Breeders' Cup Friday has finally arrived! It's the handicapping tease of the year, but I love it. The card boasts full fields, multiple stakes winners and huge pools guaranteeing big payouts. Of course, there's also a lot of variables: horses moving from poly to dirt, European turfers dealing with firm ground and tighter turns, not least to mention trying to decipher the value of races of equal distances from multiple tracks across the world. Despite those hurdles, you can find my selections for the Ladies Classic at the bottom of this post.
Let it be said that my favourite part of the whole Breeders' Cup experience is watching the humourous, informative, awwwwww-inspiring footage compiled by Ernie Munick for BC360. If you click only one link this weekend, let it be Munick's Luck Be a Lady Friday Night
Will Wyomia Win One For Woodbine?
Getting back to the handicapping, the whole chore is enough to make my head spin, so let's see what some other, brighter, folks are saying:
Pedigree analyst Calvin Carter offers up some interesting Breeders' Cup Pedigree Plays.
In addition to studying the past performances, I like to study the sire lines of each divisional winner. Knowing the sire line that has produced the most winners is an important tool in the handicapper’s arsenal, and I have found that to be valuable in spotting potential handicapping angles as well as keeping up with historical trends.
Carter states, "The Filly & Mare Turf was inaugurated in 1999, and in the past eleven years, the Northern Dancer sire line has produced nine winners." And using that logic selects Hibaayeb as your 2010 winner. It's an intriguing approach.
Hibaayeb wins the 2010 Ribblesdale Stakes
Sue Broux of the fun and informative Post Parade blog returns with her 4th Annual Magic Beer Bottle Breeders’ Cup Selections! There's much to like about this approach which at least guarantees you something to wash down your sorrows or cheer your success. Broux says:
Of note, I enjoyed modest success with my selections last year (5 winners, 4 others in the money). However, the Magic Beer Bottle, still gloating over its 2007 BC Mile Kip DeVille hit, fared poorly last year, Goldikova being its only winner. And who didn’t have Goldikova?
The charted selections see a frosty bottle of Bud Light Lime tout Alcomo (6-1) in the Marathon while Broux counters with Bright Horizon (10-1). This win-win approach works for me.
The DRF's Dan Illman took to his Form Blog to offer up his Friday Breeders' Cup Opinions which includes a 30-1 bomber in the Filly & Mare Sprint:
I will gladly take 30-1 on MOONTUNE MISSY in the Filly and Mare Sprint. I can't find a bad race on dirt from this Eoin Harty-trained filly, and she just finished ahead of SARA LOUISE when a head shy in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on September 25. She's won from off the pace (the fractions should be solid here), she's won at seven furlongs, and she seems to be in the best form of her life. Her workmate, the juvenile colt Anthony's Cross (October 24 workout), just broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on Thursday afternoon. The "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 18 noted that she "went easily with Graham up." Seven mornings earlier, she reportedly "went very easily." Obviously, this will be her toughest test to date, but the price is certainly right.
If a pro like Illman finds value in a 30-1 shot, I'd feel foolish not putting a little money across the board.
Moontune Missy works October 24th at Keeneland
Finally, and this is not necessarily a handicapping tool, Joe Drape offered up a rather sobering review of the conditioners in what might be called the Bleeder's Cup with a New York Times piece entitled, At Breeders’ Cup, a Volatile Mix of Speed and Drugs:
Richard Dutrow Jr., who has horses in six races, averaged a medication violation every 343 starts. John Sadler, who has horses in four races, including Tell a Kelly in the Juvenile Fillies, was cited for a medication violation every 478 starts, according to the data base.
In fact, of the top 20 trainers in the United States by purses won, only two — Christophe Clement and Graham Motion — have never been cited for a medication violation. The American thoroughbred industry knows it has a drug problem, and it is beginning to raise some standards to address it.
The piece includes a handy chart detailing the frequency of drug violations amongst top trainers.
Drape does put the serious issues aside though and offers up his own selections in a blog post for The Rail.
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If I was to offer one play on Friday it would be the excellent Blind Luck in the Ladies Classic over Life At Ten. History is against Blind Luck as a three year-old filly has not won the Ladies' Classic since Ashado accomplished the feat in 2004. However, Blind Luck won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill and the late-closer is going to have a tremendous amount of speed to set up her charge. It's worth noting that although Havre De Grace defeated Blind Luck by a neck in their last start, Blind Luck was carrying 10lbs more than her rival. On Friday, they will carry equal weight of 122lbs.
Blind Luck surges to victory at Saratoga
I'll use Unrivalled Belle in various combinations of my Ladies Classic exotics. The grey posted a 103 Beyer number when defeating Rachel Alexandra in the LaTroienne at Churchill earlier this year. If she can avoid the early speed duel, she's the type that can win with a short-stalk approach.
The gorgeous Milwaukee Appeal likes to get her picture taken - photo finishes, winners circle, she's not picky!
Also taking some action in my tri and super plays will be Scott Fairlie's Milwaukee Appeal. Her speed figures are well below this group but the daughter of Milwaukee Brew has a big heart hitting the board in 17 of 20 lifetime starts.
1. Blind Luck
2. Life At Ten
3. Unrivalled Belle
4. Milwaukee Appeal
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The Toronto media is offering plenty of coverage of the Breeders' Cup and you can find links to stories on Milwaukee Appeal and Wyomia on my Woodbine News page. Or better yet, for more info on Canadian connections heading to the Breeders' Cup click on the links to read Woodbine to BC2010: New Normal Proving to be Exceptional, Woodbine to BC 2010: Wyomia Going For Gold in Juvenile Fillies Turf and Woodbine to BC 2010: Madman Diaries Seeks Omnisurface Status in Juvenile Turf.
Canadian Connections on Breeders' Cup Friday, courtesy of Woodbine Media:
Prince Will I Am (trained by Michelle Nihei, native of Calgary) drew post 2 and is 4-1 in the morning line.
2. JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
New Normal (Woodbine-based runner, trained by Mark Frostad) drew post 10 and is 10-1 in the morning line.
Winning is nothing new for New Normal
Quiet Oasis (Canadian-owned by John Paul Reddam, native of Windsor) drew post 3 and is 8-1 in the morning line.
Wyomia (Woodbine-based runner, trained by Dan Vella) drew post 8 and is 20-1 in the morning line.
3. JUVENILE FILLIES
Delightful Mary (Woodbine-based runner, trained by Mark Casse) drew post 9 and is 8-1 in the morning line.
Joyful Victory (Canadian-bred by Bill Graham of Toronto) drew post 6 and is 15-1 in the morning line.
4. FILLY AND MARE TURF
Miss Keller (Woodbine-based runner, trained by Roger Attfield) drew post 3 and is 8-1 in the morning line.
Miss Keller crosses the line first...
5. FILLY AND MARE SPRINT
6. LADIES CLASSIC
Milwaukee Appeal (Canadian-bred, Canadian-owned by Eugene George, Woodbine-based runner, trained by Scott Fairlie) drew post 4 and is 30-1 in the morning line.
Seeking the Title (Canadian-owned by Charles Fipke, native of Edmonton) drew post 7 and is 30-1 in the morning line.
Unrivaled Belle (Canadian-co-owned by Peter Vegso of Montreal) drew post 8 and is 8-1 in the morning line.
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