The time has finally come! Our first set of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Predictions is ready to be revealed. Each week leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, our latest picks for all 14 races will be posted. Let’s take a look at our initial picks for this year’s event:
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Hear me out before you go crazy on this pick. First of all, remember that we are still several weeks away from the actual event, and this pick could change several times. However, I have confidence in this pick at the moment. Before Justify, this was the horse that trainer Bob Baffert believed could win the Kentucky Derby and talked about very highly. He is set to return in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, and if he runs well there, then I will keep him number one. If not, I’ll look elsewhere. To me, the biggest key to this race is Accelerate and trainer John Sadler’s very poor record outside of California. Look at this year with Accelerate as a perfect example. The horse has looked absolutely unbeatable in California, but when he shipped to Oaklawn Park, he lost to City of Light in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. That is enough of a question mark for me to explore other options in this race.
Pick: Robert Bruce
This is another division where European shippers will have a big say in things. As of now, Robert Bruce looks like our best turf horse, but his stablemate Almanaar looks solid, too. However, Almanaar has no works since his runner-up Arlington Million finish, while Robert Bruce has had two solid works since winning that race. He will be tough in this spot.
Pick: Abel Tasman
With no Unique Bella, Abel Tasman will be a heavy favorite to win. She disposed of Elate for a third time at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes, which gave her back-to-back Grade 1 scores. She did have a total non-effort at Churchill Downs earlier in the year, but she seems to have put that behind her in a big way.
Pick: Bound for Nowhere
This horse is undefeated in the United States after recently winning once again in the $750K Tourist Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs. There will be plenty of time to analyze this division, and we also know European shippers will have a say in things. For now, we’ll stick with Bound for Nowhere until someone else steps up.
Pick: Imperial Hint
This horse is an absolute monster when he is at his best. However, this may be the deepest division of 2018, so he will have his work cut out for him. Last year, he was second in this race to Roy H, but he might turn the tables on that rival this year.
Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf
She is without a doubt the best female turf horse in this country. It will just be a matter of which Europeans ship in to take her on in this spot. They’ll have to bring someone strong because Sistercharlie is really sharp right now.
Pick: Catalina Cruiser
There is very little doubt in my mind that this is the best horse in training and should be pointing for the Classic instead of this race. I mentioned in the Classic prediction that trainer John Sadler’s record away from California is poor, but when it comes to this horse, I don’t care. He is a freakish talent that will be ultra-tough to beat no matter where he runs.
Pick: Belvoir Bay
I have no idea who will win this one at the moment, so this will be a division where the preps will sway me one way or another. You basically need to take the hot horse at the time because they are all interchangeable. Belvoir Bay had a poor effort last time out at Woodbine, but he has shown in the past that he can be competitive.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Pick: Marley’s Freedom
Since moving to the Bob Baffert barn, this horse has turned into a monster. Her latest win at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes showed just how tough she’ll be in this race. She beat several of the top female sprinters in the country in that spot.
Future Stars Friday, November 2, 2018
Sentient Jet Juvenile
This division is always fascinating, and this year’s shaping up to be no different. Instagrand has been perfect in both of his career starts, and nobody has even been close to him in either race. We’ll see if he can pass the “two-turn test” in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes later this month.
No horse has stood out to me so far in this division, so I’ll go with Opry for now. He won the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, which was fairly impressive. This is a division to closely monitor in the coming weeks while also keeping an eye out for who may ship in from overseas.
This may be a really dumb pick, or at least a poorly-timed picked. Brill could not have looked worse in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, but you have to think that she will rebound from that effort. No one in this division has me excited, and this is another pick that could change a few times, but for now, I’m going to count on Brill bouncing back and running well when stretching out in distance.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
For my money, this filly was the most impressive turf 2-year-old at the Saratoga meeting. She broke her maiden in runaway fashion and should be targeting a stakes for her next start. If she wins that race, then she will be locked into this spot.
Juvenile Turf Sprint
Pick: Shang Shang Shang
This is a new Breeders’ Cup race this year, and will likely be impossible to figure out. Turf sprints for juveniles are always very tough, and who gets the best trip usually determines the winner. I’ll go with Shang Shang Shang for now, who won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.