More so than in most years, it seems like we have been waiting forever for the Breeders' Cup to come. Happily, and despite all the turmoil in the world right now, it is finally here. Two sensational days of racing at Keeneland, highlighted by a strong edition of the Classic and a true showdown in the Distaff, will assuredly take our minds off our troubles for a while.
Saturday features nine excellent Breeders' Cup races, with most of them deciding Eclipse Awards. There are also plenty of good-sized fields that offer great betting opportunities. The following are my favorite wagers on Saturday.
Gamine and Serengeti Empress are certainly two of the most talented female runners in America, but in this race, I think something has to give. Neither seems willing to concede the early lead to another horse, which should create a suicidal early pace. Going 7 furlongs, that should spell big trouble for both of the favorites. Include Venetian Harbor, and you have the makings of some insane early fractions.
Because of this, I like for a horse to come from behind to pick up the pieces. Sally's Curlin took some time to find her best stride last season, but by the fall, she was rolling. I see her as a horse rounding into form again this year, and moreover, she has a ferocious late run. At 20-1 on the morning line, I like her chances to run a very big race on Saturday.
$20 Win: 8 Sally's Curlin = $20
As mentioned, in the Filly & Mare Sprint, fast contested fractions take their toll on the speed horses, and with both of the favorites in the Dirt Mile wanting the lead, I am ready to take a stand against Complexity and Knicks Go. Either can win, but I feel like neither is worth the price with the other one in the race.
Of the rest, I like Art Collector best. If the 3-year-old can run a similar stalk-and-pounce race that he turned last time he was at Keeneland in winning the Blue Grass, I see him as the horse to beat in here. I will play him with a few others who should have some punch left for the stretch.
$5 Exacta Part Wheel: 1 Art Collector with 2 Sharp Samurai, 7 Rushie, 8 Pirate's Punch, 12 Owendale = $20
$3 Exacta Part Wheel: 2 Sharp Samurai, 7 Rushie, 8 Pirate's Punch, 12 Owendale with 1 Art Collector = $12
What a showdown we have in store when the 5-year-old champion Monomoy Girl takes on the Preakness winning 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver. It is the race I most look forward to seeing of all 14 Breeders' Cup races.
Monomoy Girl is a winning machine who has been pointed to this race for a long time. I like her chances to turn back her younger rival in what could be an epic stretch drive. Swiss Skydiver has been nothing short of sensational all year, and expecting anything less than another strong performance seems foolish. Having said that, I am willing to take a small shot against her facing older mares for the first time.
Of the rest, the unlucky Ollie's Candy and the improving Horologist seem to be the most likely to turn in a big effort on Saturday.
$10 Trifecta part wheel: - 10 Monomoy Girl with 4 Horologist, 9 Ollie's Candy with 5 Swiss Skydiver = $20
$10 Trifecta part wheel: - 10 Monomoy Girl with 5 Swiss Skydiver with 4 Horologist, 9 Ollie's Candy = $20
In this one I have a pretty strong opinion that the European shippers will prove a little too much for their American counterparts. Magical has run big at the Breeders' Cup before and the 5-year-old mare is the class of the race. Meanwhile, both Tarnawa and Mogul are coming on strong overseas and likely have the best chance to defeat the favorite. While Magical makes the most sense of the three, the other two offer bigger odds.
As for the Americans, I look for our best to be fighting it out for a minor share. Probably not all three of the best Europeans will fire on Saturday, giving us a good chance for third. Expecting either United or the late-running Arklow to claim that spot, here is my play for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
$5 Trifecta part wheel: 2 Magical, 3 Tarnawa, 10 Mogul with 2 Magical, 3 Tarnawa, 10 Mogul with 7 United, 1 Arklow = $60
In a race packed with class and possible winners, I am happy to see my top choice is listed as the co-fourth choice at 6-1. I am convinced that at the ripe old age of 7, Tom's d'Etat has never been better and is primed and ready to run his best race at a track where he's won before. I also like his ability to rally if need be. That should help in a race with plenty of speed.
Of the other main contenders, I fear Improbable most, followed closely by Maximum Security. The former is on a roll, while the latter is always tough when the field hits the lane. Both 3-year-olds, Tiz the Law and Authentic could run big, but I just see this as a race for an older horse to win.
Finally, I look for both By My Standards and Tacitus to be live long shots to make it into the Classic trifecta.
$3 Trifecta part wheel: 4 Tom's d'Etat with 8 Improbable, 10 Maximum Security with 8 Improbable, 10 Maximum Security, 2 Tiz the Law, 9 Authentic, 3 By My Standards, 1 Tacitus = $30
$2 Trifecta part wheel: 4 Tom's d'Etat with 8 Improbable, 10 Maximum Security, 2 Tiz the Law, 9 Authentic, 3 By My Standards, 1 Tacitus with 8 Improbable, 10 Maximum Security = $20