It's that time of the year once more: the best horses in the world have descended on one place to settle their scores in the Breeders' Cup. For the first time, it takes place at beautiful Del Mar. Also for the first time, Picks and Ponderings is there, so make sure to follow us on Twitter for photos, video, and observations!
Picks and Ponderings has two separate Breeders' Cup pieces: 0ne covering Friday, and one covering Saturday. It has a slightly different format than many of our recent big-race-day pieces. Instead of doing an in-depth preview of a single race and then a picks spreadsheet for the rest, each piece will have shorter descriptions of rationale for each pick and longshot in each race. Then, below, there will be a summary table with all selections and longshots.
The four Breeders' Cup races on Friday will be run consecutively, race 6 through 9 on the Del Mar card, and will compose a Pick 4.
Good luck this weekend in the Breeders' Cup!
Selections for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf are made for turf only.
Del Mar Racetrack - Friday, November 3
Race 6: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), two-year-old fillies, one mile on the turf, post time 2:25pm PDT
- #2 HAPPILY (9/2) is the class of the Euros, and soundly beat likely Juvenile Turf favourite Masar in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). That came at a mile over soft ground, testifying to her stamina and fitness, though she has a win in her only start over good ground as well.
- #10 SEPTEMBER (6/1) has tables to turn on Happily, but was a good and close second last out in the Fillies Mile (G1) at Newmarket in her first try at the distance. The firmer Del Mar course should suit her beautifully.
- #8 SIGNIFICANT FORM (8/1) is the Chad Brown "B" to Rushing Fall's "A". Brown excels in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but Rushing Fall's price will be underlaid. Significant Form's pair of New York wins are solid, and she should be able to get the jump on her stablemate, given that she is typically more forwardly placed.
Longshot: #1 BEST PERFORMANCE (12/1) needs a step forward to win this, but her consistency makes her attractive for intra-race exotics. In five starts she has never been worse than second, and the daughter of Broken Vow stretched out well to finish second behind Significant Form in the Miss Grillo (G3) her first route try.
Race 7: Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), three-year-olds and up, one mile on the dirt, post time 3:05pm PDT
- #3 SHARP AZTECA (9/2) comes in second off a break here. Two turns against this quality of horses is the big question, as he has emerged as a star in one-turn seven-furlong and mile trips. But, he is fast, and he has a lot of front-end fight. He has tables to turn on Mor Spirit, but with a more recent race, he may be sharper.
- #6 MOR SPIRIT (3/1) hasn't run since the Met Mile, but trainer Bob Baffert knows how to train up to the biggest races. He is another with a lot of early speed but the ability to rate it a bit, and though Del Mar is the question, he has two-turn form (at both a mile and longer) in addition to his Met Mile romp.
- #8 ACCELERATE (7/2) has loved Del Mar, and has never missed the board in four tries going a two-turn mile. He is fast enough to be a marquee contender, and versatile enough to take back given the plethora of speed here. He has tables to turn from the Met Mile, but he has home course advantage.
Longshot: #9 BATTLE OF MIDWAY (10/1) is the Hollendorfer B to Accelerate's Hollendorfer A. Though earlier in the year he was right up close to the pace (a minefield in this spot), he has become better from off the pace, and had a very nice off-pace drill leading into the Dirt Mile. This is a tougher field than the Shared Belief stakes he won, but the two-turn mile hits him right between the eyes, and he's got guts.
Race 8: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), two-year-olds, one mile on the turf, post time 3:50pm PDT
NN chats in a bit more depth about the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in the most recent episode of the Racetrackers podcast.
- #1 MENDELSSOHN (8/1) would have been fascinating in the BC Juvenile (in which he was cross-entered), as he is a Scat Daddy half to Beholder and Into Mischief. Yet, his turf credentials are bona fide, and he stepped nicely forward with the addition of blinkers in the Dewhurst (G1). He keeps them for the Breeders' Cup, should be forwardly placed but not right on the lead, and should stay the mile.
- #5 BECKFORD (8/1), as several in here, comes out of the Middle Park (G1). The race came over soft ground, but he has sharper form earlier in his career over firmer going. He gets Joel Rosario in the irons, a strong Breeders' Cup rider, and there's enough underneath on his pedigree to suggest he'll stay the mile.
- #6 MASAR (9/2) is the "A" Euro in the Juvenile Turf -- and though the "B" Euros have been doing very well in recent years, Masar has a lot going for him. And, his pedigree suggests he'll stay a mile and then some: he is by New Approach out of the Cape Cross mare Khawlah -- herself the 2011 UAE Derby winner.
Longshot: #14 RAJASINGHE (30/1) upset the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot this year, but may fly into the BC under the radar due to a well-beaten 11th in the Middle Park (G1) last out. He should improve here on the better ground, and he has strong tactical versatility and a proven ability to handle a large field well. If Rajasinghe can stay the mile, he has a right to surprise some people here.
Race 9: Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and one eighth miles on the dirt, post time 4:35pm PDT
- #7 PARADISE WOODS (9/2) is not a lock to win this race, but she is the Distaff contender whose likely risk/reward ratio works out the best. As long as she gets out of the gate well, she should be able to take the field a long way. This race will be her acid test, but if she runs one of her better races, she may prove very hard to catch.
- #6 FOREVER UNBRIDLED (4/1) is the truest mile and an eighth horse in the field, and has proven she doesn't need to take her track with her. Though the Distaff did not draw a mass amount of speed this year, she is an off-pace horse who can sit tactically closer and make up ground late even if the pace in front isn't torrid.
- #2 STELLAR WIND (5/2) is the proven California horse here. She is undefeated in three starts at Del Mar, and has an uncanny ability to keep frontrunners in her sights and wear them down. Even though the nine-furlong record looks spotty? The pair of fourth-place finishes came after a troubled Kentucky Oaks trip, and a bad start in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year. Her only other nine-panel try, a 2nd in the 2015 Distaff, was excellent.
Longshot: #1 CHAMPAGNE ROOM (15/1) has hit the board in all three of her tries at Del Mar. She should be forwardly placed, but has a rating gear as well, a style that should work well in this race. She has much to prove, as she has raced little this year and comes out of a much weaker spot, but if Peter Eurton has her ready to peak at the right time once more, her best could get her in the frame.
Below are NN's selections and longshots for all four Breeders' Cup races on Friday, November 3. If you have questions or want to talk further about any of the races, post a comment here or tweet us at @picksponderings!
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