Breeders' Cup Friday Picks

By Josh Pearl

Posted: August 10, 7:17 PM

Churchill Downs

November 02 2018

7:37 AM

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

5 1/2 Furlongs on turf for 2-year-olds 

Purse: $1 million

Post position - Horse Name (Trainer) - Morning-line odds 

Quick recap – One of the more puzzling races on the two days with 7 of the 12 making their last start overseas, and several fillies taking on the males. Most of the Euros are tough to decipher as many of their sprint starts come in races with no turns… I expect Soldier’s Call to be bet to favoritism, but this certainly looks like it could produce some of the larger exotic payouts.

Pace: Fast, to very fast. I expect the race to setup for closers.

  1. Strike Silver (Mark Casse) - 4-1: Looked he was shot out like a rocket in his win Indian Summer Stakes win at Keeneland, after being slammed at the start. He had displayed lots of speed in his prior two, but the start I believe may have helped him, given the race flow. He merits respect, and I would imagine he’ll be more forwardly placed on Friday, but the price won’t be great.
  2. Soldier's Call (GB) (Archie Watson) - 9-2: Not only beat 27 horses in his Ascot win, but also managed to finish 3rd against 15 foes at Longchamp. Oh, and did I mention that Longchamp field included 3-year-olds and up… If there is one knock, I don’t really like the way O Murphy rides a horse, as I saw several Euro race replays where his horses seemed to falter late and his motion on a horse didn’t quite seem in-sync with their stride. He has beat several of these, and if he doesn’t win on Friday it will most likely be due to tough racing luck. I don’t think you’ll see 9/2, but he’s your deserving favorite.
  3. Well Done Fox (GB) (Richard Hannon) - 12-1: DID WELL in in his runner-up finish to Sergei Prokofiev in the G3 Newmarket Academy Cornwallis Stakes. I thought most of the speed collapsed in there, and he was part of that speed, only to hold on. He did drift in and look a bit green, but given he’s run 2nd to possibly your two betting favorites in here, I think he’s worth tossing in your tickets at a decent price.
  4. Stillwater Cove (Wesley Ward) - 20-1: Ran much better than it appears on paper, and would’ve been one of my top preferences had she run in the 2YO Filly Turf. She chased a big longshot through quick fractions in the G1 Natalma at Woodbine. That race’s top four finishers all came from way out of it, and I think she is better sprinting. In terms of value, she beat co-trained Wesley Ward’s Chelsea Cloisters easily at Saratoga. Not to mention, she’ll be 3-4x the price of Chelsea Cloisters…
  5. Bulletin (Todd Pletcher) - 10-1: Was heavily bet in his debut win of the Hollywood Beach stakes, but wasn’t quite favored over the runner-up, Jackson, who ran an incredible 2nd in the race. This guy was impressive for a debut, but with all the speed in here, and his limited experience, I’m going to leave him off.
  6. Moonlight Romance (Wesley Ward) - 12-1: Is one I don’t quite have a grip on. She’s ran well in her US races, but finished 13th of 28, when losing to Soldier’s Call. I don’t think she beat much in her Kentucky Downs win, and I think other longshots provide better value than she does.
  7. Shang Shang Shang (Wesley Ward) - 5-1: Is EXTREMELY fast. He held on well to defeat Pocket Dynamo in the G2 Norfolk. Note that he’s been off since that win, and that was in June. I’m not sure if Rosario opted for the other horse in here, but it’s odd he’s not riding him. At a shorter price in here, and given all the speed, mixed with the layoff, I am planning on leaving him off.
  8. Sergei Prokofiev (Aidan O'Brien) - 6-1: Made one of the more impressive runs you’ll see (especially for a 2YO) in winning the G3 race at Newmarket to beat Well Done Fox. He was bottled on the rail, steadied a few times, and unleashed a devastating run. Given all the speed in here, he’s hard not to like. But, I expect that he will also be bet down from his morning line price.
  9. Chelsea Cloisters (Wesley Ward) - 8-1: Had an absolutely perfect trip in the Indian Summer Stakes. She sat right on the rail while several lengths off a quick pace. She made a solid run, but I can’t see her improving off that effort.
  10. So Perfect (Aidan O'Brien) - 12-1: Ran well in his 3rd place finish in the G1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes. I like the fact that he’s finished ahead of Sergei Prokofiev, and that he’s been G1 placed two times. It seems like several of these 2YO European G3 horses don’t seem to make that jump when facing G1 runners. I would prefer a better post, but he’s definitely worth tossing in if you get at least the ML on him at post.
  11. Queen of Bermuda (IRE) (William John Haggas) - 20-1: Is another with early speed, and the post doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to cross over. I think other Euros provide more value.
  12. Pocket Dynamo (Robert Cowell) - 20-1: Was near Sergei Prokofiev near the rear in his last race, and also lacked room, but had too little, too late. I don’t think he’s had some of the best rides, and I love the switch to Rosario. I’m not sure if Rosario was taken off Shang Shang Shang, but Rosario fits this horse very well, and he only ran a nose behind Shang x 3. The post isn’t great, but he can certainly hit the board in here.

Most likely winner: Soldier’s Call

Who I’ll most like play to win (based on anticipated price): Stillwater Cove

Lively longshots: Well Done Fox, Stillwater Cove, and Pocket Dynamo

Top four: 2-3-4-10


Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

1 mile on turf for 2-year-old fillies 

Purse: $1 million

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

5 1/2 Furlongs on turf for 2-year-olds 

Purse: $1 million

Post position - Horse Name (Trainer) - Morning-line odds 

Quick recap – Everyone seems to think Newspaperofrecord is this year’s Rushing Fall. She might be, but from the sounds of it, she might also be one of the shorter-priced favorites of the two days. This isn’t one of my favorite races, and most of the horses I liked drew tough posts, so I won’t be jumping in too heavy here.  In addition, I think this year’s field is fairly weak, in terms of talent.

Pace: Slow-to-moderate. I expect the race to favor horses closer to the pace.

  1. Concrete Rose, George Arnold, 6-1: Had an absolutely perfect trip when winning the G2 Jessamine. Visually, though, she strided out very impressively. Given her tactical speed, and if she’s at least 6/1, I think she’ll be my top choice.
  2. The Mackem Bullet (IRE), Brian Ellison, 15-1: Should be one challenging for the lead in here, and seems to only have a shot if the track is favoring speed. She’s never run past 6 Furlongs, so distance questions certainly loom.
  3. Lily’s Candle (FR), Fabrice Vermeulen, 8-1: Doesn’t appear to be the largest filly, but she shocked the bettors in her G1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac win. I thought she ran evenly in that race, and she’s usable, but other longshots seem more appealing.
  4. Just Wonderful, Aidan O’Brien, 6-1: Had a perfect trip when she won the G2 Shadwell Rockfell Stakes. Although she’s won going 1 mile, I didn’t like her leg action late in her last win going 7F. At a short price, I prefer others.
  5. La Pelosa (IRE), Charlie Appleby, 15-1: Had an absolutely perfect setup when she won the G1 Natalma. I don’t expect her to the get pace setup here, and won’t be using her unless the turf course is favoring closers.
  6. Newspaperofrecord (IRE), Chad Brown, 2-1: Has been ultra-impressive in her two decisive wins. She was uncontested when she walked around the track in the G2 Miss Grillo, but I’m not sure who she beat in there, and I expect her to have to work at least a little harder in here for the lead. She’s a deserving favorite, and seems tough to leave off the ticket.
  7. Stellar Agent, Jorge Abreu, 30-1: Didn’t have a ton of pace to run at in the G2 Miss Grillo, but she saved every inch of ground and still couldn’t make up much ground late. She seems a notch below others.
  8. Belle Laura, Norm Casse, 20-1: Ran alright in the G2 Jessamine Stakes, given there wasn’t a ton of pace. The field is much tougher in here, and I don’t think she’ll get the right pace scenario.
  9. Varenka, Graham Motion, 20-1: Had a perfect ground saving trip in her last. I’m playing this race that the 2YO NY fillies aren’t that good, except your favorite in here.
  10. Pakhet, Todd Pletcher, 12-1: Ran very well in her runner-up G2 finish in the Jessamine. I thought she was kept way too wide, and didn’t get a great pace to run at. She’ll be on most of my tickets.
  11. Lady Prancealot (IRE), Richard Baltas, 30-1: Wasn’t much at all overseas but became one of CA’s top 2YO fillies. I’m taking that to mean the CA 2YO fillies aren’t that good.
  12. Summering, Thomas Proctor, 15-1: Had no excuse when finishing 3rd in the Surfer Gal Stakes at Santa Anita, but was visually impressive in her Del Mar wins. The post isn’t great, but given her tactical speed, I think she’ll get a decent trip in here. She can hit the board, but I expect her to get some betting action, so others are more appealing for the top spot.
  13. My Gal Betty, Roger Attfield, 20-1: Is another that benefited from the hot pace in the G1 Natalma. Hard to knock anything
  14. East (GB), Kevin Ryan, 20-1: Very much impressed me in her G3 Prix Thomas Bryon win. I don’t know how good the competition is at Saint-Cloud, but this tiny filly just has a very impressive leg action and seems to glide over the turf with a motor that goes and goes. She had no pace to run at in that 5-horse field, but she powered past them and drew off late. If she had a better post, she was going to be on every one of my tickets. If the turf favors outside runners, she might still be. I could be dead wrong, but at what will most likely be 30/1 or higher, I’m going to take shot with her.


Most likely winner: Newspaperofrecord

Who I’ll most like play to win (based on anticipated price): Concrete Rose

Lively longshots: East, Pakhet and Summering

Top four: 1-6-14-10


The Breeders' Cup Tito's Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies
1 1/16 mile on dirt for 2-year-old fillies 
Purse: $2 million

Quick recap – This seems like one of those races where the speed goes all the way and pays very little, or it collapses and pays a ton. Given the history of this race, it seems feasible that it could fall apart and we see some nice prices. I’m not quite as sold on your favorites in here, and believe a few longshots are worth a play.
Pace: Fast.

  1. Reflect (Keith Desormeaux) - 15-1: Had a good trip in the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, but didn’t in the G1 Spinaway where she chased while very wide on an inside-favoring track. I still think she’s a notch below these, but she will benefit from the pace. The switch to Ortiz doesn’t hurt.
  2. Serengeti Empress (Thomas Amoss) - 7-2: Crushed her competition in the G2 Pochantas. The question is – how good was her competition that day? Splashy Kisses was your second choice in that race, and won on a day I was Del Mar, where Rosario rode her to a bias aided win. Long story short, I don’t think that win is nearly as impressive as it looks on paper, and she will not get any easy lead in here.
  3. Vibrance (Michael McCarthy) - 10-1: Is another I believe will be on, or near the lead in here. Her 2nd place finish came in a five-horse field, where she lost by 6+ lengths. I like others more.
  4. Restless Rider (Kenneth McPeek) - 9-2: Is as consistent as they come. Other than she had a perfect trip in her G1 win, she’s been very impressive in all her races. Her lone loss came when she raced wide on a pro-rail Saratoga track, and she’ll be my top choice in here.
  5. Cassies Dreamer (Barclay Tagg) - 30-1: Is an intriguing bomb to me. While she never threatened Jaywalk, she had a slow start, and raced wide on pro speed-rail track at Belmont. If this race falls apart like I hope, I think she’s got a decent shot to hit the board.
  6. Baby Nina (Anthony Quartarolo) - 30-1: Is outclassed. I can’t find a reason to like her.
  7. Jaywalk (John Servis) - 7-2: Is a very suspect horse in my opinion. Yes, she was visually impressive when she drew off in her G1 Frizette win, but that track was very pro-rail and speed that day.
  8. Sippican Harbor (Gary Contessa) - 12-1: Unleashed a powerful rally when winning the G1 Spinaway. Rosario had the hot hand that day, and the race really setup for a deep closer. I expect her to show more speed on Friday, and is one that I don’t have a great read on.
  9. Splashy Kisses (Doug O'Neill) - 20-1: Completely outclassed. I can’t understand why she’s in the race.
  10. Bellafina (Simon Callaghan) - 2-1: Should be on the gun from the go, given her outside post. I’m hoping this means a hotly contested pace with your two other favorites in here. While I think she has more ability to rate than the other two, I’m still going to try to beat her and hope she comes up short. I do respect her the most of your favorites in here.

Most likely winner: Restless Rider
Who I’ll most like play to win (based on anticipated price): Restless Rider
Lively longshots: Cassies Dreamer, Reflect
Top four: 4-10-5-1

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

1 mile on turf for 2-year-old colts and geldings

Purse: $1 million

Quick recap – I believe this is another great race where you have several vulnerable favorites. Further, many of these are stretching out for the first time. I believe it is very evenly matched field, and should produce very large payouts. 

Pace: Fast.

  1. Arthur Kitt (GB), Tom Dascombe, 20-1: Seemed to have nothing to offer late in his first race going 1 mile. Given there isn’t much pace in here, and his inside draw, he may warrant including in some tickets, especially if speed is carrying. If the track is favoring outside closers, he doesn’t have a shot.
  2. Uncle Benny, Jason Servis, 15-1: Is stretching out for the first time. He comes out of a race where it completely collapsed, and I think he had a perfect trip. Others are more appealing.
  3. Much Better, Bob Baffert, 10-1: Is a rare Baffert turf horse. He exits the Zuma Beach where he chased a solid pace, while saving very little ground. Further to his credit, that race set up for closers and he was on the only horse near the lead to stick around late. With the lack of speed in here, I love his chances to lead a very long way.
  4. Forty Under, Jeremiah Englehart, 5-1: Had a perfect trip in the G3 Pilgrim and the price isn’t going to be good. Others offer more value.
  5. Line of Duty (IRE), Charlie Appleby, 10-1: Faced a small five-horse field and had a perfect trip in his last race. He’ll need to take a significant step forward for this, but I do like that he has gone 1 1/8 miles.
  6. Henley's Joy, Mike Maker, 8-1: Had a perfect trip in the G3 Bourbon at Keeneland. He really had no excuse, and just got run down by a better horse in Current.
  7. Somelikeithotbrown, Mike Maker, 12-1: Ran very well in the G3 Pilgrim where he chased a solid pace while saving no ground. Of the NY horses, I like him the most.
  8. Opry, Todd Pletcher, 15-1: Had very little to offer in the G3 Pilgrim. The running line says 7 wide, but he was on the rail for most of that race, and only wide when near the stretch. It’s possible he just didn’t like the soft going, but he seems a stretch.
  9. The Black Album (FR), Jane Soubagne, 30-1: Was a surprise winner in the G3 Prix la Rochette at Longchamp. I thought he ran so-so in that race, but seems a stretch here.
  10. War of Will, Mark Casse, 12-1: Is another who had a perfect trip in the G3 Bourbon. Rosario jumps back on, which is a plus, but I think there are distance concerns with him.
  11. King of Speed, Jeffrey Bonde, 8-1: Beat Much Better (the horse) in the Zuma at Santa Anita, but had an absolutely garden trip. I can’t see this horse improving off that effort, and Gary Stevens is no bargain at this point in his career.
  12. Current, Todd Pletcher, 5-1: Ran the best race in the G3 Bourbon. He was far back off a very moderate pace, while saving very little ground. When he was put to a drive, he unleashed a very impressive kick, to just get up for the win. The price isn’t great, and I still question who he beat in there, but he’s probably still deserving to be one of your favorites.
  13. Marie’s Diamond (IRE), Mark Steven Johnston, 20-1: Has never run past six furlongs. I thought she ran evenly in the G1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, and needs much better to be a contender in here.
  14. Anthony Van Dyck (IRE), Aidan O’Brien, 4-1: Is fast, but he’s facing a tough task with this post, and I’m not sure how much ground he really wants. I thought he seemed flat in the late stages of his last two races as he made the lead and faltered late. I’ll be looking to play against him in here.

Most likely winner: Much Better

Who I’ll most like play to win (based on anticipated price): Much Better

Lively longshots: Much Better, Somelikeithotbrown, Line of Duty

Top four: 3-12-7-5


Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile

1 1/16 mile on dirt for 2-year-old colts and geldings

Purse: $2 million

Quick recap – Like the Juvenile Filly race, I believe this is another great race where your favorites could find themselves in a hotly contested pace. In my opinion, there are several longshots worth at least a second look in here.

Pace: Very fast.

  1. Dueling (Jerry Hollendorfer) - 20-1: Was favored over Game Winner at Del Mar on a track that certainly favored speed. He broke well, but was pulled back very early in the race. Game Winner might just be better, but I thought this guy ran very well in defeat. I wish Mike Smith would’ve taken the mount on him, but he’ll still be on most of my tickets. If there is a rail bias, he will be a big play for me.
  2. Mr. Money (Bret Calhoun) - 30-1: Had excuses in his Ellis Park tries and won decisively in his one untroubled start at CD. He’ll need to take a big step forward to be competitive here.
  3. Derby Date (D. Wayne Lukas) - 30-1: Didn’t have a great trip in either of his last two starts, but this just seems like another Lukas prayer in a big race.
  4. Tight Ten (Steven Asmussen) - 30-1: Had a bias in his favor in the G3 Iroquois. He’s one of many speed horses in here, and I don’t like him.
  5. Well Defined (Kathleen O'Connell) - 20-1: Is another that needs the lead and seems overmatched.
  6. Complexity (Chad Brown) - 5-2: Has to be respected off his last effort, but it was aided by a pro rail-speed bias that day. I have concerns with his breeding going longer, and believe he’ll be taking it on the chin very early in here.
  7. Mind Control (Gregory Sacco) - 20-1: Is kind of an unknown in here off his G1 Hopeful win. He picks up Ortiz, which is a big plus, but he’s another that has only shown he can gun for the lead. The gap in races, and never going long, are concerns.
  8. Standard Deviation (Chad Brown) - 12-1: Is the Chad Brown runner that I prefer in here. He raced EXTREMELY wide and closed on a track that was favoring speed, and in which the pace was very soft. He’s the only horse I like out of that race, and I think he’ll be a force in here, given all the other pace.
  9. Game Winner (Bob Baffert) - 8-5: Is your deserving favorite. I don’t really have much to knock him, other than he’s only beaten small fields, and never raced outside of CA. I don’t think he needs the lead, and is the horse to beat.
  10. Knicks Go (Ben Colebrook) - 30-1: Walked the dog in the G1 Breeders Futurity. On paper, that race seemed full of speed, but nobody went. He’ll try again in here, but there’s no chance of walking around with slow fractions.
  11. Code of Honor (Claude McGaughey) - 5-1: Broke slowly and ran very well against a pro-speed track in the G1 Champagne. He seems to be a wiseguy horse getting a lot of buzz off that effort, so I’m not sure the value will be great, but he should improve off that effort.
  12. Gunmetal Gray (Jerry Hollendorfer) - 10-1: Had a great trip in defeat to Game Winner. I struggle to find any reason for improvement off that effort, but you never know with 2YO’s….
  13. Topper T (William Mott) - 30-1: Is a private purchase and switch to Bill Mott. He’s never gone past six furlongs, and seems to also want to be on or near the lead. Pass.
  14. Signalman (Kenneth McPeek) - 20-1: Bobbled a little in tight in his last, but I thought he had a great trip otherwise. He will benefit from a fast pace, but other closers with better posts appeal a bit more.

Most likely winner: Game Winner

Who I’ll most like play to win (based on anticipated price): Standard Deviation

Lively longshots: Dueling, Standard Deviation, Line of Duty

Top four: 8-9-1-11