Breeders' Cup

Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Race Previews: Santa Anita October 1

California Chrome winning Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes - Photo Credit: Melanie Martines
Melanie Martines

Santa Anita Race #6: Frontrunner Stakes Stakes (5:00 PM CST)

Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Top Pick: #6 Klimt

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #5 Straight Fire and #1 Gormley

Analysis: The Frontrunner will kick off an amazing Saturday card at Santa Anita that features FIVE Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Races!” This race has been a major producer of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners, and once again this year it features the top ranked juvenile in Klimt.  The Bob Baffert trainee is coming into this one on a three race win streak, including two blow out wins in graded stakes races at Del Mar.  This will be his first start around two turns, but his breeding suggests he’ll handle it fine.

Straight Fire is clearly the main challenger here as he was the favorite to beat Klimt last time out in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.  He ran a solid second, but unfortunately for him he was no match for Klimt.  We’ll see if he can turn the tables as they go two turns on Saturday.  One other horse I’m intrigued with is Gormley who was a winner at Del Mar at first asking for trainer John Shirreffs.  Most of Shirreffs’ horse take time to mature and come from behind, but Gormley showed great early speed and romped on debut.  He could be a big sleeper in this top heavy field.

Midnight Pleasure was the third place finisher in the Del Mar Futurity to the two super stars previously mentioned so we know he’s decent.  The others horses that round out the field will need to do some improving for sure.  Plum Daddy is coming off a maiden score at a mile so that is a positive, but it’s unsure if he’ll be fast enough.  Secret House was no match for Klimt in the Grade 2 Best Pal so his chances look bleak.  Finally, Vibe is entered and is still a maiden so he would be the most unlikely of winners.

Santa Anita Race #7: Awesome Again Stakes (5:30 PM CST)

Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Classic

Top Pick: #1 California Chrome

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: NONE

Analysis: Any time California Chrome runs it’s a cause for celebration, and when he runs at Santa Anita it seems to add even more excitement as this is definitely his home track.  At this point I think many handicappers are done trying to beat him until the Breeders’ Cup Classic, including myself who will single here and just enjoy watching him run.  There is no logical factors that could lead to the conclusion that he will lose…even though he does have a few foes that have major quality in this race.

Obviously the one big time horse that could challenge him is Dortmund who nearly defeated him two races back in the San Diego Handicap.  He came back to run a solid third in the Pacific Classic last time out, but was just no match for California Chrome like he was in the San Diego Handicap.  The hard knocking Hoppertunity is back once again, but we all know he can’t actually beat a horse like California Chrome.  However, we also all know that he can hit the board in any race he runs in so you must play him underneath.

Past the top three in here is the up and coming Win the Space who has at least been within a few lengths of the monsters listed on top.  He once again is up against it in this race, but I guess they figure this spot is worth another shot.  If he falters here I’d like to see him cut back to the Dirt Mile for the Breeders’ Cup.  Soi Phet, El Huerfano, and Hard Aces.  Of those three, only Hard Aces has had much success at the big time level.  However, he shouldn’t be a factor on Saturday.

Santa Anita is our #2 top ranked track of all time with over $2.4 MILLION in winning PREMIUM PICK payouts!

Santa Anita Race #8: Rodeo Drive Stakes (6:00 PM CST)

Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf

Top Pick: #12 Zipessa

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #4 Avenge, #5 Real Smart, #6 Tiz a Kiss, #7 Majestic Heat, #10 Nancy From Nairobi, #11 Decked Out, and #13 Elektrum

Analysis: There is no doubt about it…this one is a complete scramble.  In all honesty any of the 14 can win this race as it was easily the hardest race from a handicapping aspect.  I ended up going with Zipessa who has ran two nice races in a row including a solid third place effort last time out in the Grade 1 Beverly D at Arlington.  I’m hoping she can use her early speed to her advantage because if she does she could end up having a big pace edge in this race.

When it comes to multi race tickets I’ve recommended an eye popping SEVEN other horses to use with Zipessa.  The bottom line is all seven: Avenge, Real Smart, Tiz a Kiss, Majestic Heat, Nancy From Nairobi, Decked Out, and Elektrum have all hade their moments that make me think they could jump up and win this race.  With a field of 14 it’s always hard to determine what kind of trip any of these horses will get, but in a race this close the trip will make all the difference.

Rounding out this full field of 14 are Keri Belle, Frenzified, Queen of the Sand, Fresh Feline, Generosiade, and Sobradora Inc.  All of these horses I still give a chance to win, but these were the ones that I thought had the least likely chance to win.  Every one sit back and enjoy this great betting race…and hopefully some of you will get lucky here for a nice score!

Santa Anita Race #9: Zenyatta Stakes (6:30 PM CST)

Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Top Pick: #3 Vale Dori

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #2 Beholder and #5 Stellar Wind

Analysis: Many will think I have totally lost my mind with this pick…but I’m going with a HUGE upset and taking a shot with Vale Dori.  I realize this could be stretch, but I think she could have a big time pace advantage in this race.  Beholder will most likely sit off the lead, and Stellar Wind is not a front runner.  This leaves the very classy Vale Dori possibly alone on the lead.  Her first race in the United States was not great, but last time out she woke up in a big way in a restricted stakes at Del Mar.  Perhaps Vale Dori has things figured out and is ready for a big upset…Bob Baffert has entered her here for a reason.

That being said of course the two logical horses are Beholder and Stellar Wind.  These are the top two ranked older female dirt horses in the country, and each have beaten each other once this year.  This will basically be the rubber match between the two, however they most likely face off again in a month in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.  If the race sets up like many people think, it will be another classic duel between the two stars.

Two other horses are entered here in Off the Road and Tara’s Tango.  Tara’s Tango is actually a horse I like a great deal, but I’m not sure she’s good enough for this group.  Her running competitively though would not shock me at all.  Off the Road looks to be outclassed.

Santa Anita Race #10: Chandelier Sakes (7:00 PM CST)

Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Top Pick: #4 Zapperkat

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #5 American Cleopatra, #2 Noted and Quoted, and #3 Champagne Room

Analysis: While I’m in an “upset picking mood” why not go with another one here with Zapperkat.  Her maiden win at Del Mar was probably the most impressive performance by a female two year old all meet, and if she flashes that same speed once again she could be hard to catch.  The only real question mark is how well this filly will stretch out, but the same question could be asked about several horses in this field including many of the favorites.

Speaking of favorites, you’d have to think American Cleopatra will have a good shot at being the favorite when the horses load into the gate.  The full sister to American Pharoah was just a couple of lengths away from her first Grade 1 win last time out in the Del Mar Debutante when finishing second to Union Strike.  Another Bob Baffert trainee Noted and Quoted as well as Champagne Room also come out of the Del Mar Debutante.  Champagne Room was a very close third while Noted and Quoted was a distant fourth.

Another classy and undefeated horse in this race is With Honors, but she’s ran both of her career starts on the turf.  She’s a big time wild card in this race today as they experiment with the dirt.  Bitzka is the only other stakes winner in the bunch as she won a restricted stakes at Los Alamitos last time out.  Datz a Violation, Princess Coco, Lake Time, and Nikki My Darling are all just maiden winners with a lot to prove today.  Two maidens: Mistressofthenight and Deomigoddess round out the field.

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