Workouts important to Breeders' Cup success
October 31, 2017 3:00 AM
by Steve Davidowitz
In last week’s column I promised to evaluate workout regimens for key horses expected to be in Friday and Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races at Del Mar. I have two reasons for focusing on this aspect of the handicapping process.
• Because the final fields and post positions were drawn Monday several hours after my filing deadline it would be foolish to handicap these highly competitive events without knowing which horses are in or out and where they will break from the gate. You are invited to my annual Breeders’ Cup seminar – 6 p.m. Friday at Sunset Station, where columnist, author and handicapper Richard Eng and I will go through Saturday’s BC races. It will be hosted by Brian Blessing of Sportsbook Radio and sportsbook director Chuck Esposito.
• Another reason to focus on BCup workouts is to use this high profile situation to help readers understand what to look for throughout the year when trying to evaluate the fitness of good horses in important stakes. As pointed out last week, when I started focusing on workouts in the mid-1970’s, my game improved dramatically. I therefore suspect readers could move their own game forward by doing the same.
Here then, are the workout patterns that impressed me as positive for all 13 BCup races. While my notes might help your own BCup handicapping, please know I still learn by comparing actual performances against what I thought I saw before each race. Being a good horseplayer is never static; it’s a lifelong learning process.
BC Juvenile Fillies Turf: Rushing Fall and Significant Form are logical favorites, while a handful of Euros and Canadian invaders also deserve attention. Yet, the filly that caught my attention – for a possible in-the-money finish at long odds – is the Todd Pletcher trained Orbolution. Orbolution’s recent half-mile workout on the Belmont turf course was so much better than anything she has ever done. That alone often hints at an improved performance.
The Dirt Mile: Virtually every horse in the field has a strong workout pattern. Check them out to see why that is true.
The Juvenile Turf: Except for Steve Asmussen’s Snapper Sinclair, the American horses have only produced fair workouts for this. No published works for the Europeans, but they are a strong group trained by experts.
The Distaff: Most of the fillies and mares in this solid field recently worked well, including Abel Tasman, Forever Unbridled, Paradise Woods, Stellar Wind and Elate. Not a race to buy a single in a multi race-exotic.
Juvenile Fillies: Separationof powers won the 1-mile Frizette at Belmont and looked good in her latest workout for this slightly longer distance. Meanwhile, Heavenly Love and Moonshine Memories are previous G-1 winners at 1-1/16 miles and both have had fine recent drills.
The Turf Sprint: Three highly rated contenders come into this with excellent workout patterns: Lady Aurelia, Pure Sensation & Stormy Liberal.
The Filly and Mare Sprint: The vast majority of fillies and mares in this event have made only lukewarm impressions on the training track.
The Filly and Mare Turf: In a field with some good Euros, probable favorite Lady Eli brings positive recent works to the task. Avenge, Cambodia and the longshot Peruvian invader Birdie Gold have also worked forwardly.
The Sprint: Favorite Drefong has worked with extra speed coming off his 10 week layoff. Mind Your Biscuits – 3rd in this race last year and a dud in his latest – did look good in three October workouts. Positive works also for streaking winner Imperial Hunt and for the 3-year-old, American Pastime.
The Mile: European Ribchester has excellent overall form, while Blackjackcat loves Del Mar and World Approval loves the distance. The rest of the field has reasonable credentials, but only modest workouts.
The Juvenile: While unbeaten Bolt d’Oro is training steadily as the probable heavy favorite, this field has several youngsters with reasonable form and positive training moves to consider. For your own protection, take a close look at Solomini, Free Drop Billy and longshot The Tabulator.
The Turf: Euros tend to dominate this 1-1/2 mile BCup race, so Ulysses commands respect off his good form and Highland Reel deserves a close look, having won this last year. Otherwise, I have no insights to share about the moderate workout patterns for the entire field.
The Classic: Arrogate vs. Gun Runner? Well, 2016 Horse of the Year Arrogate did win this event last fall at Santa Anita; but, was not at his best in two losing tries at Del Mar this summer. However, Arrogate has trained superbly for Bob Baffert, as have most of the horses in the field, including Baffert’s four other entrants! That said, Gun Runner could be a slight betting favorite given his three straight highly rated G-1 wins and his own excellent workouts. At the bottom line, this is a great Breeders’ Cup at a wonderful venue and most of us will be involved with our hard earned cash. Good Luck.
Added Note: Complete post position assignments for the 13 BCup races will be posted Tuesday morning on the GamingToday website.