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It’s time for our fourth set of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Predictions to be revealed. Each week leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, our latest picks for all 14 races will be posted. Last week, our Breeders’ Cup Classic pick prevailed in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby. This week, the action really heats up with a total of eight “Win and You’re In” races at Belmont Park and Santa Anita. Let’s take a look at our latest picks before this weekend’s action:
His Pennsylvania Derby win was a massive step towards winning this race. Returning from a long layoff, McKinzie seemed to have total control of the race right out of the gate and was able to cruise home to a 1 3/4-length victory. He earned a 107 Beyer speed figure for his victory, which ties Justify as the highest by a 3-year-old this year. This week, Accelerate is set to run in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, so it will be interesting to compare the winning speed figure there with the result of the Pennsylvania Derby. Regardless of what happens in that race, Sadler’s poor shipping record remains a concern.
Pick: Robert Bruce
European shippers will have a big say in this division. As of now, Robert Bruce looks like our best turf horse, but his stablemate Almanaar looks solid, too. Robert Bruce is set to return this weekend in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park.
Pick: Abel Tasman
With no Unique Bella, Abel Tasman will be the 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, and don’t forget that she won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks there last year.
Pick: Bound for Nowhere
This horse is undefeated in the United States after recently winning the $750K Tourist Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs. There will be plenty of time to analyze this division, and we also know that 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. Imperial Hint is set to run this weekend in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park.
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: World of Trouble
This horse has found his niche on the turf with two victories in a row since switching surfaces. His first try on the surface was a strong win at Saratoga in the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes, and then he looked like a superstar when dominating his rivals in the $100,000 Allied Forces Stakes at Belmont Park. This division is lacking a star, but he could change that.
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.
Pick: Game Winner
The news of Instagrand missing the Breeders’ Cup has thrown us for a loop. As of now, Game Winner will be the pick, with Grade 1s like the American Pharoah, the Champagne, and the Breeders’ Futurity now becoming very important. This has become a wide-open field with no Instagrand. The Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes is set for this weekend at Santa Anita. It could answer a lot of questions.
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.
Pick: Serengeti Empress
The Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes was an eye-popping performance. When all was said and done, Serengeti Empress had won by nearly 20 lengths, turning the race into a laugher. This win helped check three very important boxes: a win around two turns, a win at Churchill Downs where the Breeders’ Cup will be held, and an open-length victory without being asked for her best.
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.
Pick: Stillwater Cove
If you rewatch the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, then you will notice Stillwater Cove taking command in a powerful way at the top of the stretch before getting tired late in the race and fading. If that race was shorter, then she would have won without question. Shortening her up to this spot makes perfect sense, where she should be tough to beat.
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