More handicapping lies ahead, with Monday’s post position draw critical to the process, but the Breeders’ Cup released the Pre-Entries on Wednesday and I’ll provide some early thoughts on selected races.
Juvenile Fillies Turf: Harmonize looms as a probable single for multi-race wagers.
Distaff: Given that Sheer Drama was longer odds than Rosalind in the Delaware H. and nearly 7-2 in the six-horse Personal Ensign, the potential exists for bettors to overlook her once again, with Wedding Toast, I’m a Chatterbox and Untapable all potentially a shorter price come post time. Sheer Drama is the horse to beat but I’m also intrigued by the speedy Yahilwa, who will offer better value and appears to be rounding into excellent form following a neck third in the October 4 Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.
Dirt Mile: Liam’s Map had everything to gain and nothing to lose running in the Classic – the decision raises red flags following a pair of tremendous showings in the Whitney (G1) and Woodward (G1) over a deep and tiring track at Saratoga. The Dirt Mile is an easier spot given the heavy hitters in the Classic field, but the possibility exists we’ve already seen the best from American Pharoah and Beholder this year. And Liam’s Map was a viable wire-to-wire Classic contender as lone speed — Bob Baffert wants a target at 1 ¼ miles for American Pharoah following an early duel that resulted in a Travers setback. Perhaps connections are hinting Liam’s Map won’t run back to his last couple of performances.
The Dirt Mile field is a little bit in flux (seven horses are cross-entered to other races) and I’m willing to wait for post positions before solidifying an opinion against the heavy favorite.
TwinSpires Sprint: Favorite Runhappy broke perfectly from the starting gate in a recent workout at Keeneland but that means little in my opinion – the speedball is having trouble breaking in races. The presence of Private Zone, Favorite Tale and potentially La Verdad will guarantee a blistering pace, and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer appears to have the late-running Wild Dude set for his best. A pace meltdown could also benefit Kobe’s Back and Salutos Amigos.
Filly & Mare Sprint: I’ll be against defending champion Judy the Beauty, who went winless while heavily favored in all three starts this year. Bettors will hopefully think she’s due. Artemis Agrotera may not be the top selection, but I’m not worried about the 12-month layoff for the talented seven-furlong specialist and will include her in multi-race tickets.
Juvenile: Nyquist is the horse to beat and could seize the early initiative given the lack of speed in the prospective field. But his declining BRIS Speed ratings are a concern and I liked the Breeders’ Futurity runner-up effort by Exaggerator following a seven-week layoff. He could continue to show more in the Juvenile.
Filly & Mare Turf/Mile/Turf: Euros could easily sweep all three races, with Arc winner Golden Horn a probable odds-on choice in the Turf. There is plenty of handicapping work remaining for the Mile and Filly & Mare Turf, with both races having at least eight Euros pre-entered.
Classic: Frosted may not be good enough to defeat American Pharoah and Beholder, but I’m giving him the best chance right now for an upset.