As you do your final homework getting ready to play the Breeders’ Cup races Friday and Saturday, here are five horses scheduled to run in the Breeders’ Cup that I believe will run huge races. Do note post positions are to be drawn after press time on Monday and there will be final works to be completed as well.
• Elate in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff: Elate has taken her game to a new level. After an easy win in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga Aug. 19, Elate faced older horses for the first time in the Grade I Beldame at Belmont Park Sept. 30. She showed extreme grit splitting rivals in the stretch and exploded to win by daylight. Nobody has trained better at Del Mar for the Breeders’Cup, and another move forward is very possible.
• Heavenly Love in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies: This Mark Casse trainee looked like a completely different filly when stretched out in the Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland Oct. 6. She was able to keep the leaders in sight while rating kindly, took over when ready and drew clear impressively. The pace in the Juvenile Fillies figures to be fast, and while Moonshine Memories is undefeated and proven at Del Mar, she came home slowly winning the Grade I Chandelier at Santa Anita and just may be best around one turn.
• Lady Aurelia in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint: This international traveler is very much at home going five furlongs on turf. She has the early speed to be on the lead but can stalk if needed, too. She figures to get the firm turf she loves and always runs well fresh. She just needs a decent post and a clean trip to turn the tables on Marsha, who upset her in the Grade I Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August.
• Roy H in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint: It is true defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ Drefong is training like a beast and will be tough to deny. However, he also got away with a very soft pace winning the Grade I Forego at Saratoga Aug. 26. There is a ton of early speed to keep him company, as Takaful, Imperial Hint, and American Pastime have been blazing away in the morning. Roy H would be undefeated this year if not interfered with by the riderless Drefong in the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar this summer. He had a perfect prep winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Oct. 7, and his tactical style looks tailor made for this field. Upgrade his chances if he draws outside Drefong.
• Gun Runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic: I am a huge fan of Arrogate and believe he is one of the best horses we have seen at 10 furlongs or more in recent years. He has trained very well of late for the Classic, but I can’t get out of my mind his efforts over the main track at Del Mar this past summer in the San Diego Handicap and the Pacific Classic. He just plain appeared to hate it.
Gun Runner has gotten better since being beaten by Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup, and has trained extremely well since coming to California early to prepare for the Classic. He is not a big horse by any means and 10 furlongs has not been his best trip in the past, but many horses who struggle to get 1-1/4 miles anywhere else do so at Del Mar with the short stretch. A look at some of the previous Pacific Classic winners – Tinners Way, Skimming, Came Home, Student Council, and even this year’s winner Collected – confirms this theory. If they both run their best race, Arrogate will win. I am only confident one – Gun Runner – will do so at Del Mar.
BC rooting interest
The biggest question I keep getting asked is: How is the filly I own in partnership, Skye Diamonds, doing as she prepares for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint?
Claimed for $40,000 in August 2016, she has since won two Graded Stakes and over $370,000, is unbeaten this year around one turn, and is also unbeaten at Del Mar.
Trainer Bill Spawr has purposely freshened her after winning the Grade III Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar Aug. 13 and the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint has been the goal since way back in March.
The big grey elephant in the room is Unique Bella. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee had shin problems in the spring but returned in style to win the L.A. Woman Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 8 as a prep for the Filly and Mare Sprint. She continues to work in unbelievable fashion and if she fires her best shot she will be extremely tough to beat.
Her potential vulnerable spot is that she is not a good gate filly. If she draws an inside post, jockey Mike Smith will likely have to send her from the gate. That could create a fast pace with Constellation, Finley’sluckycharm, Princess Karen, and Paula’ssilverlining likely to be forwardly placed. If that happens…
Play of the Week
Del Mar, Wednesday, Race 8: Gotham Desire (post 11). Shipper from Northern California has shown a wicked turn of foot. All she needs to do is prove she can handle the Del Mar dirt.