FRIDAY BREEDERS CUP PICKS
JUVENILE TURF – Give me IMPERIA here. As with the other baby race today, I’m taking what I feel pretty certain is the best horse coming from New York. Imperia is out of Cocoa Beach, who in this country only found Zenyatta too tough in her time as one of the best distaffers in recent memory. Imperia rallied resolutely in his debut to miss narrowly, then improved nicely 2nd time out, running positively negative fractions while pulling away from winners in the Pilgrim Stakes. To me this appears to be a rather weak field, the Euros don’t thrill me, and on paper there will be pace for Imperia to close into.
DIRT MILE – GOLDENCENTS would have to be classified as the most likely winner this weekend. He has the home-court advantage, looks superior on paper, and has a decided tactical advantage in the race. I believe Fed Biz is the second-best horse in the race, and Goldencents left him far in his wake both in this race last year and at Del Mar this year, a track which Fed Biz was previously undefeated.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF – As I mentioned earlier, I’m taking the best NY-based runner here, and that is LADY ELI. Her debut win would have to be seen to be believed, accelerating with authority after serious trouble in early stretch to just get up on the wire. Her win in the Pilgrim stakes was arguably even more impressive, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. riding her wide around the track without care before she blitzed her rivals in the stretch. Lady Eli in my eyes is a turf horse of the highest quality, whose acceleration is visibly instantaneous, and I have to think that will play very well on a firm Santa Anita course today. While this is a much saltier field than the other baby race, I would be shocked if Lady Eli didn’t run huge, and with speed in front of her and a cozy inside post I consider her my best bet of the day and perhaps the weekend.
DISTAFF – I stared at this race for a long time, and after not having a great feeling about any of the obvious players, I decided on L’AMOUR DE MA VIE. First off, I don’t like Untapable. She has not been the same horse since the Oaks (which has been the most negative of key races), and she has never faced older horses. Toss. Last month, I would’ve said Close Hatches was a cinch, but I have no idea what to make of her last. I believe that the Phipps sapped all of main players in it, and perhaps the mud at Saratoga masked that for a race for Close Hatches. Post 11 is another hurdle that I’m not willing to jump with her. I do like all 3 of the horses in posts 2-4, but have to think that they harm each other’s chances to win the race. Tiz Midnight got the best of Iotapa last time, but Iotapa missed the break and has had great success front-running on this track. Belle Gallantey was fantastic last time over a terrible field, but I’m not sure if she can beat the pair to her inside to the turn, which has to lessen her chances. Posts 5-9 are tosses for me, which leaves only L’Amour de Ma Vie. Clearly, the first question you ask is, why this race? I’m assuming her connections had this race in mind all along, the premise being that she would not stay the 11 furlongs in the F&M Turf. L’Amour de Ma Vie breaks solidly nearly every time, has won at 9 furlongs, and has the postional speed and inside post that should allow her to sit a great trip. She has defeated classy horses this season, beating European 2yo filly champ Certify and BC Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Flotilla in Dubai, and dispatching BC F&M Turf entrant Fiesolana at Ascot. I certainly have gone for less likely horses in the past, and think L’Amour de Ma Vie is very live if she takes to dirt today.
I also love Sawyer’s Hill in the Twilight Derby on the BC undercard. There is no pace on paper, and its tough to envision him not getting an absolutely dream trip throughout. While I don’t think he will be 12-1, anything close to that would be a fantastic price. As always, good luck to everyone today.
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