Friday, November 25, 2011

The Grade 2 $200,000 Remsen Stakes

The Breeders' Cup is now pretty much a set of memories for the up-to-date racing fan and things are starting to shift to thoughts of the 2012 Kentucky Derby. The Hansen vs. Union Rags argument is percolating already and if you wanted to throw in Creative Cause and others, no one would probably dissuade you from doing so. There is another step for the soon-to-be three-year-old class coming up on Saturday, the Grade 2 $200,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. Here is the analysis:

#1 El Padrino- Todd Pletcher trainee crushed a field in the slop last time out to break the maiden at Belmont on October 29. However, it must be noted that his wet track Tomlinson number is high at 406. Was that 12 3/4 length win a product of his ability or was it a product of his liking a boggy surface?

#2 Souper Speedy- The 3-1 morning line favorite has raced just once in his career, but it was a win that produced a Beyer Figure of 81, which is pretty strong for a first lifetime effort. Again, the same question persists here as with #1 since the score came on a muddy track and this colt has a wet Tomlinson of 401.

#3 Done Talking- Back-to-back wins at Parx and Delaware make him one of the Mid-Atlantic candidates here. The price is nice at 15-1, but what exactly did he beat in those two races. The level of competition in the Mid-Atlantic is very good, but is it winning a New York-graded stakes race good?

#4 Our Entourage- From the stable that produced Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty comes this one, who ran fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. He was a winner two back over the turf at Belmont. His first race was a sprint on the dirt at Saratoga and he finished second. While the dirt racing history is sketchy, the workouts on the dirt have all been somewhat excellent.

#5 Mucho Mas Macho- Son of 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, Macho Uno, this is the most experienced horse in the field with seven efforts at Calder on the resume'. The only win in the bunch was a seven-length win in a race that was taken off the turf back in August. The morning line of 30-1 seems about right for this one.

#6 Stephanoatsee- A.P. Indy offspring has a win and a second in two tries at Laurel and posted a bullet workout on November 19 at Fair Hill, which makes him perhaps the strongest of the Mid-Atlantic contingent. The running style appears to be come-from-behind, which means he will need some pace to run at in here.

#7 Managed Account- He is the only horse in this race with a win at Aqueduct to his credit, getting home first in a $75K ungraded stakes race on November 6. Sixteen days later, he posted a bullet half-mile at Gulfstream, covering the distance in 47 seconds flat. He might sit just off the leaders here and first run at them could be crucial in this race.

#8 O'Prado Again- Broke the maiden at this distance of 1 1/8 miles last time out over the Polytrack at Keeneland. However, that race was taken off the turf and it honestly would appear that this one would prefer to be running on the greenery, much like other El Prado progeny we have seen lately.

#9 Speightscity- Sire won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Scored a win at the distance to break the maiden at Saratoga on September 2. Ran an unchallenging ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last out, but did run with the pacesetters for the first half of that effort. Corey Nakatani will have the riding assignment.

#10 Scatter A Star- The Chicago invader in this field has two wins and a second in the last three, all over the turf at Arlington and Hawthorne. In fact, this will be this colt's first try ever over a conventional dirt surface. This would seem like an awful lot to ask of him, but at 20-1, he might be worth a shot underneath.


Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. They Are Off will be taking a week off next week, so tune in again in two weeks for more. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rapid Redux

History was made on Monday night at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia when Rapid Redux became the first Thoroughbred in modern history to win a 20th consecutive race. With the win in a Starter Allowance race, Rapid Redux surpasses the likes of Zenyatta, who won 19 in a row, and Peppers Pride, who also got it to 19 straight.

It is interesting to see the reaction of racing fans to what happened on Monday night. Rather than celebrate a tremendous accomplishment by a sturdy racehorse (Rapid Redux has been to the post 18 times this year alone), some have seen fit to try and downgrade what he has done by making direct comparisons to the other names on the all-time streak list. To me, this is woolly thinking at the very least. I can't recall anyone that has made any kind of an argument that Rapid Redux should earn any kind of special place in the annals of racing for winning 20 straight. I did hear Caton Bredar (presumably tongue-in-cheek) make an argument that he could be considered for Horse Of The Year on the Down The Stretch radio show since no one else has come forward as an overwhelming candidate. However, as I said, I think Caton was having a little fun with that one while making a truly serious point that there is no clearcut candidate for Horse Of The Year after a wild and crazy Breeders' Cup, which served to muddle rather than clarify, the picture for that honor.

Why have some fans felt the need to try and denigrate what Rapid Redux has done? Is it still some kind of Zenyatta backlash from her many fans? This could certainly be the case, but anyone that thinks that what Rapid Redux has done has any impact on Zenyatta or Cigar or Citation or any other all-time Thoroughbred accomplishment is mistaken. We are mixing apples and oranges here to the extreme degree. Many of those names of the list of Thoroughbred winning streaks are in the Hall Of Fame and deservedly so. Rapid Redux is nothing more than a wonderful footnote here, to be honest. Yes, he won 20 in a row, and it is marvelous. No other horse in the history of the sport has managed to do this. However, he hasn't done it against the cream of the crop, he is winning against Starter Allowance company. Even in the record-setting race, half of the field scratched and he faced only three foes.

What everyone should be doing is giving a ton of credit to the horse and his connections, owner Robert Cole Jr. and trainer David Wells, for spotting this horse in winnable races where he has been able to get the job done. Every time this horse has gone to gate in 2011 (and the last two starts of 2010), he has made it to the Winner's Circle. Bing Crosby sang a wonderful song many years ago which urged one to, "accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative". I would suggest to the racing public at large that we need to do this more in all cases, not just this one. However, this seems like as good a place to start as any. Congratulations to Rapid Redux on 20 wins in a row!!

Tune in again on Friday for a look at one of the big races this weekend. I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Grade 3 $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile a couple of weeks ago seemed to settle the issue as far as Champion 2-Year-Old Male with Hansen holding off Union Rags at Churchill Downs. Those two will likely remain the favorites for the 2012 Kentucky Derby through the early parts of the mad rush to the First Saturday In May. However, there is another important stop coming up on that road tomorrow. The Grade 3 $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot automatically qualifies its winner to have a spot in the gate at Churchill Downs. Here is the analysis:

#1 Longview Drive- Won three straight entering this effort on Saturday. He might very well go right to the front from the rail and just keep right on going. At 10-1, I think he must be included in any exotic plays at the very least.

#2 Seven Lively Sins- 2nd in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs on October 30. It appears that he possesses early speed as well. He also has the riding services of Julien Leparoux for this try, which certainly won't hurt.

#3 Tiz Moe- Tiznow offspring finished 2nd in the Jean Laffitte at Delta Downs on October 22. The Calhoun trainee did post a bullet workout on November 12 at Fair Grounds. Could be positioned to strike if an excessive speed duel develops, as it seems he likes to sit right off the pace.

#4 Basmati- Broke the maiden last time out after finishing 4th and 5th in two Grade 1 efforts in Southern California. The maiden win came at one mile. Corey Nakatani will have the riding assignment.

#5 My Adonis- Won the aforementioned Jean Laffitte over the Delta Downs strip. This colt has never been worse than 2nd in five career starts. I think it was a smart move by trainer Kelly Breen to get this one a race over the track prior to this big one. His other four races had been at Monmouth.

#6 Drill- Adds blinkers here after taking them off for the BC Juvenile. That didn't seem to work, as he ran 10th of thirteen at Churchill Downs. The Baffert trainee is 2-1 on the morning line, but after that last race, I would like to see a bit more if I am to play him at that price.

#7 Laurie's Rocket- Didn't fare too well in his two Grade 1 attempts. 4th in the sloppy Hopeful at Saratoga and 8th in the one-turn mile of the Champagne at Belmont. This colt has a decent workout on November 11 at Churchill Downs.

#8 Sabercat- Won the last two at Monmouth, including the ungraded Garden State on October 2 as a less than even-money favorite. Steve Asmussen seems to set new records every time he sends a horse postward. Gerard Melancon gets the assignment.

#9 Dougs Buddy- This colt could be the wild longshot to like in here. He is undefeated in four starts at Northlands in Edmonton, which has a similar bullring topography to Delta Downs. He also has a bullet workout over the Delta track on November 8.

#10 Jake Mo- Finished a flat 5th in the BC Juvenile Sprint behind the dazzling performances of Secret Circle and Shumoos. The Sire is 2005 Derby winner, Giacomo. Don Simington is a veteran Louisiana rider, who could fit the surroundings well on Saturday.


Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hoping For The Best

Patrick Valenzuela did not appear at Hollywood Park today to ride his mounts and had to be replaced on all of them. I was at a simulcast site in the Phoenix area and I can tell you there was a sense of dread that I felt regarding Valenzuela while I was listening to Hollywood announcer, Vic Stauffer, call for the trainers of all of P. Val's mounts to report to the Jockey's Quarters to find replacements.

Valenzuela is undoubtedly one of the most talented riders that the sport has ever seen. His work on greats like Sunday Silence and Arazi lives on in the annals of racing. However, Valenzuela is also undoubtedly one of the most troubled riders that the sport has ever seen. He returned to his base of California in 2010 after receiving a license to ride based on him undergoing a stringent series of drug and alcohol tests. The story on Valenzuela's no-show quotes the California Racing Board as saying the tests are "unprecedented due to its continual nature and strict conditions."

The same story says that Valenzuela had gone south to San Diego to visit his girlfriend on Wednesday. Valenzuela has been riding fantastically since returning to California and was fifth in the recently concluded Santa Anita's meeting's rider standings. For Valenzuela's sake, let's all hope for the best in regard to his absence. He is too great to go missing from the sport again for any stretch of time for whatever reason.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wedding Winner

Friday, November 11 was Veterans' Day throughout the United States, a day for celebrating those in the military who have served this country proudly throughout its glorious history. However, at Turf Paradise on Friday, there was another reason to celebrate. Two members of the jockey colony at Turf Paradise chose 11/11/11 as their wedding day. Patricia Trimble and Rusty Shaw were married on Friday at the racetrack in a ceremony pictured here.

Hopefully, the odds of this marriage being a long and happy one will be better than the odds of the horse Patricia rode in the fifth race on Friday at Turf Paradise. Quick Score was considered a rank outsider in the field of eight being sent off at odds of 28-1, the longest shot on the board by a wide margin. Quick Score, as expected, started slowly and ran toward the back of the pack throughout the early stages of the race. Once the field hit the far turn, Quick Score started advancing through the field and continued a sustained rally all the way into the stretch. The favorite, John's Knight Out, had taken the lead in mid-stretch and appeared headed toward the Winner's Circle until Quick Score just wouldn't stop. Quick Score hit the lead near the finish line and prevailed in an exciting stretch duel. It was the first win of the season for Patricia Trimble as a jockey at Turf Paradise. Quick Score paid a robust $58.80 for the victory. I would have to say that it was a winning wedding present for Patricia.

Of course, everyone at Turf Paradise and many of their friends throughout the racing community wish the couple all the best as they embark on their life together. Congratulations to Patricia Trimble and Rusty Shaw on their nuptials and may they keep winning both on the track and off in the future!

Tune in again Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Photo courtesy of Turf Paradise's Facebook Page

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Grade 2 $175,000 Mrs. Revere

Churchill Downs' fall season didn't end last weekend with the Breeders' Cup. In fact, that was more or less the beginning of the meet. The featured event on Saturday afternoon is the Grade 2 $175,000 Mrs. Revere at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Here is the analysis:

#1 Hungry Island- 4th at Belmont Park last time out in the Grade 1 Garden City behind Winter Memories. That would be the only time in nine lifetime races that this filly has failed to finish in the first three. A definite win candidate with Corey Nakatani aboard.

#2 Bizzy Caroline- 2nd to Daisy Devine in the Grade 3 Valley View on the turf at Keeneland on October 21. This will be her second start off the most recent layoff. This daughter of Afleet Alex posted a bullet 5F workout on November 5 at Keeneland in 1:01 2/5.

#3 Groupie Doll- With the addition of another length over the course of her last two performances, this filly could be working on a five-race win streak right now. The only issue as far as Saturday is that all of those races were on dirt or Polytrack. She ran eighth in her only previous turf attempt.

#4 Holidaysatthefarm- Finished 4th in that Grade 3 Valley View at generous odds of 35-1. She won the time before at Arlington in an Optional Claimer. She has been with graded company on three previous occasions in her career and was somewhat overmatched in all three.

#5 Sea Level Drive- 20-1 on the morning line for this go and might be the longshot to like after two wins in the last three and the other try was a second in the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park on September 17. James Graham has the riding assignment.

#6 Smart Sting- You almost always have to watch these Canadian imports from Woodbine nowadays, especially when it comes to turf racing. The Dam of this runner is 2000 Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf winner, Perfect Sting. John Velazquez will be aboard this one's first race since September 25.

#7 Don't Tell Sophia- Won last time out over the Polytrack at Keeneland on October 20 in an Allowance spot and has two bullet workouts there since that victory. She has never been more than 5-1 in her career, but I think that will not be the case Saturday. Her lone graded attempt with a disastrous 13th in that Grade 3 Pucker Up.

#8 Trac N Jam- Has already finished behind several horses she will face in here in recent races. Her last win was the ungraded Indiana Distaff on the turf at Indiana Downs on July 13. Expect her to appear on the scene late, that is if she can get into it at all.

#9 New Normal- Off since a win in June at Woodbine in the Alywow. Posted a bullet workout on November 5 over the training track at Woodbine. Robby Albarado pulled off the big upset with Court Vision last Saturday in the Mile, but even this could be a lot to expect here.

#10 Marketing Mix- Could not catch Together in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland on October 15, but won that aforementioned Grade 3 Pucker Up the time before. Will likely be the betting choice in here and deservedly so. Julien Leparoux gets the call.

#11 Tourmaline- Won the Remington Park Oaks last time out on October 16 and that clearly didn't impress the Kentuckians, as she is 50-1 on the morning line here. She did win the Assiniboia Downs Oaks and another Oaks race at Canterbury. Of course, none of these victories came on the turf, so maybe she is lightly regraded for good reason.

#12 Louvakhova- Won the Frances Genter over yielding turf at Calder last time out on October 15. The vastly underrated Corey Lanerie has the riding assignment. This filly has never been worse than second in seven lifetime appearances.


Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Cup Reflections

The 28th edition of the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs this past weekend had the same highs and lows that any of the previous 27 versions of racing's Championship Days have presented us over the history of the event. On the high side, of course, you have Royal Delta's impressive victory in the Ladies' Classic. On the low side, you have the stewards' failure to make the proper decision in regards to Goldikova, who likely should have been disqualified for her actions in the Mile.

First, Friday showcased the fillies and mares and the most captivating performance of the afternoon came in the biggest race of the afternoon, the Ladies' Classic. Royal Delta appeared well-beaten when the field turned for home and just when you thought she was done, she suddenly wasn't. She hit the afterburners at the right time and won handily from It's Tricky and Pachattack. Her busy weekend was far from over it turns out, because she was sold at the Keeneland November Sales today for $8.5 million to the Besilu Stables. Benjamin Leon, the owner of Besilu, has not confirmed what course Royal Delta will be taking for 2012, although the Daily Racing Form website story on the sale speculates that the horse will be transferred from the Bill Mott barn to the Todd Pletcher barn. The other big star from Friday was Juvenile Fillies winner, My Miss Aurelia, who sat just near the pace set by Candrea throughout the early stages, and then moved easily to the front and went on to register a strong three-length victory over Grace Hall and Weemissfrankie.

Saturday was just a crazy day from the get-go. The Marathon was won by a 41-1 longshot, Afleet Again. It would not be the first time the longest shot on the board would enter the Winner's Circle on this day. In fact, only one favorite, Regally Ready, in the Turf Sprint, would prevail the entire afternoon. The most heartfelt story of the day might have occurred in the Turf, where trainer Aidan O'Brien scored a win with St. Nicholas Abbey. The winning rider on St. Nicholas Abbey was O'Brien's 18-year-old son, Joseph. Joseph handled St. Nicholas Abbey with the cunning of a veteran rider of many years, getting first run on the well-regarded Sea Moon and overcoming the surprising staying power of longshot, Brilliant Speed. The Classic also provided some interesting storylines the way it played out. Drosselmeyer, ridden by Mike Smith, came roaring from way back in the field to go past nearly the entire field in less than a furlong and prevail over pacesetting Game On Dude, ridden by Chantal Sutherland. Of course, the fact that Smith and Sutherland were formerly an item added a true sense of intrigue to that result.

On to the race that stands out in most everyone's mind from Saturday, the Mile. Goldikova was poised for a fourth straight triumph in the Mile with a win on Saturday, but she drew the rail, which I believe led to some of the problems she encountered in this race. Goldikova was much more forwardly placed than she had been in any of her three previous Mile victories. However, when she needed to find a place to run at the top of the stretch, Olivier Peslier had nowhere to go at all. He shifted the mare out suddenly and more or less took Courageous Cat out of any chance to win the race at all. Courageous Cat would, in fact, finish last. Goldikova made the lead in mid-stretch and appeared poised to get that fourth straight win, but then from well off the pace came 64-1 longshot, Court Vision, and Turallure. The two of them came flying through the stretch together and hit the finish in sync. It looked for all the world that the outside horse (Turallure) had won by a narrow margin, while in fact, Court Vision had prevailed in a desperate photo to become the second-longest shot ever to win a Breeders' Cup race (trailing only 1993 Classic winner, Arcangues). There was much discussion after the race as to whether or not Goldikova should have been disqualified for the obvious interference she caused with the move at the top of the stretch. In the end, she surprisingly was left in third position where she finished and not taken back to last by the stewards, where she likely belonged after the incident.

There were several retirements that followed the Cup, most famously Goldikova and Gio Ponti, who both ran in the Mile. Also, Uncle Mo, 2010 Juvenile Champion, who finished tenth in the Classic was retired after post-race blood tests came back showing an elevated enzyme. In the end, it wasn't the greatest Breeders' Cup ever and it wasn't the worst Breeders' Cup ever, in fact, it was an exciting day of racing that provided ample opportunities to make a big score provided you were backing the right horses. In other words, just another day at the races, I guess.

Tune in again on Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Saturday Breeders' Cup Selections

There are nine championship races on Saturday at Churchill Downs, including the Classic with Havre de Grace trying to become just the second distaffer to win it in history and the Mile, which is stacked also. So, let's get right to it with the 1 3/4 Mile Marathon to kickstart the Saturday:

The Marathon- I am siding with the defending champion, Eldaafer, who will be a generous price again it appears in trying to defend his championship in this race. He won at 11-1 last year and is already 10-1 on the morning line here. Eldaafer has picked up a couple of wins since that BC score last year and his last workout was a bullet. The filly, Meeznah, is worth a definite look in here with Tom Queally aboard. She won a Group 2 two back at 1 13/16 miles on the turf at Doncaster. However, she was well-beaten in August in the only try against mixed runners.

The Juvenile Turf- Caspar Netscher will be the top choice in this race, which appears relatively wide-open to me. Kieren Fallon was up two starts back on September 17 at Newbury, the only time he was paired with this colt, and the end result was a Group 2 victory. If there a longshot that leaps out here, I like 15-1 Farraaj. He has been to the post four times with two wins and two places in Great Britain. He was the betting choice in three of those efforts. However, he has yet to go one mile in any of those four attempts. 7 1/4 furlongs is the longest he has gone in those four starts, which was one of the wins.

The Sentient Jet Sprint- Big Drama is back to try and win this race again, but I am leaning toward Giant Ryan in here. He did win the Grade 1 Vosburgh over a muddy track (making him 3 for 3 in the mud), but regardless of the wetness of the surface, I like him here. He is riding a six-race win streak into the Sprint. Amazombie posted a 104 Beyer figure in winning the Grade 1 Ancient Title on October 8 at Santa Anita. On the DRF Past Performances, there are four races on his list on a regular dirt surface, three wins and a second are the results.

The Turf Sprint- I am taking two shots in this race with, first, Perfect Officer, who has been absent from the Winner's Circle since scoring at Monmouth in the ungraded Wolf Hill. He could be sitting in excellent position to win, especially if there is any kind of speed duel on the front end. Garrett Gomez is aboard the other longshot I like in here with Broken Dreams, which I am hoping not to have any of this weekend. She rallied late to win a Grade 3 at Santa Anita on September 30 plus her last workout on October 27 at Keeneland was a bullet five furlongs in 59 4/5 seconds.

The Dirt Mile- Bob Baffert will hopefully have The Factor ready to roll on Saturday. He didn't finish off the deal in the Grade 1 Ancient Title, fading late to finish fourth. Martin Garcia has the ride and there's a bullet workout that stands out on Halloween at Santa Anita. Jersey Town is my pick to possibly pick up the pieces at long odds. He shocked everyone last November to win the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct with a 111 Beyer at odds of 35-1. You might be able to get that price on him again here.

The Emirates Airline Turf- To be honest, this might be the worst race of the weekend all the way around. The Cup officials actually moved the Turf away from its traditional place right before the Classic because the Mile is the more attractive spot. Therefore, instead of selecting two horses, I am going to make a modest play on St. Nicholas Abbey. He has not won since the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Ascot in June and finished 5th in the Grade 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

The Grey Goose Juvenile- Who will be crowned the early Derby favorite after this one? Most folks think it will be Union Rags, however, I am on the cause of Creative Cause. Joel Rosario piloted him to a win in the Grade 1 Norfolk at Santa Anita in his final prep for this one. He appeared to make a more impressive step forward than his West Coast rival, Drill, who is also in this field. Crusade gets the riding services of Julien Leparoux, who has been winning everything in sight lately. This Euro colt is also coming off of a nice win at Newmarket in a Group 1 there on October 8.

The TVG Mile- This promises to be the race of the day just because of the depth of the talent in the field. From top to bottom, it might be the best race of the year. The three-time defending champion, Goldikova, drew the rail, but I am partial to Gio Ponti this time around. He wore down the competition to win the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last time out and he was second in this race last year to Goldikova. I think he turns the tables here. If you want to fetch a price here, try Turallure. The strapping grey rolled from way out of it to win the Woodbine Mile last time out on September 18. His last work is a bullet at Keeneland on October 24. Julien Leparoux gets the call here.

The Classic- Bob Baffert's trainee, Prayer For Relief, scratched out of this race after the draw, which cedes the rail to my top pick, Flat Out. He won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 1 in the mud, just missed catching Havre de Grace in the Woodward, and won the Grade 2 Suburban back in July. However, he is 0 for 2 over the Churchill Downs track so far. He did post a blistering four furlong workout on Ocotber 30, covering the distance in 46 3/5 seconds. Stay Thirsty might be able to salvage a Horse Of The Year nod with a win here and his price is an especially generous 12-1. Javier Castellano is aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher. Most people are looking at his stablemate here, Uncle Mo, but I just don't think he can go 1 1/4 miles and win.

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Enjoy Breeders' Cup weekend, play smart and win big. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Friday Breeders' Cup Selections

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!