Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Breeders' Cup Returns to Santa Anita

Santa Anita Park

A strong European contingent and most of the top horses in North America are gathered at Santa Anita as the 26th Breeders' Cup is set to take place this Friday at this track for the second straight year.

Horses to Watch on Friday's Ladies Day at the Breeders' Cup:

Breeder’s Cup Marathon ~ Purse $500,000 ~ 1 3/4 Miles
Mastery – Post 6 – Morning Line 9/5
He won the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster in September and took down the Group 2 Derby Italiano at Campanelle in May. He likes the distance but his lone start on a synthetic track was a 4th in the Kentucky Derby Challenge at Kempton in March and the winner of that event was grilled in the Blue Grass Stakes never to be seen again. He is much improved since that race and if his grass form in Europe = synthetic track form at SA, he will be in good shape. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Nite Lite – Post 3 – Morning Line 4/1He won the Fall Challenge at Turfway by more than 5 lengths in his only start on a synthetic surface. He was 2nd in the Brooklyn with today’s pilot and more recently was 2nd in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. He looks to like the lead but also looks to be bred to run all day. He seems to be a major contender. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Man of Iron – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
He is 2 for 3 on synthetic tracks and ran 4th to last year’s winner of this race in his only synthetic loss. That horse, Mastercraftsman, missed by just a length to the undefeated European super horse Sea the Stars in August. His 3 for 8 record this year shows he likes to win but he has been running a little cheap compared to today’s rivals. Must respect world class connections. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brein.

Father Time – Post 5 – Morning Line 3/1
He ran 3rd to Mastery in the St. Leger Stakes in September and has a great distance pedigree. His Maiden win came over a synthetic track in the UK but he has only one win in a year since then, although he has been in or close to the money in all races. He is lightly raced and looks to be improving and he gets first lasix today so he could go either way here. E. Ahern rides for Henry Cecil.

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Miles (Turf)
Lillie Langtry – Post 8 – Morning Line 3/1
She certainly looks to be the best horse on paper. She has been in the money 6 out of 6 in her career and has won 2 of her last 3 including the Group 2 Debutant Stakes at Leopardstown. She has been the odds on favorite in each of her last three races but this is her first attempt beyond 7 furlongs. DRF Formulator says trainer Aidan O’Brien is 0-23 with foreign shippers for the past three years. That includes the likes of Soldier of Fortune last year and Dylan Thomas in 2007. That aside, she is a contender. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brien.

Junia Tepzia – Post 11 – Morning Line 8/1
She has won both of her races to date with a Timeform rating of 123 coming into this. Having said that, she has not faced this level of competition in Italy. The fact that she attracts Fallon is a major plus and the guess is that this open lengths winner of both lifetime starts will improve again today. Kieran Fallon rides for Peter Schiergen.

House of Grace – Post 7 – Morning Line 4/1She has looked good winning both lifetime starts including the Jessamine stakes at Keeneland in her last over two of today’s rivals. The trainer is winning at a 32% clip going from synthetics to turf and she will actually be shortening up in distance today. Mike Luzzi rides for Ken McPeek.

Rose Catherine – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
She broke her maiden in her last start and fired a 91 Beyer to do it. She is another sired by Speightstown who has looked promising and then turned out to really like the turf. She has not faced the likes of these so far but the guess is that another step forward from her turf debut puts her in the mix here. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeders’s Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 1/8 Miles
Always A Princess – Post 11 – Morning Line 6/1
Won her Maiden race at Del Mar then ran 2nd to Blind Luck in the Oak Leaf on this track. Works since arriving at Santa Anita have been outstanding as she has posted two bullets, the latest of which was this past Monday. Others could win here but you can’t go wrong with Baffert in this race. Garrett Gomez rides for Bob Baffert.

Blind Luck – Post 3 – Morning Line 3/1
She is 2 for 3 on synthetics including her big win in the Oak Leaf which could send her off as the favorite. Hollendorfer will have her ready to go and she will be coming late with plenty of speed to run at in Connie & Michael and Always A Princess. Tyler Baze rides for Jerry Hollendorfer.

She Be Wild – Post 8 – Morning Line 8/1
She is 3 for 4 and ran 2nd to Negligee in the Alcibiades at Keeneland in her last. She is also 3 for 4 on synthetics and could improve in her second two turn start. She seems to be a leading contender for a barn who took this race with Dreaming of Anna three years back. Julian Leparoux rides for Wayne Catalano.

Negligee – Post 10 – Morning Line 6/1She is 2 for 3 and won the Alcibiades at Keeneland in her last. She also has looked sharp in the morning and is 2 for 3 on synthetics. Her new barn is a 43% winner on synthetics. She seems to be a major player. Rajiv Maragh rides for John Terranova.

Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 ¼ Miles (Turf)
Magical Fantasy – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1
She tries for her 4th straight Grade 1 win and 5th straight win overall and she is 2 for 2 over this turf course. She hasn’t been flashy in these wins but she has shown up and gotten it done. She is a major player in this outstanding all-star field. Alex Solis rides for Patrick Gallagher.

Midday – Post 6 – Morning Line 4/1
She won the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood two back before running 3rd in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp in her last. She has been in the money in all 4 of her Group 1 races this year and carries the top Timeform rating of 137 into this race. T.P. Queally rides for Henry Cecil.

Forever Together – Post 2 – Morning Line 5/2
She has been in the money in all eleven turf starts and has 5 Grade 1 wins to show for that effort. She took the Diana at Saratoga this summer and won this race last year on this track. She likes the harder turf better than soft which should set her up well for this. Consistent top notch Beyer numbers around 100 also don’t hurt. Another major contender. Julian Leparoux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Rutherienne – Post 3 – Morning Line 8/1In a race where it would be no surprise if 7 of the 8 horses in the race win, I’ll give you one of my favorite horses as my 4th horse to watch in this race. She is 21 for 22 in the money on the turf and is always in a position to win as they are heading down the stretch. Very consistent with her last nine Beyers between 96 and 99 with the last 4 being 98 or 99. The main knock against her is she has never won a Grade 1. Maybe this time. Alan Garcia rides for Christophe Clement.

Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 7 Furlongs
Ventura – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/5
She is 4 for 6 on synthetics and has two wins and two 2nd place finishes in 2009 since winning this race last year. She won the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on this track last winter and lost by a nose to rival Informed Decision at this distance at Keeneland in the spring. She won the Woodbine Mile in September her only race since April. Se has been working well for this. Garrett Gomez rides for Bobby Frankel.

Informed Decision – Post 7 – Morning Line 5/2She is 6 for 6 on synthetic surfaces and 5 for 6 at this distance. She beat Ventura at Keneland in the spring and has done nothing wrong in 2009. She posted a bullet work for this over the Poly at Keeneland on Monday and looks ready for this. Julian Leparoux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Sara Louise – Post 2 – Morning Line 9/2
She has a win and a second in two 2009 starts with the loss coming to champion sprint mare Indian Blessing in a great finish in her last. She has posted triple digit Beyers in both races this year. She has never raced on synthetics but has shown three solid works for this since arriving at Santa Anita. Must respect world class connections. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Seventh Street – Post 8 – Morning Line 4/1
She has been first or second in all nine starts over the past year but has been running longer distances lately. Has a second in her only graded race at the sprint distance but she is always competitive. Barn boasts a 50% win percentage in the route to sprint move but she has never raced on synthetics. Rajiv Maragh rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 1/8 Miles
Careless Jewel – Post 1 – Morning Line 2/1
She ran away to win the Alabama at Saratoga by eleven lengths and took a Grade 2 at Philadelphia Park in her last on her way to five straight wins. She is 2 for 3 on synthetics and they will have to catch her. However, she hasn’t faced the likes of these. RC Landry rides for Josie Carroll.

Music Note – Post 7 – Morning Line 9/5
She has a third place finish to show for her only synthetic race but has won 5 of her last 8, all Grade 1’s. She won the Balerina at Saratoga and the Beldame at Belmont in her last two with triple digit Beyers in both. She ran third to Zenyatta and Cocoa Beach in this race last year. Major player. Rajiv Maragh rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Life Is Sweet – Post 2 – Morning Line 8/1She is 3 for 8 on synthetics and won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at this track and this distance in March. She has not won in her last four starts but ran 3rd to the boys in the Hollywood Gold Cup and took on Zenyatta in the other three losses. That undefeated mare opted for the Classic against the boys this time. She is 2 for 2 at this distance and 3 for 4 at this track. Garrett Gomez rides for John Shirreffs.

Cocoa Beach – Post 6 – Morning Line 8/1She ran second to Zenyatta in this race last year but she has been far from the Cocoa Beach of old in 2009. Yes, she did win an overnight stake at Saratoga and has been in the mix in her other races but has not looked very good in those races. However, her third to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret over this track in her last along with two strong works over this surface may indicate that she is ready for a turnaround. Richard Migliori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Saturday's Horses To Watch will be posted Thursday evening.