Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Fall Stars: Friday

Keeneland gets underway on Friday, and over at Picks and Ponderings I preview the pair of graded stakes on the day’s card.

Friday features a pair of graded stakes, both Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races.  The Phoenix (GII) drew a solid field of seven speedsters trying to punch their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.  The next race, the Alcibiades (GI), features a full field of fourteen aspirants to a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Phoenix and the Alcibiades, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Bewitch Stakes Preview

This Friday, Keeneland draws to a close — but not before the long-winded turf mares get a chance to strut their stuff.

The Grade III Bewitch Stakes, a mile and a half turf race for fillies and mares four and up, anchors the card.  Though the race does not feature a Curlin baby (unlike last year, when longshot Maria Maria checked in third), it does feature a well-matched field of twelve fillies and mares.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Bewitch Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Elkhorn Stakes Preview

I make no secret of the fact that I love long races.  This weekend at Keeneland, the long-winded grass horses get the chance to shine in the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes, which I preview over at Picks and Ponderings.

The race drew a solid field of eight.  Among those eight, there are two who stand out in my eyes.  One has been a mainstay in classy races here for years…but one of the newer shooters also got a very long look, and will be getting my win money.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Elkhorn Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Beaumont Stakes Preview

The long season of three-year-old points races finally draws to a close this Sunday, with the Beaumont Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland.

The race drew just five, and looks to have far stronger implications for the three-year-old sprint division than the Kentucky Oaks.  Grade I winner Nickname is the marquee draw…but last year a second-time starter won the Beaumont, and I think a second-timer can get home this year, too, at a good price.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Beaumont Stakes, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Lexington Stakes Preview

This Saturday, Keeneland serves as the Last Chance Corral for potentially Derby-bound runners, as well as a place for emerging three-year-olds to test their mettle in graded company.  Saturday’s card includes the final ten-point Derby prep, the Lexington Stakes (GIII).

For those who love Illinois-breds as much as I do, you’ll find one here: Yo Carm, a Tampa Bay Downs allowance winner who makes his first foray into stakes company.  Alas, I think the waters are a bit too deep for him.  Though I landed on a price horse (not Swipe!  not Collected!  not Synchrony!), he was bred in the Bluegrass, not the Prairie State.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Lexington Stakes, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: preps at Keeneland and Oaklawn

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take on the Derby and Oaks prep races at Keeneland and Oaklawn.

Keeneland’s card features a contentious and oversubscribed edition of the Blue Grass (GI), as well as a compact but high-quality field in the Ashland Stakes (GI).

Over at Oaklawn, the fillies take centre stage in the Fantasy Stakes (GIII).  There is no corresponding Derby prep quite yet; the Arkansas Derby comes next week, on the meet’s closing weekend.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, read my previews of the three-year-old preps at Keeneland and Oaklawn, and let me know in the comments what you think!

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!

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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