There’s nothing like an overlooked longshot hitting the frame in a Breeders’ Cup race that you’ve happened to include in your exacta, trifecta, or superfecta. One of my customs, once Breeders’ Cup fields have been finalized, has been to find a few such horses to latch onto. Here are three I find intriguing on Saturday’s card:
NUOVO RECORD (F&M TURF) (#13, 12-1) – Kellie Reilly’s write-up on the Japanese invader is well worth a look and she makes several cogent points on why the mare should be taken seriously. Though winless since March 2015, Nuovo Record has been a prime factor in Group 1 contests in her native land, as well in last December’s Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin, where she finished only a length behind the exciting A Shin Hakari, who later romped in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1) in France.
Three unplaced efforts have marred her record this year, but Reilly notes she was not completely fit for her season opener in April, and was seemingly hindered by the non-firm ground in her past two starts. Nonetheless, she wasn’t embarrassed in either race, finishing ahead of Highland Reel in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in Hong Kong and not far behind Japanese Horse of the Year Maurice in the Sapporo Kinen (G2) last out.
With firm ground expected and 1 1/4 miles in her wheelhouse, a placing is certainly possible.
CALGARY CAT (TURF SPRINT) (#6, 20-1) – For as little as this Canadian-bred has been allowed to race on the turf, he’s made the most of his limited opportunities. In six turf sprint tries, he’s won or placed in five, with his lone unplaced finish occurring in the $100,000 Troy at Saratoga in August. Even then, he missed by less than a length at a distance (5 1/2 furlongs) that was probably a tad too short for him.
Well versed at this distance over the expansive Woodbine course, he stormed home from off of a fast pace to register a 15-1 upset of the Nearctic (G2) in his final prep for this. A blazing pace is assured here, and he could have a say in things near the end if he can handle this tricky downhill course.
RING WEEKEND (MILE) (#11, 20-1) – I love Ironicus for the win in the Mile, but I’ve grown to respect this Graham Motion-trained gelding this term. Returning from a 14 1/2 month layoff in the Dixie (G2) at Pimlico in May, he narrowly missed by a neck to Takeover Target. A rough start compromised his chances in the Fourstardave H. (G1) three months later, but he rebounded to take the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) on Labor Day.
Below-par when seventh to Keeneland-loving stablemate Miss Temple City in a slow-paced renewal of the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), Ring Weekend figures to get a more adequate setup on a course over which he captured the 2015 Frank Kilroe Mile (G1). I dare not leave him off my tickets here.
(Ring Weekend photo: Adam Coglianese Photography)