ThoroFan: Marathon Stakes Preview

Over at the ThoroFan Handicapper’s Corner, I take a look at one of my favourite races of the weekend: tomorrow’s Marathon Stakes (GII)!

Though the Marathon has not been a Breeders’ Cup race since 2013, they have kept it as a fixture of the Friday card.  This year, it drew well: a better quality field from top to bottom than last year’s, and several who are proven at main-track marathon distances.

Head over to ThoroFan, and see who I like in the Marathon Stakes!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile Preview and Saturday Selections

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take a look at the Breeders’ Cup Mile.  Can Tepin defend her title?

In addition, as I finish handicapping Saturday’s card at Santa Anita, I will have selections (and longshots!) for each of the races scheduled for Saturday at Santa Anita.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Preview and Friday Selections

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take a look at the most eagerly anticipated race of the weekend: the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

The best of the best in the distaff division will face each other: the well-proven matron Beholder, the peaking Stellar Wind, and the undefeated Songbird lead a compact yet classy field of eight.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and let me know in the comments what you think!

O’Brien and Stoute in the Breeders’ Cup Turf

Over at ShapperDaCapper, I’m writing about the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

My first piece for the week looks at a pair of trainers who have conditioned two-time winners of the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Conduit, has a longshot in Ulysses.  Aiden O’Brien, trainer of two-time winner High Chaparral, has Found working to match that feat — but also brings in a classy challenger in Highland Reel.

Head over to ShapperDaCapper, read my latest article, and learn about a few of the international shippers here for the Breeders’ Cup Turf!

my Breeders’ Cup Saturday analysis, all in one place.

At Picks and Ponderings, my stakes selections as well as my “play” horse and my “pass” horse for each of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races, are online to read — or watch, in the case of the “play or pass”, since those are in short video previews for each race!  My top selections for each BC race are also on Hello Race Fans as well.

Over at ShapperDaCapper, I took a two-part look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  Earlier this week I looked at some historical angles around the top contenders, and then did an in-depth look at the race from a handicapping perspective.

I also appeared on the most recent episode of Racetrackers to discuss my picks and reasoning for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.  My five-minute segment starts at 59:15, but it is worth listening to the entire show, as they have a slew of guest handicappers who tackled the entire Breeders’ Cup.

Among my top selections, the most likely winner is Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.  Though Songbird has not been tested out in California, little in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies field looks likely to test her at Keeneland.  She has a win at the distance, and her speed should be fast enough to beat anyone here unless someone takes a considerable step forward.  Her gradual speed progression through her three races suggests she is going the right way, and not hurtling toward a bounce or regression despite how visually impressive her races may have been.  Though she is a speed horse, she showed in the Del Mar Debutante that she can survive a duel.  Rachel’s Valentina, the best of the east coasters so far, is the one who has the shortest to progress to catch Songbird.  However, Rachel’s Valentina also has the first-time route to deal with, as well as a layoff of almost two months.  Advantage: Songbird.

Another emphatic top selection, and one who should be a decent price (in the way that Songbird will not be) is Exaggerator in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Sure, Exaggerator is a Curlin baby, but that has no connection to why he should win this race.  Keep in mind that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has fourteen horses in it — and they are all two years old, relatively inexperienced.  Exaggerator has shown great maturity when it comes to being able to get through horses and openings.  He showed that in the Saratoga Special, and showed it again in the Breeders’ Futurity last out.  Though he got nailed by Brody’s Cause, that had nothing to do with his ability to handle crowds.  If Keith Desormeaux has taught him a bit more about not getting lazy with the lead, or if Exaggerator has to keep passing or battling horses right to the wire, he should be well set.  That performance in the Breeders’ Futurity shows he can handle a mile and a sixteenth at Keeneland, his back lines show he can run well on fast dirt, and he has proven that he is a fast enough horse with a passing gear.  All of this suggests that Exaggerator will be tough to beat, particularly in a fourteen-horse field.

However, be sure to check out our Play or Pass video on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to learn about a horse who is 30-1 on the morning line, and should also be somewhere on your tickets for the Juvenile.

a great day for sophomore fillies by Curlin!

Breeders’ Cup Friday proved a good day for three three-year-old fillies by Curlin.

Two daughters of Curlin lined up in the same Breeders’ Cup race today.  Both Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) and Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon) contested the Distaff.  A little over five hundred miles east, Curlish Figure (Fi, by Langfuhr) contested an allowance at the same racetrack where Stellar Wind had broken her maiden less than a year ago: Laurel Park.

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my Breeders’ Cup Friday analysis, all in one place.

The Breeders’ Cup starts today!

My selections and longshots for Friday, as well as videos with  my pick and pass for each Breeders’ Cup race, are over at Picks and Ponderings.  My top selections in each race are also published at Hello Race Fans as well.

Here, I have written longer-form previews of two races on Friday in which I like solid price horses: the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as well as the Marathon Stakes.

My most likely winner of the day comes not in one of the Breeders’ Cup races, but in one of the undercard races: the Bryan Station Stakes, a nine-furlong grass race for sophomores.  One Go All Go (8) is in nice form right now, bypassed the Hawthorne Derby for this spot, and should be able to get things his way on the front end again.  He should also be a square price — not a bomb like last out, but still a longer price than the likes of Closing Bell.

My best bet among the Breeders’ Cup races is in the Juvenile Fillies Turf: Alice Springs (3).  She improved beautifully going from six furlongs to seven, and should like the stretch to a mile as well.  Harmonize (my second choice) and Illuminate (a horse I am standing against as more likely to be a six-furlong type than a miler) will both take a lot of money.  So, though the 6/1 morning line on Alice Springs seems a bit of a Battaglia Special, she should be a square price for a filly in the right form with upside at the distance.

In the Distaff, I endorse a longshot on top: Yahilwa.  She has shown form at a mile and an eighth this year, and finished third in the Spinster (GI) only beaten a neck by closer Got Lucky after doing dirty work on the front end last out.  That said, she does not have to be the one right on the front end to keep fighting.  Yahilwa should be forwardly placed, but does not She has danced a lot of dances, and though she is California-based, she has taken her show on the road.  Even so, Yahilwa did stay at Keeneland after the Spinster, and has been working lights-out there.  She is serious, well-intentioned…and in a division with no clear leader, the Distaff is the right spot to take the consistent type at a big price.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Preview

Over at ShapperDaCapper, I started the week with a look at a few past trends in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and how they related to a few of the top contenders.

Here, I present my selections, as well as an intriguing longshot to spice up those trifectas and superfectas.

The good news is, despite the Breeders’ Cup Turf having an odds-on morning line favourite…he is no single, and not even the top selection.  It is a manageable sort of race, one that I could confidently narrow down to a small few on top, but not the sort of affair where you have to take a short price.

Head on over to ShapperDaCapper, and read my thoughts on the Breeders’ Cup Turf!

Marathon Stakes: Selections and Analysis

Though the Marathon Stakes (GII) no longer carries the Breeders’ Cup imprimatur, it still exists.  This makes me very happy, as it was my favourite race of the Breeders’ Cup back when it was part of the Breeders’ Cup.

I love long races, the longer the better, and this one fits that bill: a mile and three quarters over the main at Keeneland.  The race also drew an eclectic bunch, something any sucker for a story can enjoy.  Looking over the form lines for Friday’s Marathon reveals everything from the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) to a $5,000 maiden claimer at the Pea Patch.

How often does that happen?

Marathon Stakes (GII), three-year-olds and up, one and three fourths miles on the dirt, post time 6:10pm EDT

Selections:  Dynabeaver (12), Neck ‘n Neck (4), Lynx (8)

Longshot:  Desvelo (11)

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Picks and Ponderings: Saturday Play or Pass

This evening, Paul Mazur and I attacked Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races the same way we did with Friday’s card: pointing out a horse we want to play, and a horse we would rather pass.

Sometimes, we agreed; other times, we did not see things the same way.  Even after the scratch of Beholder, we still see the Classic differently, as is evident in our new and updated video preview which takes into account the unfortunate scratch of Beholder.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and see who to play on Saturday — and who to pass!

go Keen Ice!

Earlier this month, Romans Racing did a Keen Ice selfie contest.  The rules were pretty simple: print out one of the #GoKeenIce signs, post selfies with the sign, and share them on social media with the hashtag.

This was, of course, right up my alley.  Keen Ice is not only a Curlin baby, but became my Derby horse last September after his improbable maiden win.  I have been a huge Keen Ice fan ever since, and it has been a thrill to watch him grow, mature, and finally win his first Grade I race.

I took a few selfies for the contest, but one of them entertained me the most by far.  I was walking down the Hawthorne backstretch, on the way to go visit Lucky Lindy, and saw a sign that just begged to be in a Keen Ice picture:

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Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Turns out, I was not the only one entertained by this picture.  I found out a few days ago that this picture had won second place in the contest!  The awesome folks over at Romans Racing sent me some fun prizes, just in time to cheer Keen Ice on in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Of course, this meant time for more Keen Ice selfies.

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Thank you so much — and good luck to Keen Ice!  It would be such a thrill to see him win the Classic on Saturday.

Breeders’ Cup Play or Pass at Picks and Ponderings

This year, Paul Mazur and I try something a little different at Picks and Ponderings.

We are doing video previews…with a twist.  For each race, we discuss one horse that we will play in each Breeders’ Cup race, and one on whom we will take a pass.

So far, we have our previews of the Friday Breeders’ Cup races: the Juvenile Turf, the Dirt Mile, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the Distaff.

We have also taken our look at Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race on which Paul and I could hardly disagree more.

Thursday evening, we will return with looks at the rest of the Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday’s card.

Feel free to ask us in the comments or on Twitter if you want us to discuss any of our picks or thoughts further — and enjoy the preview videos!

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: or, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

The Dirt Mile is simple, right?  Take 1/1 morning line favourite Liam’s Map as a free square, and move on?

Not so fast, particularly with a certain zippy, sometimes zig-zagging gadfly in the field.

Friday, October 30

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI), three-year-olds and up, one mile on the dirt, post time 4:10pm EDT

Selections:  Red Vine (1), Lea (5), Liam’s Map (3)

Longshot:  Street Strategy (6)

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Breeders’ Cup Turf: On Arc Winners and Illinois-Breds

Over at ShapperDaCapper, Chicago Railbird is taking a week off for the Breeders’ Cup.  That doesn’t mean I’m taking the week off at ShapperDaCapper.  Instead, I’m turning my attention to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

My first Breeders’ Cup Turf piece is live, and it focuses on some historical information regarding three of the leading contenders: Golden Horn, Found, and The Pizza Man.

I will be following up later in the week with my handicapping analysis of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, as well.  So…read my preview, get ready, and stay tuned!