Breeders' Cup

Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Race Previews: Saturday, October 8

Effinex and Mike Smith passing Melatonin to win the Oaklawn Handicap  Chris Aplin
Chris Aplin

Belmont Race #4: Frizette Stakes (12:53 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #4 Yellow Agate

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #3 Nonna Mela and #1 Sky Gesture

Analysis: The Belmont fields are a bit short on Saturday, but most of the fields are loaded with star quality.  This years 2 year old filly division is up for grabs on both coasts as there are no real standouts.  I’m taking a shot with Yellow Agate in this race who won at first asking for trainer Christophe Clement.  That maiden win scored her the highest speed figures, and her breeding suggests she’ll stretch out pretty well in this spot.

Nonna Mela will be the likely post time favorite as she comes in off a six length score in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga this summer.  She’s won her last two races by a combined thirteen and half lengths so it’s not hard to see her talents.  Another horse coming off a nice maiden score is Sky Gesture.  The second place finisher in her maiden win, Cursor, came back to score in a big way at Belmont Park on Wednesday.  Mike Smith has come in to ride.

Yet another impressive Saratoga maiden special weight winner is Colorful Charades, but I was just impressed with others a bit more in this spot.  Numbers wise she’ll have to improve to beat this group.  Rounding out the field is the Adirondack fourth place finisher Libby’s Tail and Sorority Stakes fourth place finisher Star Super.

Belmont Race #6: Flower Bowl Stakes (2:03 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #5 Lady Eli

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #6 Sea Calisi, #2 Strike Charmer, and #1 Ame Bleue

Analysis: Last time we saw Lady Eli it was just a win of epic proportions to see her back on the track after her courageous battle with laminitis. This time we are all ready for a win…and I’m predicting we are going to see it happen here in this race.  There was no disgrace in how she ran last time out as she finished a close second off a layoff of over a year.  There is no doubt she’ll be more tuned up and ready for this one.

However, she’s not the only major contender in this race from the Chad Brown barn.  Sea Calisi, our current Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf pick, is also in the race and couldn’t be doing better lately.  She’s coming off an impressive win in the Grade 1 Beverly D at Arlington Park last time out.  Strike Charmer, the horse who defeated Lady Eli last time out, is also entered here and will be tough…especially if she can run back to that last effort.  Ame Bleue provides international flavor to the race and like most European horses running in American for the first time she’ll be the wildcard of the group.

Two horses that I didn’t include in the multi race wagers suggestions are Itsonlyactingdad and Sentiero Italia, but don’t underestimate these two in the slightest.  Sentiero Italia ran a solid third to Lady Eli and Strike Charmer last time out, and two races back Itsonlyactingdad was a Grade 3 winner at Monmouth.  This is a field filled with stars.

Keeneland Race #6: Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (3:00 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #2 Stonetastic

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #1 Irish Jasper

Analysis: The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint could be more wide open than ever this year as eight contenders line up in this spot to prove themselves.  Stonetastic looks to be fastest horse on paper, and should get out to a fairly easy lead against this bunch.  If she’s able to do just that she’ll be very hard to catch on the front end.  The pace set up makes her my top pick.

However, Irish Jasper was very impressive at Saratoga last time when winning an allowance, and if the pace gets hot she could get first jump on mowing them down late.  This will be one of the toughest race of her career, but she’s ran against top competition before and hasn’t faired that poorly.

Sarah Sis, Bendable, and Foretti all come into this race off of stakes victories, and really all three of them will have a shot in here.  They’ll just need a small jump up in numbers to compete with the top two in this race.  Meshell, I’m a Looker, and Spelling Again all have had some struggles this year and will be looking to turn it around on Saturday.

Belmont Race #8: Champagne Stakes (3:13 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #3 Syndergaard

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #6 Big Gray Rocket

Analysis: A compact field of six takes to the track for this one, however any of the six could end up being major players in this division.  From my view the race comes down to two horses: Syndergaard and Big Gray Rocket.  The Bob Baffert trainee Big Gray Rocket is actually my current Breeders’ Cup Juvenile pick, but I’ve put Syndergaard on top here as I feel the mile distance is one where he’ll be hard to catch.  I’m not sure he can go much farther than the mile though, but Big Gray Rocket should have no problem with added ground.  Both of these colts are ones to watch for as we head this very important part of the season.

A pair of Chad Brown runners, Favorable Outcome and Practical Joke also look to be formable in this race.  Favorable Outcome ran one of the most impressive maiden races at Saratoga this summer, and Practical Joke took home the Grade 1 Hopeful to end the meet at Saratoga.  Both of these horses could end up being stars for Brown with the first step to stardom coming on Saturday.

Thirst for Victory and Lookin at Blessing fill out this field of six, and both are just maiden special weight winners.  Lookin at Blessing does have a win at the distance which is a major plus on his side.  Thirst for Victory has only one lifetime race and it was over a very sloppy Saratoga surface so he is a major question mark heading into this one.

Santa Anita Race #4: Santa Anita Sprint Championship (4:00 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #4 Lord Nelson

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: NONE

Analysis: It won’t take much to explain this one as Lord Nelson is a very easy single based on class as he towers over this very small field of five.  He will most likely be a heavy favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint as he prepares for a potential showdown with A. P. Indian.  However, there is no horse even close to A. P. Indian in this race on Saturday.

I guess if you are looking for some kind of upset angle it could come from Jazzy Times who has a chance to get loose on the lead.  His race last time out at Del Mar was very solid, but he’s had a few minor injuries since that one so he’s somewhat of a question mark in here.  All Run, Anytime Anyplace, and Cautious Giant round out the field and all look to be overmatched against Lord Nelson.

Keeneland Race #8: Breeders’ Futurity Sakes (4:10 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #11 Classic Empire

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #12 Lookin At Lee, #9 No Dozing, #2 Gunnevera, and #6 Blame Will

Analysis: The “bad boy” Classic Empire is back in this one!  He was the post time favorite last time out in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga but when the gates opened disaster struck.  Once he came out of the gate he almost immediately wheeled around dumped the jockey.  Not ideal…however his talents are pretty high so I’ll give him another shot in this race.  Just behave Classic Empire…just behave!

My second choice in this race could end up flopping as bad as my top choice: Blame Will.  Last time out at Churchill Downs I figured Blame Will would win the Iroquois Stakes, but he faded badly to finish seventh.  I’ll give him another shot today as maybe he just didn’t like the sloppy surface last time out.  Gunnevera is another horse I like as he’s coming off an impressive win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special last time out.  No Dozing has ran two very solid races coming into this one, and Lookin At Lee was the second place finisher in the Iroquois to standout Not This Time.

Bitumen is a horse I like going one turn, but feel like the stretch out makes him an easy toss once again today.  Singing Bullet, Perro Rojo, Tiz Trevor, and Wild Shot are all last out winners but their numbers must improve on Saturday to have any shot at winning.  Rounding out this solid field of twelve is Holiday Bonus and Honor Thy Father.

Belmont Race #10: Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (4:23 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #3 Hoppertunity

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #6 Effinex and #1 Protonico

Analysis: California invader Hoppertunity dodged California Chrome and his stablemate Dortmund last week, and after looking at this field who can blame his connections for wanting to do just that.  There is no denying the New York handicap division has been up and down this year, and with this race missing Frosted it really has things up in the air.  Hoppertunity should fit well here against this group.

One New York horse that has plenty of talent is Effinex, but he’s also been maddening at times this year.  He’s been up and down so many times, but his best race can win this race on Saturday.  Who knows what we’ll end up seeing out of him though.  The other horse I think you should use here is Protonico who returned and was victorious in an allowance at Belmont after nearly a year layoff.  When talking about Pletcher horses its normal that they progress off those kinds of races.

One horse I’m leaving off is Mubtaahij who is very classy, but always seems to be the second or third place finisher in races like this…which I expect him to do again on Saturday.  War Story and Watershed round out this field, and both will need to run big races to win a race like this one.  Neither have proven they can do that so far in their careers.

Keeneland Race #9: Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (4:45 PM CST)

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

Top Pick: #4 Mondialiste

Others to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #3 Tower of Texas, #6 Kasaqui, #7 Miss Temple City, #8 Ironicus, #9 Ring Weekend, #10 Tourist

Analysis: When facing a field this solid you better be a great horse to win it, and there is no doubt Mondialiste is just that.  Just look at his record in America.  Woodbine Mile winner in 2015…Runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to Tepin in 2015…and then a win this year in the Arlington Million last time out.  He simply loves racing over here, and will have a big shot to pick up another win as he prepares for a rematch with Tepin in a few weeks at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The challengers for Mondialiste are tough, and they have successful resumes.  Tower of Texas was only beaten a half length by the queen, Tepin, last time out so that’s all that needs to be said about him.  Kasaqui was within a length of winning the Arlington Million last time out, and this shorter distance might server him very well.  Miss Temple City is a beast at Keeneland, and beat the boys the last time she was here.  Ironicus hasn’t been seen in several months, but at the top of his game he can beat nearly anyone going a mile on the turf.  Ring Weekend and Tourist are both coming off big Saratoga wins and are always dangerous.  Winning this race will not be easy!

Rounding out this stellar field will be: Triple Threat, Pleuven, Grand Arch, and What a View.  All of these horses are ones I’ve picked at various times throughout their careers, but it’s hard to see them matching up with this amazing field.  If you added Tepin to this race it would be just as strong as what the Breeders’ Cup Mile itself will most likely be…easily the best race of the weekend.

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