UPDATED: Breeders’ Cup picks: Can Triple Crown winner American Pharoah make it a ‘grand slam?’

Updated to reflect scratches …

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the dessert on an incredible day of racing ahead. Here are picks for all the races Saturday at Keeneland Race Course as the world thoroughbred championships conclude in the region where most of the equine participants were born. (If you’re looking for the Friday picks, they’re here.)

IMG_3937Race 1 | Perryville Stakes | 6 furlongs 

1. Lord Commander

2. Lewys Vaporizer

3. Bayerd

4. Majestic Affair

Comment: Lord Commander gets the edge with the upside potential in his second race off a layoff.

Race 2 | Juvenile Dirt Sprint Stakes | 6 furlongs 

1. Sheikh of Sheikhs

2. Dan the Go to Man

3. Richie the Bull

4. Moment Is Right

Comment: The front-running style of Sheikh of Sheikhs helps his chances in his third race.

Race 3 | Grade I 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies | 1 1/16 miles 

1. Songbird

2. Rachel’s Valentina

3. Land Over Sea

4. Tap to It

Comment: Songbird already is the likely 2-year-old filly champ based on her previous three races. The outside post would be a concern but her speed gives her the tactical ability for it not to be a problem. She is a potential single on multi-race tickets.

Race 4 | Grade I TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint | 5 1/2 furlongs turf 

1. Something Extra

2. Undrafted

3. Lady Shipman

4. Ready for Rye

Comment: Something Extra won the Grade III Shakertown at this distance, which makes him my pick at 12-1 in the morning line. The last off-the-turf race is a throw out. Undrafted is the clear class of the field, but will bet he’s a step off his best form right now. Lady Shipman had a nice race over the course earlier this month.

Race 5 | Grade I TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint | 7 furlongs 

1. Super Majesty

2. Fioretti

3. La Verdad

4. Judy the Beauty

Comment: I trust Jerry Hollendorfer, the front-running ability is a plus and why not take 10-1 in a race that looks wide open. If this exacta hits, it’d be astronomical. All that said La Verdad must be respected and wouldn’t surprise.

Race 6 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf | 1 3/16 miles turf 

1. Legatissimo

2. Miss France

3. Secret Gesture

4. Photo Call

Comment: The multiple group 1 winner is a deserving 8/5 favorite and Miss France is a group 1 winner as well. Secret Gesture has won on both sides of the Atlantic. None of those three would surprise.

Race 7 | Grade I TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint | 6 furlongs 

1. Private Zone

2. Runhappy

3. Kobe’s Back

4. Wild Dude

Comment: Private Zone gets a narrow edge over Runhappy, but both are proven sprinters and seem to be a good step above others. If the speed duel sets it up for a closer, Kobe’s Back should be in the mix.

Race 8 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile | 1 mile turf 

1. Esoterique

2. Tepin

3. Make Believe

4. Impassable

Comment: Esoterique is a multiple group 1 winner on both soft and good going, meaning she can handle a drying Keeneland turf. Tepin looked incredible here earlier in the month and is, by far, the best North American-based chance to win what often is a European invitational. I’ll use those two and Make Believe heavily in multi-race bets and in exactas and trifectas.

Race 9 | Grade I Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile | 1 1/16 miles 

1. Exaggerator

2. Nyquist

3. Unbridled Outlaw

4. Greenpointcrusader

Comment: Exaggerator should improve on the second off a layoff and with the experience of his start here in the Breeders’ Futurity. Nyquist is the logical choice and has done nothing wrong. Unbridled Outlaw moves up with a better trip that in the previous start. Swipe and Cocked and Loaded also are contenders for exotic wagers.

Race 10 | Grade I Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf | 1 1/2 miles turf 

1. Golden Horn

2. Found

3. Big Blue Kitten

4. Red Rifle

Comment: Golden Horn will be a single for me in pick 4 wagers and is probably the most likely winner of the two days. The multiple group 1 winner breaks the jinx for the Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe winner in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The colt’s performances also make me find Found for second. Found finished second to Golden Horn in September and was ninth – but only five lengths out of it – in the Arc in October behind Golden Horn and Flintshire, who is headed to Japan. Point is that Found has been running against the best turf runners in the world.

Race 11 | Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic | 1 1/4 miles 

1. American Pharoah

2. Keen Ice

3. Gleneagles

4. Tonalist

Comment: Beholder would have been the pick had she not scratched. With her out, the most likely scenario seems to be the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Not much more to say about it. I’ll try to beat him (while still using him) on some multi-race tickets, but most of my wagering probably will be keyed on him and the expectation that the so-called racing “grand slam” becomes a reality.

Race 12 | Fort Springs Stakes | 6 furlongs 

1. Dr. Fager’s Gal

2. Clothes Fall Off

3. Sweet Swingin

4. Desert Valley

Comment: If you have any money left, this Hollendorfer trainee looks the part despite coming off a layoff. Clothes Fall Off and Sweet Swingin would not surprise.

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