If only the Breeders Cup were last weekend, when the temperature was in the mid 70's and there was nary a cloud in the sky! Instead, I'm home tonight, scrambling together all of the rain gear I can find and wondering whether the track will be listed as sloppy or underwater. The winner of the Classic this year might make a strong anchor in the 4X100 freestyle next year in Beijing.
While we didn't hit any bets, we learned a lot about how the track might play tomorrow, and a couple of my "underneath" horses (Maryfield and Corinthian) actually won, so hopefully somebody made money off of these picks, although that would actually assume that somebody is actually reading this blog. I felt great about Dream Rush going into this race, then watched in stunned silence as she set the pace at a beyond blistering 21 and 1/5 seconds for the first quarter mile. She of course tired late, but I still think she's the best sprinting filly in the country. Enough dwelling the past though, let's get to tomorrows races.
IZARRA is exactly the type of filly I want to bet tomorrow. She is a West Coast invader who is bred to run all day (Distorted Humor out of a Broad Brush mare), and was nosed in the Oak Leaf at Santa Anita last month. Her speed figures are light, but again I think that has more to do with the tracks than the horses. She has shown talent, steady improvement and should only get better as the distances increase. A 445 Tomlinson number for the slop doesn't hurt either. Behind her, a lot of horses could be interesting if the price is right. Throw out PHANTOM INCOME's races at the Spa and she fits well... the first race the gate crew opened the gates before Coa was in the irons and she clearly was shaken up by it. She came back strong at the Meadowlands last month and may offer a great value. INDIAN BLESSING will be the deserving favorite after her open lengths score in the Frizzete. I love her sire, Indian Charlie, but I'm suspicious about how she tired late in her last race. She's going to be a short price, so I'd presume pass and let her beat me. SMARTY DEB is another improving filly who should like more distance. She's another one who is bred for the slop, and should be sitting in a good position just off the leaders. PROUD SPELL was able to parlay two wins in Delaware into a big Matron win for trainer Larry Jones. She is similar to me to Indian Blessing, so I'd prefer her at higher odds.
$10 Win/Place IZARRA
$2 Exacta Box IZARRA, PROUD SPELL, SMARTY DEB
I'll take a shot against likely favorite WAR PASS here. He's clearly got a world of talent, but has taken open length leads around the track, and should have more pressure today. Instead, I will look to PYRO, who was closing like a freight train to almost catch WAR PASS in the Champagne. He should appreciate the extra distance, and is bred to relish an off track. I am a bit suspicious of that Champagne race, or more specifically how high the speed figures earned from it were. That makes TALE OF EKATI interesting, as he has run well despite rough trips in his last two races. Barclay Tagg knows a thing or two about conditioning a horse, and his impressive workout on the 22nd (45.3 for 4 furlongs, best of 48 at the distance) says hes ready to go. SALUTE THE SARGE is a West Coast invader who also is improving, and may be worth a look at double digit odds. WICKED STYLE looks just decent on paper, but I was intrigued by two things. He was able to wire the field at Keeneland, a track with a severe bias against early speed, and his sire, BC Juvenile champ Macho Uno, looks like he could become a very nice stallion.
$5 Exacta box TALE OF EKATI and PYRO
$2 Trifecta box TALE OF EKATI, PYRO, SALUTE THE SARGE, and WICKED STYLE
What a crapshoot this race is. I could make a case for just about any horse in the field, as is the case for most turf races on any BC day. Despite her 7 for 7 record, I'm not sold NASHOBA'S KEY is a champion filly, which is my rule of thumb for betting favorites on BC day. She has run against small fields out west, and she is likely to be a short price. Same goes for HONEY RYDER, who is probably the best turf mare in the country, but has no interest in running over a soft surface. I'll take a shot on DANZON, who comes into this race off an impressive polytrack score in a Grade III race. She has a nice late kick, and has run her best race over a yielding surface.
$10 Win/Place DANZON
GREG'S GOLD was able to do something very few horses could this summer, race towards the lead and win at Del Mar. Somehow found a ton of trouble in a 5 horse field last time out, but should be tough here. These races always offer a ton of speed, which should set up a closer like BENNY THE BULL quite well. My hope, though, is that the public lets MIDNIGHT LUTE go at 3/1 or higher. His Forego win was the real deal, and he hasn't missed a beat since.
$20 Win MIDNIGHT LUTE at 3/1 or higher, if not
$5 Exacta box MIDNIGHT LUTE with BENNY THE BULL and GREG'S GOLD
I'm hoping to pick a horse this year that finishes in the top half of the field, which would be the first time for me in the BC Mile. EXCELLENT ART is a deserving favorite, and if for some reason his odds drift up to 5/2 or more I think hes worth a play. He is a champion miler from England who has already run well over a soft going, which is more than you can say for any other horse in this field. TRIPPI'S STORM seems well suited for the distance, and is coming into his own nicely. This gelding could have been claimed back in March for 50k, and is now running in a two million dollar race. Not a bad sport, huh? JEREMY might have needed his last race, but could be tough here. NOBIZ LIKE SHOWBIZ has transformed into a top notch turf horse, but this race might be a little too short for him. He is undefeated in three starts on the turf, and I expect an impressive outing from him tomorrow.
$5 Trifecta EXCELLENT ART on top of TRIPPI'S STORM, JEREMY, and NOBIZ LIKE SHOWBIZ
To be the champ, you have to beat the champ, and that is precisely what LEAR'S PRINCESS did in her latest score over Belmont champ Rags to Riches. Blinkers clearly helped this three yr old filly, who is bred up and down like Derby champ Barbaro. She's won on dirt, polytrack, and turf, so I don't think the sloppy track will hurt her. INDIAN VALE is 6 for 7 at this distance with one 2nd, and should sit in a good spot tracking the early leaders. HYSTERICALADY ran one of her best races at Monmouth, but the track will play a lot different today, and her outside post position could hurt her.
$20 Win/Place LEAR'S PRINCESS
$50 Win DYLAN THOMAS
This is probably the best and most competitive field in the race, so let's break down each horses chances.
Lawyer Ron-Possibly the favorite, he certainly perked up at the Spa this summer with romps in the Whitney and Woodward. There is a chance he might get overlooked, but I still think he is a better horse at a 1 1/8, and may also just be a better horse at Saratoga.
Street Sense- Ignore his last race; there was no pace, and rival Hard Spun was able to set easy fractions and have enough in the tank to hold off Street Sense in the lane. The bottom line with this horse is he has won possibly the three biggest races you can win at this point in his career (BC Juvenile, KY Derby, and Travers) and always shows up in the big race. Very dangerous.
Any Given Saturday- His last race wasn't his best, but he still won, and after all it was just a prep for today. Clearly has become a better horse since the Derby, and his best race was at this track to boot. Granted, the track should play a lot differently today, but he is bred to love the slop. Should be very tough.
Curlin- Never raced as a two year old, the Preakness champ rose fast and furiously from a maiden win in February to get where he is today. He beat Lawyer Ron in his latest, and probably has as good a shot as any to get the win.
George Washington- Actually ran very well last year in the Classic for someone who never runs on the dirt, but still was 7 lengths back from Invasor. Was originally retired last year, but brought back to track when he had problems in the breeding shed (insert joke here). Even though I feel bad for him and his "problems", it's hard to figure him here today.
Awesome Gem- Apparently, the best handicap horse on the West Coast is good for 30-1 in this race. He's a cut below the Street Sense's and Curlin's of the world, but he will be flying late, and at odds of around 30-1, deserves some money.
Diamond Stripes- Will come from off the pace, this gelding is very consistent although probably a cut below. He brings his A game every time, though, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him get up for a piece.
Hard Spun- Hard not to respect this horse, especially after his gutty performance in the King's Bishop. Should get extra support after beating Street Sense last month, but I still think he's best at 7 furlongs or a mile.
Tiago- Sons of Pleasant Tap tend to get better with age, and Tiago appears to be no exception. Wasn't quite ready to compete with some of these during the Triple Crown, but clearly has improved over the summer, capped by his Goodwood win. I'm interested to see how the public views him tomorrow, but if his odds drift up over 15/1, I would certainly consider him
$20 Win/Place STREET SENSE
$10 Win/Place/Show AWESOME GEM