Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

BC - Marathon
By Anthony Stabile
VegasInsider.com

The Marathon

Distance: 1 ¾ miles
Purse: $500,000
Age: 3-Year-Olds & Up
Date: Friday, Nov. 1
Post-time: 4:45 p.m. EDT

The History

Run at 1½ miles in its first year before stretching out to this distance. European shippers won the first two runnings over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita. This event is best known altercation between jockeys Javier Castellano and Calvin Borel at the scales after the 2010 race.

Favorites: 0 for 5 (0%)
Shortest: $14.80 (Man of Iron, 2009)
Highest: $85.20 (Afleet Again, 2011)
The champ is here? No

The Scenario

Front Runners: Blueskiesandrainbows, Commander, Ever Rider
Mid-pack: Cease, London Bridge, Old Time Hockey, Suns Out Guns Out, Worldly
Closers: Indian Jones, Pool Play

The Best and the Rest

Normally, these two categories each have their own section but if I’m being honest there just isn’t enough information, or talent, frankly, to separate this bunch. So, everyone gets equal time, in alphabetical order.

The connections of BLUESKIESANDRAINBOWS are hoping his affinity for Santa Anita will make up for his possible distance limitations as he has hit the board in six of his seven starts over the course. To go along with his two wins here, Blueskiesandrainbows finished third in the Santa Anita Derby last year behind eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another. Blueskiesandrainbows won a minor stakes two back and was third in the 1½ miles Cougar II at Delmar this past summer.

Two seasons ago, CEASE turned for home in this event two in front while making just the seventh start of his career. He finished off the board that day but is back for another crack this season while making his third start off of a recent claim. Cease in for a claiming tag was a bit surprising when you recall that just last year he was finishing third and second in races like the Woodward at Saratoga and Hawthorne Gold Cup. Cease won an allowance/optional claimer going seven furlongs at Belmont last out in his first start with blinkers.
   
Since finishing far, far back in last years’ Marathon, COMMANDER has had a pretty solid 2013 campaign, winning half of his eight starts since returning to the races at the end of April. In fact, Commander is four for five routing this year, with his biggest score coming in gate-to-wire fashion last out in the Premier at Hastings Park going 1 3/8 miles.

South American import EVER RIDER is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his Argentinean countryman Calidoscopio, last years’ upset winner, by annexing the event this season. Unlike Calidoscopio, who came from the clouds, Ever Rider does his best running on or close to the lead as the words “close up” and “led throughout” litter the comment lines on his PPs. Ever Rider will be making his first start in over four months.

INDIAN JONES has raced 34 times in his career. Just one of those starts has come at a distance farther than 1 1/8 miles and it was two races back when he came flying late in the 1 ½ mile Greenwood Cup, a race he eventually lost by a nose to former Marathon winner Eldaafer but one that stamped him a contender for this.

Euro import LONDON BRIDGE is actually a New York bred son of Arch who will be making his conventional dirt debut in here. London Bridge had little luck in the first two starts of his career over synthetic surfaces before winning three in a row on the grass, including a 1½ mile event. He’ll be making his first start since mid-August.

Winless in his last eight starts since taking the La Jolla at Del Mar in August 2012, OLD TIME HOCKEY has raced exclusively on grass since the third start of his career. He has shown some life in his last pair while gaining ground late against better going 1 3/8 miles and 1 ¼ miles, respectively, and is by all means bred to handle the dirt.

POOL PLAY is tried the Classic last season to no avail and will be looking for his first win since last season’s Hawthorne Gold Cup. Winless in seven tries this year, Pool Play finished second in the Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream to start the season then didn’t come close until he finished third in the Greenwood Cup two back.

SUNS OUT GUNS OUT arguably ran the best race of his life in start number 22 last out, his first with the addition of blinkers, in an optional claiming/allowance contest at Parx. Two starts back, Suns Out Guns Out was fourth in the Greenwood Cup over a muddy strip. The “P” word, pedigree, hasn’t come up yet in regards to going this crazy distance but I would say his is best to handle the trip.

WORLDLY will be looking for his first victory in over two years in the Marathon but has been rounding in his last three starts since a March layoff. He was second three back to Dirt Mile contender and 2012 Travers winner Golden Ticket before missing by just a neck to multiple graded stakes winner Prayer for Relief two back. Last out in the Homecoming Classic at Churchill, Worldly finished third, beaten just 3¾ lengths to defending Classic winner Fort Larned. Though he’s never raced past 1¼ miles, he has won at that distance and is by 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy. 

The Strategy

Between the distance question marks and a lack of serious talent, this figures to be a wide open betting race. I doubt the favorite will be less than 7-2 or 4-1, so boxing a few horses and spreading a bit in multi-race exotics would be the smart move.

The Bomb

There is a chance the lone G1 winner in the field, Pool Play, will be the longest shot on the board. Give him a whirl at 12-1 or better.

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Re: Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

BC - Juvenile Turf
By Anthony Stabile
VegasInsider.com

The Juvenile Turf

Distance: 1 mile on turf
Purse: $1,000,000
Age: 2-Year-Old colts and geldings
Date: Friday, Nov. 1
Time: 5:25 p.m. EDT

The History

Contested by both sexes in its inaugural running back in 2007 and featured the Breeders’ Cup debut of Gio Ponti, who had a nightmare trip. Trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori teamed up to win consecutive runnings with Donativum and Pounced in 2008 and 2009.

Favorites: 1 for 6 (17%)
Shortest: $6.80 (Pounced, 2009)
Highest: $27.20 (Nownownow, 2007)
U.S based: 2/Foreign based: 4

The Scenario

Front Runners: All Cash, Bashart, Bobby’s Kitten,
Mid-pack: Bon Accord, Giovanni Boldini, Home School, Shamshon, Wilshire Boulevard
Closers: Aotearoa, Got Shades, Ontology, Outstrip, Poker Player

The Best

BOBBY’S KITTEN, named in honor of the late, great Bobby Frankel, comes into this event off of an extremely impressive performance in the Pilgrim at Belmont Park. After making the lead out of the gate, jockey Javier Castellano gathered his colt just off of the early leader, pounced on him turning for home then drew off to a powerful 6¼ victory.

Trained by one of Frankel’s prized pupils, Chad Brown, Bobby’s Kitten finished third in his debut when breaking from an outside post and coming from last before going gate-to-wire under similar circumstances next out.

The Todd Pletcher trained BASHART returns to the turf after making the lead in the stretch last out in the off-the-turf-to-Polytrack Bourbon at Keeneland last out before finishing second by a length after some early traffic trouble.

In his two prior starts, Bashart beat a talented bunch of maidens from just off the pace at Saratoga before going gate-to-wire in the With Anticipation at the Old Spa in his next start.
   
OUTSTRIP is one of several Euros with a chance in this event, a race they’ve won four times in the first six runnings. Outstrip has hit the board in all four of his starts, including two wins, and was second by a neck to the talented, multiple stakes winner Toomore in just the second start of his career.

Trained by Charlie Appleby for the powerful Godolphin Stable, Outstrip won a G2 two back before finishing third in his G1 debut last out. He’ll get a rider change to Mike Smith for this.

Aidan O’Brien will send out both GIOVANNI BOLDINI and WILSHIRE BOULEVARD in here. While Giovanni Boldini has won two of his three starts, both wins have come over a synthetic surface while his lone defeat came on the grass when he was third behind Toomore by 4 lengths.

Wilshire Boulevard is one of the more seasoned runners in here, having raced seven times already, with two wins under his belt. He won a G3 three starts back before just missing to repeat winner Astaire and finishing fourth in a G1 last out in France.

The Rest

The maiden ALL CASH returns to turf off of a poor effort on dirt and a fourth place finish in the Bourbon after a troubled trip last out. In his lone turf route, All Cash was third to Bobby’s Kitten after finishing third in his debut in a Saratoga turf sprint.

AOTEAROA won the Zuma Beach over Juvenile entrant Diamond Bachelor in his turf debut last out when adding Lasix, which will not be allowed in this or any of the juvenile races this year. Earlier this year Aotearoa split decisions in his two synthetic track starts and has been supplemented to this by his owner Paul Viskovich, who used a recent Pick Six score of over $130K to pay the supplement fee.

BON ACCORD lit up the Calder tote board at 46-1 in his lone turf start two starts back in a sprint then finished third in the Bourbon, his first start going long, last out after racing wide. He should appreciate a return to what’s apparently his preferred surface and a positive rider change.

GOT SHADES flattened out a bit in the lane after making a strong run in the stretch to be third in the Zuma Beach in his first start WITHOUT Lasix. In his previous two starts, Got Shades won a pair of minor stakes at Louisiana Downs with a pair of solid late rallies.

One of the more seasoned runners in the field, having already raced seven times, HOME SCHOOL has failed to truly fire in his two U.S. starts in SoCal after winning just one of his five starts in Europe. A fourth place finish in the Zuma Beach followed up a third place finish behind Diamond Bachelor in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf two starts back.

Another maiden, ONTOLOGY, finished second in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf two back before failing to run a step in the Front Runner, his initial effort over conventional dirt, last out.

POKER PLAYER won the off the turf Bourbon over the Keeneland Polytrack last out after breaking his maiden at Kentucky Downs two starts back. Poker Player could use a strong early pace for his late kick though he was able to overcome a dawdling one in his maiden score.

SHAMSHON failed to hit the board in his graded stakes debut in Europe last out after taking the first two starts of his career. Unlike the other foreign runners in here, Shamshon has yet to race around a turn or past six furlongs.

The Strategy

Without sounding too much like a homer, I truly believe the Americans have the Euros over a barrel in here this year. I think it’ll be more of an East Coast/West Coast thing than an international battle this year, with the New Yorkers having a decided edge.

The Bomb

Bon Accord should love the mile, return to turf and rider switch to Joel Rosario. And he’ll be 15-1 or higher!

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Re: Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

BC - Dirt Mile
By Anthony Stabile
VegasInsider.com

The Dirt Mile

Distance: 1 mile
Purse: $1,000,000
Age: 3-Year-Olds and Up
Date: Friday, Nov. 1
Time: 6:05 p.m. EDT

The History

Run around two turns at 1 mile and 70 yards in 2007 then on synthetic surface at Santa Anita in 2008 and 2009. Finally run at intended distance on dirt for first time in 2011.

Favorites: 0 for 6 (0%)
Shortest: $9.40 (Corinthian, 2007)
Highest: $77.40 (Dakota Phone, 2010)
The champ is here? No

The Scenario

Front Runners: Broadway Empire, Goldencents, Taptowne, Verrazano
Mid-pack: Alpha, Brujo de Olleros, Centralinteligence, Easter Gift, Fed Biz, Golden Tickets, Holy Lute, Pants On Fire
Closers: Hymn Book

The Best

The enigma that is VERRAZANO figures to be your tepid favorite in the Dirt Mile, a role that would have gone to his stablemate Graydar had he not been withdrawn earlier in the week when Todd Pletcher discovered a quarter crack that will force him to miss the race.

When he’s good, Verrazano is one of the most talented horses in training. He’s won six of his eight starts, all this year, including G1 scores in the Wood Memorial and Haskell. A two-turn mile, like the Dirt Mile, his first start against older horses, should be his best distance based on what he’s accomplished so far.

That’s if the good Verrazano shows. If the bad one does, the one that spit the bit on the turn in the Kentucky Derby when he didn’t appear to handle a wet track or, in what was even a more troubling effort; the one that inexplicably was empty on the turn in the Travers, shows up, you’ll need a good pair of binoculars to find him.
   
Oddly enough, the same can be said for Verrazano’s chief rival in here, fellow three-year-old GOLDENCENTS, who does have a bit of a home field advantage in here.

After an impressive juvenile season, capped off by a Delta Jackpot score, Goldencents came into this year as one of the future book favorites for the Derby and won his seasonal debut in the Sham from just off the pace. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride ever since.

He got cooked in a speed duel in the San Felipe where he wound up fourth but rebounded nicely to win the Santa Anita Derby. Who knew that would turn out to be his most recent victory? He was awful in the Derby and bad in the Preakness but has finished second in all three of his starts since in sprints, including last out in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Trainer Doug O’Neill has opted to stretch him back out for this as opposed to keeping him around one turn.

The Rest

Since dead-heating in the 2012 Travers, ALPHA has hit the board just one time in eight starts and that was two starts back when he set moderate fractions to win the Woodward over a sloppy track over his favorite track, Saratoga. Among those flops is a last place finish in the Classic last year, a couple of starts over the synthetic course in Dubai and last out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

BROADWAY EMPIRE has won three in a row since shedding blinkers, but they have come at Remington Park in their Derby and at Northlands Park in Canada where he won the Canadian Derby. He’ll be taking a huge jump in class and is making his first start against older horses.

BRUJO DE OLLEROS gave Graydar all he could handle in the Kelso last out, finishing just three parts of a length behind him having raced on the worst part of the track for most of the way while Graydar enjoyed the lead all to himself at this distance going one turn. Two starts back he won a minor stakes at Delaware around two turns. Overall, he’s won three times and placed twice in five starts at this distance.

CENTRALINTELIGENCE is making just his second start since mildly upsetting the Triple Bend, his lone G1 score, back in late June over the synthetic course at Hollywood Park. Last out he was a well beaten sixth in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. His two tries against graded stakes company over this track haven’t been very good and he’s made just one start past seven furlongs in his career when he was off the board in a Del Mar allowance contest over two years ago.

EASTER GIFT is on the also eligible list and would need a scratch to draw into the race. He was fifth in the Kelso last out, his lone off the board finish going this distance in five starts. Earlier this year, Easter Gift won three in a row, including a minor Penn National stakes around two turns.

FED BIZ, next to last in this event as a sophomore last season, returns with a bit more of an impressive resume this year. Fed Biz won the San Fernando to start the year less than three weeks after finishing off the board in the Malibu. He lost five in a row before coming from far back to win the Pat O’Brien at Del Mar in his latest effort 10 weeks ago.

GOLDEN TICKET, the other half of the 2012 Travers dead-heat with Alpha, has won his lone start at the distance, taking a one turn allowance contest at Churchill earlier this year before he finished second to Fort Larned in the Foster. Last out, Golden Ticket managed a fourth place finish when he flattened out in the lane behind Mucho Macho Man in the 1 1/8 miles Awesome Again while making his first start in two months.

HOLY LUTE will be making his first start on what will presumably be a dry track, as his first three starts have come over synthetics and his last came over a sloppy track when he was third in the Indiana Derby at Indiana Downs. Two starts back, Holy Lute won a minor stakes at Del Mar going this distance in what was his first two turn try.

Speaking of dry tracks, HYMN BOOK has made 10 of his 25 starts over dry tracks but has yet to win one. Five of his eight wins, including his lone G1 score in the 2012 Donn, have come over wet strips while three have come on the lawn. Hymn Book finished well to be third in the Kelso, his first start with blinkers, but is winless in three starts at a mile

PANTS ON FIRE seeks the hat trick in here with a pair of wins in the Monmouth Cup and Ack Ack at Churchill already under his belt. He’s won three of his six starts overall this year and is the most accomplished runner in the field at this distance having won four of his seven starts at a mile, including his career-best Beyer last out.

TAPTOWNE will be making a jump in class as he searches for his first win at the distance. Second in the Ack Ack, Taptowne has never won a graded stakes and has made the bulk of his money running against far lesser competition.

The Strategy

I don’t think there will be an overwhelming favorite in here so you should get value on whoever you settle on. I think it comes down to whether you think one of the flashier sophomores can pull it off or not because if you can Verrazano and/or Goldencents out of the number, you’re looking at a big ticket.

The Bomb

Alpha is a two time G1 winner, will likely work out a great trip in behind the first bunch of speed, is coming into the Cup in far better shape than he did after a long, arduous season last year and should be 12-1 or so.

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Re: Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

BC - Juvenile Fillies Turf
By Anthony Stabile
VegasInsider.com

The Juvenile Fillies Turf

Distance: 1 mile on turf
Purse: $1,000,000
Age: 2-Year-Old fillies
Date: Friday, Nov. 1
Time: 6:50 p.m. EDT

The History

This was created a year after the Juvenile Turf after fillies were forced to face colts in 2007 so with only a handful of runnings under its belt there isn’t much. Flotilla became the first Foreign-based winner last season after the U.S. won the first four runnings.

Favorites: 0 for 5 (0%)
Shortest: $14.20 (Stephanie’s Kitten, 2011)
Highest: $29.20 (More Than Real, 2010)
U.S based: 4
Foreign based: 0

The Scenario

Front Runners: Nesso, Ready to Act
Mid-pack: Chriselliam, Granny Mc’s Kitten, Kitten Kaboodle, Street Sailing, Vorda
Closers: Al Thakhira, Clenor, Colonel Joan, Dancing House, My Conquestadory, Sky Painter, Testa Rossi

The Best

After starting her career with three consecutive losses in Europe, CLENOR shipped to SoCal and has been perfect in her three subsequent starts for new trainer Doug O’Neill.

Oddly enough, Clenor stayed a bit closer to the pace in Europe as opposed to the last-to-first tactics that O’Neill has employed. After breaking her maiden despite breaking a tad slow, Clenor rattled off a pair of scores in the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies and the Surfer Girl last out.

Like Clenor, TESTA ROSSI started her career overseas before being sent to Chad Brown this summer, apparently with this event in mind. Testa Rossi won three of her five starts in Europe, including two against the boys but never raced past seven furlongs or around a turn back home.
   
That all changed last out when Brown stretched her out in the Miss Grillo, her first start in two months. Testa Rossi handled it all with a plumb, dropping to the back of the pack immediately before unleashing an authoritative late kick under Jose Lezcano to hold on by a nose for her fourth consecutive tally.

Another Brown runner, KITTEN KABOODLE, broke her maiden last out in the Jessamine at Keeneland in her first start for her new trainer. Kitten Kaboodle finished second in her first two starts at Saratoga this summer before being turned over to Brown. She has seemed to have turned a corner as she had the looks of a hanger in those two maiden tries before showing a good turn of foot in that G3 score last out.

MY CONQUSTADORY is another coming into this off of a sharp Keeneland score but hers came in a G1 over the Polytrack when she overcame one of the worst trips since the Titanic’s to win the Alcibiades by a drawing away 1 ¾ lengths.

Trained by Mark Casse, My Conquestadory entered the Alcibiades with the reputation of being an exceptional filly as evident by her debut tally against the boys in the Summer at Woodbine, a G2 going a mile on the grass.

Trained by Philippe Sogorb, VORDA invades from Europe with an impressive four wins from five starts, including a G1 victory in her latest start. The lone blemish on her card came two back when she was defeated by the American colt No Nay Never, a stone cold runner for Wesley Ward.

Unlike most Euros, Vorda doesn’t sport a flashy pedigree but it sure does look like she can roll. Keep in mind though she’s never raced past six furlongs or around a turn as all five of her starts have come over straightaway courses.

That racing around turns thing is even more important when it comes to another Euro import, CHRISELLIAM.  Trained by C.C. Hills, Chriselliam is a two time winner from five tries, including a G1 tally last out, but missed by just a neck against colts two starts back because she “didn’t handle turn,” according to her Daily Racing Form trip note. The fact that her rider, Richard Hughes, has had some success when flying into ride should help but keep in mind the turns at Santa Anita are much sharper than any in Europe.

The Rest

AL THAKHIRA ships in from Europe having won both of her starts impressively, a maiden score in September followed by a G2 score last out just three weeks ago. Al Thakhira has yet to race past seven furlongs or around a turn.

The maiden COLONEL JOAN flew home in her turf debut last out after breaking slowly and racing five wide on the far turn. This will be heard third start off of a three month layoff.

DANCING HOUSE broke her maiden at first asking before finishing third in the Spinaway at Saratoga in the slop. In her first turf try last out, Dancing House raced wide in the six-path while kicking home strongly to be third.

GRANNY MC’S KITTEN broke her maiden two starts back in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga off of a second place finish in her debut when she missed by just a nose when breaking from the outside post. In the Miss Grillo last out, she didn’t save an inch of ground and wound up fourth as the 9-5 favorite.

After being claimed out of her debut win at Calder, NESSO was shipped to SoCal and switched to turf. Nesso set fast early fractions in that first turf start, her first in over two months, before Clenor ran her down then made the lead a bit later on last out in the Surfer Girl before getting gunned down by Clenor again.

READY TO ACT broke her maiden professionally in her debut, coming from off the pace in a Saratoga sprint back in late July. Last out as the 8-5 favorite, Ready to Act appeared home free in Woodbine’s Natalma going a mile before inexplicably dumping her rider in full flight.

SKY PAINTER is another who looked broke her maiden impressively in a Spa turf sprint, overcoming a bad break to win going away. Last out, she seemingly flew home in the Miss Grillo to finish second by just a nose to Testa Rossi after being fanned seven wide in the stretch.

After racing on the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs in the first three starts of her career, STREET SAILING absolutely crushed a Keeneland turf allowance field by 6 ¼ lengths from just off the pace. She tackled colts in two of her first three starts and is in fact undefeated against fillies in two starts.

The Strategy

This is easily one of the more interesting and contentious races of the weekend. We once again have the Americans vs. the Euros and the East Coast against the West Coast. Whatever you do, command value for your money because almost everyone in here has a chance to grab the big prize. In these big juvenile fields going two turns I normally like to stay with inside numbers just because that run to the first turn isn’t very long.

The Bomb

Granny Mc’s Kitten has never been higher than 5-2 on the board in each of her first three starts. I’m willing to chalk up her flop in the Miss Grillo last out to the wide trip and give her a look at 15-1 in here.

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Re: Breeders Cup Betting News and Notes Friday 11/1

BC - The Distaff
By Anthony Stabile
VegasInsider.com

Breeders’ Cup Facts and Figures

The Distaff

Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Purse: $2,000,000
Age: Fillies and Mares, 3-Year-Olds and Up
Date: Friday, Nov. 1
Time: 7:35 p.m. EDT

The History

In what could be considered the most memorable moment in the history of the Breeders’ Cup, Personal Ensign gunned down Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in THE final stride of the 1988 running at Churchill Downs. Bayakoa won back to back runnings the following two years. Inside Information won it in 1995 by 13½ lengths, the largest winning margin in Breeders’ Cup history. Before tackling the boys twice, Zenyatta graced this race with her presence when she won it in 2008.

Favorites: 13 for 29 (45%)
Shortest: $2.80 (Life’s Magic Entry, 1985)
Highest: $113.80 (Spain, 2000)
The champ is here? Yes, the winner of the last TWO is here as Royal Delta will look to join Goldikova as the only three time winners in B.C. history.

The Scenario

Front Runners: Beholder, Royal Delta
Mid-pack: Authenticity, Close Hatches
Closers: Princess of Sylmar, Street Girl

The Best

How do you not start with the two time defending champ, ROYAL DELTA? After winning this last year, in surprising gate-to-wire fashion as a four-year-old, trainer Bill Mott decided on the same, exact, six-race campaign to get her back here this season. That would mean starting the season in the Sabin at Gulfstream where she rolled to a five length score and another disastrous trip to the Dubai desert as Royal Delta managed to beat just two in the Dubai World Cup while taking on colts over a synthetic course.
   
She ran into a buzz-saw over a speed biased Churchill strip in her return, the Fleur de Lis, when Funny Proposition shook loose and won easily by five. It made many wonder if the Dubai trip took more out of her this year than it did last year, with neighsayers pointing to the fact that last years’ Fleur de Lis actually signaled her return to top form. Royal Delta wasted little time in getting back to her winning ways, drowning the competition in a pair of G1s, the Delaware Handicap and Personal Ensign at Saratoga, by 10¾ lengths and 4½ lengths.

But last out in the Beldame, things did not go as expected. Royal Delta didn’t make the early lead and though she was in front approaching the far turn, she never appeared to be 100 percent, carrying her head a bit lower than usual and offered little to no resistance when PRINCESS OF SYLMAR sidled up and right on by her. Mott has been tightening the screw since the Beldame defeat and one would have to think the REAL Royal Delta will show up on Friday.

The word “doubt” and Princess of Sylmar went hand in hand for the better part of the past two months just after her 2½ length Alabama score, especially when you spoke to her connections about her participation in the Distaff. After all, she had done little wrong in her three-year-old season, as she was already a three time G1 winner with the Kentucky and CCA Oaks both under her belt as well, and the Eclipse for her division all but locked up.

Then rumors surfaced that she’d take on her elders in the Beldame, and after a couple of works that were more than satisfactory to her trainer Todd Pletcher, she was in the Beldame. She rewarded his decision with her aforementioned victory and it was widely assumed, with seemingly nothing left to accomplish, she’d be put away for the year.

But her connections apparently couldn’t satisfy that Distaff itch and have decided to forge ahead and supplement her to the race. Could it be the fact that she’s already defeated Royal Delta and they figure they might as well do it again? Depending on how the rest of the weekend unfolds, could this fifth G1 win help them make a strong case for Horse of the Year? Or, are they worried another filly, say BEHOLDER, could snatch the divisional Eclipse out of their hands with a Distaff score while they sat idly with their filly? I don’t have the answer, and frankly it doesn’t concern me too much because we get what we want: a rematch of the best in each female division.

Speaking of Beholder, do you think she likes this Santa Anita surface? We, of course, know the answer is a resounding “YES” as she has won five of six starts over the course for Dick Mandella including four G1s in races like the Santa Anita Oaks, last years’ B.C. Juvenile Fillies and the Zenyatta last out in her first try against her elders.

Beholder gets another crack at Princess of Sylmar as well as she Beholder was second in the Kentucky Oaks this season, duking it out early with Midnight Lucky on the front end where she was softened up just enough for Princess of Sylmar to run her down by just a ½ length. She returned from a four month layoff to win a minor stakes at Del Mar two back before her Zenyatta victory. While she figures to have some company on the front end in Royal Delta, I think the lead is hers if she really wants it.

The Rest

Should CLOSE HATCHES pull off a Distaff upset, she could possibly be named champion three-year-old filly as well. After winning the first three starts of her career, including a win over Princess of Sylmar at this distance in the Gazelle, the normally speedy Close Hatches was taken well off the pace in the Kentucky Oaks and never seemed comfortable, trudging home a well beaten seventh before finishing a distant second to Midnight Lucky in the Acorn.

Close Hatches returned to her winning ways in emphatic fashion, galloping home over seven lengths ahead of Dreaming of Julia in the Mother Goose before a myriad of minor ailments kept her from the races for most of the summer. Close Hatches returned from a three month layoff in the Cotillion at Parx last out and came from just off the pace to win by a workmanlike two lengths.

The only other mare in the field, AUTHENTICITY has put together one heck of a resume this year after missing close to eighteen months of action coming into 2013. She hasn’t missed the board in eight starts, won a pair of graded stakes and finished second in the Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign and Zenyatta, all grade 1s, behind Tiz Miz Sue, Royal Delta and Beholder, respectively. In the Zenyatta last out, she trailed early before grinding her way patiently to that runner-up award while finishing up nicely.

STREET GIRL has just two wins from a baker’s dozen starts in her career, a $65K maiden claiming score and a win in the Calder Oaks back in July over a sloppy track. She was flying last out when third to Close Hatches but is seemingly up against it in this spot.

The Strategy

The betting figures to be two-tiered in this, with Royal Delta, Beholder and Princess of Sylmar getting the bulk of the money followed by the rest. I personally don’t think the race is just between those three so I’m looking for value. With all of that said, I think one would be remiss to leave out the two-time champion.

The Bomb

Close Hatches should work out a perfect trip right in behind the speed. She’s not going to be double digit odds but a juicy 7-1 isn’t out of the question.

Blade
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