Happy Breeders’ Cup Saturday! Here are my thoughts on the nine championship races at Santa Anita:
Filly & Mare Sprint:
Carlos Martin targeted this race earlier this year, freshening 4 Come Dancing following a non-threatening second to Midnight Bisou in the Ogden Phipps (G1), and the five-year-old mare has recorded a pair of sharp preps sprinting, registering a 102 BRIS Speed rating for a comfortable 3 ¼-length tally most recently. Predicting a big effort. I will single Come Dancing in multi-race tickets and utilize 6 Bellafina, 8 Dawn the Destroyer and 9 Spiced Perfection underneath in vertical wagers.
Tough race. I will mention a pair with improving form from the Doug O’Neill barn, 5 Stubbins and 8 Legends of War. The former will be running late off a sharp score at Keeneland and the latter exits a convincing front-running tally at Kentucky Downs. Both have shown an affinity for Santa Anita’s turf and are listed at double-digit odds on the morning line. 10 Eddie Haskell and 11 Om will also be used in multi-race bets.
3 Spun to Run has come on at the right time for Juan Guerrero, recording BRIS Speed ratings of 108 and 110 in recent starts, and I give the three-year-old colt the edge over 1 Giant Expectations. The latter also merits consideration following a sharp effort in the Pat O’Brien (G2); the Peter Eurton trainee likes Santa Anita and is eligible to receive a favorable trip just behind the speed. 5 Omaha Beach is the one to beat but after posting a massive effort off a six-month layoff (easily a career-best Speed rating), he’s eligible to be a little short on the quick turnaround.
Filly & Mare Turf:
Last year’s female turf champion, 2 Sistercharlie enters with a six-race win streak and it will be no surprise if she proves too tough once again for rivals. Her main competition comes from Europe, with 4 Billesdon Brook and 9 Villa Marina having the best chance for an upset in my estimation.
Jorge Navarro has pointed 6 Shancelot to the Sprint since the three-year-old emerged at Saratoga, shipping early to Santa Anita and getting a good trip over the track, and the dark bay son of Shanghai Bobby appears to be training forwardly since a head second to Omaha Beach in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). I like the draw and Shancelot looks like the speed of the speed; he’s eligible to get clear early and I’m tabbing a wire-to-wire win.
Plenty of options. 2 Lucullan made only three starts last year and the five-year-old appears to have really come on since returning in July, winning three of four including a sharp effort three weeks ago that netted triple-digit BRIS Speed and Late Pace numbers. I remember how Kiaran McLaughlin got six-year-old Tamarkuz to peak in the 2016 Dirt Mile and he appears to have Lucullan ready for a career-best. Eligible to receive a good trip from the inside just off the leaders in a race lacking early speed. 6 Got Stormy, 11 Uni and 13 Hey Gaman will be included on multi-race tickets.
5 Dunbar Road made short work of sophomore rivals in the Mother Goose (G2) and Alabama (G1), but she got tested in the Spinster (G1) and performed admirably despite being stuck down on the rail throughout the stretch drive at Keeneland (not the place to be), missing by only a length behind Blue Prize and Elate. She registered her first triple-digit Speed rating (101) and I expect her to move forward for Chad Brown in the Distaff. Best bet of the day. 4 Midnight Bisou has been in training since last year’s Distaff, competing in January and shipping around the country to race over six different tracks in 2019, and her Speed numbers have dropped into the 90s in recent starts. This could be the time to beat the probable odds-on favorite.
Can’t get past the top two contenders, Horse of the Year leader 9 Bricks and Mortar and Epsom Derby (G1) hero 5 Anthony Van Dyck, andwilllean on the formidable duo for horizontal wagers.
7 Higher Power stumbled out of the rail post and trailed the field into the backstretch of the Awesome Again (G1) last out, essentially losing all chance at the start. He still showed fight to be a respectable third and appears to be training forwardly for John Sadler, recording a six-furlong bullet work (1:12 3/5) in preparation. Flavien Prat will look to settle into a similar trip as the Pacific Classic (G1), sitting just behind the early leaders before launching his move, and Higher Power’s 110 BRIS Speed rating for the impressive 5 ¼-length victory two starts back established him as one of the fastest runners in the Classic field. I like Higher Power to prove best today.
Good luck on Breeders’ Cup Saturday!