Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Breeders’ Cup Musings
LOS ANGELES, October 20, 2013--According to a Breeders’ Cup press release through the auspices of the NTRA on Monday, here is the television lineup for Breeders’ Cup 30 at Santa Anita Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2:
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network. (All times Eastern)
Friday, Nov. 1: 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Saturday, Nov. 2: 3:30 - 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Saturday, Nov. 2: 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET on NBC
According to a Bloodhorse post last week, this is the tentative schedule for Saturday’s Pick Six sequence, concluding with the centerpiece Classic:
Turf Sprint 2:05 pm
Juvenile 2:45 pm
Turf 3:25 pm
Sprint 4:05 pm
Mile 4:45 pm
Classic 5:35 pm
Although the wagering menu wasn't available at this writing, it appears that the Breeders’ Cup Ultra Pick Six will include the BC Juvenile which, for the second year in succession, will not permit its starters race-day use of Lasix.
Recall that the original plan was to extend the Lasix ban this year from two-year-olds to all divisions. As everyone knows, that will not happen, yet the ban for juveniles continues.
Thus far, no one has asked why, why the failed noble experiment is still a price bettors are asked to pay by placing such a race in the Pick Six. Must it always come down to potential higher handle?
Why are bettors, even those with deep pockets, being asked to spend inordinate amounts to cover as many combinations as possible? The answer, apparently, is that Breeders’ Cup Ltd. believes that one is born every minute and that an effort must be made to ensure that these fools and their money will be parted sooner rather than later.
Even if the consistency and competitiveness of the affected equines isn't compromised by a change in their medication regimen, their true form is still unknowable except perhaps for a handful of insiders.
Last year's Lasix-free Juvenile field was a short one; a situation likely to recur. The highly regarded Honor Code will await the Remsen instead, but his Champagne conqueror, Havana, will be one of the Juvenile choices.
It appears trainer Todd Pletcher believes he’ll be charmed a third time should the classy speedster emulate predecessors Uncle Mo and Shanghai Bobby and complete the Champagne-Juvenile parlay, Shanghai Bobby racing Lasix-free, of course.
As usual, Pletcher's barn is loaded with potential champions, but by pointing Verrazano toward the Dirt Mile he seems to be conceding the three-year-old championship for his multiple Grade I winner while it’s still within reach.
(Even if the connections won’t run him in the Classic, a win over Wise Dan in The Mile on turf would get him more respect than another victory over Grade 2 competition).
The diminished status of the Dirt Mile is confirmed by its exile to Friday, which now includes only five Cup races as compared to nine on Saturday. Since the "Filly Friday" fiasco was finally euthanized - and the original name for the older female division event restored - the Filly & Mare Turf and Distaff should have led off Saturday's Pick Six in place of the Turf Sprint and Juvenile, respectively.
The final Breeders’ Cup Pick Three (Sprint-Mile-Classic) offers an intriguing sequence that is potentially lucrative. The Pick Four, which includes the Turf, is a similar opportunity. A sequence starting with two routes for older females could have been promoted as an All-Champion Pick Six.
In contrast to this proposed "Sequence of Excellence" for Saturday, let’s take a look at Friday's "Series of Shortchangers."
Marathon 1:45 PM
Juvenile Fillies Turf 2:25 pm
Dirt Mile 3:05 pm
Juvenile Turf 3:50 pm
Distaff 4:35 pm
Whether a sixth non-Cup race will be added at the beginning or end of the above sequence, only the Distaff represents racing at the top level in North America.
The Marathon is a mediocrity whose purse mirrors the lack of stamina that characterizes its contestants. It shouldn't be part of any Breeders’ Cup Pick Six. Does anyone else wonder why no legitimate all-Breeders’ Cup Pick Six for Friday was configured from among Saturday’s surfeit? Are the Arabians coming?
If the Cup's official position is that Lasix-free competition represents racing’s best, then why not flaunt that decision by featuring the freshmen on Friday? The Juvenile Turf races are already there. Add the two on dirt to the sequence, culminating with the Juvenile.
As an aside, I was surprised to see it reported that Pletcher is planning to enter Graydar along with Verrazano. It would seem unlikely that two speed proponents would actually start. Who knows, maybe we'll get a chance to see if the former can extend his front-running Donn performance a furlong farther without having to fight Cross Traffic for the lead?
Furthur, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure a fast pace in the Classic for the Belmont winner who seems poised to become the poster boy for Trakus. Palace Malice finally gets the stable's go-to guy, and would seem no worse off for Smith's defection back to Game On Dude.
Assuming the front-running "Dude" breaks well this year under Smith, he might finally face some continuous quality pressure.
HRI columnist Tom Jicha opined that HOTY "shouldn’t go through Moreno" to justify his case against Will Take Charge. I would argue better Moreno than Clubhouse Ride.
Another three-year-old hoping to salvage his reputation in the Dirt Mile is sprint-sharpened Goldenscents, returning to the track where he twice triumphed around two turns. This should encourage Pletcher to consider running closers Capo Bastone (who will run on grass) and Forty Tales. It's hard to visualize either one reeling in Private Zone or Pointsoffthebench in the Sprint.
This year's Classic could crown either of two divisional champions. If the "Dude" were to win then both champion older horse and Horse of the Year would be his. But if either Will Take Charge or Palace Malice wins, that colt becomes champion three-year-old.
Back-to-back victories over stellar fields by Ron the Greek should ensure older horse honors, as should back-to-back Classics by Fort Larned. Any other result leaves everything up for grabs.
The preceding five contenders--with more at stake than purse money--suggest a possible superfecta box. I’d rather play a six-horse box that included Verrazano than work Mucho Macho Man, Flat Out, and/or Moreno into the bottom slots in the mix.
But it’s possibilities such as this that makes the event worth viewing and betting on.