HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 6-2022 — Beginning Friday and ending Sunday, this promises to be the most significant weekend for Breeders’ Cup championship aspirants.
The races will take place in California, Kentucky and New York, but those run at Keeneland should be of particular note, especially for Horse for Course fans. HRI is one of the faithful.
We will start by taking a look at the stakes action from Lexington at Keeneland’s Friday opener. Two of three event feature juveniles with many going a distance of ground and/or two turns for the first time.
Don’t expect miracles. Anyone who promises they know with certitude which filly will win the G2 Jessamine or G1 Alcibiades is, well, lying. All the best handicappers will be guesstimating here.
On first look, HRI has left half of the 12 Jessamine fillies entrants in the body of the race open, and it could have been more. Same storyline in the Alcibiades, with half of the 14 making the best impression.
Any wager made should be a game time decision with price, especially in the juvenile races, your betting north star, plus the usual Handicapping 101 angles, bias, hot starts, and the like as tipping points.
G2 PHOENIX Race 7 [opening leg of All-Stakes Pick-3]
The Skinny: The sequence begins easily enough with a pair of entrants as most likely to succeed. Track-loving 2-Special Reserve (2-1) won last year’s Phoenix as springboard to a more-than-respectable BC Sprint effort. And note that the connections have been pointed here specifically. Special Reserve needed his July 16 season’s debut at Pimlico as prelude to his sharp Mountaineer score. Obviously, the connections want a fresh horse for this one and the championship defining next one–exactly what they’re getting. Gelded four-year-old 5-Sibelius (5-2) has been a revelation in 2022. He won both recent starts in fast time, under confident handling, taken in hand at the end of Pimlico’s Light the Fuse last out. Having drawn outside the favorite gives Junior Alvarado options. Sibelius blew out briskly for this, trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer profitable lifetime with his would-be repeaters.
MOST DESERVING FAVORITE: Special Reserve
POTENTIAL STRAIGHT VALUE PLAY: None that we can see
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2-5. Exacta and Trifecta Wheel: 2.5 // 2.5.6 // 2.5.6 [Necker Island 7-2]. Betting Sibelius to win at 8-5 or greater.
G2 JESSAMINE Race 8
The Skinny: As stated, wide open. 3-Delight (4-1) was scratched from recent off-turf stakes at Pimlico, won by stablemate. 6-Happy Gal (5-1) never has taken a backward step in three runs; two turn debut here but Kentucky Downs potentially adds conditioning for this and Rosario takes the re-ride. 7-Bling (6-1) is a looker with a long turf stride, winning grass debut with something left and owns a two-sided pedigree for the stretch-out. 8-Dulcia (15-1) was a professional winner of turf debut at KD, showing good speed throughout and turn of foot when needed to separate herself on the straightaway. Mare’s three winners all won on grass, with a bottom-side route pedigree, too.
9-Recognize (10-1) set deceptively strong pace going long in good-course PG Johnson at the Spa while pressed throughout. Alvarado gets return call from Bill Mott. 11-Knockyoursocksoff (30-1) raced wide throughout while showing good speed in rain-storm at KD after winning debut prior at Colonial with strong, late turn of foot on firm ground; gets Prat. 12-Towhead (9-2) moved forward when beaten a nose on yielding ground at 8F in KD Juvenile Fillies; reunites with Tyler here.
PROBABLE WORTHY FAVORITE: Towhead
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Knockyoursocksoff
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box: 7 // 184.108.40.206.11.12. Exacta Key Box: 11 // 220.127.116.11.9.12. Straight wager: Knockyoursocksoff at 10-1 or greater, or Bling at 6-1 or greater, possibly both, odds dependent… A post-time decision.
G1 ALCIBIADES Race 9
The Skinny: Just as difficult, although there are several from strong outfits that loom as most-likely-win candidates*. The magnificent seven are: 1-Wonder Wheel* (9-2) Mark Casse is not given to hyperbole and he said this filly is one of his best babies ever; perfect Spa trip was not so perfect given ground loss and prevailing dynamics. 4-Raging Sea (6-1) got a good split between fillies at headstretch, accelerated, then showed class late out-gaming rival with winning momentum at the wire; Curlin and Chad but no Prat today. 5-Xigera (5-1) was a fast, decisive, and eased-up maiden winner of last at Saratoga but lacks dirt experience; tough call. 8-Infinite Diamond (10-1) won a very fast mile decisively on the Gulfstream main track, exploding with first-blinkers. Could be anything. 9-Fun and Feisty* (7-2) is a long, lean distance type and was very impressive winning the Pocahontas in stakes and two-turn debut, making unusually long and sustained rally. 10 Kaling* (6-1) caught up to leaders very quickly following poor start from rail when third in G1 Spinaway; outside helps and very likely to improve. 12-Take Charge Briana (15-1) stumbled at the start, angled 7-wide into stretch, and roared down the center in 7F Spa maiden breaker; Prat on a return call.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Fun and Feisty
POTENTIAL WIN VALUE: Infinite Diamond
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 18.104.22.168. Exacta Box: 22.214.171.124. Exacta Box: 126.96.36.199. Exacta Box: 188.8.131.52. Superfecta Wheel 1.9.10 // 184.108.40.206.9.10.12 // 1.9.10 // 220.127.116.11.9.10.12. Straight Wager: Betting Infinite Diamond to win at 8-1 or greater.
BELMONT PARK — SATURDAY
G2 Vosburgh Race 5
The Skinny: Whether it’s a combination of the distance and its place in the calendar vis a vis the BC Sprint, or the competition from other venues, this once storied sprint has become nearly anachronistic. This year’s renewal drew a field of five, and it’s not as if some big name is chasing away rivals, but one of today’s starters could become one.
At this moment, the sky’s the limit for 4-Elite Power (6-5). Another Curlin that has gotten better with age, he seeks his fourth straight after three impressive wins for Bill Mott, including one at today’s trip. Clearly the fastest on figures. 2-Jalen Journey (12-1) may prove lone speed in pace-less race on paper. 7-Drafted’s (9-2) lifetime best effort came on this surface, at this trip.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Elite Power
EARLY LINE VALUE: Jalen Journey
STRIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Cold Exacta 4 // 2.7. Trifecta Wheel: 4 // 2.7 // 2.7. Taking Elite Power to win, no price restrictions.
G3 MATRON STAKES Race 6
The Skinny: Young sprinting fillies on turf; anything goes, so here goes. 2-Danse Macabre (3-1) is the most accomplished, having gotten first run, was challenged, repulsed that, taking KD’s Untappable Stakes. 4-How Lovely (8-1) got a perfect ground saving trip in Pimlico maiden, tapped, sprinted him strongly and was looking for more, ears flicking at the line. 6-Determined Jester (12-1) got a good trip, sprinting home rapidly as much the best. 7-Redifined (6-1) finished behind early favorite but is fresher for the rematch and gets a couple of pounds, too. 9-Sweetlou’sgotaces (12-1) never saw the wood in maiden breaker, rallied up 4-5 wide on the turn, finished well while veering in greenly and beaten in final jump, the winner benefitting from well-timed patient handling. This maiden belongs.
WORTHY FAVORITE: Danse Macabre
EARLY LINE VALUE: Determined Jester
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box: 6 // 18.104.22.168. Exacta Key-Box 7 // 22.214.171.124. Superfecta Wheel: 6.7 // 126.96.36.199.9 // 188.8.131.52.9 // 184.108.40.206.9.10.11. Betting Determined Jester to win at 8-1 or greater, or Redefined at 6-1 or greater, or both, price dependent.
G1 JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC Race 8
The Skinny: Three of the seven entered look best and Christophe Clement saddles two of them and the third is a filly, 2-War Like Goddess (7-5), undefeated at this trip and in receipt of three pounds from the males. 7-Gufo (2-1) was pace compromised at Kentucky Downs, roared home per usual and just missed, in that context probably best. 6-Soldier Rising (6-1) came from far back when third in G1 Sword Dancer and has four exacta finishes of five at 12 furlongs. Forward-looking with potential but at scale-weights picks up eight pounds.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Gufo
EARLY LINE VALUE: Soldier Rising
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.6.7. Trifecta Box: 2.6.7. Taking Soldier Rising to win at 5-1 or greater.
All suggested exotic wagers made are at minimums available. Straight wagers are in $2 units or more
With apologies to all our readers for a truncated analysis for today’s stunning Breeders’ Cup prep races from Keeneland. We completed the handicapping X’s and O’s and were preparing to write our analyses when we learned of the tragic passing of our good friend, and HRI Harness Racing contributor, Dave Brower, in Lexington yesterday. ‘Brow’ was 53.
G2 WOODFORD STAKES Race 7 All-Stakes Pick 4 [7-10]
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 7-Slammed (3-1)
POTENTIAL VALUE: 3-Club Car (9-2)
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.3.7 [2-Palm Cottage 4-1] Straight Value Play: Club Car to win at 4-1 or greater
G1 FIRST LADY Race 8
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 5-Regal Glory (6-5)
POTENTIAL VALUE: 3-Technical Analysis (5-2)
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.3.5 [2-Princess Grace 6-1] Straight Value Play: Technical Analysis to win 5-2
G1 BREEDERS FUTURITY Race 9
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 7-Forte (3-1)
POTENTIAL VALUE: 5-Instant Coffee (5-1)
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.5.7 [2-Loggins 4-1]
Straight Value Play: Instant Coffee to win at 9-2 or greater
G1 COOLMORE TURF Race 10
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Smooth Like Straight (9-2)
POTENTIAL VALUE: Ivar (6-1)
STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.3.7 [7-Santin 7-2]
Straight Value Play: Smooth Like Straight at 7-2 or greater