The Late Pick-4 begins with the Breeders Cup Mile, featuring an interesting group of Europeans and an American contingent headed by World Approval, winner of the Fourstardave and Woodbine Mile.
Audio – We previewed the Saturday races with Steve Falk.
Breeders Cup Mile
There have been stronger versions of this race, but maybe not too many have a faster projected pace than the 2017 Breeders Cup Mile.
The first thing that jumped out at the draw is that one-way speedsters Midnight Storm and Heart to Heart drew side by side in gates one and two. That’s not to mention Home of the Brave, a stretchout sprinter who will help serve as a pacemaker for Godolphin’s Ribchester, the 7-2 morning line favorite.
The top American hope is World Approval for trainer Mark Casse. He comes out of back to back Grade 1 wins going this mile distance. The first of those wins was the Fourstardave at Saratoga where he got a good trip tracking the pace from a few lengths back. He ranged up to pull away to an easy win. Then last time in the Woodbine Mile, he set a slow pace on the inside and then easily bested his 11 rivals, earning his second straight 108 Beyer.
Left in the wake of World Approval was Lancaster Bomber, our top selection. While World Approval set that moderate pace, Lancaster Bomber was 3-4 wide around the turn and then got stuck in behind while World Approval snuck away. From there, Lancaster Bomber bulled his way through an opening and put in a mild run late. In this race, however, because of the expected pace, Lancaster Bomber will be back off the pace in a better position and World Approval will be tracking a fast pace from up close or be farther back than he’s accustomed to being. Further, Lancaster Bomber can’t pick up his feet on soft turf. His firm turf races are pretty good, but you can safely toss his soft turf tries, like when he was eased at Ascot two weeks ago.
Suedois and Ballagh Rocks come out of the Shadwell, where they ran 1-3, sandwiched around Heart to Heart. Suedois won that race with the last move while Ballagh Rocks made the first one coming four-wide but he probably still should have finished ahead of Heart to Heart. That said, Ballagh Rocks ran better than it looks behind World Approval in the Fourstardave when he had to do the dirty work chasing Sassy Little Lila.
Ribchester is the morning line favorite and returns on two weeks rest after a second place finish over soft ground at Ascot in the QE II. His last three races are on soft going, but he won the Queen Anne in June over firm going, albeit against a relatively (for an Ascot Group 1) weak field (Deauville, who disappointed twice in the US, was third). It’s also the end of a long campaign that started back in March in Dubai. He can obviously win but he’s no bargain at 5-2.
Roly Poly, a three year old filly, took this spot instead of the nine furlong Filly & Mare Turf, which on distance is probably the right decision. Plus, she beat Persuasive in their meeting at Newmarket on October 7th. Then two weeks later, Persuasive came back to beat Ribchester at Ascot, flattering Roly Poly. She does have speed though so she might be a bit farther back than she’s accustomed to being and drew poorly in post 12.
Zelzal gets back onto his preferred firm turf course her as well. He wasn’t that badly beaten by Ribchester in the Sussex on August 2nd and that was on a very demanding course (one mile in 1:46). It says in the comment that Zelzal lacked room, which is probably true but he did get clear with plenty of time. Still, it wasn’t a bad performance, and then he got soft turf again in his prep for this race. We’ll also note that while he’s 20-1 on the morning line here, he’s 10-1 at most overseas books. He’s a definite contender.
#4 Lancaster Bomber (20/1)
#6 Zelzal (20/1)
#5 World Approval (9/2)
#11 Ballagh Rocks (12/1)