In the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, I'd love to try and beat Goldencents (6-5), but getting the same feeling as I do when I'm trying to figure out how the Democrats are gonna keep the Senate. He won this race last year using the same three stepping stone races to get here; so he looks like a tough incumbent to unseat. 4yo son of Into Mischief is simply faster than these based on his TimeformUS figs, and he's two-for-two at a mile on this track. He benefited from that nutty speed bias on BC Friday last year; don't know if that will be the case this year, but I imagine that tactical speed surely won't hurt.
But there are a couple of horses listed at 6-1 ML who I think will run well: Pants On Fire (6-1) has been sharp during his 6YO season, if not quite as fast on TFUS figures as in the past. Could be ready to move forward though off a dominant win in a Charles Town stake in which he was wrapped up through the final sixteenth. That was his 4th race in a compressed period of 55 days, and came after a tough loss at Belmont in which he stalked an insanely fast pace and held on grimly for second to Golden Ticket (15-1 here); that on a track that TimeformUS has rated as favoring closers. Interesting to note that his CT win, slow-ish on TFUS, came back as a 1 on the Sheets; that's the best last-out Ragozin number, including the favorite. It was a big jump that I suppose invites thoughts of a bounce. But he won easily, as mentioned, and has a 41 day break and a bullet half work in between.
Throw out the Derby, and Tapiture (6-1) has quite a pattern of improvement going on.
Still needs further progress to compete with the favorite; but this 3YO son of Tapit is making just his 12th career start, so he's eligible for continued improvement. Since the Derby, Tapiture has an easy win at Churchill, a gritty victory in the W. Virginia Derby in which he zigged mid-stretch to find room, and a no-shot second to Bayern in the PA Derby. Tough task facing older for the first time, and from an outside post, but expecting a good effort here.
Fed Biz (7-2) comes off his ground-saving (but nonetheless game) second to Shared Belief, earning a 115 TFUS figure that surely puts him in play. I'd like to ignore him and throw him out in favor of the abovementioned pair. Turns out that, in Sheets-land, he's not all that fast on dirt. When one set of numbers doesn't support what one wants to see, turn to another set that will. That's what I always say.
- The Breeders' Cup Distaff sets up like a harness handicap race with the two best horses, Untapable (5-2) and Close Hatches (3-1), assigned to the outside posts. I think they're both toast. Untapable has been good but hardly great since her Kentucky Oaks win. The bubble burst when she tried the boys in the Haskell; and her Cotillion win was not all that convincing, coming with the benefit of a perfect trip as it did. Her TFUS figures have declined with each effort since the Oaks, and I'm just not feeling a big turnaround here. Close Hatches wired the muddy Personal Ensign, earning giant pace figures along the way, and then was dueled into submission in the Spinster at Keeneland by the 1st-time blinkered Ria Antonia (15-1). The change of tactics served the latter well, as she held for second. Don't see why we'd see anything different here, and with $2 million on the line, we might see some speed surprises from the inside too; particularly from Iotapa (6-1), who'd shown improved early speed before a sluggish break last time out (and who won the G1 Vanity here three back, earning a 120 TFUS figure which tops this field).
So, why can't Don't Tell Sophia (5-1) get a pace setup similar to the one she took advantage of to come on and win the Spinster? This hard-hitting 6yo daughter of Congaree always fires, and has won four of her last five. She's been particularly sharp in her last two, which came off a 175 day break, overcoming a slow pace to win at Churchill, and then her Spinster win, which represented a breakthrough in Grade 1 company. Now she goes third off the layoff for trainer Philip Sims, who has a TFUS trainer rating of 92 (out of 100) in that category, and a perfect 100 in 3YO+ stakes races. Hoping to see her go off north of her morning line, and can see using her in exactas with Untapable to save.
- In the 6th at Aqueduct, Lady Luciano (9-2) makes her second start off the claim for trainer John Toscano, who is happy to be back at the Big A; he celebrated by scoring with a longshot winner (with this horse's rider Ruben Silvera) on opening day to break a long losing schneid from Belmont. He claimed this 3YO daughter of Frost Giant for 40K two races back, and protected her in Starter Allowance company last time out. That was a fine second in which she stalked a lively pace, responded dutifully when prompted mid-stretch, but failed to hold off Costenia, a Toddster 4-5 favorite who next ran a good second in a Keeneland allowance. She earned a TFUS figure of 83, the best last-out number in the field. Lady Luciano seemed to get a little distracted on the turn and in upper stretch; she kept turning her head to the inside. Been 49 days off and two half-mile breezes since then; hopefully she'll be more professional in this spot. Pace Projector shows her (#4) in prime stalking position (after a half mile) behind a horse stretching out beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time.
Queen Corey (3-1) was claimed out of her winning debut by Linda Rice (also with a winner on opening day). Steps up to face winners from maiden claiming company.....but the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place winners from that race all came back to win, and she really doesn't have all that far to improve in the speed figure department to be prominent here. Best of luck and have a great day.