Betting tips for the Breeders' Cup Friday card
The Breeders' Cup this year will be held at Keenland racetrack without spectators. The lack of fans will likely be a welcome site for many of the owners and trainers for Friday’s races since juvenile horses often get spooked by large crowds. The weather forecast for Keenland is expected to be in the mid 60s on Friday and low 70s on Saturday which will be a comfortable temperature for horses both based in North America as well as those based in Europe. Keenland’s track is generally rated as fair for horses that like to race on the lead as well as those coming from behind, and the dirt track has been deemed as one of the best in the sport currently. The inside posts on one-turn dirt races are not the preferred place to be however. The management of the Breeders Cup likely breathed a sigh of relief last year when injuries at Santa Anita did not occur during the races as they had throughout the year and the big concern this year may just be the number horses who have not had much of a 2020 season after most of the large tracks were closed for almost 3 months due to Covid.
With that in mind here is an analysis of Friday's Breeders' Cup Races, which are completely geared to the 2-year olds.
Juvenile Turf Sprint
Golden Pal is the 8/5 morning line favorite and deservingly so. Golden Pal started his career at Gulfstream Park in April where he led early and faded to lose by a narrow margin, then wet to the UK where he led the whole way and just got nipped at the wire by a top ranked UK runner. But in August he led the whole way and won easily in New York, recording by far and away the best Beyer and Timeform figures in today's field. There doesn't seem to be other blazing early speed in this race so with a repeat of either his last performance or the one in the UK he will be tough to beat. Second of July (8/1), is 2 for 2 at Belmont and he likes to rate just off the lead and closes with a fury. A 68/1 shot in his opener and 15/1 shot in the Futurity Stakes, he would clearly be a Cinderella story should he win. Second of July just barely beat After Five (6/1), who closed significantly in his only 2 races. Dirty Dangle (20/1) is also 2 for 2 with wins in great times at Woodbine racetrack in Canada and you can’t count out two other European shippers in Lipizzaner (20/1) and Ubettabelieveit (20/1). Lipizzaner is trained by Aiden O'Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore who always does well in Breeders Cup races, but hasn't had a great year thus far in 2020. Lipizzaner won easily at Doncaster on a heavy track and seems to prefer soft ground which likely won't happen in the Breeders Cup this year. Ubettabelieveit got trounced at York in a Group 2 race but bounced back at 40/1 odds to win by a nose at Doncaster with a Timeform rating similar not that far from Golden Pal's figure. The morning line odds suggest that Cowan and Bodenheimer (each at 8/1 odds) have a chance but I don't see it.
Juvenile Turf Sprint Prediction: Winner: Golden Pal (8/5). 2nd Choice: Second of July (8/1). Long Shot Possibility: Ubettabelieveit (20/1)
This race is often won by favorites but there is no obvious favorite this year as the smallest morning line in the field is 5/1. That honor as morning line favorite goes to Mutasaabeq, who was beaten soundly in the Hopeful stakes by Jackie's Warrior who will almost certainly be the overwhelming favorite in the Juvenile. Mutasaabeq bounced back at Keenland, closing with a fury to beat some decent runners, including Albarta (12/1), who is in this race. The real question for Mutasaabeq is whether there is enough speed to run at. Todd Pletcher, who is the trainer, has a great Breeders' Cup record. Sealiway (8/1) is arguably the best European horse in the field. Racing exclusively in France, he has several impressive wins including an 8 length victory on Arc day. The main question is whether he'll handle a firmer turf, since every race he ran has been on softer turf. Other European horses who must be considered are Battleground (6/1), who won two races in a row convincingly and has Ryan Moore in the silks for Aiden O'Brien, New Mandate (12/1) who has won three in a row, including a Group 2 race at Newmarket, and Go Athletico (10/1), who beat Sealiway by a length in France in September. As for the other North American based horses, Gretzky the Great (8/1), who just won a Grade 1 race in Canada, Outadore, (8/1) who is undefeated and has some of the best Beyer figures in the field, Public Sector (8/1) and Fire at Will (12/1) all must be considered.
This race is the ultimate toss-up. The main question is who will handle the ground best, who will get the best trip and how fast will the pace be.
Juvenile Turf Prediction: Winner: Sealiway (8/1). 2nd Choice: Mustaabeq (5/1) Long Shot Possibility: New Mandate (12/1)
There are only 7 horses in this race and three horses seem to stand out, namely Princess Noor, who is the 9/5 morning line favorite, Dayoutoftheoffice at 5/2 and Simply Ravishing, also at 5/2 odds.
Princess Noor has won three easy races in a row for Bob Baffert and it appears there has never been a need to even show the horse the whip. She won the Del Mar Debutant by over 6 lengths at 7 furlongs and followed that up with an 8 length win in the Chandalier at Santa Anita. The biggest knock against Princess Noor, if there is one, is that the times have not been that fast and she really doesn't appear to have beaten much thus far. So she has to show she can step up to the best. Her morning workouts have been amazing also. Dayoutoftheoffice also won all three of her races easily at Gulfstream and in New York, including an impressive win in the Frizette stakes, where she easily beat Vequist (8/1), who was the 4/5 favorite after winning the Spinway stakes by 9 lengths. Dayoutoftheoffice had a Beyer rating of 91 in that race, which was by far and away the best in the field. Simply Ravishing is also 3 for 3 including a six-length victory in the Alcibiad Stakes at Keenland just two weeks ago. Girl Daddy (6/1) has also won two straight races, including a Grade 3 race at Churchill Downs, but my hunch is she is outclassed here. The other two horses look like they have no chance.
Juvenile Fillies Prediction: Winner: Dayoutoftheoffice (5/2). Second Choice: Princess Noor (9/5). Long Shot Possibility: Vequist (8/1)
Juvenile Fillies Turf
A tough race as always, one must look to the European invaders first. Campanelle is 4/1 on the morning line and appears to be the best of the lot. After handily winning a maiden race at Gulfstream she went to Europe where she won the Queen Mary Stakes narrowly and then won more handily in France at the Prix Morny. We know she loves firm turf and she has Frankie Dettori in the silks, who is one of the winningest jockeys in Breeders Cup history. Miss Amulet (12/1) has never run a bad race since her first race and she won a Group 2 race in August at York and followed that up with a narrow loss at the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes where she was favored. Nazuna (30/1) looked good last race in a Group 2 at Newmarket. None of the other European horses inspire much confidence, although Mother Earth (20/1) is an Aiden O'Brien horse ridden by Ryan Moore, so can't be totally discarded. Of the North American horses, Aunt Pearl (3/1) pops out first, having easily won two races in wire-to-wire fashion, including a 2.5 length victory in a Grade 2 race at Keenland over Spanish Loveaffair (15/1), who was impressive in Florida earlier. Aunt Pearl's Beyer figures have been better than the others in the field. Plum Ali (4/1) is 3 for 3, including a Grade 2 race at Belmont that she won quite easily, rating just off the pace and Madone (10/1) is 3 for 3 in California races. Royal Approval (10/1) also can't be discounted after winning a maiden race handily and followed it up with a narrow win in the Matron stakes. The Beyer figures were a bit lower though and it appears she didn't beat much
Juvenile Fillies Turf Prediction: Winner: Campanelle (4/1). Second Choice: Aunt Pearl (3/1). Long Shot Possibility: Spanish Loveaffair (15/1)
On paper Jackie's Warrior (7/5) almost looks unbeatable. He is 4 for 4, mostly running at the front and won in both New York and at Churchill Downs. His Beyer figures are much higher than the others in the field and the 100 rating at Belmont in the Champagne Stakes would have been high enough to win this race in almost every other year it has been run. Reinvestment Risk (9/2) has lost twice in a row to Jackie’s Warrior but he still has the 2nd highest Beyer ratings in the field, indicating just how good the favorite may be. Essential Quality (4/1) is 2 for 2, including a handy win at the Breeders' Futurity at Keenland about a month ago and appears to be the biggest threat. Classier (15/1) only has one race for Bob Baffert at Santa Anita, where he handily beat other horses in good time and Sittin on Go (12/1) is 2 for 2, including a huge come from behind victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois stakes at Churchill Downs in September. Likeable (15/1) may have a shot for Todd Pletcher after trouncing a field at Belmont in September and Camp Hope (30/1) won his only race at Churchill Downs. The others appear to have little chance.
Juvenile Prediction: Winner: Jackie’s Warrior (7/5). Second Choice: Essential Quality (4/1). Long Shot Possibility: Classier (15/1)
Looking for Saturday's card? Hartley breaks down every Breeders' Cup race for Saturday, here at OSGA!