Breeders’ Cup, All In One Place

Here’s where you can find links to all my Breeders’ Cup work!

My race previews, in detail, are over at Picks and Ponderings.  There are separate pieces for Friday and Saturday; between them, I discuss every race.

I also discuss my thoughts on several of the races, and several of the more general themes of Breeders’ Cup, in the latest issue of Horseplayer Monthly magazine.  My Q&A runs from pages 21-23, but make sure to read the entire issue for in-depth Breeders’ Cup analysis and opinions!

I’m also on several panels where we share our picks, including Big Race Showdown on America’s Best Racing, the TwinSpires Betting GuideThoroFan, and Hello Race Fans.

Enjoy them, good luck, and happy Breeders’ Cup!

 

building Catholic Boy’s foundation

When I think of Catholic Boy, I think of the unheralded hard work that goes into building a great horse’s foundation.  I think of running in circles, measured circles, incessant circles.

In the week and a half leading up to the Breeders’ Cup last year, I spent the mornings trackside, radio clipped to my side, spotting Breeders’ Cup horses and calling their names and positions up to the camera nest.  Most of the horses wouldn’t spend much time out on the track.  They’d come out, jog a circuit or two, three at the most, then go back to the barn.

Not Catholic Boy.  He’d come out, we’d spot him, they’d show him on the camera for a while.  Then, a flurry of activity.  Horses would come in through the backstretch gap, there would be five or six other superstars of our sport to cut between.  Then, another lull.

“Anyone out here?”, the camera spotter’s voice on the radio would crackle.

I’d look up, see a familiar bay horse with a familiar maroon Bridlewood Farm saddle pad draped over a towel numbered 803.

Was it because he debuted at Gulfstream long after the geese, the cranes, and the best horses in the nation had returned north for the summer?  Was it because he skipped the traditional final round of preps, training straight from the With Anticipation in August all the way to November, around and around and away from the shouting throngs gathered along the rail on Saturday afternoons?  Was it because the name Jonathan Thomas didn’t roll off the tongue as easily, from years of repetition, as Aidan O’Brien or Chad Brown or Charlie Appleby or Graham Motion?

I’d push my button.  “Just Catholic Boy, coming past the seven furlong gap now.  Everyone else left.”

final NTRA poll thoughts

I voted in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for the first time this year.  Some weeks were more difficult than others, but this week’s was the most brain-busting of all.

I had assumed all year that it would be the easiest.  After all, Breeders’ Cup is the big ending, and it’s the last poll of the year.  Though Breeders’ Cup is not the last big racing week before the Eclipse Awards — let’s not sneeze at Thanksgiving weekend, with races like the Clark and the Cigar Mile — it’s the only one of this scale, and nothing between now and the end of the year comes quite to the level of a Derby undercard, Belmont undercard, or Travers Day.

Yet?  It was the hardest.  Though Breeders’ Cup answered a lot of questions in individual divisions, the fact that the Top Thoroughbred Poll requires a voter to rank the divisions against each other makes it more difficult.  Most of my questions involved assessing not only what each horse did in their own division this year, but also how that stacks up against what horses in other divisions did.  Even with a rather sharp limitation that I’ve chosen to apply, that of not using horses who have not faced older company at least once during the year, many of the rank judgments felt uncomfortably tight.

Here’s my final ballot, with short notes on my rationale.

Continue reading “final NTRA poll thoughts”

Good Magic for Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

I would never have expected Curlin’s first Breeders’ Cup winner (or any, for that matter…) to come in a two-year-old race.  Not only did Curlin never race at two, but he has not emerged as a two-year-old sire so much as a sire of Classic horses and older horses.

goodmagicpaddock
Good Magic, with Jose Ortiz aboard, puts on his game face before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  He would win with authority, becoming the first of Curlin’s progeny to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

Continue reading “Good Magic for Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile”

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Breeders’ Cup Saturday Preview

Welcome to Day Two of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup!  Picks and Ponderings previewed Friday’s four Breeders’ Cup races in a separate piece.  Here, we look at Saturday’s nine Breeders’ Cup races, headlined by Arrogate’s attempt to join Tiznow among two-time winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The day features several links to the local circuit — many of which, to Arlington Million Day.  Arlington Million (G1) winner Beach Patrol will attempt to win a third straight Grade 1 race in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and Secretariat Stakes (G1) winner Oscar Performance joins him in that field.  Dacita’s victory in the Beverly D Stakes (G1) this summer earned her a bid in the Beverly D, and she will attempt to join Dank in the exclusive club of mares who have swept the Beverly D – Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf double.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Breeders’ Cup Friday Preview

It’s that time of the year once more: the best horses in the world have descended on one place to settle their scores in the Breeders’ Cup.  For the first time, it takes place at beautiful Del Mar.  Also for the first time, Picks and Ponderings is there, so make sure to follow us on Twitter for photos, video, and observations!

Picks and Ponderings will have two separate Breeders’ Cup pieces: 0ne covering Friday, and one covering Saturday.  It will be a slightly different format than many of our recent big-race-day pieces.  Instead of doing an in-depth preview of a single race and then a picks spreadsheet for the rest, each piece will have shorter descriptions of rationale for each pick and longshot in each race.  Then, below, there will be a summary table with all selections and longshots.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my latest, and get excited about the first day of the Breeders’ Cup!

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview and Saturday Analysis

Over at Picks and Ponderings, Paul Mazur and I have gone horse by horse through the field, discussing our picks, our place chances, and our tosses.  Head over to Picks and Ponderings and watch it!

In addition, don’t forget that my Saturday Breeders’ Cup analysis is available in the following places:

Good luck tomorrow, and enjoy the second day of the Breeders’ Cup!

Curlin babies at the Breeders’ Cup!

The Breeders’ Cup gets underway tomorrow.  Just like every year since 2013, when Palace Malice ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Curlin is represented.  In this year’s Breeders’ Cup, scheduled for November 4-5 at Santa Anita, five Curlin babies are slated to run.

Curlin is still looking for his first Breeders’ Cup winner.  He came close last year, when Stellar Wind finished just short of nine-furlong savant Stopchargingmaria in the Distaff.  That was Stellar Wind’s first attempt against older company.  A year later, Stellar Wind has grown better, faster, and stronger…and gives Curlin strong hope for his first Breeders’ Cup victory as a sire.

The following five progeny of Curlin will race in this year’s Breeders’ Cup:

Continue reading “Curlin babies at the Breeders’ Cup!”