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Friday, November 02, 2012

Saturday BC Picks

As Sandy approached and arrived, and even into early Tuesday, handicapping the Breeders' Cup races seemed like a productive use of my time.  But as the week wore on and the implications of the storm became chillingly clear, the din of the local news reporting became too overwhelming and too bleak for me to care all that much.   To me, the Breeders' Cup takes a back seat every four years to the presidential election that occurs just a few days later anyway.  Now, the election itself seems trite compared to what we've seen (as it was already becoming from the base level of the political discourse and the bold-faced dishonesty of the Republican candidate).  Now, the Breeders' Cup is hanging on for the show spot.  I'd be surprised if this doesn't show up as at least a noticeable blip in the handle figures.  Gotta be that some people who usually bet the races just don't have the wherewithal to wager electronically even if they're not otherwise distracted and could actually get a Racing Form. 

I hope that all of you able to read this are safe and that any property damage is minimal, as here in this particular section of Queens, about ten miles north as the crow files from the neighborhood in Breezy Point that burned down in its entirety.  But mostly that you're safe.

Life goes on is one of life's truest truisms, and the Breeders' Cup will feature some great racing in some great weather.  For those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to play, it should prove to be a good distraction from the images we've seen.  But that's really about all it is as far as I'm concerned.  Eclipse Awards?  Horse of the Year?  Who cares.  (Though this is coming from someone who says that every year.)   So the following is presented without the usual enthusiasm (though maintaining the usual hope), and in humble deference to the forces of Mother Nature which unleashed the events we've witnessed this week.

 - The Dirt Mile is one of my favorite BC races, easily the best of the expansion races in my view.  Maybe that's because I've fared well personally, most recently with Caleb's Posse last year.  That was one of my most confident picks and bets ever.  But there are no Caleb's Posses in this year's edition.  My opinions on it lean more strongly towards who I don't like.

I don't like Shackleford (2-1), at all.  I just don't like him.  His last two races sucked and I hate the stretch out to two turns.  I'm all in against him, will not use him anywhere on my tickets.  I don't like Jersey Town (4-1).  I had him in the Kelso, but that was a certain circumstance in a flawed race that completely fell apart, allowing Jersey Town to widen as he walked home in 25 4/5.  The figs I'm looking at and the Sheets don't score that race particularly high as Beyer does; I'm discounting that number and standing firmly against.  Emcee (5-2) is a nice looking horse and I'd like him at 9-2 in his first try beyond seven furlongs and around two turns.  I might like Tapizar (12-1) off the stretch out from a one turn mile to two turns, repeating a winning pattern from last fall; but can't envision the strategics of him winning with all the other speed in this field.  I don't like Rail Trip (10-1), 0 for 5 on dirt.

Who does that leave?  I mentioned Fed Biz (6-1) in my first impressions post.  But he just doesn't measure up on my figs or the Sheets, so I'm changing my mind and throwing him out.  Forget Second City (30-1).  Delegation (12-1) is interesting; I could see taking a shot at a price in the hope he can translate his turf/synth form to dirt in his first try on that surface; not to mention handle a big jump in class.  That's just a guess though.

That leaves John Scott (12-1).  I can't help but chuckle when I see this horse's name, picturing the hulking hockey enforcer who I'd become familiar with before he briefly joined the Rangers last season through his exploits on  The equine John Scott is tough as well; three wins a second and third in his six starts after a 930 day layoff (hopefully substantially more than the layoff that the hockey John Scott is facing).  Problem is that his two dirt efforts stick out like thumbs sore from dropping the gloves too often.  Taking a closer look though, his first dirt race was the first one off the long layoff.  The second was his last race, in which he was the favorite in the state-bred Cal Cup.  He got off a step and a half slow in that race, and never really recovered, forced to go three wide both turns in pursuit of a relentless pace set by Got Even, 40-1 despite a stellar record over the Santa Anita strip.  Looking at his figs, one might think that he bounced.  But he actually moved forward to a 2 on the Sheets, and I guess the question is whether, 21 days later, he'll bounce in this race.  I think 12-1 is a fair price to say that he can stalk the pace and be in good position should all the horses I don't like do what I think they're gonna do.  Or what they're not gonna do.  Just a fun play in a pretty inscrutable race.

 - I had Amazombie (4-1) in the Sprint last year, in large part due to his highly impressive prep, in which he most effortlessly swept by five wide on the turn to go on for the win; an effort he basically repeated in the Sprint.  This year, the six-year old son of Northern Afleet has raced pretty well, but disappointed with his 4th place finish at 4-5 in his last, the SA Sprint Championship, trailing three others running back here.  I dunno, perhaps he was a bit too close to a quick pace, thus dulling his closing kick.  But he seemed really to have a perfect trip in the pocket a few lengths behind a couple of longer shots; and one can't expect him to be in much better position in this bigger and deeper field.  So I'm having a hard time looking past that and getting enthusiastic about his chances; especially should he be favored as indicated by the morning line.  He's certainly fast enough to win if he fires his best shot, but I'll take a shot against.

Capital Account (8-1) has been a model of consistency, firing his late best shot every time as he's graduated into graded stakes company this year.  He was ahead of Amazombie, and a fading head behind Coil in the aforementioned SA Sprint despite taking much the worst of it on the turn.  He was carried wide by Coil out into the 7 or 8 path, and lost momentum and at least a couple of lengths in the process.  Almost like he had to resume from a cold start at that point, and it didn't look promising mid-stretch; but he came with a furious late burst to just miss.   In this spot, the pace figures to be honest if not blazing, and he may surely find himself wide turning for home again.  But hopefully he'll at least have a smoother transition into the stretch, and he's shown an affinity for this track.  He's consistently run Sheet 2's on this surface, and that could be good enough to take this at a fair price.

The Lumber Guy (6-1) jumped up to run a huge race in the Vosburgh, hung out wide on the sweeping Belmont turn, and also earning a 2 on the Sheets.  Wasn't exactly flattered by Caixa Electronica's disappointing Bold Ruler, but surely can be close if he doesn't bounce here.  Coil (5-1) has shown consistency, versatility, and improvement.  Think he was really second best to the top pick in his last as mentioned, but certainly warrants use underneath.

 - In the Mile, Moonlight Cloud (6-1) is a four-year old filly who has raced almost exclusively against the boys overseas, and now ships over for trainer Freddie Head, who took this race thrice with his superstar Goldikova.  She's won three Group 1's, and missed by a head to Black Caviar at Ascot.  Two races back at Deauville in France, she endured a nightmare trip before extricating herself late and rallying to miss by a length and a half behind Excelebration, who may be favored here.  Last was a measured head win over Farhh (2nd in four consecutive Group 1's) at Longchamp; a useful prep after an awkward start and being caught in a "spot of bother," boxed in approaching the stretch.  She's consistently earned 3's and 2's on the Sheets, most recently the latter, which should put her close here....

....though maybe not close enough to Excelebration, who earned 1's in his last two, freed from the pursuit of Frankel as he was.  In his last 13 races, he's either won (eight time) or unsuccessfully chased the now-retired superstar.  His last effort, his win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, is really something to see; the ease with which he breezed to the front after some minor traffic issues is nothing short of breathtaking.  So, it's with the utmost respect and only in search of some value that I look to beat him here.  The only thing I'd say - and perhaps this is a stretch - is that it appears as if his most dominant performances came on turf courses with some give, which won't be the case at Santa Anita in his North American debut.

Wise Dan (9-5) is an impressive horse himself, but against competition presumably significantly weaker than that of his European counterparts.  Interesting though that while he's overwhelmed his competition, he doesn't overwhelm this field strictly by the numbers.  He'd have to better at least his Sheets numbers (4s in his last two) in order to beat the top two.  Still, would be foolish to ignore if you're trying some Pick Whatevers.  Obviously (6-1) shows a nice pattern of improvement and could be tough if he gets loose on the lead here.  Why is Animal Kingdom (8-1) running here?

And that's about it.  Don't really have much of an opinion on the Classic, and I'll be out at the movies or something during the race anyway.  Spent far too much time sitting indoors this week to spend a Saturday night at home for a race as ordinary as this one - would make a nice edition of the Discovery Handicap - and we have enough gas to get us anywhere we want to go (within reason, not to Florida).  I was a little enthusiastic about Fort Larned (5-1) earlier in the week, willing to give him a pass on his disappointing third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as I am.   But repeated looks at that race are just not that flattering, especially considering it was his first try at the distance.   I'd surely bet him if he drifts up from his morning line, as I think he will....but I'll be out so I won't be monitoring the prices.  I'll mention Ron the Greek (6-1), who won at this distance in the Santa Anita Handicap, and is one horse who figures to be still running at the end I think, despite his non-performance at Belmont in the Gold Cup.  But having said that, Game on Dude (9-5) seems strictly the horse to beat.  Best of luck and have a great Breeders' Cup.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

In the Sprint, Capital Account and Coil seem almost inseparable in terms of ability -- I give a slight edge to CA, but at the same time CA is more dependent upon a good trip than Coil. Neither would be a surprise in the top spot, but I'm gonna go elsewhere, to da Zombie, who, IF he runs his race, as he did in the Bing (not Sidney)Crosby, is slightly better than the top 2. Hoping his price drifts up off the last-out loss.