2018 Breeders' Cup Friday Picks and Ponderings

October 29, 2018 : Restless Rider, trained by Kenneth G. McPeek, exercises in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on October 29, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Restless Rider, contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, gallops over the Churchill dirt on October 29, 2018. (Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Breeders’ Cup takes over Churchill Downs this weekend, and Friday is all about the future stars.  With the addition of the Juvenile Turf Sprint there are now five Breeders’ Cup races restricted to two-year-old horses.  They will all be run on Friday, with the races open to older The horses all contested on Saturday.

Picks and Ponderings has two separate Breeders’ Cup pieces: this one covering Friday, and a separate 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.

A pair of Chicago-based horses are on the also-eligible lists for Breeders’ Cup races on Friday.  Larry Rivelli charge Big Drink of Water is first on the also-eligible list for the Juvenile Turf Sprint, and Chris Block trainee Winning Envelope is two deep on the reserves list for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Friday’s Breeders’ Cup action will be broadcast on NBCSN from 3:00-7:00pm EDT, with analysis programming earlier on both TVG and online.  The five Breeders’ Cup races on Friday will be run consecutively, races 5-9 on the Churchill Downs card, and will compose an all-Breeders’ Cup Pick 5.  For a rundown of other wagering opportunities, the Breeders’ Cup has a chart.

Good luck this weekend in the Breeders’ Cup!

Selections for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf are made for grass only.  Edited November 2 to account for the scratch of CODE OF HONOR from the Juvenile.

Churchill Downs: Friday, November 2

Race 5: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, two-year-olds, five and a half furlongs on the turf, post time 3:21pm EDT

  1. #8 SERGEI PROKOFIEV (6/1) – There is no shortage of speed in this race, making it set up nicely for an off-pace runner like him.  The rain is also no worry, as he romped over yielding ground at Navan earlier this year.
  2. #1 STRIKE SILVER (4/1) – He showed speed on the dirt, but had a devastating late kick in the Indian Summer at Keeneland, his first try on the grass.  He has a right to improve off of that try, coming second off a layoff for this.
  3. #2 SOLDIER’S CALL (9/2) – Among the speed, he looks the best — classy, consistent, and game.  It stands out that he ran in the money in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1) last-up against older horses last time out, just a neck behind Mabs Cross for top honours.  His only soft-turf try was a G3 win, too.

Longshot: #10 SO PERFECT (12/1) – This “other” Ballydoyle entrant has a suitable running style, tending to rally from midpack.  She can improve second off the lay, as well.  The biggest question is the distance, as six furlongs may suit her a bit better than the five and a half of this race.  But, she is good enough at even a flat five to be a factor if she brings her best.

Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), two-year-old fillies, one mile on the turf, post time 4:00pm EDT

  1. #6 NEWSPAPEROFRECORD (2/1) – The Chad Brown barn has owned this race, and they have a tough one again this year.  She won with devastating ease in both her maiden and the Miss Grillo (G2), once on the lead and once while stalking the pace.  Both of those scores came over yielding turf, making the wet weather a non-issue.
  2. #1 CONCRETE ROSE (6/1) – She stretched out beautifully to a mile and a sixteenth for the Jessamine last month, kicking away to win by daylight.  She needs to move forward, but with that fitness and experience, she has the necessary upside second off the lay.
  3. #4 JUST WONDERFUL (6/1) – She hasn’t gone past a flat mile yet, but she is running like a filly who improves with more distance.  The ground is a question — she has only ever gone over good turf, and Europeans usually ship Stateside in search of firm going — but her class, pedigree, and Ballydoyle connections appeal.

Longshot: #5 LA PELOSA (15/1) – She has handled a transatlantic ship before, coming to Woodbine and winning the Natalma (G1) back in September.  She has shown tactical versatility, and a decent second in the Sweet Solera Stakes (G3) over the soft turf suggests the rainy weather should be no problem.

Race 7: Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), two-year-old fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 4:40pm EDT

  1. #4 RESTLESS RIDER (9/2) – She romped in a couple of sprint races at Churchill early in the season, so she is proven over the course.  She stretched out to win the Alcibiades (G1) with authority, showing she can handle the trip as well as her breeding suggests she might.  Expect her to stalk and pounce.
  2. #2 SERENGETI EMPRESS (7/2) – Clearly likes Churchill, after a 19-length victory in the Pocahontas (G2).  She does her best work on or very close to the lead, and may have some company (particularly from Jaywalk), but as long as she can handle tougher company than she has been facing, she looks formidable.
  3. #8 SIPPICAN HARBOR (12/1) – She has bloomed since a rainy day forced her to race on dirt fir the first time. Both her wins are sprints — her maiden and the Spinaway (G1) were both seven-furlong races — but she is now fitter and more experienced than she was the last time she tried two turns (on turf).  She loses Joel Rosario to Jaywalk, but gets a strong replacement in Irad Ortiz.

Longshot: #5 CASSIES DREAMER (30/1) – Her only victory came in a $50,000 maiden claimer at the Spa, but she has found the placings in a pair of Grade 1 races since being claimed to the barn of Barclay Tagg.  All things considered, she has never run a bad race, and she looks fast and consistent enough to be a threat to run on late for an underneath share.

Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), two-year-old colts and geldings, one mile on the turf, post time 5:22pm EDT

  1. #2 UNCLE BENNY (15/1) – This race looks ripe for chaos, and Uncle Benny is a price horse with upside. Though he won a spot in the Juvenile Turf Sprint in the Belmont Futurity earlier this month, he is bred to go a route of ground and trainer Jason Servis wins 32% of the time with first-time routers.
  2. #6 HENLEY’S JOY (8/1) – Tyler Gaffalione has been one of the hotter riders in recent times, and he has seen success with trainer Mike Maker.  He is well proven at the flat mile distance, going the right way, and may be more likely to slip under the radar than CURRENT, who nosed him out in the Bourbon Stakes. As long as he can handle a bit of cut in the ground, he is as good as anyone here.
  3. #14 ANTHONY VAN DYCK (4/1) – He drew the parking lot, but he has the class, with his last two starts being money finishes in Group 1 races in Great Britain and Ireland.  He should be able to handle the stretch out to a mile, and the G2 win three starts back over yielding going is a positive with the weather.

Longshot: #1 ARTHUR KITT (20/1) – He disappointed in the Royal Lodge last-up, but he has gotten a month’s breather since. He was off the board in his only try at a mile, but has plenty of pedigree to stretch out from sprints.  His trainer Thomas Dascombe ships with purpose.  And, regular rider Richard Kingscote hops the plane — a positive, seeing him keep the faith.

Race 9: Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), two-year-old colts and geldings, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 6:05pm EDT

  1. #9 GAME WINNER (8/5) – Coming into the Breeders’ Cup for the same connections as 2013 Juvenile winner New Year’s Day, he has showed class whenever asked.  With tactical versatility and an impressive victory when he stretched out to a route for the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) last-up, he looks tough to beat.
  2. #8 STANDARD DEVIATION (12/1) – With quite a bit of pace, he should get more to run at in this race than he got last-out when he chased gate-to-wire longshot KNICKS GO home.  The blinkers could also give him a little more focus, and trainer Chad Brown is a solid 26% when he goes blinkers-on.
  3. #1 DUELING (20/1) – Jerry Hollendorfer doesn’t enter a Grade 1 frivolously, and neither does he ship a horse across the country just for fun.  Dueling comes into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile off a maiden win at Santa Anita, so this will be a class test.  But, this is a trainer you can trust to know when to make that kind of a jump.

Longshot: #2 MR. MONEY (30/1) – This son of Goldencents faces a stiff class test, facing winners for the first time.  But, the light came on at Churchill late in September, when he was trying a route for the first time.  He needs another step forward from that to win, but interests as a longshot progressive type with tactical speed.


Below are NN’s selections and longshots for all four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday, November 2.  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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