, but he does like Santa Anita, and the early pace scenario should be favorable.

1. Ron the Greek 2. Game On Dude 3. Mucho Macho Man 4. Nonios


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