Saturday, October 25, 2008


The Big Dance.

Here comes Curlin. He is the most accomplished horse in the field, and now he has to go against the best 10 furlong horse in Europe, over a surface that is equally novel to both. I see this race, despite all of the other accomplished, tough animals, as a match between these two beasts. Curlin is big, muscular, flowing, and graceful in his approach, while Duke of Marmalade is maneuverable, tall, and loves to outclass his rivals by many lengths.

This race may lack Big Brown, but I doubt he could have measured up to these two champions. Between them they have twelve G1 wins; Enough said.

BUT, will they take to the surface? Will they be able to hold off the brilliant synthetic specialists? Go Between will run well, but will it be good enough? The same goes for Tiago.

If I am to bet one horse in this race that will run well on the surface, it is none of the above. He has one race over the surface, and he should have won it. He is a full brother to multiple turf champions, his kick will be comparable to any horse you will see in any of these races, and comes from arguably the best stable in the world.

His name is Champs Elysees, and he is coming up to this race like the only horse capable of running down the two big champions, if traffic works in his favor. I think the distance is his best and he will give a good showing of himself.

Alas, I cannot pick against the top two. But, who will it be? If Duke of Marmalade and Curlin are lined up at the 1/8 pole, which no doubt Murtagh will make sure the former is, I cannot see the might Curlin out-kicking Duke of Marmalade. Danehills have taken quite well to the synthetics (see: Champs Elysees), and his damsire, Kingmambo, has had many offspring run well on the synthetics. He should outrun the speedy duo of stablemate Henrythenavigator and Godolphin rival Raven's Pass, and will be chased to no avail by the classy Tiago and Champs Elysees.

1. (4) Duke of Marmalade 6-1
2. (9) Curlin 8-5
3. (12) Champs Elysees 20-1
4. (4) Tiago 15-1
5. (8) Raven's Pass 10-1


Perhaps the classiest race of the day is the Breeders' Cup Turf. Soldier of Fortune will be difficult to beat in this race, given his ability to rate. If there is way to beat this horse, you have to find an animal with a strong kick. Soldier of Fortune is very similar to High Chaparral, as he is very much a grinding type. Horses with strong kicks like Red Rocks and Grand Couturier will have something to say about the last quarter mile.

Ultimately, I think this race will come down to two Europeans with huge finishing kicks: Eagle Mountain and Conduit. The latter will be tough, as Sir Michael Stoute always comes with guns loaded. For this reason, as this is a wide open race, I lean toward him. He is making his second start since July, while having a nice six week break from his classic win in the St. Leger at Doncaster, Great Britain.

Eagle Mountain's distance abilities may work against him here, and Soldier of Fortune will be nearly impossible to beat, but I think Ryan Moore will be on the best horse of the day. Red Rocks will have something to say about the race, while Grand Couturier is America's best chance at defending the homeland.

1. (9) Conduit 6-1
2. (4) Soldier of Fortune 3-1
3. (2) Red Rocks 9-2
4. (11) Eagle Mountain 6-1
5. (3) Grand Couturier 4-1


The one race that I am throwing out the synthetic book is the Sprint. I will probably eat my words, but this race is one that I am simply going to root for the horse that is the best.

This race, unlike many other Sprints, is a small field. Only eight horses line up, but there are three speed horses to watch. Black Seventeen, who beat Fabulous Strike in the slop, is a tough customer on the synthetic as well. After running a peak performance, I am expected him to bounce. Fatal Bullet has been riding up the ranks, winning races impressively, and is trained by Reade Baker, a talented conditioner. Today he will have to go well under :22 for his first quarter, so I doubt he will be ready to do that against Fabulous Strike.

Fabulous Strike is running for the second time off a layoff, should take to the synthetic, and is the fastest force of pace. He will get the jump on the other two pace-setters from the inside, and will hopefully have enough to hold off the two closers: Midnight Lute and Street Boss. Do not count out the tough conditioner, Clement, with In Summation. He will be the only true stalker with a chance here, and will take advantage of a fast pace.

So, in the end, I look for Fabulous Strike to hold off Midnight Lute and Street Boss, with In Summation being out-kicked by those two, and Black Seventeen bouncing back in fifth.

1. (3) Fabulous Strike 7-2
2. (4) Midnight Lute 5-1
3. (2) Street Boss 3-1
4. (7) In Summation 8-1
5. (6) Black Seventeen 12-1

Juvenile Turf

One of my favorite races of the day is the Juvenile Turf. This is the 2nd running of this race, and it is full of class. The best American is Skipadate, a fantastic son of champion Skip Away, who has not become the stallion force that everyone wished. Though he will be the one I am rooting for, I believe he will be outclassed by Coolmore's Westphalia.

Westphalia ran a huge race last out in the Champagne (G2) in England, a race that is well placed (6 weeks) for this one. I think this colt, given a patented Murtagh ride, will be tough and should run from the back of the pack with Bittel Road.

Another closer to watch is the Canadian, Grand Adventure. This colt ran a huge race to stay undefeated last out in the Summer, barely nipping Skipadate (see: photo). He ran a nice Beyer, and should be a tough customer if given the proper ride by Bejarano. Frostad has come to the west coast before and won a Breeders' Cup race (Chief Bearheart), so I do not doubt his training prowess.

Lastly, never underestimate ex-Californian, John Gosden. He brings Donativum, who is going to be difficult to beat under the pace-smart Dettori. Last out he beat 23 other horses under 129 lbs. He gets a rider upgrade and has run extremely well on firm turf. Like Bittel Road, I look for him to run well but be outclassed by the previously mentioned trio of Westphalia, the proverbial bridesmaid Skipadate, and Canadian champion-to-be, Grand Adventure.

1. (3) Westphalia 3-1
2. (10) Skipadate 8-1
3. (12) Grand Adventure 5-1
4. (4) Donativum 8-1
5. (11) Bittel Road 4-1


The young ones get rolling in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile. Like a great deal of the dirt races, you have to look at their pedigrees to see who will run the best.

The first pedigree that pops out at me is West Side Bernie. I believe this colt will be overlooked because of his post position, despite the fact that he has two turn experience and has had outside posts in both races. He will be under-bet.

Bushranger is the class of this field with two G1 wins in Europe and a third place in another. He's a gorgeous bay (see: photo) who is from the Danzig line (through Danetime and Danehill), who should at least be useful on this surface. He drops a few pounds in this race, which will help, and he has Murtagh, who is the Prado of Europe. He places his horses in the best possible spot, and I expect this to be no different.

Square Eddie will be tough if he repeats his last, but this field is a serious one that will give him more of a tussle than the Breeders' Futurity. Yesterday, we saw another Keeneland runaway winner 'lay an egg,' when (my choice) Carriage Trail ran a dull fourth in the Ladies Classic.

Munnings will be a question mark, considering he has yet to run over a synthetic course. He gets Velazquez back, which will help greatly. Last time, in the Champagne, he should have pushed the pace-setting winner, but DeCarlo chose to take him off the pace. I am not convinced he will take to the surface, but I could be wrong.

Lastly, we have Midshipman. This colt is a bit of a grinder, but given the right ride, could be a winner. Gomez picks up the mount, which is a huge plus. Baffert has been developing this well-bred colt progressively, and that leads me to believe he is the little-known 'horse to beat.'

1. (11) Midshipman 6-1
2. (13) West Side Bernie 12-1
3. (12) Bushranger 6-1
4. (4) Square Eddie 3-1
5. (1) Munnings 6-1


The real grass racing gets under way in the Mile. This race is full of really classy horses (and mares), but the difference between this and other Santa Anita Breeders' Cup Miles is that it is eleven will line up, not fourteen. I think the best horse will win, but it might not be who everyone is expecting.

I have been watching U.S. Ranger for over a year, and know quite well that he was regarded as Coolmore's best guineas hope of 2007. He has been kept sprinting this year, but never in five furlong races. His race in the Darley July Cup (see: photo) was huge under 131 lbs, barely losing to Europe's best (and possibly most beautiful gray; you know I love them!) sprinter, Marchand d'Or. He has been kept at longer sprints, like last out in the seven furlong G1 Prix de la Foret, where he was only 2.5 lengths behind Natagora, who is possibly the best three year old filly in Europe. He carried 6 lbs more than her that day, and today, under equal weights to most of these horses, with Murtagh in the irons, I cannot see him being denied.

A lot can be said of his chief European rival here, Goldikova. She is riding a three-race win streak, including two group ones at this distance. She is trained by Miesque's jockey, Freddie Head, who obviously knows a little about good miler fillies. The one strike here is that she is ridden by Peslier, who often poorly times his American rides (see: Freedom Cry), and will have to deal with a left-hand turn for the first time. If she does well with that, she is the filly to watch.

The Americans will not be denied a say in the outcome today, though. We bring three really tough older horses. Kip Deville will be a tough defender of his crown, but it is well known that he only has an edge on softer turf. On harder ground, he is just as tough as anyone else. The horse to catch is the ultra-classy Daytona, who has won seven of his last nine races. He loves to set a quick pace and pick it up again, which is easily possible today at a distance that is 1/8-1/4 mile shorter than his optimum.

Lastly, Whatsthescript is possibly John Sadler's best chance at an upset today. He will be closing late, but should be outpaced by the aforementioned Europeans. I am hoping for U.S. Ranger to show how classy he is, if nothing else, for being from the last crop of possibly the best Breeders' Cup stallion of all time: Danzig. Not to mention being out of a Red Ransom half-sister to Dynaformer. This colt is Coolmore at a price; Take him. Put him on top of a hugely under bet classy colt, in Daytona, and you have my boxcar exacta of the day.

1. (7) U S Ranger 20-1
2. (5) Daytona 20-1
3. (4) Goldikova 8-5
4. (2) Kip Deville 7-2
5. (11) Whatsthescript 6-1

Dirt Mile

The races keep getting better!

The Dirt Mile, in its second running, is back at an actual "mile," here. The synthetic is probably, once again, the biggest boundary and attribute to a great deal of these horses. This may be the best chance for people to make money, with many of my favorite horses looking like they are going to go off at over 10-to-1.

The two big long shots that people should take notice of are Rebellion and Two Step Salsa. They are trained by Breeders' Cup "big dance" trainers, Graham Motion and Julio Canani. These conditioners will have them ready and probably have been pointing to this race for quite some time. Rebellion will be coming late and Two Step Salsa will be trying to keep his head in front of the tough Well Armed the entire race.

Well Armed will most likely outclass most of these horses in the final 3/16th's, but I do not believe he will outclass all of them. Lewis Michael is the one colt who has run huge numbers and comes from a tough trainer who knows how to get a horse ready for any type of race. Lewis Michael is a synthetic-loving full brother to the classy turf mare and dirt champion, Dreaming of Anna, who will be sitting off of a few super-fast speedsters (Two Step Salsa, Well Armed, Slew's Tizzy, Mast Track). Sitting near Lewis Michael, I expect to see the always tough Surf Cat. Headley, once again, has a horse here who would destroy these on a regular dirt course, but is making due with a colt who is classy and tough.

I am not sure why Coa is on Lewis Michael, but I hope that he has him in the proverbial "catbird seat" at the quarter pole, alongside Surf Cat, and ready to run away from them like he did in the Pat O'Brien at Del Mar. This will put an exclamation point on a really gritty and diverse career that you would expect from any offspring of Rahy.

1. (1) Lewis Michael 8-1
2. (8) Well Armed 8-5
3. (5) Two Step Salsa 20-1
4. (2) Surf Cat 10-1
5. (10) Rebellion 15-1

Turf Sprint

One of my favorite races of the entire Breeders' Cup program is the inaugural Turf Sprint. This race is bald speedsters and bold closers clashing down the hill and into a 1/4 mile stretch that crosses over a sometimes troublesome main course. Sometimes the main course impedes a closer's momentum, and thus this course often favors speed horses.

I would not be surprised if today a track record was set. The beautiful and fast gray gelding, California Flag, along with Hero's Reward, True to Tradition and Mr. Nightlighter will all be fiercely fast out of the gate. California Flag may be the fastest, but that is something we will not know until the gates are opened.

In the meantime, I do have to admit that I am throwing them all out due to their abundance, and going toward a classy European trained by the venerable Jeremy Noseda, Fleeting Spirit. This filly, tackling the older males is a staggering closer who will finally get the insane pace she needs to be competitive at the highest level. She will have a good post (2) and will be coming at the end under the always dangerous Johnny Murtagh.

1. (2) Fleeting Spirit 6-1
2. (3) True to Tradition 8-1
3. (14) Mr. Nightlighter 3-1
4. (1) Hero's Reward 20-1
5. (10) California Flag 10-1


In the Marathon we have the match-up of Americans trying to stretch their speed vs. Europeans trying to adapt to U.S. synthetics. I am going to have to side with the latter. The Americans are not very impressive in this race, side from the ornery roan, Delightful Kiss, who has been BURNING up the track at Golden Gate since his win in the All American.

I expect Zappa to go to the front, but he will have plenty of company with Booyah and Talamo. He will be tough to catch, despite this, but I believe the Euros will be coming. Sixties Icon, if he likes the surface, is the class of this field. There are few trainers better at getting a horse to run well in America than Jeremy Noseda, who has been pointing this English classic winner to this race for a while. Alas, I do not think he will win. That money is going toward to other Euro, Muhannak. This colt is by Chester House, whose offspring really love synthetics. This makes sense, being that Chester House could run on anything, had a huge kick, and was lightly framed. Lightly framed horses have an innate advantage over a deep bouncy surface. They can recover more quickly from each step, as well as kick very strongly through the lane. Ventura was a perfect example of that.

I am looking at Muhannak over Sixties Icon in an All-Anglo exacta. Delightful Kiss is honest and coming up to a big race, but I still think his best race is a length shorter than the aforementioned. Right behind Delightful Kiss I would put pace-setter Zappa and Neil Drysdale's (whom we know is ALWAYS dangerous on Breeders' Cup day) charge, Cedar Mountain, who is 1-for-2 on synthetics. This colt is here for a reason, but I think he will fall short of a distance/synthetic star in Muhannak.

1. (5) Muhannak 15-1
2. (4) Sixties Icon 2-1
3. (3) Delightful Kiss 6-1
4. (6) Zappa 5-2
5. (8) Cedar Mountain 6-1

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ladies' Classic

For the first time in years, the Distaff becomes its own centerpiece. For all of those years it, along with the sprint, has often been the most competitive event of the day. Today, in the newly thought out Ladies Day, it has been re-coined the Ladies' Classic, which is the only stupid aspect of this.

On a day for classic performances, many believe this is going to be the crowning of a huge year for Zenyatta. She will go off as the heaviest favorite of the day, but I find flaws in this nearly flawless creature, that force me to go against the grain. Perhaps I simply want to beat a big favorite, which I am prone to, but there is a chance that the hype is too big and the opposition too poorly regarded.

I have two reasons to bet against this filly.
1.) Her worst race was at this distance. She won with a speed figure 4.5 lengths slower than her races at 8.5 furlongs. Some say it was the heat that got to her, but I think it was an overconfident jockey. Mike Smith is often overly confident, and that could be her undoing. Smith could be overconfident on a filly that could come from anywhere, like Azeri, but not here. This filly is a one-run specialist with a stride that needs to build on its own momentum. If he moves too early again, she will be prone to reason #2:
2.) Carriage Trail. This filly is going to be difficult to beat. She is trained by a Breeders' Cup master, Shug McGaughey, and is coming off a breakout race in the Spinster. The last two times McGaughey won this race were with Spinster runners: Inside Information and Pleasant Home. If he has her right, she can get the jump on Zenyatta and dare her to catch her. She is also a more maneuverable filly than the big favorite, which makes her even more dangerous.

The three big "X Factors" in this race are the one-two finishers from last year, Champion Ginger Punch and Hystericalady, along with the (destined to be highly under-bet) Santa Teresita. The latter is coming into her second race off a layoff, while also giving Zenyatta all she could handle in the Milady back in May. She regains Michael Baze, the last rider to win on her, and loves the surface. Ginger Punch likes the surface but is coming off two tough races. She seems to have lost at least a length, and is the one filly that Frankel has been surprisingly quiet about. My feeling here is that Stronach wanted to run and Frankel figured she would at least give a respectable showing in her career bow. Lastly, my favorite filly in the race is Hysteralady. On regular dirt, she is my pick in this race. On synthetics, she is merely #3. She will be tough, she will give them all she can handle, and then she will be overpowered by two well-adapted synthetic-loving fillies.

Of the two Godolphin fillies, I think Music Note will be tougher, despite going off at higher odds. She's out of a Sadler's Wells mare and should like the extra cushion. But, both of these fillies are running into a field and circumstances that are beyond their prowess. Bear Now is in way over her head. On a dirt course, she is in the top five, but that is null and void.

1. (5) Carriage Trail 6-1
2. (1) Zenyatta 4-5
3. (2) Hystericalady 10-1
4. (6) Ginger Punch 5-1
5. (7) Santa Teresita 15-1

Filly & Mare Turf

The first of the "SERIOUS" races comes in the Filly & Mare Turf. This race is the clash of the mighty grey (or roan)'s, it seems. From Ireland, we have the brilliant 3-time G1 winner, Halfway to Heaven. This filly is absolutely an absolutely gorgeous dark roan/grey and can win from anywhere.

Then we have the American combo of Wait a While and Forever Together. Both of these fillies come off smashing wins and have completely different styles. Wait a While will sit off the pace and "wait a while" until the 5/16 pole. Forever Together will come from out of the clouds and hope the stretch magically lengthens to her liking, or the fillies ahead of her all get stung by bees.

BUT, I am going to go against the grain today. Or, rather, against the grey(s). Today is the day for Mauralakana. This filly has fought all year and deserves to win this race for Christophe Clement. She has won 5 of 7 on all types of going, and will be ready to go one more time. She definitely deserves a chance here, and is my most reliable bet in this race. Wait a While will be tough to catch, Halfway to Heaven will be nearly impossible to out kick, and Forever Together will be arduous to hold off, but I put my money and kind regards on Mauralakana.

Almost more difficult than that is finding which filly will come in fifth place. In a race where I expect they all will finish within 6 lengths of one another, fifth place is no bad showing. To me, I must once again go with the turf master, Christophe Clement. I think he will have his other Charge, the ULTRA-classy Vacare ready to pounce. She may ever run better than we expect her to, so do not be afraid to throw her on top if the race falls apart. She had a poor ride and trip last out, but will get a better chance this time, as Valdivia is a highly underrated judge of pace. If she's in 3rd or 4th after a half mile, she will be tough to beat. Alas, I think she will be out-kicked late (being that 10 furlongs is a furlong beyond her best distance) by the aforementioned four fillies. I'm throwing out Dynaforce, simply because she will be over-bet due to the Mott factor, and will be slightly less of a 'force' on harder ground.

1. (7) Mauralakana 5-1
2. (5) Wait a While 7-2
3. (8) Halfway to Heaven 3-1
4. (3) Forever Together 4-1
5. (2) Vacare 12-1

Juvenile Fillies

The races just do not get any easier. Thirteen fillies line up in the Juvenile Fillies, and a case can be made for over half of them. I will narrow it down to five.

The first name that jumps out at me in this race is Persistently, who is persistently running well. She has yet to go two turns, but I have no doubts that the Phipps Stable representative will be ready to do it, despite being by a sprinter sire (Smoke Glacken). Her dam is a Deputy Minister mare out of Heavenly Prize, who relished 10 furlongs. Distance-wise, she should be just fine. Also, I cannot find a reason to think she will not do well on synthetics. I think she will be coming at the end, but will fall short to four others that I highly regard.

Pursuit of Glory is a filly from the Coolmore operation that should adore the synthetic surface. In fact, she broke her maiden at Dundalk (Ireland) on polytrack. She is jumping up 2.5 furlongs and dealing with turns (two of them) for the first time in her life, but I think she will be up for the challenge. She is the best-bred filly in the field (big surprise, Coolmore!), by Fusaichi Pegasus, out of Sophisticat, who was a multiple G1 winner on turf, but is by Storm Cat out of the great Serena's Song. Sophisticat also ran into one of the best Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies races ever when she ran a relatively close fifth respectably behind Tempera, Imperial Gesture, Bella Bellucci, and You. ALL either G1 winners or very close to it (Bella Bellucci was perhaps the most highly regarded and was a multiple G2 winner. She also is a full sister to phenomenal Japanese Champion Kurofune). The distance jump will keep Pursuit of Glory from the winner's circle, but it will not keep her out of the money.

You must respect easy breakout performances, and those are just what we got from C.S. Silk and Sky Diva in their respective one-turn mile races in the Arlington-Washington Lassie and Frizette. They were equally as impressive. The nod has to go to Sky Diva, who should take well to synthetics. Being by Pulpit-line sire, Sky Mesa, whose line has done well on the rubbery sand, as well as training over Fair Hill's Tapeta, will serve this filly well. She is the class of the field, already winning around two turns and has a genius, Ramon Dominguez, in the saddle. The filly to beat.

C.S. Silk will be on the lead, but unless she can rate off the tough Be Smart, one must throw her down the ranks. Alas, we come to the big white phenom (and probably favorite), Stardom Bound. This Christopher Paasch filly is going to be coming at the end, but whom will she catch? If Sky Diva runs her race and starts pulling away from C.S. Silk and the leg-weary duo of Be Smart and Pursuit of Glory, I do not think she will be caught.

1. (4) Sky Diva 5-1
2. (10) Stardom Bound 8-5
3. (11) Pursuit of Glory 12-1
4. (8) C.S. Silk 10-1
5. (2) Persistently 12-1

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Despite the Juvenile Fillies' Turf being a wide-open race, it is not shaping up as an extremely strong showing of talent. When this is the case, I find that one should always look at the connections of the horses. Certain connections have their respective animals more focused toward the big races, and their records reflect it.

Last year, in the first juvenile turf race of any kind, Aiden O'Brien nearly stole the show with a good second place finish. This year, he returns in the inaugural juvenile filly race with a 12-1 longshot named Heart Shaped. This Storm Cat filly, out of an Alydar mare, is bred to love the harder turf, which she will get at Santa Anita. She was fifth last out in the Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) at six furlongs. I would be more worried about the distance jump if O'Brien had not done something similar with Johannesburg. Not as good as Johannesburg, you say? Not a big deal. This field has no Came Homes, Officers, Repents, or Siphonics in it.

The two Americans who look the most promising will come from opposite sides of the pack. Laragh will be on the lead, especially with her 2 post. I worry about her being able to reproduce her last race (the most impressive prep-race of the field) on 15 days of rest. The other filly is Consequence, who boasts the best pedigree in the field. She is by El Prado, who can produce anything, out of Educated Risk, who was a brilliant dirt miler all 3 years she ran. She was also a half sister to the brilliantly fast Inside Information. Educated Risk, as a juvenile, was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies to Eliza. Consequence has not run any blockbuster Beyers, but she has looked impressive, and definitely should enjoy firmer turf and a good pace to run at on Friday. I expect her to be passing many horses late, if not all of them.

One of the two fillies to watch out for in this race are Baffert's Internallyflawless, who has a very impressive course and distance win in a maiden race. Baffert steps fillies up who are ready, and if she is in this one (she still has to draw in with a defection), she will be tough. The other is another European named Beyond Our Reach. This filly comes from Group 1's in Europe and will be ridden by Dettori. I expect her to like a harder surface and put on a good show of herself here.

So, as far as dynamite Breeders' Cup connections we have Coolmore over Prado over McGaughey, followed by Baffert and Dettori. Does it get much better?

1. (12) Heart Shaped 12-1
2. (2) Laragh 7-2
3. (7) Consequence 8-1
4. (13) Internally Flawless 8-1
5. (10) Behond Our Reach 15-1

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Filly & Mare Sprint

The Breeders' Cup gets kicked off with a bang on Friday with the Filly & Mare Sprint. Now at 7 furlongs, the race is a platform for fillies looking to stretch their speed or shorten their closing kicks. In this, I believe you have to consider the nature of the track, itself, and the speed of the fillies, themselves.

There is a great deal of speed in this race, highlighted by the dynamite starter, Dearest Trickski. I believe this filly will be winging it from the outside (post 9). The one kicker, though, is she has to clear Dream Run (who was fast enough to set the pace last year, at 6 furlongs). This does not sit well for Dearest Trickski, so I will throw her out. The distance of 7 furlongs is her limit, so under this pressure I have to pass. In this, I will look at stalkers and closers. Dream Run, if she loves the surface, will be softened by such a battle. I cannot see her putting Dearest Trickski away and holding off a fleet of closers/stalkers.

The stretch at Santa Anita is shorter than most (like Monmouth's last year), but the Pro-Ride will suit closers better than a dirt course. In this, we have to look at who are the fastest stalkers and who are the fastest closers. Two names pop out to me, according to the numbers: Zaftig and Indian Blessing. They are lengths faster than their rivals on the numbers, but both have to answer some important questions: will they perform well off a layoff (Zaftig) and will they be as fast on a synthetic course (Indian Blessing). Zaftig, being by Gone West (who produces a great deal of turf horses) out of a Cozzene (a turf champion) mare seems to be made for the surface. Since the Acorn, I have believed that she is the fastest of her generation, but an injury has kept her in the barn until now. Jerkins is batting 22% with 'off the shelf' runners, and comes from a typically conservative training philosophy. The only worry is that his father (Allen) twice had arguably the best filly in a race (Sky Beauty) and could not win with her in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Nonetheless, I am going to chalk that fault, and expect her class to get her there on Friday.

I cannot leave out Indian Blessing, especially with the hot pace in her face. Her class will keep her second, or third. A third filly that pops up, in my mind, is Ventura. She has the speed and closing ability to win this if Zaftig or Indian Blessing do not take to the surface. Frankel will have her ready, and we have no doubts about her ability to handle the surface. I am going to throw out (of the top 3) Intangaroo, as I believe she is 3 lengths slower on synthetics than dirt. Miraculous Miss and Magnificience will be coming late, as well. I have a great deal of respect for the latter, but I believe she is not a huge fan of the surface. This seems to be the curse of Bruce Headley's runners.

A 'doozy' to start the day(s) goes to Zaftig.

1. (6)Zaftig 8-1
2. (5)Indian Blessing 2-1
3. (12)Ventura 4-1
4. (3)Intangaroo 6-1
5. (1)Magnicience 15-1

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The final weekend of Breeders' Cup preparatory races did not treat me well. My picks went 2-for-21, with 10 second place finishes, many in photo finishes. I did manage to hit two trifectas, so all was not lost.

Instead of dwelling on a series of bad luck races, I will focus on my next few entries on the approaching 'Big Dance.' Over the next couple weeks, I shall thoroughly evaluate all fourteen of the approaching Breeders' Cup races, and their respective divisions.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Big Final Breeders' Cup Preview Weekend!


1. Precious Kitten
2. Stormy West
3. Dreaming of Anna
Precious Kitten is simply faster than the rest and will be really tough to beat if she's anywhere near where she was when losing in a dogfight with Vacare last year. Stormy West loves Keeneland and Mott will have her ready. She ran a huge race in the Jenny Wiley in April on the same course and is bred beautifully. Dreaming of Anna will make all the pace and will kick strong. This race should set her up for a run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She should love SA's synthetic and likes nine furlongs. But, today, she looks to be below the challenge of Precious Kitten and the ever-savvy Bejarano.

1. Dream Empress
2. Devotee
3. Be Smart
I am completely throwing out Mani Bhavan, the big favorite. She's a sprinter until proven otherwise, and 8.5 furlongs over a tiring surface and a long stretch at Keeneland will serve her poorly. Dream Empress is prepared by a master and Devotee is bred to love the surface. I'll throw 2nd-time starter Be Smart in there, who is by Smarty Jones out of a 3/4 sister to the brilliant Buddha. I would put her higher, but nowadays having Lukas as a trainer is more of a liability in big races than a bonus. Also, going from 6 furlongs to a two turn race out of a big win is a vintage 'bad idea' move that Lukas does and usually fails at. This race is a toss up, but I think Dream Empress is going to love the surface and the distance, and McPeek has horses ready to run at Keeneland, especially in the Fall.

1. Sky Mom
2. Skylighter
3. Pious Ashley
I am throwing out favorite Golden Doc A, because I believe she is a synthetic lover. Sky Mom is the horse to beat and Skylighter is the most intriguing filly in the field. The latter drew the rail, which will help in a big field in her big stakes debut. She's bred well enough to get it done, but I think a tougher Sky Mom will win this race big. Pious Ashley was supposed to be a great filly, but has yet to pan out. Hopefully this field is to her liking, and Romans is a trustworthy stakes trainer. Making only her fourth start, Pious Ashley is dangerous, especially being a late developing offspring of Include.

1. Arson Squad
2. Past the Point
3. Anak Nakal
Arson Squad is a great horse and hates synthetics. Now, finally on the east coast, he is ready to prove that at his favorite distance. I hope he demolishes this field, but that's a tall task. Past the Point ran big against Curlin, but today he should is on a more speed-favoring course. I think he will get the better of fellow speed Timber Reserve and hold off a late closing Anak Nakal (for whom the speed bias will work against).


1. Talent Search
2. Noonmark
3. Semaphore Man
If Talent Search is at his best and likes the polytrack, then he wins. Off the layoff is not a worry with new trainer Frankel. He is simply too fast and too talented. Noonmark, the best bred horse in the field (by Unbridled's Song out of a Storm Cat half-sister to Formal Gold) is honest and should be primed for a big one, while Semaphore Man is the unspoken star of the Southeastern sprint division who could easily run well enough to win or place.

1. Gio Ponti
2. Court Vision
3. Wesley
With sweeping turns and a nice stretch, Gio Ponti will win this race. He is the best American turf colt, which does not say much, and is a length or so better than both Wesley and Court Vision. Ready's Echo could sneak up and grab a spot if someone doesn't take to the course.


1. Terrain
2. Majestic Blue
3. Zion
Terrain should remain "unbeaten" and win this. Advice will be right there, but his post works against him, so I had to throw him out. Instead I'll throw in McLaughlin's highly touted Majestic Blue. Zion is bred to both love synthetics and a distance of ground. Asmussen will have this colt ready to run. Terrain is by Sky Mesa and looks like he could be special if given the chance.

1. Lord Admiral
2. Lovelace
3. Thorn Song
This race is surprisingly weak. The two to beat are the Europeans, Lord Admiral and Lovelace, who are coming out of two of Europe's most prestigious races. I expect Thorn Song to outlast a bouncing Rahy's Attourney. Also, I believe Shakis is overraced over the last few weeks and does not care for Keeneland's turf course. So, I believe the pace will be honest, if not fast, setting up for the late-running Euros that should go off at a decent price.

E.P. Taylor-G1 WO 4:00
1. Hostess
2. J'ray
3. Folk Opera
Sealy Hill runs for the final time in this race. It is too bad to see her go, but I am not here to feel sorry for a very unsubstantial loss. Hostess ran a nice, nice race last out at Saratoga, and I expect this race to be right up her alley. James Bond is still one of the best trainers at keeping a horse at his/her peak, and I will be rooting for her to defend America's honor in Canada's biggest turf race for females. J'ray is always there and should be there again, while Folk Opera takes a class drop after facing the best turf filly in the world in Zarkava in the Vermeille a few weeks ago. One of the better races of the weekend.

1. Skipadate
2. Grand Adventure
3. Star of David
Class wins when it comes to young horses and Casse has a good one in Skipadate. It is also really nice to finally see a Skip Away colt with some genuine ability. Frostad juveniles are always tough first-time-stakes horses, so I throw the well-bred Grand Adventure in there for the place. The ace up my sleeve is Star of David, a rare Asmussen colt who to be stabled at WO. I believe this colt will be ready for the jump in class and is from the ever-dangerous offspring of Bernstein.

1. Quijano
2. Doctor Dino
3. Champs Elysees
This is the time when Quijano gets his revenge... on everyone. Champs Elysees is better at shorter distances and will not have an answer to the top two's best races. Doctor Dino will be tough, but I cannot bet a horse who will probably go off around 4/5.

1. Quietly Mine
2. Hero's Reward
3. Hellvelyn
Clement has been gearing this colt toward a chance at revenge against the big turf sprinter, Hero's reward. I think this is the time that Gomez gets him there. Hero's Reward, as always, will be tough. A horse to watch is the 2nd-off-layoff Hellvelyn from McLaughlin's barn, and with smart jockey Bravo in the irons.

1. Persistently
2. Miss Ocean City
3. Heavenly Vision
Persistently should have won the Matron, with a better ride. Today she should be a better filly and a tough customer. Miss Ocean City and Heavenly Vision both come from barns that have proven to be extremely tough in fall two year old races at Belmont, Zito and Baffert. Both are also at 10/1 or above, which is delicious.

1. Brave Victory
2. Hello Broadway
3. Break Water Edison
Brave Victory has been super-impressive and I trust Zito if he brings him back off two weeks. Cribnote, I will throw out due to the blinkers. He will burn himself out. Instead I'll throw in Hello Broadway and Break Water Edison, two colts with futures. Break Water Edison is an impressive specimen who will go off at great odds, and I loved his race two back. I am also throwing out Vineyard Haven simply because I think he will finish fourth behind my top three. I am deathly afraid of Gone Astray, as I believe he will run much better in this race than the Futurity. But, in the end, we must decide our top three- and I cannot throw out the ones listed.

1. Wild Gams
2. Indyanne
3. Sugar Swirl
Wild Gams loves the track, the distance, and is due to run big. Indyanne will probably run very much the same as last time when she barely lost. Sugar Swirl is a classy, classy mare who will run her race- it just will not be enough to win.

1. Pyro
2. Chris Got Even
3. Power Game
Despite the outside post, which I think will help, this is Pyro's race to win or lose. I think he's the horse to beat and Power Game will be right there, as well. Chris Got Even is my 'wild card,' because I think Zito has been taking his time with this colt who should give a good showing of himself at Hoosier.


GREY-G3 WO 3:35

1. Dance Into Heaven
2. Southern Exchange
3. Bear's Conductor
When Sam-Son Farm enters a maiden in a race, it is not a rare feat for them to win. Dance Into Heaven is a good looking colt who should give a great account of his golden genes. Southern Exchange is bred to handle the distance, but after backing up at Del Mar at seven panels, I worry about his ability to handle it at this point in his career. Bear's Conductor should run well for Reade Baker, who is hot recently. He's by Congaree, whom I loved as a racehorse, and is bred well enough to be able to handle the polytrack. Stimulus Plan will be tough, but I worry about his endurance, so I had to throw him out.


1. Driving Snow
2. Bittel Road
3. Giant Oak
I'm going to take a shot in the dark and throw Driving Snow on top in this race. Verglas is a very underrated stallion and this colt is the only true grass pedigree in the race. Bittel Road proved a force to be reckoned in the With Anticipation, but I believe the inside post will work against him. Giant Oak was my original pick, but I worry about his step up in class and an inside post. He will have to either show speed or worry about traffic. As with many juvenile turf races, it is a toss-up.


1. Livin Lovin
2. Retraceable
3. Van Lear Rose
When Klesaris ships, he's dangerous. Dominguez will give this filly the best possible ride, as well. Retraceable is Casse's best hope (hence Husbands in the sattle) and Catherin Day Phillips, like her father, is great with developing young horses. I expect Van Lear Rose to be very tough in the straight.

1. Jibboom
2. Carriage Trail
3. Unbridled Belle
I am a registered member of the Jibboom fan club. She's beautiful, flashy, and loves synthetics. She runs just like her father, Mizzen Mast, and should be the horse to beat in this race. Carriage Trail is always tough and should be right there, while Unbridled Belle does not promise to be as affective on synthetic surfaces. Go Jibboom!


1. Harlem Rocker

2. Visiona
3. Tale of Ekati
As many of you know, I am also a registered member of the Harlem Rocker
fan club. I think he's in the top three sophomores, talent-wise, and is going to be a tough customer on Sunday. I look for him to outsprint Visionaire after getting the jump on him, and close down Cool Coal Man and Tale of Ekati. Da Tara chose a bad path by running here, when Zito (who usually is great with picking spots) should have aimed him toward the Breeders' Cup Endurance at his beloved twelve furlongs.

Adolphson Thoroughbred Consulting

Washington, D.C.