Breeders' Cup Saturday Plays

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November 3rd, 2017

2017 Breeders' Cup Saturday Plays at Del Mar

Breeders' Cup Saturday is always a blockbuster program. Nine championship events, capped by the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, will be offered at Del Mar and here are my thoughts on the sequence.

Juvenile Fillies (early Pick 4 starts)

Three of the last four winners were 30-1+ and Songbird captured the 2015 edition at 3-5. We won't to worry about prohibitive favorite in this year's Juvenile Fillies as a contentious field of 13 will face the starter.

The Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland was the toughest prep in my estimation and I like #1 Heavenly Love right back off a 5 ½-length decision. The daughter of Malibu Moon raced up close from the start last time and is eligible to receive a good trip just off the speed here. After finishing second with Valadorna last year, trainer Mark Casse and jockey Leparoux can make amends with Heavenly Love.

Alcibiades runner-up #3 Princess Warrior is my other key. A sharp debut winner two back, the Midshipman filly dropped too far back as the 3-2 favorite last time but offered a nice turn of foot to finish a clear second. Look for her to move forward off that effort and the Midshipman filly could receive the right set-up with a fair amount of speed signed on. Princess Warrior is an appealing 12-1 on the morning line.

#7 Moonshine Memories#8 Piedi Bianchi#9 Alluring Star#10 Maya Malibu and #13 Separationofpowers will be used on a back-up Pick 4 ticket.

Turf Sprint

Well-drawn inside, #3 Lady Aurelia is one of my best bets of the weekend. She has the speed to seize initiative from the start and showed in the Giant's Causeway earlier this year the ability to sit close and pounce. Whatever the early tactics, the Group 1-winning sophomore should be in a prime position turning for home in the short stretch.

Lady Aurelia will be singled on a pair of tickets and I'll use #6 Marsha and #12 Pure Sensation as savers.

Filly & Mare Sprint:

A 7-furlong specialist, #7 By The Moon wound up on the lead by default last time and fought determinedly to prevail late in the Ballerina (G1). I thought it served as an excellent set-up for the classy Indian Charlie mare and two-time Filly & Sprint winner Rajiv Maragh has the call. She rates a slight edge.

Ballerina runner-up #10 Highway Star flattered By the Moon when coming back to win the Gallant Bloom (G2) next out and I'll include the hard-trying Highway Star on all tickets. #11 Unique Bella stretched her win streak to five when returning from a seven-month layoff with a victory in the L.A. Woman (G3). The sophomore has had things her own way against inferior competition in most starts and given her BRIS Speed ratings are on par with several rivals, she is no standout at extremely short odds in my estimation. But the possibility remains she can continue to show more for Jerry Hollendorfer and I'll use her as well as one of my keys.

I'll spread with eight runners on the main Pick 4 ticket.

Filly & Mare Turf

After missing by a nose in the 2016 Filly & Mare Turf, #9 Lady Eli has a fine chance to make amends in her career finale. The Chad Brown-trained mare figures to appreciate the cutback to a 9-furlong distance this year and like how she registered a 111 BRIS Late Pace rating last time.

#5 Wuheida exits a strong showing in France and has made a good appearance locally according to reports. The Group 1-winning sophomore filly could outperform her odds in this spot. #6 Cambodia also offer some appeal off back-to-back stakes wins over Del Mar's turf.

#2 Senga#7 Dacita and #14 Rhododendron will also be added to one ticket.

Pick 4 tickets (races 4-7)

Here is how I'll be playing the early Pick 4 on Saturday:

1,3 with 3 with 2,3,7,8,9,10,11,12 with 2,5,6,7,9,14 ($48)

7,8,9,10,13 with 3 with 7,10,11 with 5,6,9 ($22.50)

1,3 with 6,12 with 7,10,11 with 9 ($6)

Total: $78.50

TwinSpires Sprint:

I thought the inside post did #2 Drefong no favors considering he veered in and dumped Mike Smith when breaking from the same spot in the Bing Crosby (G1) in his 2017 bow, the only time he hasn't dominated the competition since his career bow. I will go a different direction for my top pick.

Other observers may look at where #10 Imperial Hint has been running – Parx, Laurel, Penn National and Gulfstream in the summer – and think he'll be overmatched at this level, but that's zero concern in my book. The 4-year-old has registered century-topping BRIS Speed ratings in the last five starts, with the numbers running as high as 111, and he's fast enough to prevail in this spot. Love the outside draw and Imperial Hint will be forwardly-placed from the start with Javier Castellano.

The Sprint isn't part of either Pick 4.

Mile (late Pick 4 starts):

#6 Zelzal is my top choice. The French-based 4-year-old turned in a spectacular performance winning a Group 1 last year on firm turf and was done no favors by soft ground in the last two outings. Listed at 20-1 on the morning line, the son of Sea the Stars rates as a live longshot in my estimation.

I also like #4 Lancaster Bomber, who was arguably best in the 2016 Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita but experienced a terrible trip finishing second. He can avoid trouble, the War Front colt is eligible to make a serious late impact for Aidan O'Brien. And I can't dismiss the chances of possible favorite #5 World Approval, who has discovered his niche as a miler for Mark Casse and couldn't be coming into the Mile in better form following a pair of convincing Grade 1 tallies.

Will include seven runners on one Pick 4 ticket.


#11 Bolt d'Oro ran much faster than his Juvenile competition winning the FrontRunner (G1) last out, registering a 105 BRIS Speed rating for the 7 3/4-length decision. That number is nine points better than the next-best last-out figure and Bolt d'Oro may not even need his “A” game to prove best here.

I'll use him as a single on a pair of Pick 4 tickets.

If #1 U S Navy Flag takes to dirt, he's eligible to run a big race for O'Brien. Of course that's a big if. Will also save with #12 Hollywood Star, who exits a sneaky runner-up effort in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs and finished a good second to the best 3-year-old on the East Coast, Copper Bullet (who is now sidelined), in the Saratoga Special (G2) two back. I like Hollywood Star's increasing BRIS numbers.


Euros have won seven of the last nine editions of the Turf and defending champ #3 Highland Reel and multiple Group 1 winner #5 Ulysses are the clear horses to beat in my estimation. They will be key to any vertical exotics.

I'll also include #1 Talismanic#6 Cliffs of Moher#9 Seventh Heaven and #13 Sadler's Joy as back-ups in the Pick 4.


#8 West Coast has really come to hand for Bob Baffert in recent months, posting 112 and 108 BRIS Speed ratings for commanding wins in the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and I expect him to receive an ideal stalking trip just off the speed. Three-year-olds have captured the last three editions of this 1 1/4-mile race and I think the surging Flatter colt can prove best over well-respected rivals.

Will also use the imposing #5 Gun Runner on my tickets; the Candy Ride colt has won his last three starts by a combined 22 ¼ lengths and it's easy to be impressed by his BRIS Speed (114) and Late Pace (110) ratings last time.

#1 Arrogate#10 Pavel and #11 Collected will be included in the equation on one ticket.

Pick 4 tickets (races 9-12)

Here are the three Late Pick 4 tickets I will be playing Saturday:

4,5,6,8,10,12,14 with 11 with 1,3,5,6,9,13 with 5,8 ($42)

4,5,6 with 1,11,12 with 3,5 with 5,8 ($18)

4,5,6 with 11 with 3,5 with 1,5,8,10,11 ($15)

Total: $75

Good luck Saturday!