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For the final weeks leading up to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, we’ll give our top picks for all 14 races.
Here’s our first set of predictions for the year-end World Championships, which will be held November 5-6 at Del Mar:
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Pick: Essential Quality
Cox has them over a barrel here with two big gray monsters, both of which have different running styles. For my money right now, I’ll take Essential Quality, with the assumption that Knicks Go will face some pace pressure that softens him up. This is a true situation where pace will make the race. If it looks like Knicks Go can be lone speed, then he will be the one who takes home the big prize. Time will tell what the pace scenario will ultimately look like.
Pick: Domestic Spending
I no longer believe he’s a lock to win this race, but he’s still the pick depending what European runners show up. He also must tussle again with Gufo, who seems to be putting it all together at the right time. At one time, this race looked like a single, but it’s now beginning open up.
This is a favorite I’d like to play against, and might end up doing so once the big day arrives, but as of now, she’s the pick. She’s done nothing wrong all season long, so it’s hard to make a case against her at this point, as she’s beaten most of her main competition. Can she hold that form together through November? That’s the big challenge.
Pick: Set Piece
I still believe in this horse, even though he settled for second last time out in the Fourstardave Stakes (G1). This looks to be a wide-open event on paper, and European horses sometimes struggle in this event. If he catches the right type of field, then he can pull off the upset.
Pick: Jackie’s Warrior
It’ll be hard for me to pick against this horse unless we really see something spectacular in the last few prep races leading up to the big day. He was simply awesome at Saratoga in his past 2 starts including last time out defeating Life Is Good, who might be better than anything Jackie’s Warrior will face in this race. Trainer Steve Asmussen has a ton of quality sprinters headed towards this event and this is his best one.
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Pick: Santa Barbara
This European filly shipped over to the United States twice and looked great in both starts, including defeating older horses last time out at Arlington Park in the Beverly D Stakes (G1). She might be one of the best turf horses in the world at this point and trainer Aidan O’Brien will have her ready to fire in this spot.
Pick: Life Is Good
Wow, does this horse have a ton of talent. If he ends up here, then he’ll be the horse to beat. He might run in the Sprint instead, but the Classic also remains within realm of possibilities. It’ll be interesting to see how his placement plays out.
Pick: Lieutenant Dan
Why not take a longshot here, one who has experience winning races sprinting on Del Mar’s turf? He may not be the most attractive option from a speed figure standpoint, but this turf course plays a little strange, so his 2 straight victories over the surface work in his favor. The last time the Breeders’ Cup was at Del Mar, this race produced a big longshot.
If she runs to her capabilities, then she should be an easy single to kick off Breeders’ Cup Saturday. She won this race last season and this year’s field may not be as good as that one. She should be an easy winner.
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We’ve only seen him once so far, but he was awesome in his debut effort, winning a maiden special weight at Del Mar and earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. We’ll learn a lot more about him in his final prep race, which will likely come at Santa Anita in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1).
This horse looked like a monster in his debut, dominating a maiden special weight group at Saratoga. That is his only race so far, though, so we still need to see how he does in his final prep event, which will likely be the Pilgrim Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. If he can build off of that effort, then he’s going to be tough to beat here.
Pick: Echo Zulu
This has easily been the most impressive horse in the group so far, picking up 2 solid victories at Saratoga including the Spinaway Stakes (G1) last time out. We aren’t sure how well she’ll stretch out in distance, though, which is something that we must monitor in her final prep races.
Pick: A European to be named later
We have no clue about this race at the moment. I’ve picked “A European to be named later” mainly because we don’t know much at all about any American runners just yet. These next prep races will need to be analyzed closely for this division.
Pick: Twilight Gleaming
We’ll see how this shakes out as we go along. As of now, we don’t know much about this field, so it’s hard to make a prediction at this time. We do know that Wesley Ward is great at training young turf sprinters, and Twilight Gleaming has been impressive, so we’ll go with her for now.
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