Here are my thoughts on the three Friday races... of course, these pick are GUARANTEED, or your money back!
Filly and Mare Sprint-
The Breeders Cup kicks off this year with a showdown between multiple Grade I winner DREAM RUSH and upstart LA TRAVIATA, whose is making only her fourth lifetime start. That lack of experience I believe will ultimately cost her a chance at a win, as she has never been challenged on the lead in her brief career. As for Dream Rush, I think she has a great shot at winning. Truthfully, despite winning two Grade I's in her career, she hasn't exactly faced a great filly yet, but she also hasn't done anything wrong. Her two losses were by a length or less, one of which was an allowance race where the connections intentionally held her back a bit to let her get some dirt get kicked in her face (she ended up being boxed in through most of the stretch and ran out of room). I think that experience will help her tomorrow. While she has been on the lead most of her career, again I believe that is because she hasn't faced super fast fillies yet, but will be perfectly content sitting a length or so off the pace if need be. Her breeding for the slop (410 Tomlinson) can't hurt, either.
Still, at odds of 5/2 or less, I can't blame anyone for trying to beat her. MARYFIELD and OPRAH WINNEY may be the best options. Both are coming into this race in top form, and both have an affinity for an off surface. Both will likely be stalking the expected hot pace, which may prove to be the spot to be. It will be important to see how speed favoring the track is playing tomorrow. With the expected rain tonight and tomorrow, it is very possible the track may have an extreme speed bias (imagine having mud kicked in YOUR face for half a mile or more), which would potentially hurt Maryfield, as she more likely to be more off the pace. Still, I think both horses should have a good account for themselves tomorrow.
$10 win DREAM RUSH
$5 exacta box DREAM RUSH over MARYFIELD and OPRAH WINNEY
Boy is this race hard to figure... not only 2 yr olds tough to figure in general, throw in the fact that many of these have yet to face each other AND they will be racing over a yielding sod, and you have a recipe for a real long shot. As always in these races, you have to favor the Euros coming over, who are generally much better on the grass, and the best of those appears to be STRIKE THE DEAL. The Grade II winner is coming into this race off of a strong 2nd in a Grade I in England after being in tight quarters coming for home. His sire, Van Nistelrooy, is an interesting young Storm Cat sire whose progeny have done well on the dirt and turf (even the Del Mar "surface"). He looks to be a deserving favorite, and although I would prefer trying to hit a bomb in this one, if he's at 9/2 or better as his morning line suggests, I think he is worth a shot.
ACHILL ISLAND is another Euro invader who deserves a long look. His last race was a close 2nd at Ascot over a soft going, which should set him up well tomorrow. He may vie for favoritism, and also might be worth a look if his odds drift up towards 5/1 or more. If you need a US colt, either THE LEOPARD, a 2.5 million dollar Storm Cat colt who wired the field in the Pilgrim, or GIO PONTI, the Bourbon winner, are worth a shot at 10 to 1 or more. If you want to go with an exacta or trifecta bet, I think you need to throw in some long shots underneath, as this race is likely to have some bombs hit the board.
$10 Win/Place STRIKE THE DEAL
$5 Win/Place GIO PONTI
This race is just loaded with question marks. Eleven months ago, there was a legitimate case to be made that DISCREET CAT was in fact the best 3YO on the planet, even better than Barbaro and Bernardini. Undefeated and fresh off of an ultra impressive Cigar Mile score at the big A, Discreet Cat looked unstoppable heading into his 4YO season. Of course, that horse has yet to show up in 2007, making this race wide open. If the Discreet Cat of old shows up, he wins, but my guess is that he doesn't. At this point, you have to be concerned that he has had FOUR lengthy layoffs in his career already, and run in only 8 races in 26 months. I'm sure he needed his last race and it may set him up well tomorrow, but at 2/1 I'm not interested in finding out.
If you really want a horse that on his best day is very tough, why not try HIGH FINANCE at much longer odds. As someone affiliated with West Point Thoroughbreds (I am a part owner in a few horses they syndicate, none of which are running this weekend), I have followed this horse his entire career, and he is flat out a weird dude. Sometimes he seems to have no interest and will throw in the towel despite setting moderate fractions. Other times, he'll go 21 and 44 and still be full or run. I have absolutely no idea which High Finance shows up tomorrow, but if the latter does, he will be very tough to beat at very high odds.
There is a ton of speed in this race, so it could fall apart for a horse like CORINTHIAN, who should be comfortably off of the pace. He too is another frustrating horse to root for, as he seems to have a world of talent but hasn't been terribly consistent. The cutback in distance should help him, though, and he should be flying at the end.
$10 Win/Place HIGH FINANCE
$10 Exacta box HIGH FINANCE and CORINTHIAN