With pre-entries out, we’re now a little more than a week away from Breeders’ Cup 2019. We’ve known for some time who most of the betting favorites will be over the two-day fixture, though some are a bit more challenging to pin down. Magical or Sistercharlie in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1)? Come Dancing or Covfefe in the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)?
What follows is a selected group of likely favorites over the two days and an analysis of their vulnerability. They are listed in order (in our opinion) of most vulnerable to least vulnerable.
Eight Rings (Juvenile)
Toss his early exit in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and you have a colt who’s dominated his contemporaries on this circuit. Why so relatively vulnerable then? The field came up tough. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Dennis’ Moment vied for favoritism himself with his excellent Kentucky form. He won’t be the favorite, but Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Maxfield also looks like a colt with a bright future. This should be an intriguing highlight of the Friday program.
Bast (Juvenile Fillies)
The enthusiasm she generated by the ease at which she captured the Del Mar Debutante (G1) was tempered a bit by the difficulty she encountered in eking out a victory in the Chandelier (G1) against a rival she had dismissed out of hand previously. However, it’s best to keep in mind that the Santa Anita main track played very slow on the opening weekend of the fall meet, which might have blunted her effort. Nonetheless, her BRIS Speed and Late Pace ratings showed improvement in that two-turn debut. This isn’t a terribly deep group, but one or two perhaps could jump up and give her a tussle.
Omaha Beach (Dirt Mile)
His impressive and game return in the six-furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) following a six-month layoff immediately vaulted him into consideration for several Breeders’ Cup races, but this spot seemed the most prudent in the estimation of his connections. Various pundits immediately put him on their “underlay horses” list no matter which race he wound up in, and it’s hard to argue that with fellow three-year-olds Improbable, Mr. Money, and Spun to Run also entering this in great form. However, there’s been a sneaking suspicion all year that, despite him having been sidelined for most of it, that he truly is the most talented colt in the crop. He won’t get to show it on the biggest stage (Classic), but he very well could here.
Bricks and Mortar (Turf)
Although America’s best turf male and the Horse of the Year favorite going into the weekend, he’s yet to race beyond 1 1/4 miles. The lack of 1 1/2-mile experience hasn’t stopped some previous winners of the race (1989 winner Prized comes to mind, and he hadn’t run on turf before either!), but it’s still somewhat of a risky move for a horse clearly proven best at nine-to-10 furlongs. Connections feel stretching out is less risky than cutting back to the Mile (G1), and they might be right given this is a tighter course than he’s used to running over and a bigger field in the Mile has the potential to lead to more traffic. On class, Bricks and Mortar should out-finish the rest of the domestic contingent, though the obvious threats from Coolmore and Godolphin could prove difficult over this unfamiliar distance. Still, the race seems to go through him.
The only hiccup he’s had this term was in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1), where he was caught on the inside at Saratoga and proved no match against a freakish performance turned in by Imperial Hint. That rival had a tough prep in the Vosburgh (G1), while this colt enters fairly fresh more than two months after a rebound score in the Forego (G1). Another inside draw is quite possibly the one potential monkey wrench that could be thrown at him, but the consistency he’s demonstrated all year marks as the clear one to beat. Pending the results of the Classic, his Met Mile (G1) triumph and a win here could give him a couple Eclipse Awards for male sprinter and older dirt male.
Midnight Bisou (Distaff)
She’s had some tight finishes this year, but when all is said and done she’s perfect from seven starts this season. She figures as one of the shortest prices the entire weekend based on her divisional superiority (she basically clinched the Eclipse Award in August), the fact that one of her old rivals (Elate) said “no mas” and is running in the Classic, and the lack of a standout among three-year-old fillies (though Dunbar Road has some room for improvement after racing on a dead rail in the Spinster [G1]). She also has the benefit from her days in the Bill Spawr barn of having won three of four over the Santa Anita strip. Those looking for any vulnerabilities will note that she hasn’t enjoyed a serious break in training going back to the start of her career, but she apparently thrives on the activity. Tough to oppose.