Not too early to size up Breeders' Cup

Sep 12, 2017 3:09 AM

The 2017 Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar, with most of the final major prep races to be held over the new few weeks.

While those final preps will help narrow down the major contenders, those looking to take a flier or two in the Future Books in Las Vegas can find the utmost value before those final preps are run.

With that in mind, here is a first pass at who I consider some of the major players in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup:

JUVENILE FILLIES: 1. Moonshine Memories, 2. Gas Station Sushi, 3. Alluring Star, 4. Piedi Bianchi, 5. Lady Ivanka.

Comment: The top four 2-year-old fillies all have proven form over the Del Mar main track, which could play an important role this year. Del Mar Debutante winner Moonshine Memories should be even better around two turns.

JUVENILE: 1. Bolt d’Oro, 2. Zatter, 3. St Patrick’s Day, 4. Honorable Treasure, 5. Nero.

Comment: The 1-2 finishers in the Del Mar Futurity are rated 1-2 here. This list could change as the juveniles try two turns for the first time. Notice there are three Bob Baffert-trained 2-year-olds on the list. Why not? He always seems to come up with a top juvenile.

TURF SPRINT: 1. Lady Aurelia, 2. Green Mask, 3. Pure Sensation, 4. Richard’s Boy, 5. Marsha.

Comment: After being run at 6-1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita, this year’s five furlong turf sprint is much different. International shipper Lady Aurelia has the speed to lay close early and the distance is perfect for her. Green Mask has figured out how to win this year.

 FILLY AND MARE SPRINT: 1. Unique Bella, 2. Skye Diamonds, 3. By the Moon, 4. American Gal, 5. Paulassilverlining.

Comment: Three-year-olds have fared poorly in the Filly & Mare Sprint, but the comebacking Unique Bella is special. Look for her to run in the L.A. Woman Stakes the second week of the Santa Anita Autumn meet. Skye Diamonds will come into the Breeders’ Cup fresh, loves Del Mar, and the seven furlong trip is in her wheelhouse.

 SPRINT: 1. Drefong, 2. Roy H, 3. Mind Your Biscuits, 4. Awesome Slew, 5. Whitmore.

Comment: After losing his rider in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar, Drefong made amends with a powerful win in Saratoga’s Forego Stakes and appears ready to defend his title. Roy H was among those impeded in the Bing Crosby when the riderless Drefong drifted out around the turn.

DIRT MILE: 1. Cupid, 2. Battle of Midway, 3. Practical Joke, 4. Accelerate, 5. Mor Spirit.

Comment: Trainer Bob Baffert continues to shuffle his older horse lineup with Collected now being pointed to the B.C. Classic after defeating stablemate Arrogate in the Pacific Classic. That could leave Cupid as his primary option in the Dirt Mile. Three-year-old Battle of Midway has improved with blinkers, while Practical Joke tries hard but still seems best around one turn.

MILE: 1. Ribchester, 2. Le Brevido, 3. Deauville, 4. Heart to Heart, 5. Blackjackcat.

Comment: Ribchester is the best turf miler in Europe, which makes him the best turf miler. This list is fluid depending on which horses ship from across the pond.

FILLY & MARE TURF: 1. Lady Eli, 2. Winter, 3. So Mi Dar, 4. Queen’s Trust, 5. Dacita.

Comment: A reminder that this year this race will be run at 1-1/8 miles. While the Euros tend to dominate this race, I just can’t pick against Lady Eli since I will be rooting for her so she can finally earn a much deserved Eclipse Award.

TURF: 1. Enable, 2. Highland Reel, 3. Ulysses, 4. Oscar Performance, 5. Itsinthepost.

Comment: Another race that may be dominated by the Euros. Defending champ Highland Reel and Oscar Performance should keep the pace legit. Three-year-old filly Enable is special and trainer John Gosden considers her one of the best he has ever trained. That is high praise.

DISTAFF: 1. Stellar Wind, 2. Forever Unbridled, 3. Abel Tasman, 4. Vale Dori, 5. Elate.

Comment: Stellar Wind loves Del Mar and won’t have to face Beholder or Songbird this year. Forever Unbridled is the best from the east, while Abel Tasman is a top 3-year-old. With Songbird out, will trainer Jerry Hollendorfer try to get Unique Bella to this race instead of the Filly & Mare Sprint? I hope so for Skye Diamond’s sake.

CLASSIC: 1. Arrogate, 2. Gun Runner, 3. West Coast, 4. Collected, 5. Shaman Ghost.

Comment: Was it the gut wrenching win in the Dubai World Cup in March or the Del Mar dirt that caused Arrogate to regress this summer? We find out here. Gun Runner comes into the Classic in career-best form, while 3-year-old West Coast is improving rapidly based on his Travers victory.

There are too many unknowns at this point to cover the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Juvenile Turf.

No Voodoo

You just can’t make this stuff up. In a recent hearing with the Del Mar stewards, troubled jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. stated he was upset with but not physical with another jockey because a family member of that jockey had been performing ceremonies with “voodoo dolls” with the purpose of putting curses on Arroyo and other jockeys.

Top Play

Los Alamitos Thursday Race 8: Southern Warlord (post 7). Juvenile gets off the Del Mar rail, has speed, and the Rollins stable points to this meet.