Cash in a couple of T-bills and get ready to make some serious, if not totally sound, investments on this weekend's Breeders' Cup World Championships. You're sure to at least have some fun, which is more than you've had watching the Dow Jones Industrial Average the last several weeks.
The Breeders' Cup betting menu has my head spinning with win, place and show wagers, exactas, trifectas, superfectas (at a dime a pop!), daily doubles, picks threes, pick fours, pick sixes, and even a couple of super high fives. If math isn't your strong suit, Breeders' Cup officials have even put together a special wagering calculator to see how much some of those bets will cost. They're even offering free past performances, courtesy of Equibase. All account wagering companies will be taking bets or you can go to your local simulcast outlet. If you're a novice, read some of these helpful handicapping hints.
For those interested in other people's opinions, I've handicapped Friday's races below (check back on Friday to get the Paulick Report lowdown on Saturday's nine Breeders' Cup races). I cut my teeth handicapping on the West Coast for eight years with Daily Racing Form in the 1980s, and have covered 22 of the 24 Breeders' Cups . But it's not widely known that I began my career in the business as an underaged jockey riding competitively on the Northern Illinois bush-corral circuit!
I've used all of my pari-mutuel winnings over the years for a vacation home in the Grand Caymans … which is still in the planning stages!
California-based horses will have a built-in advantage, not so much because of the track but because of the climate. Many horses coming in from colder regions have a hard time adapting.
Remember … bet early and often! I'm pretty sure I've got five straight winners here … but, please, tell me where I'm wrong!
Can a $10,000 claimer win a $1-million Breeders' Cup race? I think so. Dearest Trickski was a sharp claim when Cody Autrey took him for $10,000 at Lone Star Park 18 months ago but an even better one for John Sadler, when he claimed her from Autrey for $32,000 just over a year ago at Del Mar. Since then, she's won seven of eight starts, including three graded stakes, and is sharp as a tack for the West Coast's hottest conditioner. Sadler withstood a steroids storm this past summer at Del Mar and has kept on winning. I like the fact she's drawn well out from the rail and is a fat 15-1 on the morning line. With Indyanne out of the race, there's less early speed to contend with, and word is that Will Phipps has been working on getting Dream Rush to rate. Indian Blessing will be the heavy favorite. Interesting how her Beyer Speed Figures in Daily Racing Form's past performances are much better in New York than anywhere else and far superior to those for Dearest Trickski. I like another locally based longshot, Magnificience, to be a late threat, along with Intangaroo, who has been one of the best stories of 2008 because of trainer Gary Sherlock's comeback from a near-fatal health condition.
It's a bit surprising there aren't more Europeans in this field, and the ones that there are here don't look that strong. In fact, the Juvenile Fillies Turf may be the most puzzling of the 14 Breeders' Cup races. Keep in mind that the outside post positions are very tough going a mile on the Santa Anita turf, and I think that's going to hurt the two best Euros, Beyond Our Reach and Heart Shaped. Shug McGaughey has one of the best Breeders' Cup records among trainers, and that leads me to Consequence, who comes off a decent fourth on yielding turf at Belmont Park a few weeks ago in the Miss Grillo, one of the few graded races in this division. That was her first try at a distance and she should be much sharper this time around. I like her local bullet workout at Santa Anita. Laragh could team up with Stardom Bound in the Juvenile Fillies to make this a memorable day for the Gainesway team that stands first-crop sire Tapit, an also-ran to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby but running circles around him so far in the stallion biz. Laragh won a laugher at Keeneland, but Santa Anita is a different kind of turf course (less sandy), so I don't put much stock into how easily she won. Jim Cassidy is as sharp as they come when it comes to finding horses in Europe, and April Pride could be one of those good finds. She has a lot of racing experience, has solid if not spectacular form, and breaks from the rail – a good post at this distance. Heart Shaped was very unlucky to draw the far outside.
Selections: 1- Consequence 2-Laragh 3-April Pride 4-Heart Shaped
Historically, the Juvenile Fillies has been one of the chalkier races, with 14 of the previous 24 winners going off the betting favorite. I'm convinced Stardom Bound is the best we've seen in the 2-year-old filly division, and she's in good hands with Chris Paasch and Mike Smith. This could be one heckuva day for Mikey (and for the aforementioned Tapit, sire of Stardom Bound). Stardom Bound has a very strong kick, and unless she gets caught up in traffic problems (or the track has a bias favoring front-runners) she should run down the speed. Don't make the mistake of overlooking D. Wayne Lukas in the exotics. He trains the quick Smarty Jones filly Be Smart, and while Lukas doesn't have the numbers he used to have, the all-time leading Breeders' Cup conditioner can still get it done when he's got a good horse. She has the kind of speed that could tow-rope the field, especially if Palacio de Amor doesn't get a quick jump out of the gate. Doremifasollatido got the absolute worst of the post position draw and will have to try to save some ground going into the first turn to have any chance. Pursuit of Glory romped on Polytrack in Ireland in her second start, though hasn't raced beyond six furlongs yet for Coolmore connections
Selections: 1- Stardom Bound 2-Be Smart 3-Doremifasollatido 4-Pursuit of Glory
FILLY & MARE TURF
Halfway to Heaven looks to have the perfect running style for this year's edition of the Filly & Mare Turf: enough speed to either take the early lead or sit just off the pace and pounce when called upon by Johnny Murtagh. This looks like a deep field with the likes of course specialist Wait a While and ultra-consistent Mauralakana, but my suspicion is that the Europeans are superior to the home team. My biggest concern with Halfway to Heaven is if she might be “over the top” with six starts this year and a race in early October. I'm throwing another 3-year-old filly, Visit, into the mix for my exotic bets. She's never gone this far, but a mile and quarter on the Santa Anita turf isn't nearly as demanding as it is in Europe, and I always respect horses trained by Michael Stoute (racing's Fred Flintstone lookalike). Can Folk Opera complete a European sweep in the trifecta? That's where my money will be.
Selections: 1- Halfway to Heaven 2-Visit 3-Folk Opera 4-Wait a While
The plan is to be so far ahead of the game by the time the Ladies' Classic field enters the starting gate (around 6:15 p.m. Eastern), we are tempted to sit this one out and enjoy the sheer perfection of Zenyatta. But since we plan to be playing with other people's money, let's take a shot that the heaviest favorite on the day can be beaten. If there is an upset, I think it will be the only 3-year-old in the field, Music Note, who hasn't stepped out of her division yet in stakes competition (though she beat a field of older mares in an allowance race in May). Her Gazelle win was nothing more than a public workout, and she'll have to step up a bit from there to beat Zenyatta. If she can get an early jump on the favorite at the top of the stretch, she might be able to get the job done. Ginger Punch is tough as nails, but she couldn't hold off Cocoa Beach in the slop last time out in the Beldame. I think she reverses the decision at Santa Anita but will have to settle for a minor award in defense of her title.
Selections 1-Music Note 2- Zenyatta 3-Ginger Punch 4-Cocoa Beach
Good luck and safe racing to all!
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