The Big Day is among us! The World Championships of Horse Racing heat up on Saturday, headlined by an absolute thriller of a race on paper in the Turf and a potential legendary performance in the Classic. Here is how I see the day shape up.
Race 3 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) Sat. 11:50am
$1,000,000 7 Furlongs Dirt For Older, Fillies & Mare
Top Selections: 11- Wicked Halo 4- Ce Ce 13- Echo Zulu
This race is loaded with speed. With so much early speed, I’ll take Wicked Halo who will likely rate off the pace and take a late run at the lead. With a similar race and win last out over course and distance, this daughter of Gun Runner finds herself in a spot that works to her running style and advantage. The class and pace will be tough, but she is suited well to take on the step up here. As for another stalker, Ce Ce took a similar route this year as she did last year to the F&M Sprint – with this being her only race of the year that she comes into off of just one month rest. This is where her form does best – off a “quick” turnaround, and her stalking style and class will poise her as one to watch. Meanwhile, Echo Zulu at a slight price is tempting. I love her coming from the outside post, giving her a clear path to take the lead right out of the gate. I don’t think she has the best case to be made with this pace, but if she is the one on the lead, I can’t go against a horse that has never lost when leading out of the gate.
Race 4 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) Sat. 12:29pm
$1,000,000 5 1/2 Furlongs Turf For Older
Top Selections: 8- Golden Pal 12- Bran 1- Creative Force
Could this very well be the worst field that Golden Pal has ever faced? This son of Uncle Mo goes in an easy group for the Turf Sprint and should crush it. His four for four record at Keeneland and near perfect record in these types of spots makes him very hard to bet against. This field doesn’t pose much of a challenge and is an easy single in the card. Underneath, I’ll use Bran, who was impressive last out at Kentucky Downs and has been close in just about every start, and Creative Force, who is looking to turn it up based on the current form cycle.
Race 5 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) Sat. 1:10pm
$1,000,000 1 Mile Dirt For Older
Top Selections: 3- Pipeline 2- Simplification 6- Laurel River
Few horses have impressed me more this year than Pipeline, who continues to improve and impress. Last year was far from an ideal year for this son of Speightstown, but once turning four, he has been a different beast. Sure, its only three races, but it was against great company and in pretty tough spots. The draw to the inside should help him stop losing so much ground, and the more average pace he will face here will go towards his liking. I’m willing to take a chance on him in this wide-open spot. I’ll be throwing in Simplification, who I’ve been waiting to get back to a mile – I think this is his best distance by far, and Laurel River, who truly impressed me last out in the Pat O’Brien and should continue to advance well going forwards.
Race 6 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) Sat. 1:50pm
$2,000,000 1 3/16 Miles Turf For Older, Filles & Mares
Top Selections: 3- Nashwa 12- Moira 11- In Italian
This is as tough a race as can be. Until proven otherwise, my attention has to go with Nashwa, the winner of the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood earlier this year. This daughter of Frankel towers over this field in all ways, with perhaps the best closing kick on this card. Hard to ignore. Moira is an interesting one here, having really crushed on the synthetic before making the switch to turf and nearly coming up with a win over Rougir last out in a troubled trip (though later DQ’ed). Her talent is hard to ignore – just will she have it all together and find a non-troubled trip. I’ll also use In Italian, who should be near or on the lead the entire time and is dangerous down the stretch for Chad Brown.
Race 7 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) Sat. 2:30pm
$2,000,000 6 Furlongs Dirt For Older
Top Selections: 9- Jackie’s Warrior 4- American Theorem 2- Kimari
I have too much respect for Jackie’s Warrior to go against him in a spot that sets up for him perfectly. Unlike last year where almost an entire field of speed was signed up, Jackie’s Warrior is the lone take the lead type anyone would need to worry about. Putting him alone on the lead is dangerous and knowing that makes this a sure bet – all in here. Will use American Theorem and Kimari for value underneath – only two that seem to be anywhere close to Jackie’s Warrior in this field and should be around to pick up the pieces after him late.
Race 8 Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) Sat. 3:10pm
$2,000,000 1 Mile Turf For Older
Top Selections: 4- Modern Games 6- Ivar 13- Kinross/1- Pogo
Modern Games is the clear best choice in this field – he is the top horse of both the Euros and American raced horses and looks to build off his Breeders’ Cup success last year with a win here. This race sets up well for him, he has been in form, and he has been tested against others also in form. His turn of foot is top in this class and should relish this firmer surface once again. I’ll be taking Ivar underneath as one who has matched up well with Modern Games and others here, but always seemed to find trouble when drawing more inside. Would’ve preferred an even more outer post, but I’ll take this and look at another similar performance to the last two times he ran in this race. I also can’t avoid Kinross and Pogo, who if you like one you need to like the other – Kinross has been a force over in England and France racing at 7 furlongs and takes the step up today while Pogo is right there with him two back and is coming out of an impressive front running win in the Newmarket Challenge Stakes.
Race 9 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) Sat. 3:55pm
$2,000,000 1 1/8 Miles Dirt For Older, Fillies & Mares
Top Selections: 6- Nest 8- Society 2- Blue Stripe
This race goes through Nest, the clear top three-year-old filly this year. She has done all she has needed to do to get into the favorite spot this weekend and will look to continue to build on that here. Her Beldame win wasn’t her best of the year against a very weak field but served as a good tune-up for this race. Her tactical speed to rate or get to the lead helps in a spot that seems to have a good bit of speed but no one who clearly wants to get to the lead. I look for her to go right to the front early and never give anyone an inch later. Now, what would’ve have happened in the C. C. American Oaks had Society not stumbled at the break? Her races have been just as good as Nest’s. I think a clean trip for her may yield a race on similar footing; if she can get the lead early, perhaps she is the one that will take them all the way. I’ll also play Blue Stripe underneath – has been improving this year and getting into a nice spot in form since racing in this race last year. Not of the same class, but she has the tactical ability to get into a spot to get a piece of the trifecta.
Race 10 Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) Sat. 4:40pm
$4,000,000 1 1/2 Miles Turf For Older
Top Selections: 13- Highland Chief 5- Rebel’s Romance 10- Red Knight
Graham Motion’s Highland Chief should likely be four for four in his last four stakes races, had it not been for some early trouble. He gets to stay away from the early gate bumping and settle into a cleaner trip here with the outside post, which should help him move up. John Velazquez has really improved this son of Gleneagles and has taken a step up going into this spot. Rebel’s Romance is a must use – an easy winner if he is on his game, and Red Knight takes my fancy if you scratch out his last out run where he lost all chance, he fits well with this field and gets Luis Saez aboard on the step up in class.
Race 11 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) Sat. 5:40pm
$6,000,000 1 1/4 Miles Dirt For Older
Top Selections: 4- Flightline 6- Epicenter 2- Life Is Good
Flightline is the best horse in the world this year. No argument. No one in this field can go with him early. There is no way that I’m not going to sit back and watch this horse just crush the field. I’ll take Epicenter underneath – this sone of Not This Time is finally finding his will to win again after runner up finishes in the Derby and Preakness. He is tactical and knows how to stay strong against firm speed – maybe gets up for second. If I am trying to beat Flightline, Life Is Good is the only one in the field that – on his best day – has a chance to beat Flightline. Now, trying to get the lead from Flightline is impossible, but if Life Is Good can rate just off Flightline, there is a chance he can close in and win. I’ll also not ignore Olympiad – he caved to Saratoga two back but looked good otherwise this year – maybe an upset chance?