Breeders’ Cup becoming clearer

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Last weekend’s major Breeders’ Cup prep races at Santa Anita solidified contender status for some and created question marks for others.

Grade I American Pharoah winner Game Winner earned the best Beyer Speed Figure (97) of any 2-year-old so far this year and will likely go favored in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Accelerate appears to have secured his spot as the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic when overcoming a rough start to win last Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes. Grade I Chandelier winner Bellafina showed she can handle two turns after a very lowly rated victory in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante.

Things did not go so smoothly for 1/9 favorite Abel Tasman in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes. The Baffert trainee broke slowly, never grabbed the bit, and was very dull throughout finishing a non-threatening fifth. There has been a virus running thru the Baffert shedrow, so it may be Abel Tasman was affected. Given her dull effort in the Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs (home of this year’s Breeders’ Cup) in the slop back in May, Abel Tasman has gone from a likely odds-on favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to a question mark very quickly.

The final round of Breeders’ Cup prep races at Santa Anita are set for this weekend, so here is a rundown of who to watch and wager on:

Grade I $300k Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Saturday – 3-year-olds & Up, 6 furlongs): This is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Roy H is likely to face a very small field as he tries to win his first race since February. Ransom the Moon, who upset Roy H in the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar during the summer, skipped the De Francis Dash at Laurel and looks like the biggest threat to Roy H.

Grade II $200k City of Hope Mile (Saturday – 3-year-olds & Up, one mile turf): Fly to Mars and Sharp Samurai finished 2-3 in the Gr. II Del Mar Mile behind Catapult, with Fly to Mars being disqualified and placed behind Sharp Samurai. That pair along with Wickerr Stakes winner Double Touch and Big Score look like the major players in a race that should have minimal impact on the Breeders’ Cup Mile. I give a slight edge to Sharp Samurai.

$100k Speakeasy Stakes (Saturday – 2-year-olds, 5 furlongs on turf): The Breeders’ Cup asked Santa Anita to create a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, and this race is one of the main reasons that Santa Anita is now running a limited amount of five-furlong turf sprints. Hartel found one mile just a bit too far in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf, broke his maiden at this five furlong distance, and trainer Peter Miller excels with turf sprinters. He should be tough to beat.

Grade III $100k L.A. Woman Stakes (Sunday – Fillies & Mares 3-year-olds & Up, 6-1/2 furlongs dirt): Trainer Bob Baffert is considering using this race as a final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint for Grade I Ballerina Stakes winner Marley’s Freedom. If she doesn’t start, the race opens up quite a bit, with Grade III Rancho Bernardo 1-2-3 finishers Yuvetsi, Anonymity, and Skye Diamonds probable to start. Of that trio, Anonymity may have the most room to improve after being wheeled back too quick in the Rancho Bernardo.

$100k Zuma Beach Stakes (Monday – 2-year-olds, one mile turf): Doubtful this race will provide a major contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Del Mar Juvenile Turf winner King of Speed and recent Baffert-trained debut winner Much Better head up the probable cast.

$100k Surfer Girl Stakes (Monday – 2-year-old fillies, one mile turf): Unlike the Zuma Beach for colts, this race could produce a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in Summering. The Tom Proctor trainee looked like the real deal taking the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf this summer. Impressive Maiden winners Candura and Rayana could jump into the picture as well if they can upset the top choice.

California Horse Racing Board Looking at Late Odds Changes

In their September 27 meeting, The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) considered a proposal that would require the final odds of any race in California to be displayed within “five seconds of the close of wagering.”

Dramatic odd changes during the running of races have become an increasing perception problem, leading some to believe that the regular betting public may be at a disadvantage to larger players using algorithms and late batch bets which can change the final odds.

AmTote, which services California, reports that 10-second cycles from three minutes to post until a race starts are currently being used at New York Racing Association and Maryland Jockey Club tracks.

I applaud the CHRB for looking into the increasing perception problem. 

Tourney Reminder

The longest running horse racing handicapping tournament in Las Vegas – the Fall Classic – returns to the Orleans Hotel Oct 11-13. Entry fee is $500.

Lindo Report Play for GamingToday: Santa Anita Thursday Race 7 – Worthy Turk (No. 5). San Luis Rey Downs fire survivor Worthy Turk actually broke his maiden vs. winners in similar event at Del Mar in July and remains eligible for this condition since he has not won two races. He is on the improve for trainer Peter Miller.

About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

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