The Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography
by Scott Shapiro
Myriad wagering opportunities await horseplayers at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including a few Daily Double wagers linking Friday and Saturday races.
In previous years, the marquee double was the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on Friday with the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Saturday, but the inaugural Future Stars Friday concept has the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) coupled with the Classic.
Here are my thoughts on the final Breeders’ Cup race of each day and how I will play the multi-race wager.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE
The winner of Friday’s featured event will not only earn the majority of the $2 million purse, but also very well be the early favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Game Winner (#9) (8-5) is listed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and certainly can win, but I do not expect him to have things as easy as he has over his two Grade 1 victories in Southern California. If he is able to work out a perfect trip from just off the pace like he did last time out in the American Pharoah (G1), he will be tough to beat late. However, I am not convinced that jockey Joel Rosario will be able to get him into that position early. For that reason, I will look to the second choice as my key horse instead.
Complexity (#6) (5-2) has dominated two straight fields to start his career in New York for trainer Chad Brown. The $375,000 son of Maclean’s Music may not be bred to get 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May, but his speed and class should be enough to carry him 1 1/16 miles on Saturday afternoon. He comes out of what I consider the strongest of the “Win & You’re In” events in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park where he sped to the early lead and beat the field of 10 by three lengths in the end. The bay colt has serious talent.
I will single Complexity in the Double, but if you are spreading in the horizontals I would also include his stablemate Standard Deviation (#8) (12-1), Code of Honor (#11) (5-1) and longshot Dueling (#1) (20-1).
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
In the past few years, the main event was much less wide open than it appears in 2018.
Accelerate (#14) (5-2), the 5-2-morning-line favorite, has had a tremendous campaign which has included wins in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), Pacific Classic (G1) and, most recently, Awesome Again (G1) on September 29. I have a great deal of respect for what the John Sadler-trained five-year-old has accomplished, but I am not sure he is coming into Saturday ready to run his best race, making it a worthwhile endeavor to take a chance against him in the Classic.
If Accelerate put forth another career-best 114 BRIS Speed rating, earned in the Pacific Classic, he would likely win this race, but he struggled to get out of the gate in each of his last two starts and meets the toughest group of his life on Saturday. I am not overly concerned with the far outside post if the Lookin at Lucky chestnut gets out of the gate cleanly, but if he does not break sharply he is in serious trouble. The potential of this and the lack of value makes him a play against for me.
Instead, I will lean on two Bob Baffert-conditioned colts.
McKinzie (#6) (6-1) ran a huge race off the layoff in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), beating fellow Classic rival Axelrod (#12) (30-1) by 1 3/4 lengths. The son of Street Sense should move forward in his second start of the form cycle. If he does, he looms a major threat as the first half of the uncoupled Baffert entry.
West Coast (#7) (5-1) also makes his second start off the bench in the Classic. The son of Flatter won six of nine starts in 2017 and ran third in this race at Del Mar last year, but has only raced three times in 2018. Baffert said he clearly needed his last race, where he finished second to Accelerate in the Awesome Again, so one should assume the Gary and Mary West-owned Kentucky-bred should move forward on Saturday. If he does he could be a tough customer in the lane.
$20 Daily Double
6 with 6+7
Ticket Cost = $40