Breeders' Cup Friday Picks and Ponderings

The Breeders' Cup is a two-day event that in many ways serves as horse racing's final exam.

Given that many owners/trainers sometimes (but not always) use the Breeders' Cup as a final race, we get one last chance to see our stars before retirement. Typically, campaigns may end for the year in this spot. Horse of the Year voting (on a state, and national level) weights performance here heavily.  For those handicapping the Breeders' Cup, it feels like a final exam as a year's worth of notes and materials is pored over.

Due to time/space limitations, only a quick version of 1-2-3 picks and the longshot will be offered below.

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Note that "best chance" selections will also be on Wireplayers as part of an informal competition between the site's contributors.

BC Juvenile Sprint (Race 4): Word from clockers is the Baffert trainee has been working well; let's use him over the speedy favorite. Hard to look past any two year old Wesley Ward has.  Our longshot has good sans-salix form.

SUPER NINETY NINE, MERIT MAN, SWEET SHIRLEY MAE LS: CEILING KITTY

BC Marathon (Race 5): Call me a homer, but the fractions and nature of that Gold Cup surface lead me to ELDAAFER. Toss the Iselin (too short) and the United Nations (turf) and he's been solid. That was a very tiring surface that has him at high fitness. Argentine CALOIDOSCOPIO has a solid record at a mile and a half that holds water here. FAME AND GLORY is a danger if he likes dirt. But that's a big "if". Using Hastings shipper COMMANDER as the longshot; note that his wins up there were around multiple turns and that's a possible asset in this three turn race.

ELDAAFER, CALOIDOSCOPIO, FAME AND GLORY LS: COMMANDER

BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (Race 6): Toss up between the two inner-drawn Europeans, SKY LANTERN AND FLOTILLA. Edge to SKY LANTERN as she's won at a mile. FLOTILLA should find a mile to suit her on pedigree, and although she's never won at that distance, trouble lines suggest she should handle it. WATERWAY RUN is yet another European. (Taking Europeans on the turf. Real aggressive. Not.) However, this one gets a rider upgrade to Frankie Dettori, who won the opposite gender's race both times it was at Santa Anita. FLASHY WAYS is stuck in a double-digit post, but she's the best of the locals and won the local prep earlier in the meet on today's green.

SKY LANTERN, FLOTILLA, WATERWAY RUN LS: FLASHY WAYS

BC Juvenile Fillies (Race 7):

Of the three big favorites, the pedigree on EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE is best for two turns. Wire to wire victory in the local prep. KAUAI KATIE is a stretch out sprinter that gets a stern test for class and won't get a free lunch. However, if she's this good, she'll prove it. BEHOLDER looks like a prime candidate to regress off that figure she earned last time. Yet trainer Mandella (a conservative sort) likely wouldn't put her here if he wasn't impressed. Like KAUAI KATIE, must answer the "two turn" question. SPRINGINTHEAIR from the Mark Casse barn could blow up the ticket, especially if the hot pace develops. She mowed them all down at Keeneland and could easily be forgotten in the wagering. However, she could also be a buzz horse based on pace so watch the board on the Casse trainee.

EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE, KAUAI KATIE, BEHOLDER. LS: SPRINGINTHEAIR

BC Filly and Mare Turf (Race 8): Think this division draws straws, and a new face is THE FUGUE. Sure, it's not clever. But trainer Gosden has often shipped over with success in the Breeders' Cup. NAHRAIN won the Flower Bowl last time, second in this race last year, and gets a rider upgrade to Dettori.  The best of the locals is LADY SHAMROCK, who won at ten panels two back and has done nothing wrong on weeds.  Sorry locals, not buying Beverly D. winner MARKETING MIX; Yellow Ribbon/Rodeo Drive winners often don't pan out well in this race. Longshot UP could steal what looks like a paceless race on paper.

THE FUGUE, NAHRAIN, LADY OF SHAMROCK LS: UP

BC Ladies Classic (Race 9): Tough race! GRACE HALL's only clunker was the ten furlong Alabama, as she cuts back today. Like the efforts at Gulfstream (which I think may play similar to this Santa Anita dirt track) in the Spring. Can lead but if she rates like she did in the Delaware Oaks, she'll be a force. A questionable ride on a whacky surface cost QUESTING in the de facto match race at Parx against MY MISS AURELIA. Think the connections have learned from that race, and she could be taking them all the way. Royal Delta is logical, but which one shows up: the one that beat It's Tricky to a pulp in the Beldame or the one that tosses a clunker in Dubai or the Sabin? Your longshot is CLASS INCLUDED (no, seriously) who appears outclassed but if all the speed runners go crazy fast on the front, she could be picking off runners in the lane.

GRACE HALL, QUESTING,  ROYAL DELTA LS: CLASS INCLUDED

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