2023 Breeders' Cup contenders worth considering at a price

October 28th, 2023

In what I consider a surprising occurrence, my longshot focus for this year's Breeders' Cup leans more heavily on the dirt races than the turf ones. That probably has much to do with depth of the foreign contingent in this year's grass events, where quality price plays might be harder to come by.

Here are four longshots worth taking a look at to potentially upset, or boost vertical exotics plays, over the two-day fixture.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1)

Despite a horrific stakes debut as an odds-on choice in the Champagne (G1), owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher are showing confidence in Fierceness, who turned in one of the more stellar debut performances during the Saratoga meet when scoring by more than 11 lengths in the slop while beating a pair of impressive next-out winners.

It was quite a comedown in the Champagne, in which he never recovered after a poor start and was not persevered with late. On the positive side, we know he is capable of much better, he will get a fast surface for the first time, and he comes from a good family that includes the graded stakes winners (and useful sires) Outwork and Cairo Prince.

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1)

I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with Cody's Wish. He is by far the most talented and most accomplished horse in the field, and is a sure single if he runs back to his springtime form. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to be coming into this title defense as fast as he was a year ago.

At any rate, we'll get a better read on this year's Dubai World Cup (G1) form (with possible implications on the Breeders' Cup Classic [G1]) after watching Algiers in this spot. The World Cup runner-up was clearly the best Dubai-based older horse last winter, and belatedly got in a useful prep for this at Woodbine in the Durham Cup (G3), where he was beaten only a half-length over a synthetic surface. The gelding is far more effective on dirt, and anything close to his World Cup or Al Maktoum Challenge form would make him highly competitive.

Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1)

This is the third Distaff go-around for Clairiere, who in the last couple of seasons has displayed a pattern of running well in the spring, dipping in the summer, and returning with a vengeance in the fall. She basically lost this race (and the division championship) a year ago by two noses against a field with more depth than this renewal.

I find her last two efforts generally forgivable. At a tactical disadvantage against Nest in the Shuvee (G2) two back, she then encountered slop for the first time in the Personal Ensign (G1) ,where Idiomatic had everything her own way. That rival could see additional pace pressure here, thus benefiting the likes of this mare.

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1)

A decent segment of the betting public are likely to give defending titlist Caravel the benefit of the doubt for her two recent losses over ground softer than she likes. They're unlikely to extend the same amount to Roses for Debra, but that would be wrong.

Although she has yet to face this class of horse, Roses for Debra has enjoyed outstanding form since joining the Christophe Clement stable. After reeling off four straight against fillies and mares in dominating style, Roses for Debra met males for the first time in the Turf Monster (G3) at Parx. In truly bottomless ground, far worse than the official yielding (they wound up transferring the rest of the scheduled grass races to the main track), Roses for Debra fell short by five lengths. But that wasn't truly indicative of her talents, and in this wide open affair I'll be giving her a long look at a big price.