Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
A first of two superlative Breeders’ Cup programs begins at 11:25 a.m. There are some terrific wagering opportunities both in the straight pools and in rolling exotic play.
The first race is a contentious Hillside turf sprint for older fillies and mares that we’ve got down to two major contenders. #7 Night Song is an intriguing European invader from a barn (Callaghan) that excels with these types of imports and the daughter of Oasis Dream, away for more than a year, will be dangerous if she repeats the quality of her juvenile form. The works indicate she’s fit enough and since she won her racing debut you know she can fire fresh. #8 Hide My Heart makes her California debut for Sadler via a private purchase after a big figure win in Florida over a sloppy track; her pedigree suggests the switch to turf shouldn’t be an issue and she’s been working extremely both at San Luis Rey Downs and Santa Anita. With Rosario taking the call, the daughter of Artie Schiller should be extremely live.
The second race is the Las Vegas Marathon over a mile and three-quarters on the main track and since this type of race is so rarely carded in California – or anywhere else for that matter – we suggest you proceed with caution. #7 Sky Kingdom likes the Santa Anita main track and is a proven marathoner, and in a field with plenty of front-running types the Baffert-trained horse should have every chance to regain his winning form. #9 Cary Street has fast middle-distance speed figures and if he can duplicate those numbers at this marathon trip he could be very dangerous at 10-1 on the morning line. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics while giving top billing – at the price – to Cary Street.
The early Pick-4 begins with the third race, a seven furlong sprint for juvenile fillies. #1 Stormy Adieu is blessed with intense early speed, however, from the rail she’ll get no breathers, especially with pace adversary #5 Easter Fever in the field as well (these two hooked up last time and both paid the price). The beneficiary of any pace duel should be #4 My Fiona or #7 Ashley’s Sassy (just as she was in that common race Oct. 2). On the other hand, at this extended sprint trip, the early fractions could be softer, allowing both ‘Adieu and ‘Fever to set comfortable splits and keep on going, especially if the main track is playing kind to the early speed types, as it has tended to do the past week or so. The bottom line is that this race is best left alone due to the uncertain pace scenario; those that want the action should focus on the closing types – My Fiona and Ashley’s Success – as the ones to include in rolling exotic play.
The fourth race is the Twilight Derby over nine furlongs on turf; it’s another very difficult and highly contentious affair that has legitimate contenders from top to bottom. #3 Ashleyluvssugar was finishing like a freight train against a softer group over this course at a mile but ran out of room; today he’ll have nine furlongs to work with and although unproven against this level of competition he strikes us as a progressive sort offering considering long shot value at 20-1 on the morning line. The Game Plan gelding continues to impress in the morning for Eurton and even in his present form isn’t far off this group based strictly on speed figures. #6 Enterprising disappointed in the Del Mar Derby but he’s trained like his old self of late and has proven stakes winner form over this turfcourse. #11 Ring Weekend has found a home on turf for Motion – he’s been first or second in all four grass starts mostly against legitimate stakes quality competition – and if he can negotiate a decent trip from his poor outside post he’ll be tough to beat once again. We’ll swing for the fences by putting Ashleyluvssugar on top but all three should be included in rolling exotic play and you should feel free to spread even deeper if your budget allows.
The Damascus Stakes – a rugged seven furlong main track sprint – is carded as the fifth race and is another event offering good price value. #2 Midnight Hawk has been burning up the track for his comeback and we know he can run well fresh (he won his debut) and sprint (he’s a perfect one-for-one in one-turn races). He’s also a graded stakes winner over the Santa Anita main track. #11 Bahamian Squall had designs on the Breeders’ Cup Sprint but didn’t draw in; he lands a favorable outside post and has the perfect style for this extended sprint trip. He’s fast enough on speed figures to be right there and picking up Bejarano is another plus. Offering some value at 8-1 on the morning line is #12 Unbridled’s Note, originally a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint but unable to draw in due to the overflow number of entries. He can act on dirt – witness his sharp runner-up try in the Potrero Grande Stakes back in April of 2013 – and his recent works indicate he still has most of his old speed, his disappointing comeback in the Eddie D. Stakes notwithstanding. We love his outside draw and Nakatani fits him perfectly, so toss him in at 8-1 on the morning line. These are the three will use in our rolling exotics – yes, this is another race that might demand more of a spread – while slightly preferring #12 Unbridled’s Note on top if only because he’ll be the best price of the three.
The sixth race begins another Pick-4 and launches the Breeders’ Cup portion of the Friday program. The Juvenile Turf has several logical contenders, the most intriguing of which is the rapidly improving English import #4 Commemorative. Winner of the Gr.3 Autumn Stakes in his most recent start, the speedy and powerful chestnut colt should love the top of the ground conditions he’ll get at Santa Anita, and with further improvement could easily be up to this task at a nice price (he’s 8-1 on the morning line). Not necessarily a need-the-lead type but with tactical speed to always be within range, the Charles Hills-trained colt looks quite capable of pulling off the upset. #1 Wet Sail is a rapidly improving English colt by Henrythenavigator from a mare by Riverman so he should be thrilled with the opportunity to stretch out to a mile; he should enjoy a ground-saving, second flight trip from the rail and based on his Racing Post ratings he’s not that far removed from some of the more fancied imports. At 15-1 on the morning line he offers excellent long shot value, so if you’re looking for a potential blow-out horse, he could be the one. #11 Imperia is the best of the U.S.-based runners and may own the strongest late kick as well. If he can negotiate a decent trip from his outside draw, the McLaughlin-trained colt will be heard from late.
#1 Goldencents won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year and it will be hard to pick against him in this year’s edition. The speedy colt lands the good rail and looks easily like the controlling speed; he loves this track (he also won the Santa Anita Derby at nine furlongs as a 3-year-old) and continues to impress in the morning following his narrow defeat in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship last month. If he does get beat today – and he’ll be the shortest price starter in the two day Breeders’ Cup festival – it’ll probably be a deep closer who tags him. #9 Tapiture could be the one to fulfill that role, but that’s assuming he’ll be taken back and allowed to make the last run, and we’re not sure that strategy will be employed. Smaller ticket players have to single somewhere, and Goldencents seems an obvious candidate.
The 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf is one of the stronger editions of this race in recent years. #4 Lady Eli has been magnificent in two career starts – a maiden win followed by a thoroughly pleasing going away victory in the Miss Grillo Stakes – and she’s done quite well in California since her arrival. We’re expecting she’ll reproduce her New York form and if she does she’s clearly the most dangerous of the North American contingent. However, the Europeans have plenty of fire power. Though drawn poorly on the far outside, #14 Qualify has a brilliant turn of foot, as she displayed when rallying from stone last to win her most recent group stakes race at The Curragh, and if she can find room to rally into the lane she’ll be bearing down dangerously in the final furlong. #6 Sivoliere is a French import who has been training in New York under Chad Brown for several weeks, and the daughter of See the Stars was starting to get very good at the time she was privately purchased. She needs to be anchored early and cut loose late and that’s how Stevens most likely will ride her. As a first time Lasix user, she could be move up considerably under U.S. conditions. #3 Sunset Glow is a genuine and versatile filly trying a distance of ground for the first time. If she can run this far she could be tough to catch, especially if she can establish the pace without undue pressure.
The ninth race on the program is the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, yet another deep and competitive event. The two morning line favorites – #10 Untapable (5/2) and #11 Close Hatches (3-1) – both have superior credentials and it would be no surprise if either one took the top prize. However, in a race with plenty of speed-types, we’re looking for a stalker or a closer, and #7 Don’t Tell Sophia certainly fits the bill. A winner of half of her 22 career starts and never sharper than she is at the present time, the daughter of Congaree can settle early and then blast home, just as she’s done when winning five of her last seven starts, including the recent Gr. 1 Spinster at Keeneland. She’s no single – there are too many other talented fillies and mares in the field – but at 5-1 on the morning line she may offer the best value. #3 Iotapa had a horrendous trip in the Zenyatta Stakes last month and failed to reproduce her best form, but if she breaks cleanly today and can secure a good position, the Hollendorfer-trained filly will be a handful, especially if she returns to her summer form. Let’s try to get past this race using just Don’t Tell Sophia and Iotapa, but if you feel the need to go deeper, by all means do so.
The finale on the program is the 10th race, a seven furlong entry-level allowance sprint. #7 Jimmy Bouncer continues to move up the class ladder and seems dangerous once again while seeking his third straight score in as many starts. He’s fast on numbers and should be able to handle today’s extra furlong. #2 Day of Fury broke his maiden over a distance of ground following a layoff recently in fast time and today shortens up in trip; the Baffert-trained gelding has plenty of upside and should be used at anywhere near his morning line odds of 6-1. #11 Whine for Wine represents a strong late threat for Smith/Hollendorfer team, especially at 8-1 on the morning line. The sophomore gelding likes this track and will be tough if the pace types go fast enough early to set things up for him. ere’s