Tag Archives: Breeders Cup

Jockey Cam Winner!

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I love jockey cams. We need more of them. They provide incredible insight into how a race is run and what it looks and feels like from jockey’s perspective.

As the armchair jockey I am, I do relish those rare insights immensely. So all the happier I was when this incredible footage of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race emerged – uploaded by the official Breeders’ Cup Youtube Channel!

Ride with Mike Smith and win the race on Caledonia Road – a 20/1 upset – how he gets rolling from the back of the field to make progress on the outside and eventually brings the bacon home.

For full context: the race replay can be watched here. Fair to say it was a hell of a ride!

2017 Breeders’ Cup – Selections

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The juggernaut that is the Breeders Cup is nearly upon us! In fact it’s only a couple of hours away. The pinnacle of the US racing season also brings down 2017 for many  of the European equine superstars too.

Del Mar it is this year –  a change from Santa Anita for once, though with that we do stay in California. Racing starts on Friday with ten races on the card. Historically I haven’t done overly well from a pure betting point of view, though I immensely enjoy watching the event on NBC. The TV coverage is all class.

I keep my bets to a minimum this time. Three selections – that is all!

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Friday 9.25: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1m

Without the shadow of the doubt Aiden O’Brien’s Happily is the form horse in the field. She won two major Group 1’s on the bounce, including the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere when beating the boys.

Granted, she had a long season with six starts and coming here at the end of the year isn’t easy – if she reproduces anything close to her recent form, she is hard to beat, though. On paper that is.

Question marks are over her pace in the early stages of the race. She has got a perfect draw but will Happily be able to utilize it? Ryan Moore will want to have her settling close to the speed in an ideal world.

She appeared a bit outpaced early on in France the other day, and had trouble catching up with the leaders in the home straight. She grinded it out, more than anything. Fast ground at Del Mar will be not forgiving, if she does not gets quickly out of the blocks.

That says, on pedigree the ground should suit. She’s got more experience now and you would think that Ran Moore, given the clear disadvantage settling off the pace, will be a bit more vigorous pushing her forward, if needed.

Happily should not lack stamina, so once moving, she will keep moving for as long as it’s needed.

There is juice in the price in my mind. I expected her to be good deal shorter, given the opposition in the field is not as good as what she faced in her last two starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Happily @ 4/1 PP

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Saturday 11.37: Breeders’ Cup Turf, 1m 4f

One last hooray for Highland Reel. He’ll go to stud after this – a race he won last year. Or shall we say stole? He got away under a perfect ride by Jamie Heffernan that day.

The globetrotter had another productive season in 2017. Winner of the Coronation- and Prince of Wales’s Stakes. When he gets his preferred conditions Highland Reel is clearly tough to beat.

I feel that’ll be the day here. Trip is perfect, fast ground is what he loves, a perfect draw will enable him to be up with the pace, if not even attempting to make all. The tight, turning track poses no problem to him either.

Main threat is obviously the superb Ulysses. Though the trip is probably slightly on the far side for him and the track configuration may not play to his strengths either.

Best chance for the home team is multiple grade 1 winner Beach Patrol. A wide draw isn’t ideal as Highland Reel, once in front, is unlikely to stop.

Selection:
10pts win – Highland Reel @ 9/4 Bet365

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Sunday 00.25: Breeders’ Cup Classic, 1m 2f

It’s already past midnight when they’re off in the Classic! The question many ask: can Arrogate find back to his best? Since his return from Dubai in two subsequent starts he never looked the same horse that was crowned best in the world in 2016.

Can Gun Runner outgun him? Well, he’s been bloody impressive in his last three wins and deserves the favourite tag. However he never won over the 10f trip and was comprehensively outstayed by Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup.

The answer must lie somewhere else: West Coast? Maybe. Won two Grade 1’s on the bounce. Landed the Travers. Not much wrong with that. He stays the trip, has the right form in the book and is an interesting price.

You can, if you want, knock the form, though. None of those beaten behind him would be fancied to go close in Classic at all. In fact, Travers runner-up Gunnevera is considered a 50/1 shot!

Improving Collected won the Pacific Classic, beat Arrogate that day. So he stays the trip and is still a progressive sort. The wide draw is a concern but he should be thereabouts.

Aiden O’Brien tries his luck once more. He throws Churchill into the ring. It’s unlikely the dual Guineas winner will enjoy this test on dirt I suspect, but I can see why “the lads” do it.

If he runs well if will enhance his commercial value as a stallion. If he doesn’t perform it won’t devalue anything he did the last two seasons.

The seemingly second string is War Decree. A much more interesting case, I feel. From a pedigree perspective he is bred to act on dirt and is a half-brother to Declaration Of War who came quite close to win the BCC some years ago.

Nonetheless the immense test this race is may still come as a shock to the system. Until he runs we don’t know whether he really acts on the dirt or not. It’s more likely he won’t. However I love a couple of facts if it comes to War Decree:

He’s still lightly raced and had a significantly lighter season than most in the field. He demolished a fair field in a Dundalk Group 3 when last season, travelling like a really good horse. Of course he meets different class and a different surface here – still War Decree looks in tip top form.

Taking it all in, he’s no 50/1 chance in a Breeders’ Cup Classic field that is wide open in my mind. With the places paying at 1/4 odds, this looks a tremendous bet.

Selection:
10pts win e/w – War Decree @ 50/1 Bet365

Chrome vs. Arrogate 2.0

On a day like this where our beloved sport produced its finest moments just to be followed by  incredible tragedy, it’s comforting that we racing fans can drown our sorrow – at least for a moment – in excitement about the next big race.

It might be fickle, it might feel wrong but this is simply the circle of life in our game of horse racing. Greats come, Greats go, the next star’s just been borne… but that is racing also: legends are never forgotten.

And a legend we’ll never forget is the great Many Clouds, who sadly left us today, after a heroic win at Cheltenham. I had the privilege to see this almighty horse winning the Grand National in 2015 – a historic performance is was. What a warrior, what a star, a true Great of our game. RIP big fella….

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But there it is, the next big race – its protagonists deserve our full attention. This big race is the inaugural Pegasus World Cup. World class prize money on offer, with a purse of $12 million it’s the richest race on earth! although it’s debatable whether the tag “World Cup” is justified, given it’s a race on dirt with no foreign raider in the 12-runner line-up and only two of them truly deserve to be called world class.

Nonetheless this is an intriguing contest like few others, purely because those two world class horses are no less than the recently crowned number one and two of the world rankings: Arrogate and California Chrome!

A single pound between the two in the ratings indicates what a close contest we might witness tonight – effectively a match-race, much like when these two met the first- and last time. That was in November, in the Breeders Cup Classic, a day when the three year old Arrogate prevailed by half a lengths after a thrilling finish down the home straight.


Arrogate won fair and square that day in my humble opinion. In fact he looks special, which became evident to me after his sensational performance in the Travers Stakes. It looked almost unreal the way he demolished his rivals in what was a top notch Grade 1!

However is he really better than California Chrome? The jury is still out, I feel. Let’s not forget Arrogate received a handy little weight for age allowance in the Breeders Cup Classic, and no doubt he endured a much less gruelling season leading up to the big race at Santa Anita than the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner certainly did.

Chrome in contrast travelled the world, ripped the Dubai World Cup field apart and went on to win two more Grade ones, making super mare Beholder look ordinary in the Pacific Classic. Whether he was still at 100% in November, when on go for so long, where one big race followed the next is hard to say.

What is easy to say: Chrome is not slowing down. He’s as good as ever, judged on  an easy prep run at Los Alamitos in the middle of December. Arrogate in contrast didn’t have another race since the Breeders Cup. A disadvantage? I reckon it’s not. For all he’s still the younger horse, with fresher legs and upside.

Tactics will be interesting today. Arrogate is drawn on the inside, Chrome widest on the outside. Two tricky gates to start from. Chrome may need to work to get up with the pace where he usually wants to sit whereas Arrogate has to be careful not to get boxed in.

Nonetheless when it really comes down to it, these two will fight it out. Who’s going to win? Impossible to say. My gut feeling is that Chrome might have a little bit more going for himself here. The run under his belt last month, he meets Arrogate at level weights today and the not insignificant drop to nine furlongs could be more in his favour too.

After all, it’s probably fair to say that this is a coin flip. With that in mind I got to go with California Chrome. He’s a the value price. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets outstayed in thrilling finish by the extra special Arrogate. In less than two hours we’ll find out.

Selection: California Chrome @ 6/4 Skybet

Preview: Breeders Cup Classic

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Breeders Cup Classic (Grade 1)

All about American Pharoah of course! Can he end his amazing career with a triumph in the Breeders Cup Classic? Well, he’s the favourite, but surely has to be at his best to see of some strong competition. Mind you he has been on the go for a long time this year.

I’m prepared to take him on. You could say he was a bit unlucky in the Travers where he battled with Frosted from a long way out. nonetheless it might have been also a fact of him having so much racing this season. Did it wear him down?

Honor Code is seen as one of the main dangers. He’s usually spectacular when he wins. But the trip is a question mark today. It could be too far.

Tonalist was more than five lengths beaten in the Classic last year but has been in excellent form lately. He can go close but needs things to fall right for him to win. Keen Ice the Travers winner can’t be expected to follow-on from this success. He profited from the two main contenders making their respective moves way too early.

No doubt Gleneagles is an intriguing contender. It all evolves around his ability to handle the dirt. His fate might be obvious after the first furlong ran in case he struggles then. His ability is there, of course, but I find it hard to have to much believe in that this is the right kind of test for him.

Whether Frosted is good enough to land a major Grade 1 remains to be seen. The jury is still out. He has improved with his racing this year, though, and fought one or another battle with American Pharoah before. That says he is not quite as talented as the Triple Crown winner, but looked excellent when landing the Pennsylvania Derby in excellent style.

One a Grade 2, but it proves Frosted holds his form and must rate a major contender today. For me he is the value in this race and I expect him to outrun his price tag.

Frosted  @ 20/1 Ladbrokes / 5pts Win 

Preview: Breeders Cup Mile

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7.30 Breeders Cup Mile (Grade 1)

Very hot race which becomes even more open since the ground has further dried out. The French have a strong hand in this with Make Believe a clear favourite. The colt has top form in the book and has a good draw at his disposal. However there are a couple others who are likely to join him in a bid for the early pace.

French filly Impassable is a lovely progressive sort and with first time lasix must enter calculations. I fancy her to go well. Another filly, Tepin, makes appeal for the home team. She has been in excellent form lately and I like her, but feel she is a right price, the same as the French filly.

Esoterique and Time Test are top notchers too and should do well if the pace isn”t too hot form them.

There is some value to find here in this race on Grand Arch I feel who is way overpriced. A winner of the Group 1 Shadwell Turf mile here at Keeneland, he has top form and may get the race to his liking. Stalking a strong pace and then kick on when it matters.

Grand Arch @ 33/1 Coral – 5pts Win

Preview: Breeders Cup Friday

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7.30 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1)

Aiden O’Brien has two very strong contenders in a race he has won twice in the past. Hit A Bomb is probably the strongest candidate of the two Aiden saddles –  the colt scooted home at Dundalk when last seen after he got off the mark on his debut. Clearly a very talented individual, he would be very hard to beat if he hadn’t been drawn in the car park. Ryan Moore will have to work his magic. It won’t be easy.

Soft ground is detrimental to the chance of Ballydoyle’s second string, Shogun. He drowned at his only try in really soft conditions, however looked special when winning a maiden at the Curragh on good to yielding ground – similar to what is expected at Keeneland’s turf track today.

Whether he can perform on this sort of ground to a level that is required to be competitive in in top race like this remains to be seen – but connections hailed this colt as a special one not so long ago. I really liked his performance at Longchamp earlier this month when he finished  strongly in a race he meat plenty of in-running trouble. He wasn’t far beaten in the end behind Cymric, who finished a close runner-up that day and is one of the leading fancies here again.

Shogun has a good draw and I would hope to see him being ridden positively as the trip shouldn’t be a problem. He looks a colt we haven’t seen the best of yet and I believe he is underestimated.

Shogun @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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8.50 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1)

A wide open race for the juvenile fillies. Aiden O’Brien saddles the favourite with progressive Alice Springs. There is plenty to like about her: draw is handy, trip will suit this Galileo filly, fine form in the book. Question mark is the ground. It’s likely to be tacky. We have to see if that really suits her.

Harmonize was a nice winner of the Grade 3 Jessamin Stakes here at Keeneland recently. She encountered a wide trip and did well to win from where she came from. Interesting though that the horse beaten in second by half a lengths seemed to have a more ideal run visually, but in fact only saved a neglectable amount of ground according to Trakus figures.

The runner-up that day was Sapphire Kitten. A very lightly raced filly. That was only her second career start and she travelled really nicely. She seemed to be outstayed eventually, but that means the slight drop in trip to 1m will suit today. How she copes with the ground is a question for all in the field – on pedigree she has a fair chance to handle it just fine. At 16/1 she is a nice value play in this field.

John Gosden has brought over talented sprinter Illuminate. Already a Group 2 winner and excellent runner-up in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, she has obvious credentials to land this race if her stamina lasts. I’m not all that confident in that in the ground conditions.

One that doesn’t seem to get any love is formerly in Ireland trained Last Waltz. She’s having his first start in the US today after showing plenty of promise in his native country. She was a close 3rd in the Group 3 Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh when last seen, where showed plenty of early speed and was just beaten in the dying strides. That encourages me to believe that she can overcome her wide draw here.

The ground won’t be an issue either I believe. Given that it is drying all the time, she should be okay. On pedigree the step up to 1m will suit her well enough too and first time lasix can only be a positive – so at 20/1 she is quite a big price.

One more to mention is Catch A Glimpse. A two times winner on turf, she is likely to be up with the early pace from a good draw and may well improve if she can cope with the ground.

Sapphire Kitten @ 16/1 VC – 5pts Win
Last Waltz @ 20/1 WIlliam Hill – 5pts Win

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9.35 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Fillies’ Grade 1)

You can’t fault Wedding Toast – she is the clear and fair favourite to land the Distaff. Two Grade 1’s on the bounce, both in utterly impressive fashion. Only question is: can she bring her top game to Keeneland? She finished 4th in her only start at this track last year and has a clear preference for Belmont.

What are the dangers? Got Lucky has to be one. The dramatic winner of the Grade 1 Spinster won’t mind a poor draw as he usually comes from behind. He’ll need a lot of luck though if he wants to do it again here, this time in an even deeper field.

Classy Sheer Drama has got a poor draw, which could be detrimental to her chances. She won two Grade 1’s this year and clearly has to enter calculations. But with the track an unknown, and the draw against her, others may make more appeal.

The pick of the three year old’s is clearly I’m A Chatterbox. I’m a big fan of her I have to admit. She is gutsy, honest filly, but one who poses tons of talent. She usually travelles well thanks to her ability of an outstanding cruising speed and once in front doesn’t let go.

She won the Grade 1 Cotillion when last seen after finishing second twice as well as third in her last three starts the top level – though if not for a crazy demotion in the American Oaks, she would have two Grade 1’s victories to her name now.

I’m A Chatterbox has been on the go for a while now, and that is a concern. So is the draw. From box one it’s never easy but she showed plenty of early pace in the past so I’m hopeful she can get out of this easily. If she has still something in the tank then it’s hard to see her not being involved when it really matters here, given that she has won at Keeneland before.

I’m A Chatterbox @ 8/1 Paddy Power