The Breeders Cup kicks off today at Del Mar and here at Duck HQ, we are incredibly excited to see the greatest racing show on earth get underway. We are going to be covering every graded contest at the meeting, providing a 1/2/3 in every race. Hopefully we can find plenty of winners and can really enjoy what promises to be a fantastic spectacle of racing.
Just a couple of points to note for anyone that might have missed them:
All horses at this meeting will be running without the assistance of Lasix. Whilst most of the main contenders will have been running without it for some time, we are likely to see some unexpected results.
The short run in at Del Mar will make life hard for deep closers to make up ground.
Track and speed bias will play a major part as in the past, Del Mar has been known to have a dead rail meaning that jockey's like to run out into the middle at the finish. This can cause carnage in the run.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Grade 2) - Race 6
I think it is pretty safe to say that the American's know how to breed and train sprinters better than most. This contest will be run over five furlongs and since its inception, the European raiders have really struggled to make any kind of impact and I think that is likely to be the case again this evening. The reason I am of that belief is due to a variety of things. Firstly, the turf course is almost certainly going to be lightning fast and in my experience, it is extremely difficult for the European juveniles to match the raw and explosive early gate speed of their American counterparts. Secondly, tonight, they're going to have an even tougher time due to presence of AVERLY JANE. This filly is fast and I mean Usain Bolt fast. She broke a stakes record at Keeneland on her last start which prompted Tyler Gafflione to name her as the quickest horse from the gate that he had ever sat on (quite an accolade). I have absolutely no doubt that Tyler will be looking for the lead tonight and even if she doesn't last home, she will probably have gone so fast early that the only runners capable of snatching the win will be those that have had the speed to get a prominent pitch early and sit just off her heels. I simply can't see any of the europeans other than maybe VERTIGINOUS having the early zip required to stick with her, TWILIGHT GLEAMING and ONE TIMER. Now of course with so much speed forecast there is a chance that they all cut each other's throats on the lead and this race falls into the lap of a deep closer such as ARMOUR or DERRYNANE but I just can't see it happening. Whilst I do fancy AVERLY JANE to make all, her connections and her reputation have had a detrimental affect on the price and therefore the value at this point probably lies with ONE TIMER who may have further improvement to come.
SELECTIONS: ONE TIME/AVERLY JANE/VERTIGINOUS
Breeders Cup Juveniles Fillies (Grade 1) - Race 7
A small field is set to go post for this valuable G1 contest for the juvenile fillies. As this race is to be run on the dirt we will not be seeing any international runners. The current favourite is, ECHO ZULU and this filly carries the added pressure of being by GUN RUNNER who was also trained by Steven Asmussen. She comes into this race undefeated having won her first 3 starts in pretty eye catching fashion and in truth she is the only runner in this field who has clocked the kind of numbers usually required to win this race. However, this will be her first start around two turns, she will have to run faster for longer than she has ever done before, she is shipping in and her track work since arriving at Del Mar has been very underwhelming. Whilst I do think she is the most likely winner, for the reasons above, I am certainly not convinced that there is any value to be had at the current price of 10/11. If the fav is to be turned over then realistically there is probably only one horse that can do it and that is JUJU'S MAP. This filly also comes into this race undefeated but unlike her market rival, she is proven around 2 turns and has been working extremely well in the last couple of weeks. Her trainer and jockey combo are a force to be reckoned with in these graded stake routes and whilst I have a feeling, she may struggle to keep tabs on the favourite early, if ECHO ZULU does have a stamina question mark then JUJU'S MAP may well be the horse to exploit it in the straight.
SELECTIONS: ECHO ZULU/JUJU'S MAP
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1) - Race 8
In most of tonight's races its rather difficult to reach the conclusion that the bookies don't have the markets about right as most of the key contenders have been well found. However, this particular contest is wide open on paper and if punters are to walk away with big wins this evening it may well come in this race. The first thing to note here is that US based fillies have won 11 of the last 13 renewals. They are built differently to their European counterparts and they tend to progress quicker. With that in mind, I am going to be concentrating on the US contingent as I do feel that the Europeans will be fighting out for places rather than the win. The starting point in the past for this race has been Chad Brown's barn and he comes here with two live chances in the shape of, CONSUMER SPENDING and HAUGHTY. The former horse has had 3 career starts for Chad and only tasted defeat on debut. Whilst she has a decent enough profile, the fact she has had that extra run may well suggest that this is an afterthought for Chad and I don't like the jockey change either. Chad's other runner, HAUGHTY is a much more intriguing prospect. She comes into this race having had just two runs and is currently undefeated. Whilst her speed figures haven't been outstanding, she looks the type that may have plenty more to come and if her jockey gets his fractions right tonight, she may have too much boot in the finish for her opposition. Looking at the rest of the American crowd, we have a few horses that will be routing for the first time (KOALA PRINCESS and BUBBLE ROCK). This would usually be a major red flag but I guess you could argue that as the likes of CONSUMER and HAUGHTY don't set a super high standard on the ratings front that there is a chance that one of them might run a superior number. Only time will tell and of the two of them, I think BUBBLE ROCK may handle it a little better and she gets Irad in the saddle. All in all, a fascinating little contest and I think any of the first 6/7 in the market could potentially go and win!
SELECTION: HAUGHTY/BUBBLE ROCK/CONSUMER SPENDING
Breeders Cup Juvenile Colts & Geldings (Grade 1) - Race 9
This is probably the most interest race of the evening. It is a top notch G1 contest to be run on the dirt over the extended mile and it is safe to say that there is plenty of intrigue. The first thing that jumps out here is that we have a vast amount of early speed together with a favourite who is likely to fall victim to some rival stable tactics. The current favourite is, JACK CHRISTOPHER. This Chad Brown trained colt has always been held in high regard. He made his debut at Saratoga and won without breaking a sweat. Following that run the dogs were obviously barking because Coolmore elected to buy a leg of him. He then turned up in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont and won comfortably recording a Beyer figure of 102 in the process. On paper it is pretty obvious that he is a very classy animal and I personal think there is plenty more to come but as I mentioned above, I am sure the Bob Baffert team will have a plan to try and throw him off his game with a view to teeing this race up for their stable star. The class horse for Bob Baffert will be, CORNICHE. Now, I am not a fan of Bob, I think he is terrible for racing's image and I like to think that if he was training in the UK he long since would have had his license revoked but I digress. CORNICHE has impressed me massively in his two career starts to date. He may not have been as flashy in victory as JC but he's beautiful bred and just oozes class. All things being in equal, I would be very confident that he is the best horse in this race but he has drawn stall 12 and that is going to make life very difficult for Mike Smith. I can only assume that he will try to break fast get a nice sit in 4th and hope that the leaders go too fast for their own good. That's the dream scenario however and the nightmare scenario would be a wide trip and a searching gallop. As far as the rest of the field are concerned, there is plenty of potential eachway value. The first horse that is likely to be popular with the ew backers is PAPPACAP. Strictly speaking, this horse is held by both, CORNICHE and JC however he has drawn well, should be positioned just off the early gallop and should enjoy the step up in trip. Finally, the complete unknown quantity in here is, JASPER GREAT. This horse has had just the one run in Japan and it was one of the most impressive debuts I've seen in sometime. Now, it is very hard to grade that form but shortly after that win his connections declared their intention to head to Del Mar which suggests to me that they had some idea of what they had. He has an all American pedigree and whilst this is a really tough ask, he may well end up being a massive price tonight.
SELECTIONS: CORNICHE/COMMAND PERFORMANCE/PAPPACAP
NOTE: Since the time of writing, JACK CRISTOPHER has been declared a NR meaning that this should now be a fantastic opportunity for CORNICHE
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1) - Race 10
If the Europeans are going to win a race tonight then this likely to be it. As per usually the international raiders hold a very strong hand and on the whole they are up against a relatively weak bunch of American milers. We will start with taking a look at the two Michael Appleby runners as Godolphin seemingly have a very strong hand here. The current favourite is MODERN GAMES who comes into this contest on the back of a pretty emphatic win at Newmarket in the Tattersalls Stakes. He is a horse that has done nothing but improve this year and whilst he has largely been kept to straight tracks, he is a strong traveller with a great draw and he should have the pace to get a solid position early on which will be absolutely crucial in this contest. The yards apparent second string is, ALBAHR who gets the assistance of Frankie in the saddle. This horse has a similar profile to the stablemate although he is more workmanlike and will need to improve on his Woodbine win significantly if he is to win. That scenario isn't impossible though, as he has looked rather green at times this year and with Kieran Fallon responsible for his gallop work, you'd imagine he may have more tactical nouse than most of his opposition tonight. As far as the rest of the international raiders are concerned, for me, the best horse in this race is without doubt, DUBAWI LEGEND. However, if James Doyle is able to win this race from stall 14, it will probably go down as one of the greatest rides in Breeders Cup history. Make no mistake, he faces a truly monumental task especially as the pace forecast here is likely to be sedate and the current odds of 6/1 about the horse are quite frankly laughable. Looking at the American contenders, you'd have to think that PORTFOLIO COMPANY may well get a dream trip under Flav Prat. However, the horse certainly doesn't have the class of some of European rivals and if he is to win, it will have been because Prat has managed to steal it but he is a live place contender.
SELECTIONS: MODERN GAME/PORTFOLIO COMPANY/DUBAWI LEGEND
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The Duck 🦆