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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. Again this week, we wonder: are we facing a chalk fest? Will the races be won mostly by big favorites? Where do we think we’ll find potential price plays?
Here’s our fifth 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.
Let’s face it, if she ships over again and shows up with her normal effort, then the rest are running for second. She’s put up back-to-back efforts overseas that are much better than anything that will be in this field. It’ll be interesting to see if she defends last year’s title.
Look, we have to try to beat Letruska here, even though she’s clearly the leader in the division. The problem is, the weekend looks so chalky elsewhere and you can see a scenario where she can get beat if she faces pace pressure. Perhaps Private Mission can press her early, setting it up for Malathaat to run at them late and pick up the victory. We can hope, right?
Pick: Mo Forza
We know this horse loves Del Mar and we also know his talent level is extremely high. If Miller can keep him healthy, which has been his main issue, then he should be hard to beat in this spot. He looked sharp in his most recent prep, winning the City of Hope Mile Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
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 when 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. His last prep race should set him up perfectly for the Breeders’ Cup.
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Pick: War Like Goddess
This filly is the pick for now after 2 monster efforts at Saratoga against stakes company. She hasn’t faced a field quite like what she’ll see at Del Mar, though, so we’re still anxiously awaiting who might ship in from overseas.
Pick: Life Is Good
Wow, does this horse have a ton of talent. He crushed the Kelso Handicap (G2) field with ease on his way to the Dirt Mile, where he’ll be a major favorite. It’s hard to see him losing this race if he shows up with his best effort.
Pick: Lieutenant Dan
Here’s the good news: our longshot pick in this race for the fourth straight week won the Eddie D Stakes (G2) last weekend at Santa Anita. Here’s the bad news: that victory means we’ll get a much lower price on him at Del Mar. Still, I’ll stick with him for now because he loves Del Mar and is on fire coming into the race. However, after seeing Golden Pal at Keeneland, he’s going to be tough to beat.
Pick: Bella Sophia
Let’s take a swing against the heavily-favored Gamine with a horse who’s been ultra-impressive in her last few starts. She seems to be the only one in the group who can compete with the defending champ, so perhaps she can upset at a nice price.
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We’ll leave him as the pick for now after a very nice win in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1), but this field looks like it’s going to be loaded. He’ll have several worthy challengers, including Champagne Stakes (G1) Jack Christopher, but we’ll stick with Corniche for another week.
He’s been our pick for the first 3 weeks of this article, so why would we change after he fought hard to win the Pilgrim Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in his second start? It wasn’t a “take your breath away” type of race; however, he was solid and earned a nice 89 Beyer Speed Figure for the victory.
Pick: Echo Zulu
She looks like she could be a single after another dominating effort in the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. Attempting two turns remains her biggest question mark, but she stretched out to a mile just fine in her latest blowout victory. However, she now faces a serious challenge in Juju’s Map.
Pick: Wild Beauty
A few weeks ago, we said that our pick was “European to be named later.” We now have our horse after Wild Beauty won like a monster in the Natalma Stakes (G1) at Woodbine. Right now, trainer Charlie Appleby looks nearly impossible to beat in the United States.
Pick: Averly Jane
Wow, her win in the Indian Summer Stakes was effortless despite being her first try on the turf. I can’t help but think she looks like the female version of Golden Pal this year, and we all know what he did in this race last season.
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