Breeders' Cup Friday Best Longshot
He might not be classy enough to best the European invaders in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), but HIGHLAND SKY (#5, 30-1) did not get a proper run in the Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont Park last out. Advancing around the far turn along with eventual winner Isotherm, Highland Sky lost all momentum a furlong out when forced to check. Meanwhile, Isotherm’s bid from the back was unimpeded and he rallied to win a three-way photo by a neck. That rival is in Saturday’s Juvenile (G1), leaving Highland Sky an opportunity to make amends, albeit in a congested field of 14 at a slightly shorter distance. Highland Sky has the pedigree to be a good one – his dam is a half-sister to Bit of Whimsy, who captured the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland and later reared Grade 2 winner Caroline Thomas, herself three times stakes-placed on the Keeneland sod. Overcoming backside trouble when taking his debut at Saratoga, the Barclay Tagg trainee worked a bullet around the dogs last weekend on Belmont’s inner turf and figures to move forward again with any luck.
In an evenly-matched renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), STELLAR WIND (#9, 12-1) has plenty of appeal at the price. The winner of five of her last six, including the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), the John Sadler trainee had her streak snapped when fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). That result was better than it appears, considering how far behind she got early, and she cut the deficit in half inside the final furlong. More tactical in her two ensuing starts, Stellar Wind showed good resolve to overcome a wide trip, and concede five pounds to the field, in the Summertime Oaks (G2). Two months later, she scored a resounding victory in the August 30 Torrey Pines (G3) at Del Mar, and follows the same two-month pattern into the Breeders’ Cup. My instinct is that the daughter of Curlin has more upside than most in this race, and if she can find that improvement here, an upset could be brewing.
Even with just one turf start under his girth, CONQUEST DADDYO (#10, 12-1) has a better than even shot at Breeders’ Cup glory on Friday in the Juvenile Turf (G1). The Mark Casse pupil began his career on Woodbine’s Polytrack sprinting six furlongs, and captured his debut before finishing a half-length second in the Vandal S. three weeks later. He then moved over to the turf and came from out of his after a slow start to secure a 1 3/4-length score in the Summer S. (Can-G2) under the returning Joe Bravo. Conquest Daddyo earned a nice 94 BRIS Speed rating for that effort, and has had plenty of time to acclimate to Keeneland as he shipped to Kentucky right after the September 12 Summer S. Casse is no stranger to winning big at Keeneland and could finally earn his first Breeders’ Cup win with this one.
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) post draw was not kind to several contenders, but FRIVOLOUS (#2, 30-1) received the perfect spot in post 2 for a stalking trip just behind the early leaders. A three-time winner at the 1 1/8-distance, the five-year-old daughter of Empire Maker ran the best race of her career in the third start off a freshening this summer, easily defeating Sheer Drama in the June 13 Fleur de Lis H. (G2) at Churchill Downs, and trainer Vicky Oliver wisely gave her a break following a runner-up in the Delaware H. (G1) a month later. She has two starts under her belt since then, posting an easy victory against overmatched rivals in a listed stakes at Churchill Downs before a better-than-it-looked fourth in the October 4 Spinster S. (G1) at Keeneland. Frivolous broke from the extreme outside last time, a draw that cost her any chance at the win as she traveled wide on the first turn and even wider on the final bend, but she offered a nice move between calls to reach a threatening position in upper stretch before flattening out late. She’s eligible to move forward significantly in the third start off a layoff Friday and her BRIS numbers are on par with top contenders; a very live longshot at 30-1 on the morning line.