Friday, November 2, 2012
Breeder's Cup 2012 Picks for Saturday
Once again I'm just choosing my four favorite horses in each race and leaving it up to readers to cobble together their own tickets.
Race 4: Juvenile Turf. Okay, so the Europeans have the advantage. Artigiano is pretty classy so far and on the improve; a lot of 'cappers like George Vancouver because of the speed ratings, but what I see is 113, bounce (88), 113 (will he bounce again?) He's a question mark for me when we're talking about a two year-old. Aiden O'Brien's other entry, Lines of Battle, seems maybe the better bet at better odds. One horse that's NOT a question mark is Dundonnell, who has never been off the board. We do have two American horses in the race that are undefeated--well, in only two races, though--Carla Gaines' Gervinho, whose one advantage is that he's won over track at this distance. Otherwise, his Beyers are a little below par. Noble Tune may be a little faster, but he's never raced over the track. The closer (and there is some early speed in this race) is Julian Leparoux's mount, Balance the Books. So, I'm liking 2, 6, 8, 9, and maybe 14.
Race 5: Filly and Mare Sprint. There are two in this race that love to win: Dust and Diamonds and Groupie Doll. One interesting entry is John Sadler's Switch. She's been running longer distances lately (and losing), but now she cuts back to 7 furlongs and has been firing a series of bullets over the track for the last three weeks. Leave her out at your own risk. The other obvious choices are Musical Romance and Turbulent Descent. So, 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10. If you must toss one out, toss 10 just in case she really hasn't returned to form.
Race 6: Dirt Mile. Oh my god, what an impossible race because of all the early speed. Will they wear each other down? Maybe or maybe not, depending on how fit they are. Bob Baffert never runs a horse that isn't ready, so you'd better not ignore Fed Biz. But, that horse may not be the best of the speed. Shackleford is the classiest of the speed, and Emcee posts the highest Beyers of the speed. So you'd better not leave out a closer or somebody who will sit off the pace. That leaves you Jersey Town or Rail Trip. Ah, Rail Trip. I have a special place in my heart for that horse. So, my picks are 1, 5, 6, 7. BUT, if you prefer class over my own irrational biases, go with Jersey Town (3) instead of 1.
Race 7: Turf Sprint. Do you really think I'm going to leave out California Flag, who won this race over this same track with this same jockey (Joe Talamo) just two years ago? And who has been firing bullets in prep for this race? California Flag did abysmally last year at Churchill Downs (different jockey as well), but the turf track there is a totally different ball of wax. Here at Santa Anita, they race downhill, make a turn over dirt, and then run lights out to the finish. The other obvious choice is Bridgetown, and Steve Asmussen's horse on the outside, Unbridled's Note, may get lucky because of a lack of traffic problems. Another horse that intrigues me is Jerry Hollendorfer's entry, Chosen Miracle. He puts phenomenal jockey Martin Garcia aboard, and though the horse lacks class, he clearly likes to win and has done so at this distance on this track. So, I'm choosing 1, 9, 12, and 13. If you have deep pockets, it appears many 'cappers like the 10, Corporate Jungle.
Race 8: Juvenile. This race is Bob Baffert's to lose. He's got Martin Garcia on the rail on Title Contender, who will break fast and go to the front and try to run away. Meanwhile, on the outside on the 9 horse, is Rafael Bejarano on Power Broker, who will track the pace and try to steal the race from Martin. The only other two who could win are Rosie N. on Pletcher's Shanghai Bobby, and Kiaran McLachlan's entry, Fortify. I like 1, 4, 8, and 9.
Race 9: Turf. Look, when the distance is a mile and a half, you have to look for horses that can get the distance. There are many unknowns in this race. But here are the knowns: you NEVER leave out a Shug-Phipps horse that has won four times at this distance. You also wouldn't leave out last year's winner of this same race, Aidan O'Brien's St Nicholas Abbey (who once again has his son aboard as pilot). You also want the other Irish horse in this turf race, Shareta, who has won 3 times at the distance. Finally there is an interesting Japanese horse named Trailblazer who seems pretty fast on paper and who has one win at this distance. My picks: 1, 3, 5, 12.
Race 10: Sprint. Good lord, this one is another of Baffert's to lose since he has three entries. Still, the crowd favorite--who has a better than average shot at winning with Mike Smith aboard--is Amazombie. Trinniberg is another "famous" horse in the race because he ran in the Kentucky Derby, and he actually gets decent Beyers at shorter distances, but I find him hard to back because he's simply inconsistent. Of Baffert's horses, Capital Account seems the fastest. One other of his, Coil, is clearly on the improve. Finally, the horse in the field with the highest Beyer speed figure is The Lumber Guy, who seems to run best at this distance of 6 furlongs. So, my picks are: 4, 7, 8, and 11.
As much as I personally like Jeff Bonde and his entry Smiling Tiger, I think Smiling Tiger is just not a Breeders Cup winner. If that horse or Baffert's third entry, Fast Bullet, wins, I'll probably cry like the girl I am.
Race 11: Turf Mile. Clearly, Wise Dan is the one to beat. Who could beat him? Obviously, Excelebration, and maybe, just maybe, the very odd entry of Animal Kingdom. He's known as a dirt runner (aside from winning the Kentucky Derby two years ago), but he did have (and win) a turf prep race for this which seemed easy for him because he clearly had more in the tank afterwards as he was ridden out. Graham Motion is up to something. Round the four out with Moonlight Cloud, so the picks are: 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 (unless you think I'm crazy for considering Animal Kingdom, in which case you'd toss the 5).
Race 12: The Classic. Who do I want to win? I'll Have Another, the Derby and Preakness winner, and who looked awfully good heading into the Belmont Stakes before Doug O'Neill and Reddam were forced to scratch him for a damaged tendon and retiring him. So, since the horse isn't in the race at all, I'm rooting all out for Richard's Kid. The pace in this race sets up perfectly for his closing kick and I have faith in Garrett "Go-Go" Gomez to get the job done. But I also like Game on Dude, Mucho Macho Man, and Flat Out. The picks are: 2, 5, 9, 11.
Good luck and bet responsibly!
Some morning updates prior to scratches being posted: one Southern Cal capper tells us to not be so sure Trinniberg isn't in the perfect spot to win. He is a fast little sucker (and the Derby was longer, was a rabbit in much of the Derby when he ran in it), and so it makes much better sense to see him in a sprint. So if he looks good, don't be so quick to dismiss him from race 9. Also, there is news that the Japanese horse, Trailblazer, may have been injured giving his stall a good kick last evening, so be sure to have a good look at him as well, even if the vet doesn't scratch him.