Breeders Cup Picks and Analysis Thread

Posts: 1043
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:48 pm

Kennedy wrote: FM Turf
I don’t want to be too simplistic and say that Lady Eli cannot be beaten. I thought that last year and she unbelievably lost to a horse to never looked good enough and has subsequently confirmed that she isn’t good enough. It’s racing, things happen but all signs point to Lady Eli being the safest single of the Breeders Cup meet. She is really quite good and the shorter distance makes her even tougher in my opinion. I think she has a tendency to maybe let her opponents back in the race once she cruises to the front which shortens margins and makes you think there might be something there but I don’t think there is. I think her greatest challenges come from her own stablemates. Both Grand Jete and Dacita are dangerous in this spot. Grand Jete if the pace is slow or moderate and Dacita if the pace is fast. I do not expect that Grand Jete will be a part of the pace. A horse like Avenge would pretty much laugh her off in the early going. I think she’s perfect for sitting in a behind some pace and bursting through with a run. Her flower bowl was better for the fact that she showed the versatility to go in front. Dacita is pace dependent and if they go too fast she can catch just about anyone. Don’t forget she nailed Tepin in a race at Saratoga. I think that she has done well in her races this year because she hasn’t really caught those good setups but has performed with credit. I think there will be an honest pace and firm turf and it’s the setup she loves. I don’t see much from the European challenge here and I think that a horse like Cambodia has done well away from the limelight but will struggle when exposed to the scrutiny of the upper echelon. Chad Brown may just sweep this race.

Lady Eli
Grand Jete
I predicted a Chad Brown 1-2-3 and we got a European 1-2. I feel a bit sheepish because I actually picked Wuheida to win the QE II a few weeks back. Obviously she scratched from that event and my short list for the FM Turf included her and the Brown horses. During the course of prepping for this race I managed to convince myself that she wasn't ready for the home team older mares in here.

Europeans, not trained by O'Brien, who come off a light campaign in France can be quite deadly. It's hard to pick them sometimes because I think in many ways she was the same play as Zelzal in the Mile who didn't work out at all. Both had some back class and good form on firm ground but had recently had some tough results on soft ground and were coming off light campaigns. Both looked somewhat tactical with a nice turn of foot.

I suppose backing both of them was better than taking both favorites in the FM Turf and Mile (which is what I did)
Posts: 1043
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:05 pm

Kennedy wrote:Sprint
Anytime you look at a race with real quality it feels like you need to really identify a stat or angle that resonates with you that you can really hang your hat on. When coming into this race I tried to approach it by looking for weakness in Drefong and specific strengths in others. In the end I think I became a little more enamored with the favorite. One thing in particular about him is this notion that he is actually better at 7f. That may well be true but he’s actually unbeaten at 6f in races where his jockey stuck around the whole time and despite having the speed to lead this race he has never lost ground in the last 1/8th of a race aside from his maiden. Maybe that’s where the 7f staying power comes in.
If he is vulnerable I think it’s perhaps in his ability to run down someone else on the lead. He’s never had to grind past a stubborn foe.
I think the pace in this race is likely to be fast but not crazy although I think if I were to try and beat Drefong I would try to get in front of him early. Maybe Imperial Hint is the horse who can do that or maybe it’s Takaful. Outside those two I don’t think anyone really can get in front of him. I do expect the speed to more or less hold in this race so the closers like Mind Your Biscuits and Whitmore will likely be limited to a minor share of the placings.
I realize that I’ve more or less talked myself out of Roy H who was actually the first name I put down as a top contender to beat Drefong. I feel like he doesn’t have the speed to get in front of him and Drefong has too much stamina to get rundown.
I think Takaful is the future of this division and will give the fave all he can handle but I do think Drefong will be just a bit too much for him.
I like Imperial Hint but to me he is the kind that can either get the lead and win or will likely be off the board so he might be one to use as cover but not as a primary

I think the margin for error is very slight in the sprint and Drefong fell afoul of the wrong side of that equation. He kind of broke well but not well enough and before you know it he was shuffled back and done. The inside post can be pretty unforgiving.

I was disappointed in Takaful but he more or less continues the trend of Belmont main track prep winners who completely bomb in California Breeders' Cups. He's a good horse who is capable of much better than that.

Obviously failing to back Roy H is a miss straight up. He was one of the most logical winners of any Breeders Cup race and his backers have to be thrilled with nearly 5/1 on him. I wonder if this does anything to the strong trend of barely racing your sprint contenders if you have one? Likely not but I like the fact that a winner of a recent prep managed to win the race they were prepping for. It's almost counter cultural these days.

Roy H was just about as perfect a sprint candidate as you could hope to see. I feel like I saw and recognized him., which I'm sure everyone did but where I feel flat was in the actual choosing.
Posts: 1043
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:19 pm

Kennedy wrote: Mile
This is usually my favorite race. For whatever reason I’ve always loved the turf mile division. I like following these horses year round and the BC Mile is kind of the culmination of all those events. For me the complexion of the race completely changed when Midnight Storm decided to run here instead of the Dirt version of this event. Both Midnight Storm and Heart to Heart seem like major threats in the race but neither really seem to win without controlling a race from the front. They actually met once before in a race that wound up being the best career performance for Midnight Storm and an off the board finish for Heart to Heart. Midnight Storm has looked just a bit off form this season, I thought he most definitely should have won his last two races but seemed to have very little fight despite having things in his favor. I’m not if we’ll get to see his best race here which makes him hard to use here and hard to assess. His top end is definitely good enough to win although I think I see him getting caught here by one or more of his competitors. I feel for Heart to Heart because he’s really likeable, he’s in good form and he was so close to that all important G-1 win last time. But I feel like the formula is simple with him, get a clear lead – likely win. Do not get a clear lead – he will lose. He is 20-13-2-2 when leading for the first 3 calls and 11-0-3-1 when failing to establish himself on the lead. My sentiment is with him but I think Midnight Storm completely torches his chances and I can’t take him on the prospect of sudden reinvention in the toughest race of his life.
World Approval is going to be my main play here. I know that a soggy Saratoga and a mile over Woodbine’s course are not really similar to tight and fast Del Mar so I do worry about a big bullish horse like him being able to adapt and really fire through those holes as they present themselves. I like that he’s a good mixture of speed and stamina. He’s won a G-1 at 11f but has the speed to dictate and dominate a G-1 mile race right from the start. I feel like if he gets in front he’ll be really hard to pass. I think his suitability in this spot also has much to do with his form. Early on he seemed like one of those “nearly” horses. In 2015 and 2016 he ran in 12 graded stakes races and won just 3 times. Now this year he’s 4 for 5 overall. I feel like Casse has finally got him into a good rhythm and he’s never been better.
One horse that could use a bit of rhythm is Om. He’s on a 9 race losing streak with 7 straight on the board finishes, all of which saw him within 2 lengths of the winner at the line. If you aggregate his speed figures in the last year over the distances relevant to a mile on the grass he’s the second fastest horse in the race. You have to wonder what it’s going to take to get him home in front. A big part of me doubts that this will be the time but I also feel he’s a must use in the exotics and you just never know when he might forget himself and accidentally win. I’m not a huge fan of any of the Europeans however I recognize the lack of depth and consistency among the home side and I think beyond World Approval there are few horses to really anchor off. Which means everyone has a chance. Suedois is a danger given the explosion he showed in his last and the path his trainer already blazed with Mondialiste. I feel like a good run is definitely possible but I don’t know that I want a horse who just ran the best race of their life. I am a little more drawn to Zelzal as one with a bit of obscured form. I feel like he has the potential to be that horse who bursts through a seem, kicks to the front and everyone takes a feverish glance down at the program to see who he actually is. To me he is classically French, something about the slender athletic elegance, the quickness and the slightly large ears. I know that his best race is good enough to win the Mile which is encouraging. Although I feel like we haven’t seen much of that form for a year. It could be a legitimate dip in form or it could be that he just hasn’t caught his ground or his trip. In the biggest win of his career he caught a pretty sharp pace on firm ground. He was able to sit mid-pack and come with a burst. I can see him getting that trip here and after watching him in his last I definitely saw that burst again but for some reason he didn’t finish that race. Maybe it was the soft ground or coming off the layoff but he seemed like the talent was there and the fitness was not. Maybe he got something from that run and the fitness comes back?
I’ve gotten this far without even talking about the favorite Ribchester. I want to acknowledge that he is seriously talented and should handle the ground fine but my worry here is tactical. He is a presser/speed type in Europe and seems to really get into a good gallop and just grind away from his competition. Actually I see him as very similar to World Approval but I give the edge to World Approval because Ribchester is going to be much further out of his comfort zone and what he has known but he can win, he’s not a toss in here. I just don’t want him because I trust World Approval more.
I feel like boxcars in the exotics is a real possibility here because I also think that Ballagh Rocks has a major chance. Bill Mott is a dangerous trainer with Milers and did of course win this race last year. Ballagh Rocks is a bit less developed. He’s only been in 5 stakes races and looks a real talent. It would be a bit of a scalp for him to even hit the frame but I think he’s live.

World Approval
I feel like the length of my post illustrates how much I agonized over this race so it is kind of rewarding to have this as my only winner. Throughout my history with the Breeders Cup the Mile has often been the lone bright spot.

World Approval was able to work out a nice trip and I think was just too strong and classy for anyone to outfinish. Casse got another top class miler and I think it was a pretty astute call with this horse to turn him back and make a specialist out of him. I hope they give him another year. It would be a shame to pull the plug on a horse who just now seems to be in a good rhythm.

This has little to do with handicapping but I was shocked to see Blackjackcat hit the frame. He was taken completely out of what he had typically done and it was super impressive to see him put in that rally.
Posts: 9879
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:16 pm

Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:59 pm

"I hope they give him another year. It would be a shame to pull the plug on a horse who just now seems to be in a good rhythm."

I think I saw something about WA possibly targeting Royal Ascot, maybe for a showdown against the Wonder Mare Winx. Of course, so much can happen between now and June. ;) :P
ETA: And there's this: ... urf-spring
User avatar
Posts: 2865
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:01 pm

Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:50 pm

WA is a gelding. I'm sure he will race as long as he is happy to do so.
Post Reply