Breeder’s Cup first day (10/31) race picks/comments

Tomorrow (10/31/14) is the first of the two Breeders’ Cup Day races at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, CA.  Here is my two cents worth:

Juvenile Turf Mile (6th race on the card):  The horse to beat here is War Envoy.  Trained by venerable European trainer Aidan O’Brien & ridden by one of Europe’s best jockeys, RL Moore, War Envoy exits one of the best European G1 Stakes races, where he missed the win by just over a length while closing on the 9 horse field at 7f.  His timeform rating of 111 is best of this field & his Tomlinson rating for this distance is an excellent 403, indicating the added furlong should be no problem.  He’s also getting Lasix for the first time here, a drug that usually enhances performance but is not legal in Europe, where War Envoy has done all his previous racing.   I know the only victory of War Envoy‘s seven race life has been his maiden win, but he seems set to fire a big effort here, has shown an ability to rate against what appears to be a fast front-end pace, & appears bred for this distance.

I’m tossing the nine American entries in this 14 horse field for two reasons:  1)  European horses usually win the Breeders’ Cup turf races; and 2) none of the American horses have run Beyer speed figures higher than the mid 80s, which i don’t think is fast enough to compete with several of the European runners.

Another observation – None of the European two year olds entered here have ever run as far as a mile.  I think this is a wise approach, by not pushing them very hard while they are young and their bodies & psychs are still being formed.  I certainly understand owners/trainers who take it easy on youngsters, by waiting till horses are three before putting them in demanding route races – or any demanding race at all.

Dirt Mile (7th race):  It makes good sense to bet Goldencents.  Goldencents’ previous four races are all triple digit Beyer efforts.  The horse won this very race last year at this track & seems poised to do it again. The two main threats would be Pants On Fire and Tapiture, horses that seem fast enough & are best poised to take advantage of a pace that figures to be quick on the front end.

Juvenile Fillies Turf Mile (8th race):  Osaila, an Irish horse, appears to have the advantage in this wide open affair.  Osaila just won a huge 7f Alw race (496,300 purse) in GB after a good G1 Stakes effort Sept 14, following a 6 week freshening.  Of concern is Osaila‘s low Tomlinson rating for this distance, a distance (as appears typical of all European turf two year olds) it has never run before.  The other major threat appears to be Qualify (another Irish horse).  Qualify exits a 3 length Irish G3 Stakes victory (9/28) at 7f.  He’s getting Lasix for the first time and appears bred for this distance.

Distaff 1 1/8 Miles (9th race):Ring the Belle Gallentey for me in this one.  Belle is entering this race following three of her best lifetime efforts (if you eliminate the 8/22 Saratoga dud in the mud).  She has only 9 victories in 43 lifetime starts, but five of those have come in her last seven races.  Her Beyer speed figures are very competitive here with two of her three fastest times being at this distance, including her last race (9/27), an easy 8 length G1 Stakes win at Belmont Park at odds of 4.7 to one.  All the other contenders appear to be entering from races that do not appear to be their best.  Itopa to Don’t Tell Sophia that I stayed up till the clock said Tiz Midnight trying to Close Hatches on this race only to find betting the favorites here as Untapable.    Seriously, this appears to be a contentious race where a decently priced horse, like Belle Gallentey, could certainly win.

Have fun and good luck at the races!

– Ron Classen,