Saturday’s Breeders Cup card is one of the best ever and should throw up some brilliant winners. Rain fell at the track on Thursday but the Churchill Downs staff will be vacuuming the moisture off and you can count on a fast track and firm turf come Saturday afternoon.
Remember that the 1 mile turf races are around two turns as are the mile and a sixteenth dirt races so low numbers will have a distinct advantage in those races.
Churchill Downs Race 3: The Breeders Cup Marathon (Grade 2); 1 ¾ miles (Dirt); 3yo+ (12.20 p.m. local time)
A.U. MINER (nap) has a point to prove after last year’s nightmare trip in this race resulted in a post-race jockeys brawl. He’s been patiently laid out for this revenge mission having run only 3 times and the turn of foot he showed to win the non-graded Greenwood Cup at Parx on his penultimate start (subsequently disqualified for testing positive for steroids) is good enough to put this to bed. He flopped on a muddy track in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on last but that can be ignored and, once the rain doesn’t persist, he looks a very good thing with Calvin Borel again up. Perennial bridesmaid Birdrun should fill the exacta spot.
Should the rain prove stubborn, look no further than the unexposed mudlark, Cease, to upset the applecart.
SELECTION = # 11 A.U. MINER (nap)

Churchill Downs Race 4: The Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1); 1 mile (Turf); 2yo colts and geldings (1.02 p.m.)
This looks to be an international match between the well drawn improvers Farraaj (half brother to high-class Iffraaj) from England and U.S dual winner SHKSPEARE SHALIYAH. Farraaj has looked the part in winning a Warwick maiden and a Sandown minor event easily and then was victimized by the draw when 2 ½ lengths 2nd to Crius in a Group 3 at Newmarket. He has looked likely to enjoy a step up to a mile although his dam was a 7f winner; Iffraaj won at 6f/7f; and full brother Taqdeyr didn’t stay beyond 7f. His other full brother Makeynn won at 8.6f as a 2yo so the trip shouldn’t be a problem. He’s a bit difficult to train however (has a mind of his own) and has already been reluctant to exercise on the Churchill Downs track so the nod is given to local boy SHKSPEARE SHALIYAH who showed an impressive turn of foot off a slow pace when winning the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont in October.
From a wide draw, Todd Fletcher’s Finale, coming off an impressive win at Woodbine in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes which produced a top Beyer Speed figure, could give the selection most to do

Churchill Downs Race 5: The Breeders Cup Sprint (Grade 1); 6f (Dirt) 3yo+ (1.27 p.m. local time)
Defending Champ Big Drama is a legitimate favourite but missed his intended final prep in the Vosburgh with a high fever so might not be a solid bet at a favourite’s price. Euroears will take off lickety-split from the plum Number 1 draw but will not have things his own way on the lead so it’s likely that the race will set up for closers like Aikenite and HAMAZING DESTINY. The latter was a shade unlucky when finishing second in last year’s renewal and has been laid out for this race with a vengeance by legendary Breeders Cup trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He has worked brilliantly for this at Churchill Downs (46.1 for 4f on October 24 was a bullet work) where he has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 5 starts.

Churchill Downs Race 6; The Breeders Cup Turf Sprint (Grade 2); 5f (Turf); 3yo+ (2.21 pm)
A wide open affair but it may pay to stick with the duo of REGALLY READY (likely to get the ideal tracking trip at a track where he is 2 for 2) and Havelock who closed off a torrid pace to win the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland on last from Perfect Officer and Country Day who both re-oppose. That was 5 1/2f a trip at which Havelock has won 3 of his last 4 tries. At this 100 metres shorter trip, REGALLY READY is given the edge

Churchill Downs Race 7: The Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1); 1 mile (Dirt); 3yo+ (3.01 p.m.)
Another very competitive event (a one turn mile) in which 5 of the 9 declared can win. Bob Baffert’s The Factor has had his troubles (hairline fracture of near-hind ankle after this year’s 3rd start and a soft palate operation) but has won 3 of his 5 starts. He made all to win the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and has been burning up the exercise track of late. He will be one of several vying for the lead here and this looks another race suited to a closer. But he will be fighting every step of the away.
Preakness winner Shackleford is another game front runner but seems to prefer an easier pace over longer and doesn’t strike me to be a high class miler. He will be duelling for the lead. The stalkers will include Wilburn who has won 3 in a row including the Grade 2 Indiana Derby by 4 ½ lengths from Shackleford with CALEB’S POSSE another 2l back in 3rd. Prior to that, CALEB’S POSSE had won two in a row under Rajiv Maragh who hasn’t ridden him in any other race. In both races, he came from well off a very fast pace to win and, in the second of his 2 wins, he nabbed none other than Breeders Cup Classic favourite Uncle Mo by a nose at 7f in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes. Next time out in the Indiana Derby, he was ridden by Robbie Albarado in a race run at a muddling pace which completely discombobulated his style of running. On Saturday, he will be re-united with Maragh and get some sizzling fractions.
This is one of the day’s very best bets. Take CALEB’S POSSE to turn the tables on Shackleford and The Factor at an excellent value price.

Churchill Downs Race 8: The Breeders Cup Turf (Grade 1); 1 ½ Miles (Turf); 3yo+ (3.45 p.m.)
A trappy affair in which two highly fancied contenders Mid-day and St Nicholas Abbey are unlikely to prove good enough. They are no value whatsoever and must be given a swerve.
The favourite Sarafina has proven over and over that she is not up to the highest level and is my LAY OF THE DAY.
The race could be between two unexposed improvers in Sea Moon and AWAIT THE DAWN. Sea Moon is a most intriguing animal who should go on to win top races next year but might still be somewhat immature to handle this tight track at this level of company. AWAIT THE DAWN has long promised to prove he’s out of the very top drawer and I am supremely confident that Aidan O’Brien wouldn’t be running him if he wasn’t fully recovered from his well advertised sickness in August that caused him to flop in the Juddmonte International. This is another very good bet indeed.

Churchill Downs Race 9: The Breeders Cup Juvenile (Grade 1); 1m110y (Dirt); 2yo colts and geldings (4.25 pm)
This could produce the day’s easiest winner in UNION RAGS who overcame a nightmare trip to win the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes by over 5 lengths. He had already looked like a class horse when blowing away a decent field in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. This is a solid favourite who shouldn’t be opposed.

Churchill Downs Race 10: The Breeders Cup Mile (Grade 1); 1 mile (Turf); 3yo+ (5.07 p.m.)
There remains a nagging suspicion that Strong Suit doesn’t get a mile and he has been given a car park draw. His trainer’s rant after officials closed the turf track on Wednesday and prevented him from a final gallop was also very revealing. He can be opposed. GOLDIKOVA (BANKER BET) has been handed the plum draw in her attempt to win this race an unbelievable 4 times in a row. Despite rumours to the contrary, Freddy Head has insisted that she is as good as ever and that’s good enough for me.

Churchill Downs Race 11: The Breeders Cup Classic (Grade 1); 1 ¼ miles (Dirt); 3yo+ (6.00 pm)
Last year’s Juvenile winner Uncle Mo has overcome a rare liver disease to make this race but there are serious stamina issues for this son of Indian Charlie (3rd in the Kentucky Derby after failing to see out the trip) out of an Arch mare (Arch was sire of last year’s Classic winner Blame). His high cruising speed just does not look like it belongs to a 10f horse and he will not have it easy on the early pace so, at a favourite’s price, he must be opposed. So You Think has been all the rage but this is his first run on dirt and he has had a hard season so he is also bypassed. The two to concentrate on are 4yo filly Havre De Grace who has conquered all and sundry including the boys in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga. That was 9f and she has twice been beaten at her 2 attempts at 10f by Blind Luck, a mare she defeated by over 3 lengths in between at 8.5f so, from an excellent postposition, FLAT OUT is marginally preferred. He was a closing up 1 ¼ lengths 2nd to Havre De Grace in the Woodward and then stepped up to 10f and slammed both Drosselmeyer and Stay Thirsty in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
My Top Three for the day are:
Race 3 (11) A.U. MINER (NAP) Race 7(8) CALEB’S POSSE Race 10 (1) GOLDIKOVA (BANKER BET)
Good Luck!


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