The weather continues perfect; the dirt track is riding fast; the turf firm.

BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE FILLIES [G1; 2yof; 8.5f; dirt; 2.05pmJaTime]

The morning line favourite is #3 Valadorna who was impressive when getting off the mark on her 2nd start (Keeneland; 8.5f; drew off final furlong to beat Clever Serve 6l) but the opposition wasn’t much (she can’t beat who doesn’t start) and the step up to Grade 1 company seems a shade soon so she looks an underlay. In fact, we’re naming her as the LAY OF THE DAY!

Next in the betting #5 Sweet Loretta is unbeaten in 3 starts but she didn’t have to improve to win the Grade 1 Spinaway (7f) last time out (by 5 3/4l from Pretty City Dancer) and, as the first foal of a sprinting mare, she has a stamina query to answer.  #4 Yellow Agate is 2 for 2 including in the Grade 1 Frizette on last when she got up final stride. Both her runs have come at Belmont and she seems to be the sort who’ll always do better on the East Coast’s more galloping tracks so the one to be on must be #9 UNION STRIKE who stepped up appreciably on her sole start (2nd in a 5.5 maiden) to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante over 7f on September 3.

She’s bred to stay this trip being a half sister to Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike; is lightly raced; fresh and fit.



FILLIES AND MARES TURF [Grade 1; 3yo+; 1Of (turf); 2.43pm Ja Time]

With Japanese entry #13 Nuovo Record below form this year, it should boil down to 3 including the European pair of #3 Seventh Heaven (Ryan Moore for Aidan O’Brien) a high class filly who progressed well all year until not getting clear run when 5th in Ascot Fillies and Mares Stakes (12f) on last; and #11 QUEEN’S TRUST (Frankie Dettori for Sir Michael Stoute) who was 3rd at Ascot (also lacked room 2f out) but had been beaten 4l by her old rival in the Yorkshire Oaks (12f).  For all the negativity surrounding QUEEN’S TRUST (as she has only a maiden win on polytrack on her resume) she’s the type that her outstanding trainer excels with; is improving at the right time; and seems sure to be better at 10f than 12f while the reverse is likely to be the case with Seventh Heaven.

Rest assured Sir Michael doesn’t come to the Breeders Cup for the weather and Frankie Dettori will have QUEEN’S TRUST forwardly placed and whoever catches her should win. Thanks to good old US sentiments, former Champion #8 Lady Eli seems sure to start a prohibitive favourite but she is having her 3rd run back from a life threatening bout of laminitis (1st run back was her only lifetime defeat then she showed her customary late kick to score a narrow win in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational). She recorded an eye-catching 22.3 for the last quarter there but this sharper track and muddling early pace should not permit her to repeat that.



BREEDERS CUP SPRINT [Grade 1; 3yo+; 6f; Dirt; 3.21pm Ja Time]

The Vosburgh Stakes, usually an accurate pointer to the outcome of the Sprint each year, was this year run on a muddy track so the likes of Vosburgh winner #4 Joking (4 for 5 on wet tracks) can’t be considered.

Iconic California trainer Bob Baffert seems to have a stranglehold on this year’s renewal with his duo of 3yo #2 Drefong (M. Garcia) and #6 LORD NELSON (F. Prat). The former is pure speed who has already beaten his elders and who has been flawless (4 for 4) since running very green on debut including making all to win the Grade 1 King’s Bishop (7f) at Saratoga on last.  The latter is a stalker who has won all four of his 2016 starts including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on last.

Although both are unbeaten at 6f (Drefong 2 for 2; LORD NELSON 4 for 4) the selection seems best at 6f while Drefong has improved over extended trips (6.5 and 7f) on his last two starts.



BREEDERS CUP TURF SPRINT [Group 1; 3yo+; 6.5f; turf; 4.05pm Ja Time)

A torrid early gallop is assured here what with the presence of confirmed speedsters #2 Obviously; #4 Home of the Brave: #12 Om and stalkers #1 Pure Sensation; #5 Karar; #14 Celestine.  The mouth-watering prospect here is that the race should set up perfectly for #8 WASHINGTON DC (NAP) who has been campaigning over shorter trips but who is begging for just this sort of race and loves firm ground.



BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE (Group 1; 2yo; 8.5f; dirt; 4.43pm Ja Time)

The entire Jamaican nation should grind to a halt for this one as our own Jose “Pepito” Pinchin saddles the unbeaten in five starts (all at Gulfstream) #6 Three Rules who has already recorded Beyer Speed Figures of 94 (6f; August 6; US$200k Allowance) and 87 (latest start; 8.5f; October 1; US$500k Allowance). On that day he dueled in splits of 48.0; 1:12.4 before drawing off under hands and heels to win by 10l in 1:44.3 (final 2 1/2f clocked in 31.4 (about 25.2 last quarter).

This is what Timeform Black Book had to say about Three Rules [rated 130+ (+ means could prove better than rating) only 7lbs below top-rated #7 Gormley (137p; “p” means likely to improve)]:

“fifth foal: closely related to 6f winner Three’s A Trump (by High Cotton) and half-brother to 3 winners, including 8.5f winner (including at 2 yrs) Concerted Effort (by Concerto): dam Canadian 6f winner: smart performer: unbeaten in 5 starts at Gulfstream between June and October: successful in maiden, non-graded stakes and 3 valuable restricted events: 3/10, latest win in very valuable 12-runner contest by 10 lengths from Thegreatcollection, opening clear lead before home turn: stays 8.5f: front runner/races prominently.”

He has speed but isn’t speed-mad and he certainly has class. He’s taking a huge step up in Grade here but you ignore him at your peril.  He seems likely to put paid to the chances of the highly fancied Gormley and help set the race up for the one I like a lot namely #9 PRACTICAL JOKE unbeaten in 3 starts all from off the pace and showed real courage in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes to head off #2 Syndergaard despite being herded in the final furlong.



BREEDERS CUP TURF (Grade 1; 3yo+; 12f; turf; 5.22pm Ja Time)

On what seems sure to be firm turf, the two to concentrate on are defending champion #10 Found and #4 FLINTSHIRE (BANKER BET). American punters don’t appreciate how ground dependent FLINTSHIRE is and so were disappointed when he was beaten 5l by #3 Ectot in Belmont’s Grade 1 Turf Classic on good to soft on last.

Similarly Golden Horn suffered a surprise defeat by Found last year on fastish turf because he prefers it easy underfoot and Found relishes hearing her hooves rattle. FLINTSHIRE was beaten here in 2014 because the ground was only “good”.  On ground with the word “firm” in the going description, FLINTSHIRE is probably the world’s best horse.



FILLIES AND MARES SPRINT (Grade 1; 3yo+f&m; 7f; dirt; 6.01pmJa Time)

This is a trappy heat with many likely to be pressing the pace and not a lot to separate the leading contenders. Of those drawn high (likely to be favoured due to the long run to the home turn similar to a Caymanas Park 7f), the very smart trio of #8 Carina Mia (beaten only by Songbird in the 8.5f Grade 1 Cotillion on last) #9 Paulassilverlining  (consistently producing Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-nineties last 5 runs and superb effort under John Velasquez on a muddy track to win the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont on last) and #10 Wavell Avenue (won this last year at Keeneland; bit below par since, lightly raced, but producing bullet works at Santa Anita recently) should be there or thereabouts at the end.

Of those three I like #9 Paulassilverlining  best. She acts on any going (3 wins from 6 starts in the mud; 4 wins/3 seconds from 10 starts on fast) and can rate better than the other two but I must respect the decision of Hall of Fame Jockey John Velasquez to remain with #2 HAVEYOUGONEAWAY after winning the Grade 1 Ballerina on her (Carina Mia 2 1/2l 3rd; Paulassilverlining 2 1/2l 5th; Wavell Avenue 5 1/4l 6th).



BREEDERS CUP MILE (Grade 1; 3yo+; 1mile; turf; 6.40pm Ja Time)

Contrary to popular opinion, there should be plenty of early speed here with the likes of #13 Midnight Storm #10 Limato and #1 What a View intent on ensuring that front runner #6 Photo Call doesn’t repeat the larceny of her all the way win in Keeneland’s 8f Grade 1 First Lady Stakes (in the process inflicting on #8 Tepin her sole 2016 defeat).

Without doubt, Tepin is the best in this field but she has never run at Santa Anita and, if her 11 turf wins, 5 have come on good or softer (including her scintillating win at Royal Ascot in June minus lasix or her usual nose strip) and her two best Beyer numbers have come on good/soft. Make no mistake about it, she’s also high class on firm but, if there’s a chink in her armour, it could come on Saturday’s rattling hard ground.

The value lies in four contenders including Aidan O’Brien’s 3. The most fancied and the choice of Ryan Moore is #2 Alice Springs a 3yo filly who has had much success against her own sex this year but runs against the boys here and might be undone by the uptempo pace. His other two are enigmas. #12 Hit It a Bomb was a highly regarded 2yo especially after winning last year’s Juvenile Turf in a blanket finish on ground considered plenty slow enough for him. Not seen out until August 2016, he has run 3 times but only once on fast ground and that was on re-appearance when he needed the run and finished a creditable 2l 3rd to Tribal Beat in a Leopardstown Grade 3. #14 Cougar Mountain is another ground dependent type who ran 2nd in the same Tribal Beat race and then won a Newmarket Group 2 beating Gifted Master. Much has been made of his failure to place in a Group 1 after 11 tries but not one of those races was run on a sound surface. All of his 3 wins have come on good to firm and he has only had the luxury of his ground 6 times.

I confidently expect Hit It a Bomb  and Cougar Mountain to run big races on Saturday at long odds and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one were to upset.  Aidan O’Brien does not bring no-hopers to the Breeders Cup.

But, the one best placed to fly home off a sharp early gallop and reward each way backers with a value price is #9 IRONICUS who is in the form of his life; still relatively unexposed after only 14 runs; and who will relish the way the race is likely to be run. It’s true that a mile is his bare minimum these days but I’m expecting him to benefit most from the torrid early gallop.


EXOTIC BET OF THE DAY: 9/12/14 (IRONICUS/Hit it a Bomb/Cougar Mountain) Exacta Box


BREEDERS CUP CLASSIC (Grade 1; 3yo+; 10f; dirt; 7.35pm Ja Time)

#4 CALIFORNIA CHROME has come under attack by supporters of talking horse #10 Arrogate for weeks now after the 3yo’s exciting win in the Travers in track record time. But the cold, hard facts are that CALIFORNIA CHROME’s form is as solid as a rock against the best in the world while Arrogate runs against older horses for the first time in the best race of the year and will NOT get such an easy lead. Let’s see how he reacts.

Important factoid: that track record was set in the first mile of the Travers as Arrogate came home in 24.0 seconds. Expect him to wilt late.


Good Luck!



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