One race after Lady Aurelia and one race before Lady Eli, we get Unique Bella in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Audio – We previewed the Saturday races with Steve Falk.
Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
The horses in this race can basically be broken up into three buckets – the older Californians, the east coast runners, and Unique Bella.
Unique Bella, who is 5-6 with her only loss in her debut last June, was the heavy Kentucky Oaks favorite until she was sidelined after a win in the March 4th Santa Ysabel. After missing seven months, she easily defeated five rivals in the LA Woman on October 8th and will be a short-price in this race. That said, she is not markedly faster than her rivals in this race and will be a strong favorite. Yes, with routine improvement and maturity she can improve on those numbers from her early three-year old year, and if she does she is a likely winner. I’m not tremendously against but will happily bet against her at a very short price.
The three main west coast older runners are Skye Diamonds, Constellation, and Finest City. The first two skipped the LA Woman after Skye Diamonds defeated Constellation in the Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar in August. Of the two, we prefer Skye Diamonds, who is 2-2 at Del Mar and figures to get a good trip sitting off what should be a strong pace. Constellation does switch to Bob Baffert for this race but she’s been with Steve Asmussen and Jerry Hollendorfer, two Hall of Fame trainers, and she feels more likely to be compromised by the pace. Finest City, last year’s winner, hasn’t run since July and didn’t run especially well in that race, a third place finish, beaten 4 ¾ lengths in the Great Lady M behind Skye Diamonds and Conestellation. To be fair, she has run twice this year going two turns, which is decidedly not her game, and she is 2-3 at Del Mar, but we’ll only use her defensively.
The bulk of the East Coast runners come out of the Ballerina, where By the Moon and Highway Star ran 1-2 all the way around the track on a preposterously slow pace. Carina Mia ran well to close for third in that race and favored Paulassilverlining was a disappointing fifth after pressing the pace. Paulassilverlining has been freshened for this and has reportedly been training very well, but we prefer Carina Mia.
Carina Mia makes her fourth start since being transferred from Bill Mott to Chad Brown. Two-back in the Ballerina, we thought she ran a huge race as the pace in there was very slow. Then last time in the Gallant Bloom, she was up close on what was a pretty strong pace, made the first move into that pace, and was run down late by Highway Star, who had the better trip waiting behind. Maybe Carina Mia is just a little bit too slow, but I think she’s quietly been cycling forward and she’s the one to take for the upset.
#1 Carina Mia (12/1)
#12 Skye Diamonds (5/1)
#11 Unique Bella (9/5)
#2 Paulassilverlining (8/1)