Day One of the World Championships of Horse Racing proved to be full of excitement and surprises. From dominant performances from Twilight Gleaming, Echo Zulu, and Corniche, to the oddity that was the Juvenile Turf, Future Stars Friday gave us everything and then some of what we had hoped. But now onto the meat and potatoes of what makes this weekend tremendous – Saturday.
A full slate of races are on tap for today, capped off with the Breeders’ Cup Classic – which includes the Pacific Classic winner returning to the site of his greatest victory, the Pennsylvania Derby winner, the Belmont & Travers winner, the Pegasus World Cup & defending Dirt Mile winner, the Woodward winner, the Kentucky Derby & Awesome Again winner, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. One of the most stacked Classic fields we have had in years. Also on the undercard we find champions Gamine looking to win two straight in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, multiple Group One winner and champion Love, sprinting star Jackie’s Warrior, and champion distaffers Shedaresthedevil and Letruska. This day is filled with the best horses in the world,
My Top Three for Each Race of Future Stars Friday
Race 4 | Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)
$1,000,000 | For Older Fillies & Mares | 7 Furlongs | Dirt
5 – Gamine
Am I really going to bet against Gamine going around one turn? Nope. She is deadly in one turn races. Instant lock. Next race.
Race 5 | Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)
$1,000,000 | For Older Horses | 5 Furlongs | Turf
6 – Lieutenant Dan
Turf sprints at Del Mar are some of my favorite races to handicap. The 5 furlong course at Del Mar has two specific angles that play out more often than not – dropping down in distance and being a horse for course & distance. Lieutenant Dan is both of them, dropping from the downhill Eddie D Stakes and having already marked two 5f wins at Dmr this year, the Steven Miyadi trainee could be a steal in a wide open turf sprint with no clear choice. Last year’s winner Glass Slippers – who was much the easy choice then – doesn’t have the same form nor is on her favorite going to be a threat, while others just don’t seem to be peaking right.
2 – Emaraaty Ana
Last year international speed showed the way and this year it could again, with this Kevin Ryan trainee. Emaraaty Ana was a longshot type who just kept stunning races across the pond and now takes his form to San Diego to try on firmer turf. That seems to be what this gelded son of Shamardal has excelled the best on and is coming into form well. Lots to like about his back class and might just be the one Euro to take home this usually speedy race.
3 – Golden Pal
At the end of the day, Wesley Ward has one great little colt by Uncle Mo that might steal this one on the front end. Super quick and super dangerous. Think he might be overmatched here, but can’t ever leave a Ward off the ticket in these turf sprints.
Race 6 | Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
$1,000,000 | For Older | 1 Mile| Dirt
5 – Life Is Good
If he is on his game, he is an easy winner. The best dirt miler in America right now and looks to add another to the books.
2 – Pingxiang
The Hideyuki Mori pair intrigue me. While Jaspar Prince has no shot (though good to see him back after his poor showing in the Sprint last year), Pingxiang, one of Mori’s best horses currently in training, is coming into this race in good form and showing a lot of speed in his 7 furlong efforts. Now, stepping up in distance, Pingxiang should favor this spot, get the early lead, and maybe hold on for a spot of the money late. Definitely one not to forget about.
3 – Ginobili
This one is interesting – he fits my angle for betting dirt mile races at Del Mar and seems to favor this track. I’m not 100% sure he is genuine, but his back races fit with what should be expected of a top choice. If he can find a clean trip, he might be able to pounce on Life Is Good late and take this one.
Race 7 | Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1)
$2,000,000 | For Older Fillies & Mares | 1 3/8 Miles | Turf
1 – Going To Vegas
This is not the greatest of editions of the Filly & Mare Turf, with most of the probable favorites coming in with just so-so form, so anything can happen. I’m going to lean towards the likely front runner here, the Richard Baltas trainee and daughter of Goldencents. She is in solid form, always runs well, and is coming in with some strong workouts. The form cycle is favoring her to run a big one here. The only question is if it is big enough to beat the best in this field.
12 – Audarya
Last year’s champion is back to contend again, and while not in the same form as she was last year, she gets back to firm turf which she favors and looks to be finding her way back to form. She needs to step up a bit to go back-to-back, but in a weaker field, maybe she has a chance. I favor her over a lot of others in this field.
Race 8 | Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1)
$2,000,000 | For Older Horses | 6 Furlongs | Dirt
9 – Dr. Schivel
There is a ton of speed packed into this Sprint, with plenty of the pack looking to press Jackie’s Warrior. Which leads me to the horse on the outside who has already won once at Del Mar this year in Dr. Schivel, the Bing Crosby & Santa Anita Sprint winner. This is a horse that loves this course and loves this distance, has tactical speed, can rate well, and can do just about anything even with trouble. Every time that the field has gotten tougher, he has stepped up more and more. He is a fighter and should be the one hitting the wire first. I’ll be using him with Jackie’s Warrior, C Z Rocket, & Firenze Fire underneath.
Race 9 | Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)
$2,000,000 | For Older | 1 Mile| Turf
7 – In Love (BRZ)
One of the new kids on the scene is the aging veteran from South America for Paulo Lobo, In Love. after moving through allowance class, Lobo stepped In Love up to stakes company to rousing success, capturing the TVG Stakes and the Keeneland Turf Mile in his last two. The Brazilian-bred does have a much tougher group, but his turn of foot is near the top of this group and puts him in a good spot to take this at a slight price.
10 – Blowout (GB)
It wasn’t long ago that she was a top choice of mine in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. Since then, she has gotten better. Although slayed by the graveyard of champions at Saratoga, she came away well and captured the First Lady at Keeneland last out. She is familiar with Del Mar and has been improving in form with each start. This will be her most difficult test yet. I’ll side with her and hope for the best.
3 – Space Blues
Love the angle of horses stepping up in distance to a mile on the turf at Del Mar. Space Blues fits the profile for winning this type of race at Del Mar, has great turn of foot, and might be the most talented horse in the field. Plus, who is going to doubt Charlie Appleby this year.
Race 10 | Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1)
$2,000,000 | For Older Fillies & Mares | 1 1/8 Mile| Dirt
8 – Shedaresthedevil
Letruska might have gotten the best of Shedaresthedevil earlier this year, but this daughter of Daredevil has the advantage across two turns. Brad Cox has given her a very easy year, only giving her a few freshen ups on her road to the Distaff. She has a great form progression heading into this race and is poised to run her best.
11 – Dunbar Road
If a speed duel grows on the front end, don’t forget about Dunbar Road. This Chad Brown trainee always shows up and is an excellent stalker. She is the type that just waits and waits until she finds a spot where there is a fast pace and then pounces to take a spot. The outside draw should help keep her going and is one to include on exotics.
Race 11 | Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)
$4,000,000 | For Older | 1 1/2 Mile| Turf
11 – Gufo
All year, Gufo has been a prime contender at these long distance turf races. He has dueled with the best, been just less than a few lengths away from Domestic Spending at times, and has been getting stronger each race. He tends to get in trouble when drawn to the inside, but now gets a clean trip on the outside and doesn’t need to worry about his rival in Domestic Spending. With a clean run, Gufo should be able to beat this field easily.
1 – Rockemperor
A strong winner of the Turf Classic at Belmont Park, Rockemperor is coming on to his own at the right time. He’s been prone to wide trips in the past, something he won’t have to deal with drawing the inside, and seemed to pop well taking the blinkers off. He is a different animal this year and looks to be getting better. Dangerous in this spot.
7 – Walton Street
Everything Charlie Appleby brings over this year is live and this one is no exception. This 7yo gelding by Cape Cross has been a major player throughout the year in international trips, winning the Canadian International at Woodbine last out, finishing just a few length behind eventual Arc Champ Torquator Tasso, and not being too far back from champions Mishriff and Chrono Genesis in the Dubai Sheema Classic. Tough to say that the Breeders’ Cup offers him some class relief from what he say in Germany and Dubai, but that seems to be the case. Godolphin stable jockey James Doyle returns with a very live mount here.
13 – Tarnawa (IRE)
The defending champion returns, with better form than she had when she shocked Magical last year. The runner up by less than a length in the Arc and Irish Champion Stakes, Tarnawa wants to cap off her fall with a win – and maybe this is the right spot. She gets a much lighter crowd than what she beat last year, but she doesn’t get the pace that she had last year – she was aided by a slower pace at Keeneland, but this field tends to be quicker. She is uber talented and a must include on all tickets, but winning might be a bit tougher.
Race 12 | Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)
$6,000,000 | For Older | 1 1/4 Mile| Dirt
9 – Max Player
Tactical speed is the name of the game here – the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Suburban winner looks to be one of the few that doesn’t need to get the lead early. Likely this race will come down to a duel between Max Player and Essential Quality down the stretch, and I’ll take the older gent here. He is a very different horse from what he was last year. I give him the benefit of the doubt in his first two starts this year – the trip to Saudi Arabia going one turn wasn’t easy for a type that likes the long, classic distance, and trying to rebound for Pimlico in just a few months isn’t something to go well. But since getting acclimated back to the states, he has been dominant on the NY circuit, being two really awesome horses in Mystic Guide and Happy Saver – who both would’ve gotten play from me had they been in this spot. He has taken to Del Mar well and finds himself in a good spot. This is a perfect race for him to step up.
4 – Essential Quality
The other horse with tactical speed, Essential Quality has followed up his Belmont Stakes victory with wins in the Jim Dandy and the Travers. Now, off a long layoff, he looks to notch another championship win for Godolphin. Could he go from Juvenile winner to Classic winner? Perhaps. I would’ve preferred for him to have had a start between the Travers and here, as he doesn’t tend to run his best off a long layoff, but with just one blemish on his resume, how can you not like him. Lot to like in him if he gets to the front at the top of the stretch.