The first setback of Breeders Cup week came early, when several horses that would have been the keys to pick-four and pick-six plays.

Excellent Art, who is the favorite in the Mile and legitimate from any view, drew the 13 post, which in a field of 14. The value horse in the Mile, Remarkable News, 12-1 on the morning line and loose on the lead, drew outside Excellent Art. Outside speed may have an advantage in a sprint, but not on a seven-furlong turf course. So, with Excellent Art faced with overcoming an awful draw and jockey Ramon Dominguez forced to use Remarkable News far too early, the logical alternative would be After Market, who will be scratched if the ground is anything but firm on Saturday. It rained here on Wednesday. There is rain in the forecast of Saturday. It is fall and despite the unseasonable warmth, turf courses dry slowly at this time of year. The Mile is off the table as a betting proposition unless Nobiz Like Shobiz, who worked strongly over a soft course at Belmont on Tuesday, offers odds sufficiently generous to fit his wide draw, post nine, into an acceptable risk-reward equation. Unlikely.

The Distaff was already the most inscrutable race of the day before three leading contenders Indian Vale, Unbridled Belle and Hysterical Lady drew the three outside posts in a field of 12. Under the circumstances, Ginger Punch merits close consideration, but she is unlikely to offer value anywhere near the 7-2 opening odds.

Opportunity will knock on both Friday and Saturday, however.

Prussian will be overbet in the Juvenile Turf and may win. But Achill Islands effort in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot was sufficient to earn a position on Aidan OBriens team Ballydoyle, and earned a strong Racing Post rating for a two-year-old. The Leopard, a $2.5 million purchase early this year, also showed enough in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont last month to put himself in the frame and stamped himself as a stakes-class animal on turf. He will open at 8-1.

If the real Discreet Cat shows up in the Dirt Mile he will be a formidable favorite, but the last time this horse showed up was last November, when he won the Cigar Mile and was still undefeated. He put up a very fast work at Belmont early in the week, but betting on Discreet Cat at the certain short price requires a leap of faith. Gottcha Gold is more than fast enough to make the pace and is a proven Monmouth horse-for-the-course always at a juicy price. He will open at 8-1, close somewhere in excess of that price and is an extremely attractive longshot.

Gotcha Gold may be the first beneficiary of the deeply engrained Monmouth speed bias, which was firmly in place on Wednesday, sparsely attended opening day of the Breeders Cup meeting.

Anything is possible on Breeders Cup day and it is the Monmouth linemaker, who has attached some very strange opening odds to several horses, is right about 3-1, Indian Blessing is huge value in the Juvenile Fillies and at 5-2 War Pass is an overlay in the Juvenile. Both dictate the pace and neither is likely to be caught.

Nashobas Key is the bet-against favorite of the day. She may be undefeated going into the Filly & Mare Turf but makes her first start outside California, where she has raced only on synthetic surfaces and hard and will be ridden by 17-year-old Joe Talamo. Neither horse nor rider has ever faced a test this difficult and there is value in opposing a vulnerable favorite. In this order, Wait a While (4-1), Precious Kitten, Honey Rider (9-2) and Lahudood (10-1) are capable of the upset.

Dylan Thomas, who was offered at less than even money in England on Wednesday, is also a bet-against favorite in the Turf. This is no knock on his ability but he will face a stronger pace than those to which he is accustomed in Europe, a course unlike any over which he has raced and appeared to be a tired horse at the end of the Prix de lArc de Triomphe three weeks ago. He may be past his best form. English Channel, meanwhile, is in raging form coming out of an authoritative Turf Classic win at Belmont last month, handles any sort of ground and has two Grade I wins on this course. Better Talk Now, who won the Turf in 2004 in Texas, and had an established affinity for Monmouth, is not a stretch, either.