by Scott Shapiro
Much like in past years, the featured races on the Friday and Saturday Breeders’ Cup World Championship cards will be offered up to horseplayers in the form of a Daily Double.
Unlike other sequences over the two-day event, the Distaff-Classic Double is not one I advise spreading deep in. I foresee relatively formful results in both races, so I recommend either limiting your budget or trying to hit it multiple times.
Ed DeRosa and James Scully discuss the Distaff-Classic Double
Here are my thoughts on the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Classic:
The event for fillies and mares run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track features a relatively even-matched field of ladies competing for the lion’s share of the $2 million purse.
I expect an honest early pace in this year’s Distaff given the inside draw for Champagne Room (#1). The winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies has just one race since February, but it was a dominating performance on the front end in the Remington Park Oaks. If the Peter Eurton trainee was drawn outside of Paradise Woods (#7), it might lead to a slower first half-mile, but I expect jockey Mario Gutierrez to send from the rail, which is likely to set things up for an off-the-pace type.
Elate (#5) is a filly who appears to be thriving at the right time and should get the trip. The winner of two straight Grade 1 events in New York has trained incredibly well since arriving in Southern California for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro should sit close enough to get the jump on a horse like Forever Unbridled (#6), but far enough off the leaders to take advantage of things if they battle early on.
Elate is my top choice and the only horse I will use in the first leg of the Distaff-Classic Double.
The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic is a fascinating race, but not an event that I have tremendous interest in betting on. The top two choices on the morning line are the most likely winners, and the colt most likely to spring the upset is far from a “bust-out” type.
Arrogate (#1) returns to Del Mar after a runner-up effort in the Pacific Classic (G1). The son of Unbridled’s Song had one of the most impressive win streaks I have seen in my 26 years of following Thoroughbred racing starting with the Travers (G1) in August 2016 and culminating with his last-to-first rally in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) in March.
However, Arrogate was not nearly the same horse we saw during that run this summer. He reportedly has been training much better over the past few weeks, but it remains to be seen if he is ready to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics for the first time since Tiznow to start the 21st century.
Gun Runner (#5) comes into the Classic in the best form of his life for trainer Steve Asmussen. The four-year-old colt has won three straight Grade 1s, including easy wins in the Woodward and Whitney at Saratoga this summer. He struggled to get 1 1/4 miles as a three-year-old and was defeated soundly overseas by Arrogate, but he is a much different horse since the Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill Downs in June.
If Arrogate or Gun Runner are to lose in the $6 million main event it will most likely to be West Coast (#8). The son of Flatter got a late start for trainer Bob Baffert, but has won five straight, including victories in the Travers and a 7 1/4-length length romp in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in September. He will need to run the race of his life to beat this group, but that is far from out of the question.
As a gambler using both Gun Runner and Arrogate in this sequence would be a mistake, so I will side with the colt in the better form and with more early zip over what very well could be a speed-favoring course. I will also use West Coast at what should be significantly greater value.
My tickets for the Distaff-Classic Double:
$20 DD 5- 5
$10 DD 5-8
Total Budget: $30