Scully: Longshot watch for 2023 Breeders’ Cup
Longshots play a role in every Breeders’ Cup. In 2022, Caravel recorded the biggest upset, returning an $87.78 win mutuel ($2) after leading all the way in the Turf Sprint (G1), and horses leaving the starting gate at 10-1 odds or higher produced 15 top-three finishes over the two-day, 14-race program.
I’ve identified the following longshots that appeal from a multi-race and/or vertical exotics perspective for the 2023 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
General Partner (8-1) – Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1)
Possible speed play. #8 General Partner (8-1) failed to break sharply in his first two starts, but quickly recovered to lead all the way the second time out. He showed a new dimension in a speed-laden Champagne (G1) field, easily proving quickest from the gate. After flying to a short lead in the opening strides, the Chad Brown-trained colt continued to wing it while in hand and clear down the backstretch, eventually winding up a clear second in his stakes debut.
Trip will be everything for the promising speedster. There’s speed to his inside and outside in the starting gate, but General Partner has a shot to steal it if he fires fastest of all from the starting gate under jockey Manny Franco.
Lindy (12-1) – Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1)
Progressing late runner. #7 Lindy (12-1) displayed an abundance of class overseas, recording a pair of seconds to champion and four-time Group 1 winner Blue Rose Cen from three French starts earlier this season, and the three-year-old is showing more stateside.
After rolling to a convincing allowance win at Kentucky Downs, the Brendan Walsh-trained filly rallied boldly to be a close second to 1000 Guineas (G1) winner Mawj in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland. That rival is the 4-1 third choice in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), and Lindy will look to keep building upon a pair of encouraging efforts with a strong late showing.
Kirstenbosch (10-1) – Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)
Plenty of outside speed signed on, and it will be interesting to see what happens from the starting gate because #7 Society (5-2) and #9 Yuugiri (8-1) run their best races on the lead. They figure to be winging it from the outside, and #5 Kirstenbosch (10-1) projects to receive a favorable setup for her late kick.
The four-year-old filly enters on the upswing for trainer John Sadler, registering a career-best 101 Brisnet Speed rating for her fast-closing second in the Rancho Bernardo H. (G3) before breaking through with her first graded sprint win in the Chillingworth (G3). Furthermore, Kirstenbosch's recent triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace ratings catch the eye.
Shirl’s Speight (30-1) – Breeders' Cup Mile (G1)
Similar profile from last year, when he peaked finishing second at 55-1 from an inside post in the Mile. #1 Shirl’s Speight (30-1) trained forwardly for the 2022 Mile after rallying to be a troubled fourth in the Woodbine Mile (G1), and he saved ground from the inside before surging into contention in the Keeneland stretch, threatening to post a massive upset before Modern Games came flying late.
The first half of his 2023 season proved forgettable, but Shirl’s Speight exits an encouraging runner-up effort to Master of The Seas in the Woodbine Mile. And the six-year-old appears to be cranking up his training for Roger Attfield, recording bullet half-mile and five-furlong works in preparation for the 2023 Breeders' Cup. Shirl’s Speight still faces a difficult challenge against classy rivals, but he tries hard when in form and rates as one to consider for all vertical exotic wagers.
Saudi Crown (12-1) – Breeders' Cup Classic (G1)
Brad Cox has been bullish on the preparations of #6 Saudi Crown (12-1). The three-year-old has been drilling six-furlong workouts since winning the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in late September and will bring high speed to the Classic. He won the post position draw, landing ideally in post 6 while key pace rival Arabian Knight is marooned in post 12 with Bright Future to his immediate inside, and I expect to see Saudi Crown showing the way into the first turn.
Given his rapidly improving form and increasing Brisnet Speed ratings (104-106-108), Saudi Crown rates as an intriguing upset candidate.