Breeders' Cup Friday Selections

Breeders' Cup Friday Selections
Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

Keeneland’s first Breeders’ Cup kicks off today with four championship races, highlighted by the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Listed below are my top five picks for all four of these races, including a featured longshot. It is sure to be an exciting day in the bluegrass!

 

JUVENILE TURF:

1. Airoforce (#8): Undefeated in two starts, this talented colt certainly likes Keeneland’s turf, having easily won the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes over the course last out. Plus, the Mark Casse-Julien Leparoux combo certainly does well on Keeneland turf, too.

2. Cymric (#13): This Godolphin charge arrives from Europe off a close runner-up effort in the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium on the Arc undercard. Prior to that, he was a stakes winner at Sandown Park.

3. Hit It a Bomb (#14): One of two Aidan O’Brien runners in this field, Hit It a Bomb was a runaway winner of a stakes at Dundalk in his last start. He is undefeated in two starts, but this is certainly his toughest test to date.

4. Camelot Kitten (#12): A gaining second behind Airoforce in the Bourbon last out, Camelot Kitten has shown a good turn of foot. Look for him late.

5. Ray’s the Bar (#7): In his first North American outing, which was his most recent start, this son of Exceed and Excel was a good third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. Chad Brown will have him primed and ready.

DIRT MILE:


1. Liam’s Map (#3): 
The son of Liam’s Map made a splash at Saratoga this summer, running a bang-up second to Honor Code in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap before running away with the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. He is extremely talented.

2. Wicked Strong (#8): Although he has not won since taking last year’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, Wicked Strong has been very consistent, finishing in-the-money in several graded stakes. A cut back in distance could be just what he needs.

3. Lea (#5): Lea has not found the winner’s circle since winning the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope in January, but he has been knocking at the door at racing’s highest level. Third in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup and a strong second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, Lea was most recently a narrow second in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on the turf. A mile on the dirt is his cup of tea.

4. Bradester (#2): Bradester had a great summer at Monmouth, winning the Grade 3 Salvator Mile and the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup before a good second-place effort in the Grade 2 Philip Iselin Handicap. He will likely enjoy his return to the mile distance.

5. Valid (#10): Valid will be going for his third consecutive win, but facing a Breeders’ Cup field will certainly be a step up for him.

LONGSHOT: Street Strategy (#6): The winner of his past two starts by a combined 6 ½ lengths, Street Strategy will obviously be taking a huge step here. However, he likes Keeneland and could be improving off a layoff.

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF:


1. Illuminate (#10): 
It’s hard to go against this talented European filly, who enters off a strong runner-up effort in the Group 1 Connollys Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes. Prior to that, she won a pair of group stakes – including one at Royal Ascot. She has never raced beyond six furlongs, but the distance should not be a problem for her.

2. Alice Springs (#3): An easy winner of a stakes at Newmarket last out, this daughter of Galileo has run consistently well in group stakes this year but also will be stretching out for the first time.

3. Catch a Glimpse (#4): Conditioned by on-fire trainer Mark Casse, Catch a Glimpse appears to be North America’s best chance in this race. Most recently, she took the Grade 2 Natalma at Woodbine by five lengths.

4. Harmonize (#8): This Bill Mott trainee comes into the Breeders’ Cup off of a pair of stakes wins, most recently taking the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland. That affinity for this course could come in handy.

5. Nemoralia (#5): Nemoralia’s first American start came last out in the Grade 1 Frizette over a sloppy track at Belmont, in which she finished a respectable second. Prior to that, she won a pair of stakes in Great Britain. She will have to step it up.

DISTAFF:


1. Wedding Toast (#7): 
While this mare’s ability to do well outside of New York is questionable, she has been better than ever this year. Winner of her last three races by a combined 11 ¾ lengths, if she can replicate any of those efforts, she will be tough to beat.


2. Sheer Drama (#14): 
This hard-knocking five-year-old has been brilliant this year, never finishing worse than second in seven starts. She enters the Distaff off of a pair of Grade 1 wins: the Delaware Handicap and the Personal Ensign. She has a poor draw, but she is a hard trier. 


3. Got Lucky (#12): 
This daughter of A.P. Indy is as game as they come and has an all-important win over the Keeneland surface, having won the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes last out over 2014 Distaff champion Untapable.


4. I’m a Chatterbox (#1): 
This three-year-old filly is incredibly consistent, having finished in-the-money in all seven of her starts this year. Most recently, she was a clear winner of the Grade 1 Cotillion. She will be facing older for the first time.

5. Stopchargingmaria (#4): Another very consistent runner, Stopchargingmaria knows how to find the winner’s circle. She has raced at Keeneland on one occasion, finishing a good second in the Grade 1 Madison earlier this year.

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About Mary Cage

 

Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and is an intern at WinStar Farm with a client relations and marketing focus, as well as some bloodstock duties.


In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.


Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a racing manager or client relations specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

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