Originally, the plan was to break up Saturday into the early races and the late races, but considering the track featured a profoundly bad inside on dirt, we are going to look at the five Saturday Breeders Cup dirt races all in one post and the turf races in this post and the four Breeders Cup Saturday turf races in another.
Previously – Breeders Cup Friday.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies
Recap / Notes – Winner Caledonia Road ran very well to get the win but of course benefitted from both a fast pace and being outside well off the bad rail. She’ll come back in the winter at Gulfstream and will probably be one to oppose until she shows she can repeat this effort under different circumstances. Bob Baffert’s Alluring Star pressed the solid pace from the 2-path, took over at the top of the lane and was run down late. She ran very well. Alluring Star was the expected pace-setter, but Moonshine Memories was surprisingly gunned to the lead, setting fast fractions on the bad inside and though we didn’t love her going in, this is not a representative race considering the pace and her presence on the bad rail. Separationofpowers drew poorly (13) and had to track the fast pace, though she was on the good part of the track. She ran fine, but is something of a mixed bag considering she did get to race off the rail. Heavenly Love tracked the fast pace on the bad inside and was all done on the far turn.
What We Got Right – Not a lot, though our top pick Heavenly Love had no chance considering the trip she got (clearly, however, she did not run well). Our longshot use was Piedi Banchi, who ran fifth. While she was 3-wide most of the way around, in the lane, she had to wait for room and was then forced down to the weaker inside. She could have hit the board if she could have gotten clear.
What We Got Wrong – We were against the New York horses who both ran very well, albeit aided by the pace and outside track.
Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Recap / Notes – Bar of Gold got a great ride from Irad Ortiz to move outside and run down the tough-luck Ami’s Mesa in the final jump of the Filly & Mare Sprint. That rival had a good trip in the clear well off the bad rail but obviously ran very well.
The tough luck horse from this race is Carina Mia, who was inside basically the whole way around and couldn’t get off the inside at the top of the lane when Ami’s Mesa came out a path. Had she gotten outside, she probably would have won.
Unique Bella was way overbet at even money, and she’ll probably be overbet in her next start too, but to be fair, she did have have a tough go of things setting a fast pace and she spent most of the race close to the rail. Skye Diamonds was a little disappointing, as she got to stalk the pace on the outside but was just flat in the lane.
What We Got Right – We picked Carina Mia and feel that was a pretty solid selection, all things considered. If she got outside, she would have won at 20-1.
What We Got Wrong – Like most people, we didn’t like 60-1 Bar of Gold, who had never won in open company and seemed to need a wet track for her best. We didn’t really like Ami’s Mesa either, who was making her first start on dirt. At least, because we didn’t have Ami’s Mesa or the winners of the races bookending this one, Carina Mia’s tough trip only cost us a nice win bet or that would have been even a bit more annoying.
Breeders Cup Sprint
Recap / Notes – Winner Roy H got a great trip stalking on the outside but ran back to his big races from over the summer. He was a riderless Drefong, who carried Roy H way out in the Bing Crosby, away from having won four straight stakes races to finish the year. Imperial Hint was up close pressing Takaful early and maybe ended up on the lead earlier than they wanted as Takaful chucked it in, but ran very well.
American Pastime, who had been improving all summer, didn’t draw well (3) considering the outside flow to the track and never got to the outside in the race. He ran better than it looks. Fourth-place finisher Mind Your Biscuits was aided by being on the far outside but did run a good race, if no threat to the top two. They were both probably better than he was anyway.
Drefong was bad but had no chance having drawn inside and facing long odds to get a cozy trip on the lead like he’s enjoyed in several of his starts.
What We Got Right – We did basically get this one right, and once the track came up the way it did, it was going to be very difficult to beat Roy H and Imperial Hint. Both figured to get good outside stalking trips, and both did. We were against Drefong going in and he did not run well, but had little chance considering the draw and the track. As noted above, American Pastime, who we did use, might have run a little better than it looks considering he couldn’t get to the outside. Don’t overlook him if he shows up in the Malibu on December 26th.
What We Got Wrong – Mind Your Biscuits ran better than we expected and showed some signs of getting back to his best form. He is apparently heading to the Cigar Mile, which should be an interesting test for him. He has shown he can win going six and seven furlongs, but will his kick be as effective going a mile? It also seems unlikely he’ll get the same outside track he got in this race in that one, but if he does run well, it opens up some possibilities heading into 2018.
Breeders Cup Juvenile
Recap / Notes – The big story coming into the race was heavily favored Bolt d’Oro, who looked like he would be very tough to beat. Unfortunately for his backers, he broke a half step slow and then endured a terribly wide trip (he ran 78 feet more than Good Magic per Trakus).
Good Magic, meanwhile, tracked the pace from the 2-3 path early, moved outside on the far turn, and crushed the field. It was a very impressive performance for the Chad Brown runner, who earned a 100 Beyer for his efforts. Runner-up Solomon pressed the pace (which wasn’t blazing), took over, and was run down late by the winner. It was a good effort, but he was probably third best.
The rest of the field was so spread out (fourth place finisher Givemeaminit was beaten 13 1/2 lengths) that it’s tough to like anyone else out of the race. Free Drop Billy was the slight second choice at 7-1 and did race the whole way on the inside, so his race can be forgiven, though we didn’t really love him coming in.
It should be noted the pace was relatively slow – the fractions were about what they ran in the Juvenile Fillies, but the final time was 1.7 seconds faster.
What We Got Right – We were mostly about Bolt d’Oro in here but Good Magic was our second choice, so fortunately we were able to hit a couple of multis in which we used Good Magic as a backup – though our wallet would have been better-off if Bolt d’Oro had gotten up for second. Our super longshot Givemeaminit, who was 60-1, didn’t run that poorly but was at no point a threat to hit the exacta.
What We Got Wrong – We underestimated Solomini, who while not threatening Bolt d’Oro in the Frontrunner, was giving up experience to that rival in there, and it did seem likely that Bolt d’Oro was going to come back to earth a bit after that race. That was a hittable trifecta-box had we been more bullish on Solomini. That’s one we’d want back.
Breeders Cup Classic
Recap / Notes – Gun Runner ran a huge race, setting a strong pace and holding on for the win over Collected, and actually moving away at the end after that one looked, on the far turn, that he would get by. Steve Byk made this point on his show this week – Gun Runner was the only horse to win a stretch-duel while inside of his rival on dirt all day.
Third place finisher West Coast never really made a move but didn’t run poorly. He’s a good three year old. He lost to two good older horses.
War Story was moving OK late in the speed dominated race. He’s just not as good as these top horses.
Arrogate broke awkwardly but never threatened and just wasn’t quite the same horse as he was this time last year.
While you could draw the conclusion that the track changed and this was a speed-dominated race, once you took Arrogate out, Gun Runner, Collected and West Coast were really the only three horses that could win the race. They ran 1-2-3. I think speed-dominated nature of this Classic was more that the three best horses were forwardly placed and nothing to do with the changing nature of the racetrack (which clearly favored outside movers on dirt all day).
What We Got Right – We did like Collected and used him as an A with Arrogate, but our big opinion in the race was anti-Gun Runner so…
What We Got Wrong – The biggest mistake we made all weekend was here, both in underestimating Gun Runner and overestimating Arrogate.
First, Gun Runner. The impressive and dominating wins that followed his Dubai loss to Arrogate didn’t quite convince us to bet on him here. They were against weaker fields, but they were dominating. We couldn’t get past his loss to Arrogate in Dubai, when that one had significant trouble, but overlooked the reality – Arrogate wasn’t the same horse since and Gun Runner got better. We also doubted Gun Runner at 10 furlongs, but looking back, if you take out Arrogate, he would have won going 10 in Dubai. This was a costly mistake.
Second, Arrogate. His wins in the Travers, Breeders Cup Classic (2016), Pegasus, and Dubai World Cup were so good that we convinced ourselves that he was the same horse, despite two straight races over this track where he couldn’t get back to that form. Sure, it’s possible he didn’t love Del Mar, but this race was at Del Mar. It’s too bad it ended the way it did for Arrogate, because that four race stretch is better than any four race stretch for a horse since Ghostzapper and maybe in a longer time than even that.
We’ll be back with a look at the four Saturday Breeders Cup Turf races – the Turf Sprint, the Filly & Mare Turf, the Mile, and the Turf.