Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zenyatta Tries To Make History in the Classic

Santa Anita Park

Day 2 of Breeders' Cup 2009 on Saturday fetures 8 outstanding races and the undefeated Zenyatta putting her 13-0 record on the line while trying to make history by becoming the first female horse to win the Classic.

Here are some Horses To Watch for Day 2 of Breeders' Cup 2009:

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 2) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Mile (Turf)
Interactif – Post 11 – Morning Line 4/1 Very impressive since moving to the turf for his last two starts winning on both firm and yielding turf. He is a closer in a race with considerable speed. The outside post may hurt but he seems to be a good American runner against a field of mediocre Europeans. Kent Desormeaux rides for Todd Pletcher.

Viscount Nelson – Post 2 – Morning Line 6/1
He ran second in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster earning a Racing Post rating of 112 for that effort. He is 2 for 2 at this distance while landing in the money in all four career starts. He has improved in each of his starts and could be sitting on a big race today. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brein.

Pounced – Post 4 – Morning Line 9/2
He ran second in the $500K Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagerdere on the Arc Day undercard at Longchamp in his last, a step up to Group 1 company from his Maiden win. Trainer Gosden won this race last year and the switch to top rider Dettori is a major plus. He will contend at a repeat of his last effort. Frankie Dettori rides for John Gosden.

Buzzword – Post 12 – Morning Line 6/1He has been in the money in 6 of 7 career starts earning five straight 100+ Racing Post ratings. His only out of the money start was his last in a Group 1 at Newmarket but while 5th he was only 2 lengths back. He finished third behind Pounced at Longchamp in his other Group 1 start. He looks to have the talent but we can’t dismiss the fact that this outfit’s go to rider, Dettori, is riding another in this race. A. Ajtebi rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
California Flag – Post 3 – Morning Line 7/2He ran up the track in this race last year after dueling in a first quarter of a deadly 20 seconds flat which doesn’t seem likely here. He has been very impressive in all three races of 2009 which he won beating most of the rivals in this race. It appears Canadian Ballet is the only other speed so if this guy gets out without a lot of pressure, it’s over. Joe Talamo rides for Brian Koriner

Diamondrella – Post 9 – Morning Line 4/1
She threw in a clunker two back over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle but she has won 7 straight on grass. She beat Forever Together in the Just A Game at Belmont three back. This is her first try against males but this barn wins at a 44% clip in stakes races. Rajiv Maragh rides for Angel Penna.

Lord Shanakill – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
He has raced in five straight Group 1 races, winning the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly two back and losing by a nose in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket before that. He has faced the likes of Sea The Stars and Rip Van Winkle (entered in the Classic) during that stretch. This is his first start for the barn of Richard Mandella who won 4 races on the day when the Breeders’ Cup was at this track a few years back. He gets first lasix today and his regular rider comes over to ride. He would be no surprise. J. Crowley rides for Richard Mandella.

Strike The Deal – Post 12 – Morning Line 15/1
This is a race where several others deserve mention but I have chosen to give you this horse in my top 4 today. He has two straight sprint wins in Europe winning a Group 3 at Newbury in his last. The horse he beat that day went on to win a Group 1 at Longchamp in his next start. Noseda always comes to this event with a surprise in store (can you say Wilco at 35-1 in 2004) and Fallon has been aboard for those last two wins in which he seems to have turned this horse around. Looks to be much more live today than his odds indicate and Timeform rates him at 134. Kieran Fallon rides for Jeremy Noseda.

Breeder’s Cup Sprint (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 6 Furlongs
Zensational – Post 1 – Morning Line 7/5
He has won 4 of 5 in 2009 with the lone loss coming at a mile on this track. He seems to be the speed and if he can avoid trouble on the rail, the race should be his to win. He is trying for his 4th straight Grade 1 win today. He has run 4 straight 100+ Beyers and has turned in 4 straight bullet works. Victor Expinoza rides for Bob Baffert.

Fatal Bullet – Post 3 – Morning Line 5/2
He has won 9 of 11 on synthetics and ran 2nd in this race last year to Midnight Lute. He has turned in 6 straight 100+ Beyers on synthetics. He beat Capt. Candyman Can at Keeneland in his last and has been working very well for this since. E.R. Da Silva rides for Reade Baker.

Gayego – Post 5 – Morning Line 5/2
He has won both US starts since returning from Dubai this past summer and ran down the speed to win the Ancient Title over this track beating rival Crown of Thorns. In Dubai over the winter he ran 2nd in the Godolphin Mile on the World Cup undercard. He has been a different horse after turning to sprinting after the 2008 Triple Crown races and he is 4 for 4 at this distance. Garrett Gomez rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Fleeting Spirit – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
She ran 4th in the Turf Sprint here last year but that was on the grass and this mare has never raced on synthetics. However she has a win and three seconds to show for sprinting in four straight Group 1’s in Europe in 2009. Rider switch to Dettori likely shows she is ready and if she doesn’t break slowly which she often does, she has a big chance in here. Frankie Dettori rides for Jeremy Noseda.

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 1/16 Miles
Lookin At Lucky – Post 13 – 8/5
Undefeated at 4 for 4 and winner of the Del Mar Futurity and the Norfolk, the latter over this track is an often indicator of the Juvenile winner. He has turned in two solid works going into this and his only problem, if there is one, is that post 12 & 13 are 0 for 28 at this distance the past two years. Garrett Gomez rides for Bob Baffert.

D’ Funnybone – Post 5 – Morning Line 5/2
He has looked awesome since moving to the Dutrow barn this summer and he won by open lengths in both the Saratoga Special and Belmont Futurity in his last two. He will take a lot of the betting behind the Baffert horse but an East Coast horse who has not tried two turns or synthetic surfaces may be a bit of an underlay at 5/2. Edgar Prado rides for Richard Dutrow.

Noble’s Promise – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
He has won 3 of 4 lifetime and will be trying for his 4th straight win today. He won the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in his last over rival Aikenite and is 2 for 3 on synthetics. He tends to come from off the pace which may be a plus with some of the speed types in this race. Willie Martinez rides for Ken McPeek.

Aikenite – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
He ran 3rd in the Hopeful at Saratoga and 2nd in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland to rival Noble Promise. He has yet to beat winners but he has improved in each start and turned in a bullet work last Saturday at Belmont. Allan Garcia Rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeder’s Cup Mile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 Mile (Turf)
Goldikova – Post 11 – Morning Line 8/5
She won this race last year over Kip Deville and has three Group 1 wins in 2009. She is 9 for 14 on the turf and 9 for 11 at this distance and has won more than $3 Million in her career. She has the top Timeform rating in the race at 149 and is clearly the class of the field. The downside is the far outside post but without traffic trouble, she should win this. O. Peslier rides for Freddie Head.

Delegator – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1He won the Celebration Mile at Goodwood over rival Zacinto before running 3rd behind that one to Rip Van Winkle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in his last. He has been facing the best in Europe all summer and holding his own and should be able to get a nice stalking trip in here today. It would be no surprise if he pulls the upset. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Zacinto – Post 8 – Morning Line 8/1
Good looking 3 YO has been first or second in all 5 career starts and comes in here after second place finishes in the Celebration Mile and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He too should be able to stock the pace and trainer Stoute is 50% with horses making their first North American start. It also would be no surprise if he were to win. Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Cowboy Cal – Post 3 – Morning Line 6/1
He won the Oak Tree Mile at this track and at this distance in his last over three rivals from today’s race. He is 10 for 11 in the money on the turf and is 3 for 3 at this distance. He turned in a bullet work last Sunday and has been working well for this race. He doesn’t run a bad race and they will have to catch him today. Reunites with primary pilot Johnny Velasquez who rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Mile
Mastercraftsman – Post 1 – Morning Line 6/5
He won a Group 3 over the Polytrack by 5 lengths in Ireland in his last and has 8 Group 1 turf races in his PP’s winning 4 of them. Only losses in 2009 came against Europe’s super horse Sea The Stars. He will likely have to win in a stalking trip today. His trainer, Aiden O’Brien is 0-11 in North America the last two years. He will be taking a lot of money and may well win but the value will be there if you try to beat him. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aiden O’Brien.

Bullsbay – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1He won the Whitney at Saratoga two back before running into Rachel in the Woodward and he has been outstanding on dirt in 2009. He is 6 for 9 in the money on synthetics with 2 wins but his only recent synthetic race was a 10th place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup this summer. He has run 100+ Beyers in his last two. Jeremy Rose rides for Graham Motion.

Midshipman – Post 4 – Morning Line 6/1He won the Juvenile here last year for Baffert but was purchased by Godolphin and taken to Dubai after that race. A soft tissue injury has left him with no races for 11 months and his only race since then is a more than 3 length win in an Optional Claimer at Belmont in September. He won $1.2 Million in 2 races over this track last year but whether he is good enough to win this after taking 11 months off with only one minor level prep is the question. Garrett Gomez rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Neko Bay – Post 5 – Morning Line 20/1He is the 4th horse in here by default. Pyro is clearly a much better horse but he has terrible synthetic form. This one has run 1st or 2nd in 3 of 4 synthetic starts. He is 4 for 6 at Santa Anita and is 2 for 3 at the distance and he has posted five 100+ Beyers in his last 7 races. That’s the good news. However, he has run in only 2 graded races winning neither. He won a mid level allowance in his last with Smith aboard. How many times have we seen Mike Smith make that big closing run to win with a horse who doesn’t look like he belongs in the race. This one could be live. Mike Smith rides for John Shireffs.

Breeder’s Cup Turf (Grade 1) ~ Purse $3,000,000 ~ 1 ½ Miles (Turf)
Conduit – Post 2 – Morning Line 7/5Winner of this race last year is only 1 for 4 in 2009 but that win was in the King George VI Stakes at Ascot two back. He then finished 4th in the Arc but was very close to 2nd in Europe’s biggest race. His race in the Arc signals that he may be sitting on a big race today. Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Dar Re Mi – Post 5 – Morning Line 3/1She ran 5th in the Arc after staying with the leaders but fading in the final 150 yards. She won three straight Group 1’s before that. She gets first lasix today for a trainer who wins at 33% with horses making their first North American start. Attracts Dettori and the world’s best jockey is the best big money player there is on the grass. She stands a huge chance to score the upset. Frankie Dettori rides for John Gosden.

Spanish Moon – Post 7 – Morning Line 5/2He has four wins and two second by a nose races in his last 6 starts. He won the Group 1 Prix De Saint Cloud at Saint Cloud two races back beating Youmzain in the process. He lost the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic by a nose to Eastern Anthem at Nad Al Sheeba on World Cup day and he is 5 for 6 at this distance. He gets first lasix today and also seems to be a threat to score the upset. Before being off for 4 years, Fallon like Dettori was a major big race rider. Kieran Fallon rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Presious Passion – Post 6 – Morning Line 4/1
He did not like the soft course when finishing 8th in the Arlington Million but in his other six starts of 2009 he was first 4 times and second twice. Two of those wins were in Grade 1’s winning the United Nations at Monmouth this summer and the Clement L Hirsch over this track last out. He is 3 for 5 at this distance and has been in the money in both turf races at Santa Anita. He has a chance but it would be a surprise against the top 3. Elvis Trujillo rides for Mary Hartman.

Breeder’s Cup Classic (Grade 1) ~ Purse $5,000,000 ~ 1 ¼ Miles
Quality Road – Post 12 – Morning Line 12/1
He has been running second to Summer Bird in his last two over sloppy tracks in New York after coming back from a quarter crack injury that kept him out of the Kentucky Derby. He fits much of the profile of recent Classic winners as 3 YO have won the last two years. He has the tactical speed to not let Post 12 be his undoing and while he has never raced on synthetics, other Gone West horses like the surface a lot. A lot to like but there are 11 Grade 1 winners in the field and most of them have a decent shot to win this. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Rip Van Winkle – Post 10 – Morning Line 7/2Remember the Euros ran 1-2 in this race a year ago and in doing so beat a two time Horse of the Year who was on top of his game. He won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in his last two and his three 2009 losses came at the hands of Sea The Stars whom he almost beat in the Eclipse Stakes three back. O’Brien has been pointing him toward this race ever since Henrythenavigator took second here last year. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aiden O’Brien.

Einstein – Post 8 – Morning Line 12/1He is the horse who won the Santa Anita Handicap over this track at this distance last spring and who just got caught by Richard’s Kid and finished 2nd in the Pacific Classic. He doesn’t always win but he wins when you least expect it and he seems to like the synthetics in California. He is seven now and what a fitting way to close out his remarkable career if he were to win this in what will likely be his last race. You know he will be in there trying and he will get a good ride with Leparoux aboard. Julien Leparoux rides for Helen Pitts.

Zenyatta – Post 4 – Morning Line 5/2
It is hard to knock 13-0 and it is hard to knock putting that on the line to try to make history by being the first female to ever win the Classic. However, if she were my horse, she would have taken down number 14 in the Ladies Classic and went out with one more win than Personal Ensign who retired undefeated at 13-0 in 1988. She certainly likes the synthetics (12 for 12), she certainly likes racing in California (12 for 12) and she certainly likes Santa Anita (4 for 4). She has taken down the best mares around the past two years but has not looked all that impressive doing it in 2009. Jockey Mike Smith talks about it is hard to tell if we have reached her bottom or if she even has one. Hopefully she brings that reserve with her today as she will likely need this against this incredibly deep field of world class colts. Everyone wants to see her finish at 14-0 and everyone salutes them for trying her in the Classic. Can she win Classic, she seems to have proven that by the big races she has already won. You may notice that the horses who won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Arlington Million, Belmont Turf Classic and Pacific Classic this year did not get a mention here nor did the horse who won the Travers and Santa Anita Derby in 2008. Those horses would be Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, Geo Ponti, Richard’s Kid and Colonel John and they are all in this race. Will she win the Classic? It won’t be easy. Mike Smith rides for John Shireffs.