Race of the Week 2017

2013 Breeders' Cup Saturday Analysis

Less than a week from today, the racing world will be entranced by all things Breeders’ Cup. Fourteen championship races will be contested at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, featuring some of the best Thoroughbred athletes in the world. Five races will be run on Friday, November 1 and the remaining nine will be held on Saturday, November 2.

So who are the top contenders in each of the nine Saturday Breeders’ Cup races? Check out my top five horses for all of these races below and be sure to take a look at my similar post for Friday’s races here.


The richest race in North America, the Classic has shaped up to be one of the most competitive races of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup. The race is rather wide open, featuring America’s best handicap horses and Declaration of War, a multiple group one-winning European. I chose to leave last year’s Classic victor, Fort Larned, out of my top five, but that does not mean he is incapable of winning.

1. Game On Dude: Will the third time be the charm? Although he greatly disappointed as the favorite in the Classic last year, finishing seventh, he is entering the race this year better than ever. He has won each of his five starts this year – sweeping California’s three premier handicaps – by a combined 24 ¼ lengths. He has not raced since August 25, but is training up to the Breeders’ Cup extremely well. It is worrisome that last year’s Classic was one of the worst races of his career, but it must be kept in mind that he ran a superb second in the Classic at Churchill Downs in 2011.

2. Mucho Macho Man: Runner-up in this race last year, Mucho Macho Man seems to be getting good at just the right time. 2013 began in a rough manner for him when he was eased in a sloppy Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes, after which he took five months off. After finishing third in the Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont, Mucho Macho Man finished a promising third in the Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. He then shipped west for the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, in which he captured his first grade one win with ease, finishing 4 ¼ lengths ahead of Paynter. He has looked spectacular while training at Santa Anita – a track he seems to love.

3. Declaration of War: 2013 has been this four-year-old’s best year yet, as he has captured a pair of group ones: the Queen Anne Stakes (gr. I) at Royal Ascot and, most recently, the Juddmonte International Stakes (gr. I). Even in his four losses this year, he has run respectably against top-class horses such as Al Kazeem, Dawn Approach, Farhh, Moonlight Cloud, and Toronado. He may be better at a mile than at ten furlongs, but he is capable of winning at a mile and one-quarter, which he made evident in the Juddmonte International. Perhaps the biggest doubt surrounding Declaration of War is his ability on dirt, 
but his pedigree suggests that the surface should not be an issue, as he is a son of War Front – who excelled on dirt – and is out of a half-sister to 2012 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags.

4. Ron the Greek: After winning the Sunshine Millions Classic in the slop by a breathtaking 11 ¼ lengths to commence 2013, Ron the Greek finished either third or fourth in each of his next five starts. But when he did find the winner’s circle again, he did so with style, upsetting the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. I) by 6 ¾ lengths in the fastest final time since 2002. He seems to be rounding back into form and certainly has an affinity for Santa Anita, a track over which he was an easy winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in 2012.

5. Palace Malice: Arguably the best three-year-old colt in the nation, Palace Malice matured slowly, but always showed promise. A 3 ¼-length winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Palace Malice was a clear winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) over Will Take Charge – to whom he finished fourth in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) after a very poor break that cost him the race. Last out, he finished 6 ¾ lengths behind Ron the Greek in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but was nearly two lengths clear of Flat Out and completed the race in a time that would have won the past nine runnings. Nonetheless, he will need to improve off of his last race to win here. 


Juvenile Fillies

A rather competitive race, the Juvenile Fillies has attracted a strong group of two-year-old fillies from both coasts. Sweet Reason is the closest there is to a standout in this race, but she will have rather tough adversaries to overcome. A plentiful amount of capable fillies should go off at high odds, offering value.

1. Sweet Reason: After dominating a maiden special weight at Saratoga, Sweet Reason was an easy 5 ¾-length winner of the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) over a sloppy track at the Spa. A poor break from the gate hindered Sweet Reason’s chances in her most recent start, the one mile Frizette Stakes (gr. I), but she closed in a breathtaking manner to seize second. The extra sixteenth of a mile of the Juvenile Fillies should suit her well, though she has yet to race around two turns.

2. Artemis Agrotera: Undefeated in two starts, Artemis Agrotera was as impressive as they come in winning by 11 ¾ lengths in her debut at Saratoga. She held off Sweet Reason to win the Frizette Stakes (gr. I), but it was clear that Sweet Reason was the best that day. Against an even tougher field in the Juvenile Fillies that includes that rival, Artemis Agrotera will need to use every ounce of her talent to win.

3. She’s a Tiger: No worse than second in any of her five lifetime starts, She’s a Tiger first found stakes success in her second race, winning the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park. A game second behind Concave in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) set her up for a determined win in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I). Her final race before the Breeders’ Cup was a head loss to Secret Compass in the Chandelier Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita. She’s a Tiger is clearly one of the best West Coast fillies, but they have exchanged places on numerous occasions, suggesting there is no true standout in California. She is incredibly game and this hardiness will be to her advantage in the Juvenile Fillies.

4. Concave: Another filly based in Southern California that has taken turns with her familiar competitors in graded stakes events, Concave won the first two starts of her career, including the Sorrento. She has not raced since finishing third behind She’s a Tiger in the Del Mar Debutante, but has trained very well at Santa Anita and appears primed to return to her winning ways.

5. Untapable: Unbeaten in two starts at Churchill Downs, Untapable won the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) last out, grinding out a half-length triumph. Her times are not incredibly impressive, but she is maturing and has the right amount of resilience to be an intimidating competitor.

Filly & Mare Turf

Featuring a strong field of turf runners from the United States and Europe, the Filly & Mare Turf should be an exciting event. It was slightly difficult to select and order my top five, as several consistently remarkable fillies and mares have aligned to fight for the championship.

1. Dank: Dank has three wins and a third from four starts this year, including a scintillating victory in the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. I) at Arlington Park. Prior to that 4 ¼-length win, she was an easy winner of a group two at The Curragh. Her only loss this year occurred in a group two at Royal Ascot, in which she was only beaten by ¾ of a length. She has not raced since August, but each time she has come off a layoff of two months or more, she has returned a winner.

2. Tiz Flirtatious: This daughter of Tizbud has always been a classy racehorse, but in 2013, she has been better than ever. Her only loss this year was a narrow defeat by Marketing Mix in the Gamely Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park in May. Since then, she has won a pair of graded stakes, including a narrow win over Marketing Mix in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita. Five of Tiz Flirtatious’ twelve lifetime races have been contested over Santa Anita’s turf course, four of which have resulted in victory.

3. Laughing: Unbeaten in her four starts this season, Laughing won a grade three at Monmouth over Dayatthespa prior to taking the Diana Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. Following a game victory by a neck in the Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. II), Laughing won her final prep race for the Breeders’ Cup – the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. I) – by a determined half-length. She is obviously among the top turf females in the nation, but has a tendency to not travel well, which would be a major disadvantage for her if that is the case. In addition, she has received an easy lead in her past three wins and is not as likely to have that advantage in this race.

4. Marketing Mix: Marketing Mix began her 2013 campaign with a pair of graded stakes wins at Hollywood Park prior to finishing fourth behind Dank in the Beverly D. A return to California saw her finish a dogged second behind Tiz Flirtatious in the Rodeo Drive. Second in this race last year, Marketing Mix has an affinity for Santa Anita’s turf course, having never finished worse than second over it.

5. Kitten’s Dumplings:  This Ken and Sarah Ramsey “Kitten” has won half of her starts this year and since May, she has been remarkable, losing only once. After a disappointing start to 2013, Kitten’s Dumplings scored her first victory of the year in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs in May. Following wins in the Regret Stakes (gr. III) and the Lake George Stakes (gr. II), Kitten’s Dumpling shipped west for the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I), in which she only managed fourth as the favorite, but closed willingly. Since then, she has captured the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Had Groupie Doll put together the same campaign as she did last year, she would be the clear choice in here. However, she is not the same horse she was in 2012, making this race more difficult to decipher. There is no obvious top horse in the Filly & Mare Sprint, but it has drawn numerous talented sprinters, making it quite the competitive event.

1. Book Review: After winning the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita at the end of 2012, Book Review remained in California, finishing second in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) going a mile and one-sixteenth before again playing the role of runner-up in the Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) at the same distance. But off a five-month layoff, Book Review returned to sprinting distances, winning the seven-furlong A Gleam Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park. She has not raced since August, when she shipped east to Saratoga to finish a mere head behind Dance to Bristol in the Ballerina Stakes (gr. I). She has never run a bad race at Santa Anita and has been a model of consistency in each of her starts since December.

2. Dance to Bristol: After finishing second in a stakes race at Laurel Park in January, Dance to Bristol won seven consecutive races. She began competing against graded stakes company during the summer, winning the Bed o’ Roses Handicap (gr. III) and the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) before garnering her first grade one victory in the Ballerina Stakes (gr. I), in which she gamely held off Book Review. In her most recent start, Dance to Bristol finished five lengths behind the undefeated Cluster of Stars in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II). This will be the most challenging start of her career and although she is very gifted, Dance to Bristol will need to be on top of her game in order to achieve victory.

3. Sweet Lulu: Sweet Lulu began her racing career in May and won her first four races, including the Test Stakes (gr. I). After gamely winning this grade one contest by a head, she stretched out to a mile and one-sixteenth in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I), in which she finished two lengths behind Distaff contender Close Hatches. A return to seven furlongs should suit Sweet Lulu well, making her an imposing participant.

4. Groupie Doll: Fourth is perhaps too low of a ranking for the defending champion, but it is clear that Groupie Doll is not the same horse she was last year. She did not start in 2013 until August, when she finished a lackluster third in the Gardenia Stakes (gr. III). Her only victory in her three starts this year came in a track record-setting performance in a grade two at Presque Isle over Purely Hot and Judy the Beauty. However, in her final race before the Breeders’ Cup – the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland – Groupie Doll finished a disappointing third behind Judy the Beauty. The old Groupie Doll will need to show up if she wants to find the winner’s circle.

5. Judy the Beauty: A very consistent runner, Judy the Beauty has never finished off the board. After winning at the allowance level at Keeneland in April, the Wesley Ward trainee placed in three graded stakes events prior to winning the aforementioned TCA Stakes at Keeneland. Judy the Beauty has never run a bad race, but she has also never won on dirt.

Turf Sprint

The Turf Sprint has assembled a strong group of sprinters and will serve as a thrilling contest over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course. Among this group is the reigning champion, Mizdirection, as well as a plethora of other talented turf sprinters. This race provides many options.

1. Mizdirection: The defending champion of this race, Mizdirection won her first three starts of the year – all over Santa Anita’s turf course, and two of which were contested on the downhill course. She shipped east for the one mile Just a Game Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, in which she finished fifth over a yielding course. But this effort should not be held against her, as the conditions were not to her liking. She has not started since that race, which was in June, but she won the Turf Sprint off a longer layoff last year. She is undefeated over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

2. Reneesgotzip: Reneesgotzip got a late start to her 2013 season and has only raced twice this year. After winning a stakes-quality allowance at Del Mar by 5 ¼ lengths, Reneesgotzip was an easy winner of the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar, setting a new track record for six and one-half furlongs. Third in this race last year, Reneesgotzip has not raced since August, but has always run well fresh.

3. Chips All In: Chips All In has an affinity for Santa Anita’s turf course, having won four of his five starts over it – including two graded stakes wins going downhill. His only loss was a nose loss over the downhill course. Last out, he defeated a tough field in the Eddie D Stakes (gr. III) over the downhill course. He is a much more consistent horse than he was last year.

4. Unbridled’s Note: Runner-up in the Turf Sprint last year, Unbridled’s Note does not appear to be quite the same horse he was in 2012. His only win in his four starts in 2013 was his first of year. Since then, he has placed in a pair of graded stakes races and finished far back in a graded stakes event at Churchill Downs. But it is worth noting that he is a fan of the downhill turf course.

5. Caracortado: Caracortado has only raced once since January of 2012, finishing a respectable fourth in the Eddie D over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course in September. A horse boasting back class, Caracortado has won twice on the grass at the Great Race Place, including a strong win in the Daytona Stakes (gr. III) going downhill. It will be very difficult for him to win against some of the highest quality turf sprinters in the country with only one start behind him in the past twenty-one months, but on class alone, Caracortado is among the best horses in this race.


The Juvenile is one of the weakest divisions of this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Havana is perhaps the clearest leader and certainly the strongest hailing from the East Coast. It is quite possible that the West Coast’s best chance rests on the shoulders of a horse that only has a maiden special weight win under his belt: Tap It Rich.

1. Havana: For anyone who chooses to use speed figures to determine a horse’s superiority and likelihood of winning, this is the top horse in the race. But speed figures aside, the quality of Havana’s competition make him the one to beat. Undefeated in two starts, Havana was an easy maiden winner at Saratoga before holding off the excellent Honor Code in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I). Distance is likely the biggest question surrounding Havana.

2. Tap It Rich: This promising Bob Baffert trainee has only started once, winning a maiden special weight at Santa Anita on October 12 by an effortless 4 ¼ lengths. No horse has ever won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with only one previous start, but Tap It Rich may possess a greater amount of sheer talent than the other horses aligned for this race.

3. Bond Holder: Bond Holder raced four times, improving with each start, before he broke his maiden, but garnered his first win in style, capturing the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita. In this grade one event, Bond Holder closed into a brisk pace to draw off to a 2 ¼-length victory. With possibly much pace in the race, the Juvenile could set up for him, but he will need to continue to improve. He, along with the other Southern California two-year-olds other than Tap It Rich, have been rather slow and unimpressive.

4. Dance with Fate: Among the somewhat uninspiring California juvenile crop, Dance with Fate was a poor eighth in his debut before winning his second start, in which he defeated Bond Holder. He then finished second in both the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and the FrontRunner. He will need to step it up in order to win.

5. Strong Mandate: After a disappointing fifth in his debut, Strong Mandate broke his maiden with ease at Saratoga prior to running away with the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) in the mud. But a seventh-place effort in the Champagne makes it difficult to have confidence in his abilities. However, he has trained very well since and when he is at his best, he is a very tough competitor.


The Turf has shaped up to be a very competitive race, as the U.S. turf division has been stronger than usual this year. But perhaps most importantly, this race has attracted the brilliant England-based mare The Fugue and marks the return of the extraordinary Point of Entry. Each of these five horses has a chance to win.

1. The Fugue: Her connections hold a preference for this race over the Filly & Mare Turf and rightfully so, as she easily defeated males in the Irish Champion Stakes (gr. I) last out. She was a troubled third in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last year, but is approaching this year’s Breeders’ Cup better than ever, reeling off two group one victories. She is a very daunting competitor.

2. Big Blue Kitten: This five-year-old has emerged as one of the top turf horses in the United States in 2013. He came to life over the summer, winning two grade ones with impressive rallies. In his final race before the Breeders’ Cup, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. I), Big Blue Kitten encountered traffic troubles and closed to finish second, beaten just a nose by Little Mike. This will be his biggest challenge yet, but he has been spectacular this year and is among the best.

3. Point of Entry: The only thing that prevents him from being ranked higher is his layoff due to injury. One of the best turf horses the United States has produced as of late, Point of Entry underwent surgery after being injured in his win in the Manhattan Handicap (gr. I) and as result, has not raced since that start in June. However, he is a brilliant horse, having won seven of his last eight starts – five of which were in grade ones. His only loss in those eight races was an unlucky runner-up finish in this race last year. Returning off a layoff in the Breeders’ Cup is not an easy thing to do, but Point of Entry is a special horse.

4. Real Solution: A colt who began his career in Rome, Real Solution’s 2013 debut was also his U.S. debut. This came in the Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. III), in which he finished fourth. Following a respectable third in the Manhattan behind Point of Entry, Real Solution ran an incredible race in the Arlington Million Stakes (gr. I), finishing second at the wire but being promoted to first after the disqualification of The Apache. He most recently was defeated by just over a length in the Joe Hirsch behind Little Mike and stablemate Big Blue Kitten. He is worthy of being in this race, but this is certainly his toughest test to date.

5. Little Mike: Looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Turf since Conduit achieved that feat in 2009, Little Mike had a poor start to the year, finishing off the board in his first four starts of 2013. His only other start resulted in a nose victory in the Joe Hirsch. Although he is still the same determined horse he has always been, he enters this year’s Breeders’ Cup with much poorer form than last year and will need to step up.


The Sprint is abounding with inconsistent horses and although it includes many classy horses, it is a race in which an upset would actually not be overwhelmingly surprising. To me, the most intriguing horse is Secret Circle, who will be making his second start off an eighteen-month layoff.

1. Private Zone: A trifecta of runner-up finishes in graded stakes in Southern California saw Private Zone make a trip to Dubai for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (gr. I), in which he finished ninth. But this race can certainly have a line drawn through it, as five months later, Private Zone was a game winner of the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar before he shipped east to be a resilient winner of the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) over Justin Phillip. He has finished second in each of his starts at Santa Anita.

2. Secret Circle: Secret Circle has only raced once since April of 2012, winning an allowance optional claiming at Santa Anita on October 14 in a rather easy manner. Prior to the injury that kept him away for eighteen months, Secret Circle was absolutely spectacular. An undefeated juvenile, Secret Circle captured the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs after a pair of impressive wins in California. As a three-year-old, he suffered only two losses – running second in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) and the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) – and captured a pair of graded stakes at Oaklawn Park. He is undefeated at the six-furlong distance of the Sprint and has only lost one of his three starts at Santa Anita. Racing in the Breeders’ Cup in only his second start off a lengthy layoff will be no easy task, but this is a very good colt and he is training exceptionally well.

3. Justin Phillip: Justin Phillip has finished in-the-money in seven of his nine starts this year, winning three of those races. Among his wins was a 2-length victory in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) in August, a race that preceded a third in the Forego Stakes (gr. I) and a second in the Vosburgh. He is clearly one of the best sprinters in the country, but he does have a propensity to run very poorly on occasion.

4. Gentlemen’s Bet: A horse who could offer a savvy price play, Gentlemen’s Bet has never won a graded stakes race, but was a tenacious winner of the Iowa Sprint Handicap prior to encountering an intense speed duel in the Vanderbilt that left him third behind Justin Phillip. He was then fourth in the Phoenix Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, but this result can be ignored, as he did not seem to be fond of the synthetic surface. Of course, he’ll need to improve to win here, but he is appealing.

5. Bahamian Squall: Bahamian Squall has only won once this year, taking the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) over defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Trinniberg. Since then, he was second to Justin Phillip in the Vanderbilt and a disappointing fifth in the Vosburgh. He will need to rebound here.


The Mile boasts one of the strongest groups of horses of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, but all attention is on the reigning champion, Wise Dan. He will face stiff competition in Olympic Glory, a group one winner traveling to Santa Anita from Europe, as well as an abundance of strong American milers.

1. Wise Dan: Despite suffering his first loss since June of 2012 last out, Wise Dan remains the king of this division. The conditions were stacked up against him last out, as he did not care for the wet synthetic surface. He has not lost on the turf since October of 2011 and will relish the return to his favorite surface.

2. Olympic Glory: After winning a group three at Newbury in April to begin his 2013 season, Olympic Glory finished a disappointing eleventh in a group one at Longchamp. He was a narrowly beaten second behind the outstanding Moonlight Cloud in a group one at Deauville at Longchamp in August, which preceded a runner-up effort in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (gr. I). Last out, Olympic Glory was an easy winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (gr. I) at Ascot. This is a very classy horse who will serve as a dangerous threat for Wise Dan’s defense of his title, but racing just two weeks before the Breeders’ Cup and having to travel overseas may be to his disadvantage.

3. Silver Max: The only horse to defeat Wise Dan since last June, Silver Max has won three consecutive graded stakes, including not only his grade one victory over the 2012 Horse of the Year, but also easy wins in the Oceanport Stakes (gr. III) and Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II). He is in the best form he has been since the first half of 2012, during which he won six straight races.

4. Obviously: Third in this race last year, Obviously was second in the San Simeon Stakes (gr. III) over the downhill turf course in April prior to forming a string of three graded stakes victories between Hollywood Park and Del Mar. Obviously was spectacular in each of these triumphs, but most recently, weakened to fourth in the City of Hope Mile Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.

5. No Jet Lag: After a rather unsuccessful beginning to his career in Europe, which spanned seven races, No Jet Lag made the move to America, where he has been unbeatable in two starts. Following a win at the allowance level at Del Mar, No Jet Lag showed a remarkable turn of foot to take the City of Hope Mile. He’s clearly talented, but it remains to be seen how he will fare against this caliber of horses.


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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Saturday Analysis...

Secret Circle also had a bullet workout today (Monday)
Wise Dan is the Best Bet of the Weekend if you ask me - maybe not in value but should cruise here.
The Mile seems to set up perfectly for Wise Dan. Starting to like Untapable in the JF. Sprint is the right race for Sweet Lulu. Game On Dude is a play against.
Classic - Paynter, Juvenile - Strong Mandate, Juv. Fillies - Sweet Reason, She's a Tiger, and Concave...
This year's field in the Mile is looks on paper to be easier than last year's version & Wise Dan might be the same price after his loss last out.

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