LEXINGTON, Ky – It’s time.
Great wagering abounds in the Breeders’ Cup. Fields are so full that just getting one of your picks home can get you to break even. It’s also a money management issue – unless you’re the Mint and own the printing press. I do not.
Here are my picks for Keeneland Race Course’s Friday card, including the four opening Breeders’ Cup races.
Race 1 – 1. Pablo Del Monte, 2. Candip, 3. Officer Griffin. Comment: A toss up between the top two but giving the edge to 2014 Triple Crown trail contender Pablo Del Monte in the second off a layoff.
Race 2 – 1. Smooth Caramel, 2. Mercer Mill Mae, 3. Street Blush. Comment: A very even race. Street Blush is the classiest, but might be challenged in first race since July 2014. Titanium also figures.
Race 3 – 1. Texas Two Step, 2. Allied Air Raid, 3. The Truth or Else. Comment: Giving the edge to Texas Two Step because he seems most likely to be on or close to the lead and had a front-running score on this track a year ago.
Race 4 | Bryan Station Stakes | 1 1/8 miles turf
2. Tale of Life
3. Closing Bell
4. One Go All Go
Comment: Fundamental seems to be improving, as does Tale of Life. Closing Bell is Grade 1-placed this year. One Go All Go likely will go to the front but don’t see him lasting on the lead.
Race 5 | Grade II Fayette Stakes | 1 1/8 miles
Comment: Protonico won the Ben Ali at Keeneland in the spring in front-running fashion, a style that would’ hurt his chances here. Also, draw a line through the appearance in the Woodward and he’d be a big favorite here. Hoppertunity won the Clark Handicap last year and has been running against tough company this year. Geothermal could add a little value if he improves off his Lukas Classic win. Eagle won over this track in last out.
Race 6 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf | 1 mile turf
1. Hit It a Bomb
Comment: Hit It a Bomb reunites with Ryan Moore and is undefeated with an all-turf pedigree. Cymric is a neck away from a group 1 win in France, which more than qualifies him here. Airoforce won the Bourbon here and may be the most likely North American candidate. Azar can factor at a price if he avoids the trouble at the start of his last race.
Race 7 | Grade I Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile | 1 mile
1. Liam’s Map
3. Wicked Strong
4. Red Vine
Comment: Woodward Stakes winner Liam’s Map might have been second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after the scratch of Beholder if he were in that race. He’s the most likely winner of the two days in Breeders’ Cup races. Tapiture could be back in his best form. (Note: these picks for runners up were revised.)
Race 8 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf | 1 mile turf
3. Alice Springs
4. Sapphire Kitten
Comment: Illuminate was beaten a half length by the highly respected juvenile Lumber in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket and is a group 2 winner in her own right. Anything close to either of those performances makes her my choice. Nemoralia has one race in the United States and goes back to the lawn at a price. Alice Springs was fourth in the Cheveley Park only about a half length behind Illuminate.
Race 9 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff | 1 1/8 miles
1. Wedding Toast
2. Got Lucky
3. I’m a Chatterbox
Comment: Wedding Toast boasts speed and class and both seem to be faring well at Keeneland. Got Lucky won the Spinster here. I’m a Chatterbox is a gift at 8-1 in the morning line. Frivolous at her best can hit the board at a price. While this is a fairly chalky order, Wedding Toast is a 4-1 favorite. I’ll probably key her with a bunch of others, as I believe the race offers more value and could have a goofy (and profitable) result even with Wedding Toast winning or hitting the board.
Race 10 | Grade II Marathon Stakes | 1 3/4 miles
1. Neck ‘n Neck
2. Majestic Harbor
4. Chairman Garey
Comment: Neck ‘n Neck might get an easy lead or sit right behind Majestic Harbor. Either way those two figure again as the main contenders in a rematch of their race at Parx.