Just look at all these short-priced favorites with intimidating records and big Beyers. How can any of them lose Saturday in the 22nd Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park? Well, easily. So let's throw deep eight times and try to make some real money on racing's championship day.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
It's tough to pick between Adieu and Folklore at 5-2 or so for each, so I went with Canadian shipper Knights Templar. She won big at the 1 1/16-mile distance at Woodbine, earning strong final-time and closing figures. Unfortunately, she's never run at Belmont, and Canada-based horses are always suspect on class. True, but that's why you may get 12-1 or so on a potentially big overlay.
1. Knights Templar 2. Adieu 3. Folklore
Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Sorcerer's Stone (3-for-3) finished a one-turn mile in a terrific 24 seconds in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, where his margin was 8? lengths while being ridden out. He's by far the best finisher, and I'll take him to upset the undefeated First Samurai, who'll be about even money. Private Vow has never been beyond 7 furlongs, but he's by a son of Unbridled, so he'll have no trouble stretching out.
1. Sorcerer's Stone 2. First Samurai 3. Private Vow
Breeders' Cup Fill & Mare Turf
I rate this as the most confusing race of the day. I'll take a shot with Film Maker, who ran second on yielding ground to Ouija Board last year. I suspect Ouija Board isn't as good now as she was then, and post 13 won't help her. Wonder Again, third in this last year, loves soft turf, but she's almost 7 years old and always seems to find a way to come up short. Of course, so does Film Maker, who's lost four in a row. I won't be betting much on this one.
1. Film Maker 2. Ouija Board 3. Wonder Again
Breeders' Cup Sprint
Lost in the Fog is a great story, and a victory would cap a fantastic, 11-for-11 3-year-old season and make him a candidate for Horse of the Year. Fine, but at even money or less, he's unbettable. Considering he's never faced any of these horses and never dealt with a full field or a fight, he's definitely not unbeatable.
I went with Wildcat Heir, a lightly raced 5-year-old whose figures are as good or better than Lost in the Fog's. Since he'll be 10-1 or so, he's the bet. I like Lion Tamer, who has excellent back figures, to improve off his sharp prep in the Vosburgh, where he went his final eighth in 11 4/5 seconds. Like Wildcat Heir, he does his best running from just off the pace, a style that often wins the Sprint.
1. Wildcat Heir 2. Lion Tamer 3. Lost in the Fog
Breeders' Cup Mile
Leroidesanimaux has won eight straight but he hasn't faced a field of milers this good. At short odds and from post 11, I don't want any part of him in the usually chaotic ultimate trip race. Bobby Frankel is in a 1-for-31 slump at Belmont, and he's 3-for-63 in the Breeders' Cup. If "Leroy" beats me, I'll salute him, but betting him at short odds is a dumb move, even if he wins.
I'll back the French genius Andre Fabre's Valixir, who has an excellent record on rain-softened ground against Europe's best milers. One of them is Whipper, a soft-turf lover who has a lot of class but usually falls just short in the big ones. Forget last year's beaten favorite, Artie Schiller, who much prefers firm turf. Defending champion Singletary was brilliant in his prep at Santa Anita, and he belongs in exactas if you think he can reproduce his best form on the softest course he'll ever encounter.
1. Valixir 2. Whipper 3. Leroidesanimaux
Breeders' Cup Distaff
Ashado loves Belmont and 9 furlongs, and if she wins she'll retire as the all-time leading female money earner. Sounds like too good a tale to come true. I'll take Happy Ticket, who has lost only twice in 12 career starts, to Ashado last time in the Beldame and to the insanely fast Madcap Escapade. Happy Ticket was gaining ground in a hurry in the final 100 yards in the Beldame, and I think she'll turn the tables on Ashado. Stellar Jayne is fast, loves the distance and Belmont and is in sharp form for Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
1. Happy Ticket. 2. Ashado. 3. Stellar Jayne
Breeders' Cup Turf
The softer the turf, the better the German-bred Shirocco likes it, and 12 inches of rain in the past two weeks have made Belmont's grass a bog. If the Breeders' Cup were not in town, no way that there would be any turf races there this weekend. Shirocco drew well (post 2) and has been gambled upon heavily with England's major bookmakers. He was bet down to 6-1 by Thursday, and his morning line is 20-1. Sounds like value. Andre Fabre is masterful at readying a horse for the Breeders' Cup, and Belgian native Christophe Soumillon can ride with anyone.
Another French shipper, Bago, also loves swampy ground. He won the Arc on off turf last year and ran third in it a few weeks ago. He's in with a big chance. Shakespeare is America's best hope, and although he did OK in his workout on the Belmont turf, he's by Theatrical, whose offspring prefer firmer going. Perhaps he has the class and talent to overcome it, but I'll look to beat him.
1. Shirocco (best bet) 2. Bago 3. Shakespeare
Breeders' Cup Classic
Post 13 won't help the favorite, Saint Liam, who hasn't run in six weeks. Don't overlook Flower Alley, who had a brutal trip in the Jockey Club Gold Cup that Borrego won with a perfect trip. Flower Alley also may have bounced after consecutive career tops in the Dwyer and Travers. He's training sharply and could come back with a big performance at generous odds. Rock Hard Ten drew the rail and could easily win with his best effort, but I'm a bit concerned about his bruised foot. Borrego will be overbet off his Gold Cup runaway. He'll be running on late, but I doubt he'll win.
1. Flower Alley 2. Rock Hard Ten 3. Borrego