Breeders' Cup Saturday Best Longshot
The TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) is loaded with early speed, with need-the-lead types Runhappy, Private Zone and Favorite Tale all capable of sub 22-second opening quarter-miles, and I’m predicting a pace meltdown that benefits a horse with a formidable late turn of foot, WILD DUDE (#8, 10-1). The five-year-old enters in top form for Jerry Hollendorfer, registering triple-digit BRIS Speed in his last four starts as well as 106 and 108 Late Pace numbers in his most recent outings, and has captured two of his last three starts, the lone setback being a close second to a loose-on-the-lead Appealing Tale (who came back to beat Honor Code and Red Vine next time out). Wild Zone is a six-furlong specialist (6-4-0-2) who can take advantage of the perfect set-up.
The Europeans might wind up occupying the top several slots in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), but in case they don't there is one American entry that seems to have been overlooked all week and deserves a place in exotics at the very least. GRAND ARCH (#1, 15-1) loves the Keeneland lawn with three wins and three seconds from six outings over it, and most recently held off The Pizza Man by a head over yielding ground in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). Last year, Grand Arch finished only a length behind the great Wise Dan in the same race, but was up the track in the Mile at Santa Anita. On a course we know he handles better than most any outside of his home base of Woodbine, Grand Arch should give a good account of himself.
Many will completely discount IVAN FALLUNOVALOT (#6, 30-1) in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but I think the bay gelding may just have what it takes to register the upset. The five-year-old has gone 6-4-2-0 this year and was 6-4-1-0 last season as well. The W. T. Howard trainee has plenty of talent, but has been running in either Texas, Oklahoma or at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas his entire career. This year, at least, he spent the winter/spring months at Oaklawn to take the King Cotton S. and run second in both the Hot Springs S. and Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3). Ivan Fallunovalot took the summer off and returned at Remington Park to add scores in the Remington Park Sprint Cup and David M. Vance Sprint S. to his resume. While that may not seem all that important, it’s the numbers he’s earned while doing so that impresses. The Texas-bred boasts BRIS Speed ratings on par, and in some cases, better than others in the Sprint field, and may just sneak into the winner’s circle on Saturday.
The TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) looks like the place to go hunting for serious longshots, and GREEN MASK (#7, 15-1) has some strong claims on international form. So does stablemate Undrafted, but the 5 1/2-furlong trip is a tad short for him. Green Mask might find it just right. Finding his niche as a turf speedster this season, he was a fast-finishing second in Tampa’s Turf Dash and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, each at five furlongs. Down the straight five at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night, Green Mask finished a bang-up third to Ireland’s Sole Power and Hong Kong’s Peniaphobia. He returned from a nearly six-month layoff to prep in the 6 1/2-furlong Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, finishing fourth in a blanket result, and should move forward in this second start off the layoff. If you need more, Green Mask is by Mizzen Mast, the sire of two-time Turf Sprint queen Mizdirection.