2016 Breeders' Cup Mile Preview and Saturday Selections

santaanita_2016logodates_rgbPicks and Ponderings returns for Saturday, the second day of the Breeders’ Cup.  Saturday’s card at Santa Anita features nine Grade I Breeders’ Cup races, in addition to three stakes races to start the festivities.  This follows four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday, which are previewed in a separate piece.

This piece will discuss the Breeders’ Cup Mile in detail.  TEPIN will attempt to defend her crown (and bounce back from a surprise defeat in the First Lady), but a tough field of international turf milers stand between her and a successful repeat.

We discuss the day’s finale, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in a video preview featuring both Nicolle Neulist and Paul Mazur.  That video dissects the field horse by horse, as well as provides both of our selections.

Selections for each of Saturday’s other stakes races, Breeders’ Cup and otherwise, will be published in a chart at the bottom of this piece.  Nicolle discusses all of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races as a guest on Horses for Courses.  They also have a bit of history and full analysis of the Breeders’ Cup Turf at ShapperDaCapper, and analysis of the Turf Sprint at Danonymous Racing.

NBCSN will broadcast live from Santa Anita on Saturday from 1:30pm-7:00pm CDT.  Coverage moves to flagship NBC from 7:00pm-8:00pm CDT for coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  These NBC and NBCSN broadcasts are also available online at horsestream.nbcsports.com.  In addition, calracing.com provides a free live stream of all Breeders’ Cup races, just as they do every race run at Santa Anita.  The Horse Races Now mobile app for Android and iPhone will stream the Breeders’ Cup for free.  Horse Racing Radio Network will also stream audio coverage of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup action; their broadcast will run from 2:00pm-8:00pm CDT on their website.

Selections for the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Senator Ken Maddy, BC Filly and Mare Turf, BC Turf Sprint, BC Turf, and BC Mile are made for turf only.

Race 11: Breeders’ Cup Mile, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf, post time 4:40pm PDT

TEPIN returns to defend her Breeders’ Cup Mile crown from last year, and will face a full field of fourteen in her title defense.

There are questions, of course.  The Woodbine Mile (GI) was a close call, and she was defeated last out by longshot PHOTO CALL.  But…the best of TEPIN wins this race.  And, with her situated third off the layoff after Royal Ascot, there is every indication that TEPIN will be able to come back to her best here.  Set aside the fact that she did not hit the wire first last out.  PHOTO CALL was loose on the lead — TEPIN finished extremely well, and was gaining on her.  And, nobody will have it quite so easy on the lead this time around.  PHOTO CALL returns — but MIDNIGHT STORM, WHAT A VIEW, and perhaps even TOURIST could have their say on the pace, making it unlikely anyone gets it as easy as PHOTO CALL did last out.  But, the pace does not look to fall apart here either, making TEPIN’s stalking style an excellent fit.  Most of the field will have to take a huge step forward to beat TEPIN at her best — and there are enough signs that TEPIN should be at her best here that this space cannot convince itself to get cute.

This space sees one other serious win candidate here, and that’s LIMATO.  The question with LIMATO, of course, is the distance: he has done his best going six or seven panels, and the only off-board performance of his career came at a mile.  But, his fourth-place finish behind Belardo at a mile came over soft turf in the Lockinge (GI – ENG) earlier this year.  Even that was not terrible: he was only beaten two and a half lengths, over ground that did not favour him, by a horse who finished second to TEPIN at Royal Ascot the next month.  Here, LIMATO will instead get the firm ground he relishes so much, giving him a better opportunity to stay the trip.  He should be able to track the pace, a bit closer than usual given the stretch out to two turns.  And, if LIMATO’s turn of foot made it across the pond and remains with him at a mile, he looks the only one in range (without a large step forward) to make a race of it against TEPIN at her best.

ALICE SPRINGS will have to take a step forward to contend with TEPIN (and LIMATO, should he take to a mile as well as he might), but has the class to suggest that she could possibly breathe this rarefied air.  ALICE SPRINGS will be facing males for the first time in her career, but has shown herself to be a Group I miler against fillies and mares, including two straight victories at that level going a mile to lead into the Breeders’ Cup.  ALICE SPRINGS has also proven already that she can handle an intercontinental ship; last year, she came to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) and finished a game and somewhat troubled second, beaten three quarters of a length by Catch a Glimpse.  The connections for ALICE SPRINGS also mean business: she is trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by her regular pilot Ryan Moore.  Though O’Brien typically sees more success with male horses in the Breeders’ Cup, he did send Found out to beat the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year.  And, his filly looks the most live of O’Brien’s three entrants in the Mile: HIT IT A BOMB will have to show a sharp reversal of form to contend with the top milers he faces today, and COUGAR MOUNTAIN has yet to prove that he is the same class as he faces today.

Selections:

#8 TEPIN (3/1)

#10 LIMATO (7/2)

#2 ALICE SPRINGS (4/1)

Longshot:  #13 MIDNIGHT STORM (12/1) has well-proven form both at a mile on the grass and over the Santa Anita course, and looks the speed of the speed.  He has a relatively outside post, and enough speed to make it credible that he can get out and get clear.  Though MIDNIGHT STORM has been able to pass in softer fields, given the strength of this field, his best chance to do well here comes if he puts his early speed to good use.  Helping his case, MIDNIGHT STORM is not the type to give up an early lead easily.  He has real guts, which he showed fighting off BC Turf entrant Ashleyluvssugar in the Eddie Read (GII) two starts back.  MIDNIGHT STORM will have to take a significant step forward to win this race, but his running style combined with the fact that he will be on his home course suggest that he could be live for at least a share in the underneath rungs of the exotics.

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Below are all of Nicolle Neulist’s picks for Saturday’s stakes races at Santa Anita, including the Breeders’ Cup as well as the undercard stakes. This will be updated as they finish handicapping the card. If you have questions about the logic behind any of these picks, please leave a comment, or tweet us at @picksponderings!

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