Full-card analysis for Friday's Breeders' Cup races at Del Mar

Is the third time the charm for Stellar Wind in the Breeders' Cup Distaff? Will Elate and Abel Tasman settle their battle in the 3-year-old division? We'll find out Friday at Del Mar on what should be an exciting first day of the 2017 championships.

Check out my analysis for the full Friday card:

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Race 1
-Damascus Stakes (Grade 2), 7 furlongs, 3 & up

#1 Silent Bird won this race last year and has been training well coming into this year’s edition. He will get plenty of pace to run into, and with the addition of blinkers he should get the jump on the other closers. #5 Americanize ran well over the surface last July following a 4-month layoff, and has 2 solid works after a dazzling effort last out. #6 Mr. Hinx fell a length short to BC Sprint contender Roy H in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Grade 1) last month at 41-1. It looks like there’s other early speed that could soften him up late though.

Selections 1-5-6

Race 2
-$40,000 O/C, 1 1/16 miles turf, 3 & up

In a race loaded with early speed,
#4 Temple Keys is the strongest closer in the race, but returns from a May break where he was pulled up. He’s been working regularly for this, and trainer Baltas is 18% off the layoff. #2 Fritz Johansen broke slow back on 10/14, but made up considerable ground at this level. He must be included in all spots of vertical wagers. #11 Ritzy A.P. likes to be hit the board, but will be over-bet in the win pool. A definite contender, but don’t take anything less than 5/1.

Selections 4-2-11

Race 3
-$40,000 O/C, 7 furlongs, 3 & up

#2 City of Light
 is the fastest and most versatile runner in the field. Look for him to sit a perfect trip behind the speed ball, #1 Prime Issue. #10 Dabster is an undefeated son of Curlin, but hasn’t been seen since January. He’s working once a week since late August, and appears ready according to his “breezing” workout last week, a designation rarely given out by Californian clockers. #1 Prime Issue is the speed of the speed, but has trouble with the distance. Expect him to contend for minor awards as he gives way in the late stages.

Selections 2-10-1

Race 4
-Golden State Juvenile, 7 furlongs, 2 year old fillies

#6 Pulpit Rider
has been ultra-impressive in 2 starts since drawing the rail on debut. The added furlong doesn’t appear to be a factor for the stalker that should get enough pace to run into. #1 One Fast Broad is back sprinting on the dirt following 2 turf routes. His speed figures make him dangerous here and already owns a victory over the Del Mar dirt. #3 Ismelucky has done nothing wrong in 3 starts, and rates a big chance from just off the pace.

Selections 6-1-3

Race 5
-Marathon Stakes (Grade 2), 1 3/4 miles, 3 & up

#7 Hard Aces
was second in this race last year, owns some of the best figures in the field and is the only true marathoner of the bunch. He appears dominant in a field of runners who may not want to go this far. Considering this race projects a strong early pace, look for #8 Dressed in Hermes to be running on latest of all and grab a piece. #1 Archanova has stretched out to the marathon trip in his last 2 with moderate success.

Selections 7-8-1 

Race 6
-Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile turf, 2 year old fillies

#11 Rushing Fall
hails from the Chad Brown barn and has been flawless in 2 starts. She’s closed in slow paces and handled soft & firm going, while putting up lofty speed figures. A quicker pace than normal would only further help her chances. #2 Happily scored against males last out in France for trainer Aiden O’Brien. She is a main contender and will deservedly challenge the top pick for favoritism. #8 Significant Form is also undefeated in 2 starts for Brown. Though virtually looking the same on paper, when watching her run, she doesn’t possess the same turn of foot as her stablemate.

Selections 11-2-8  

Race 7
-Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 1 mile, 3 & up

#8 Accelerate
was 3rd in the Dirt Mile last year as an inexperienced 3 year old. This year he’s gotten much faster, as evidenced by his defeat of Arrogate over this surface on 7/22. He loves Del Mar, will sit just off the hot early pace and get first crack on them turning for home. #3 Sharp Azteca is the speed of the speed. If no one challenges him early, he will be very dangerous. #2 Giant Expectations gets an advantageous draw along the inside and will sit a nice mid-pack trip while saving ground. It should be noted he is the only Breeders’ Cup mount for hall of fame jockey, Gary Stevens.

Selections 8-3-2

Race 8
-Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, 1 mile turf, 2 year olds

Another Chad Brown juvenile,
#8 Voting Control, was hampered by a slow early pace last out when rallying late to run second in the Pilgrim Stakes (Grade 2) at Belmont. Irish-bred #7 James Garfield is a Group 2 winner that will flourish at a mile. Look for him to sit a good trip just behind the early leaders. #6 Masar’s only defeats have come at the hands of 2 Juvenile Fillies Turf starters (Happily and September). It’s been reported he doesn’t care for soft ground, so expect improvement off that last effort.

Selections 8-7-6

Race 9
-Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 1 1/8 miles, F & M 3 & up

#5 Elate’s
last 2 figures are faster than any race anyone in the field has run, except for Paradise Woods’s race in the Santa Anita Oaks back in April. She is coming in to this race in tip-top shape and looks to give trainer Bill Mott his 6th victory in the race. #6 Forever Unbridled hasn’t been seen since August when she defeated future Hall of Famer Songbird. She loves the distance, owns the best late pace figures in the field and has been training great for this spot. #7 Paradise Woods must outrun #1 Charmpagne Room early to gain control of the race, and if that happens she can be a threat to take them wire to wire.

Selections 5-6-7

Race 10
-Sen. Ken Maddy Stakes. (Grade 3), 5 furlongs turf, F & M 3 & up

#9 Long Hot Summer
was a stakes winner over the course last summer and excels at the distance. With an abundance of early speed signed on, look for her to be flying late. #2 Belvoir Bay has only been out of the exacta once in 4 tries in at today’s distance. Love the favorable inside draw and looks to sit just off the pace, while getting top grass rider Flavian Prat. #5 Vigor was caught last out when setting the past at Belmont going 6 furlongs. Looks like a major player with the cutback in distance.

Selections 9-2-5

Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, Nebraska. From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10. Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for playing the races has risen to a new level. Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch. My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping Pick 4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do. I encourage others to post picks they like, too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions. That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal. Best of luck.

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