The best two days in all of racing begin on Friday with six of the fifteen championship races that will take place over the weekend at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. The highlights will include Havre De Grace trying to clinch a Horse Of The Year title by becoming just the second female horse (after Zenyatta) to score a victory in the Classic. Goldikova trying to become the first-ever four-time winner of a Breeders' Cup race when she goes in the Mile. Big Drama and Chamberlain Bridge are back to defend their titles in the Sprint and Turf Sprint as well. Friday is for the Fillies, although the first of the six races is the Juvenile Sprint. Here is the analysis:
The Sentient Jet Juvenile Sprint- Secret Circle will be a heavy favorite in here and will likely be in the Winner's Circle when all is said and done. However, he certainly isn't a lock by any stretch. So, I will offer up Vexor as a possible upsetter in here after defeating some of these same horses in the Grade 2 Nashua at Belmont on October 2. David Cohen will ride. I also think there is a strong longshot possibility in the European invader, Shumoos. She is a filly facing the boys, but won a Group 3 two back at Kempton in Great Britain and that was with mixed company. Garrett Gomez gets the call.
The Juvenile Fillies' Turf- There is only one horse in this field with a Beyer figure in the 100s and that is Stopshoppingmaria. She did that in breaking her maiden on the dirt at Saratoga. She followed it up with a second in the Grade 1 Frizette to My Miss Aurelia, who will be a favorite later on this same program. Javier Castellano might just be the best jockey in the business right now. For a bigger price, how about Stephanie's Kitten? She rolled past everyone late on the Polytrack at Keeneland to win the Grade 1 Alcibiades on October 7. If Castellano isn't the best rider right now, it might just be John Velazquez.
The Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint- I think that Turbulent Descent might be the lock of the day on the Friday program. She will be facing some tough competition here, but she did turn back Pomeroy's Pistol in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, also at seven furlongs. Her last several works over the cushion track at Hollywood have been things of beauty. Here's a real longshot to like with 30-1 Tamarind Hall. Her last three with Graded company have all resulted in top three finishes with a win in the Grade 3 Bed O' Roses on July 2 at Belmont at 16-1. I certainly do like her at the price I expect her to be at.
The Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies- I said My Miss Aurelia will be the favorite in here earlier in this post and I meant it. She is an undefeated filly trained by Steve Asmussen and getting the riding services of Corey Nakatani for the second time here. She seems to be improving with the more distance she has to traverse. The price pick in here, though, is Homecoming Queen. She is the most experienced runner in this field with ten prior starts. Her recent form has been exceptional and she does go turf-to-dirt here, which appeals to me.
The Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf- Frankie Dettori will be aboard the undefeated Nahrain, who just got up in the nick of time to defeat Announce, who is also in this field, in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on October 2. Dettori was up for that win and will hope to do the Flying Dismount for a second straight time from this Darley runner. Harmonious could be a longshot to consider in this field. She has not won since the 2010 QE II Cup at Keeneland, but her recent works have been speedy and she returned from a layoff with a strong prep on October 1, running third behind Dubawi Heights in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon.
The Ladies' Classic- It is my belief that Plum Pretty is just going to go right to the front here and never look back. Frankly, I think that Rafael Bejarano is going to be able to dictate the pace since no one really appears to want to go out and run with this one in the early stages. She already has a win over the track in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and last time I checked, Bob Baffert knows how to win a big race. Should there be some competing speed for Plum Pretty, the closer I am leaning toward is Miss Match, who posted a bullet workout on October 28 and is making her second start off the latest layoff. Garrett Gomez is in the saddle on Miss Match.
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again for the Saturday Selections from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!