HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 14 — Saturday’s G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, plus a smattering of other events, will help complete the Breeders’ Cup picture three weeks hence.
Racing at the host track, combined with the Champions Day program at Ascot, should provide the final pieces of the European puzzle as the big dance approaches.
The Ascot results, depending on the entrants, their efforts on the day, or even impacted by connections that might eschew Ascot in favor of Breeders’ Cup, as there is only three weeks between the two world class events.
Speaking of which: If you had your choice of running in any Breeders’ Cup event, or face Baaeed, the world’s top rated racehorse, what would you do?
Today’s Grade 1 is restricted to three-year-old fillies going 9 furlongs on Keeneland turf , one that features last year’s surprise winner, California Angel, who ran herself into the Juvenile Turf only to draw post 11 and get bothered at the start, losing any chance.
California Angel is one of the seven fillies entered, and if a relatively small field is not your idea of a good betting race you may think of making an exception here.
On Thoro-Graph performance figures, there’s not a lot separating these entrants. Some are faster than others, undoubtedly, but every filly is on a positive line, which projects improvement for any of them.
Given their age and the time of season, jumps forward are routinely expected.
We’ll take a handicapping look-in at the QE II, and later Belmont Park’s Sands Point, Santa Anita’s California Distaff, also on turf, and finally the G3 Ontario Fashion on the Woodbine Tapeta for 3YOs and up.
G1 QUEEN ELIZABETH II CHALLENGE CUP Race 9
The Skinny: Reiterating, all horses are forward looking, but the fastest clearly are Chad Brown’s 6-McKulick (1-1) and 5-Phil D’Amato’s Bellabel (5-1). Irish-bred 7-Paris Peacock (10-1), shipping in for trainer Jessica Harrington who has reached out for Florent Geroux, might prove they key to this.
There’s not much separating McKulick and Bellabel. McKulick is a Grade 1 winners and prepped for this by winning a Belmont Grade 3. Bellabel was second in a Del Mar Grade 2 but that came against Spendarella, in the conversion for recognition as America’s best turf filly.
But Paris Peacock could hold a class edge, as most European turfers do when they ship in. If you like her and she wins, you will be rewarded nicely.
DESERVING FAVORITE: McKulick
POTENTIAL VALUE PLAY: Bellabel
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 5.6.7. Trifecta Key: 6 // 5.7 // 5.7. Taking Bellabel to win at 3-1 or greater, or Paris Peacock at 6-1 or more. Both would be price and/or bias dependent.
BELMONT AT THE BIG A
G2 SANDS POINT Race 9
The Skinny: This 9 furlongs for 3YOs are grass is always interesting and generally a good betting race. This renewal is no exception.
The race favorite, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf champion 9-Pizza Bianca (5-2), needs no introduction. She showed ability when second in Woodbine’s G1 Natalma which was a successful springboard to the dance.
She came from far back to win it beneath brilliant handling for Jose Ortiz, today’s partner.
When one looks at her progression she shows that same level of talent; good in that she maintains form but dubious because she did not seem develop further with age. She is a deserving favorite, but a poor bet given an outside draw.
We’re looking to score. 2-Vergara (9-2) is developing nicely for Graham Motion, who’s having a strong lead-up to the BCWC and she gets Rosario and an inside draw.
5-Spirit And Glory (8-1) has won two of three for Robert Falcone, jumping up big time last out and is fastest on figures. She’s nearly six weeks fresh for this.
6-Hail To (12-1) broke through in her last two starts, has ample conditioning turning back from marathons, beating older fillies from post 11 going 1-3/16 miles at Saratoga.
She has moved forward in blinkers. Hot-riding Jose Lezcano rides her back for Tom Albertrani who is quietly enjoy a very good 2022. Excellent value at near early line odds.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Pizza Bianca
EARLY LINE VALUE: Spirit And Glory
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 188.8.131.52. Exacta Box: 2.5.6. Trifecta Box: 2.5.6. Betting Hail To to win at 8-1 or greater.
SANTA ANITA PARK
CALIFORNIA DISTAFF Race 3
The Skinny: On paper, there is no beating the favorite. 3- Leggs Galore (4-5) is the fastest filly in the lineup, consistently and by a lot. His slate at Santa Anita reads (9) 7-1-0. She is 2-for-2 on the Hillside Course. He’s worked strongly since finishing second vs. open rivals in last, and Phil D’Amato is 25% effective with beaten favorites. And is the speed of the speed.
Her 3YO stablemate 2-Rose Dawson (5-1) has upside, Juan Hernandez and gets 9 ppounds.4-Eddie’s New Dream (5-2) was out of her element in the G2 Mabee, is back with her friends, is (2) 1-0-1 at this trip, owns the best demonstrated late kick and gets a 3-pound concession.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Leggs Galore
POTENTIAL VALUE PLAY: Rose Dawson
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box 3 // 2.4. Cold Exacta and Trifecta 3 // 2.4 // 2.4. Rose Dawson to win at 6-1 or greater.
WOODBINE RACE COURSE Race 9
The Skinny: Another sprint, this one on Tapeta, and another very strong favorite: 1-Hazelbrook (6-5). 4YO filly is 3-for-4 this year, consistently fastest and also by a lot, is 5-for-8 on this surface, all on synth. Trainer Lorne Richards is batting 30% on the year and is profitable on the AW and with his sprinters. Accustomed to carrying high imposts (125).
Mark Casse’s 2-Beyond My Budget (3-1) has tactical speed, an inside draw, and is (2) 1-1-0 at the trip. 3-Beat the System is a 4-time WO winners from 10 starts, has won going 3/4s, and blew out brilliantly for this. Main danger if loose early for barn having a 22% profitable 2022.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Hazelbrook
EARLY LINE VALUE: Beat the System
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box 1 // 2.3. Cold Exactas and Trifecta Wheel 1 //2.3 //2.3. Potential Value Play: Beat the System to win at 4-1 or greater.
Exotic Wagers to be made at minimums available; straight wagers in $2 units or greater
this is a live column to be updated throughout the weekend