Hanson: How I will bet Breeders' Cup Friday
My betting plans for Breeders' Cup Friday were thrown a curve earlier this week when a horse I was enthusiastic about backing with gusto, Ain't Easy, withdrew from Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) consideration due to a season-ending injury.
With the Juvenile Fillies field now reduced to six, including an odds-on favorite and a pair of 5-2 morning line chances, I'll sit back and enjoy that championship-deciding showdown as a bit of sport, rather than as a wagering proposition.
However, I'll be very much involved in the other four two-year-old events on Friday afternoon. Here are a few of the plays I'll be taking on:
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2, Race 6, 5:50 p.m. ET)
Trainer Wesley Ward has won the last two editions of this relatively young Breeders' Cup event, and the conventional wisdom is that our American speedsters are too fast for the European invaders to keep up.
That might ultimately prove true again, but it could be worth going against the grain as two of Ward's trio—the fillies #6 Twilight Gleaming (4-1) and #8 Averly Jane (5-2)—might lock horns early and set the race up for someone else.
That someone else might be the best of the European invaders, #7 ARMOR (6-1). The Molecomb S. (G3) winner takes a favorable cut back from six furlongs to five furlongs after failing to see out the longer trip twice at the Group 1 level against Perfect Power, Europe's top juvenile sprinter.
Ryan Moore is back aboard the son of No Nay Never, having teamed up with the colt for two victories and a photo-finish loss in the Flying Childers S. (G2) two back. I'll be backing Armor in the win pool.
Late Pick 3 (Races 8-10, first post time 7:10 p.m. ET)
I might be taking a risk confining my first leg choices to the fillies drawn widest, but I do like #14 CALIFORNIA ANGEL (8-1) and #13 MISE EN SCENE (6-1) the best, and hope either one can work out a winning trip. They both seemingly have the talent to win this.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) has come up a top-heavy race despite a dozen lining up. Fitting a profile similar to that of Good Magic, the 2017 Juvenile winner when this race was last held at Del Mar, is #10 COMMANDPERFORMANCE (5-1).
Although still a maiden (like Good Magic was), Commandperformance comes off a strong second-place finish behind morning line choice #1 Jack Christopher in the Champagne S. (G1). The son of Union Rags is out of a Tapit mare, and thus probably screaming for two turns. He'll be my single in the sequence, and a win play.
The final race of the day, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), is a fascinating betting exercise. #1 MODERN GAMES (5-1) has attracted a lot of hype and perhaps will go favored over the lukewarm morning line choice #14 Dubai Legend.
I also think a pair of under-the-radar U.S. horses are worth using. #6 MACKINNON (8-1) is a dual course-and-distance winner and showed a great deal of maturity overcoming trouble in taking the Zuma Beach S. at Santa Anita last out.
Meanwhile, #3 DAKOTA GOLD (8-1) was an impressive winner of both starts in September, including the $500,000 Nownownow S. at Monmouth Park. He'll be tested for class here, like nearly everyone else, but I won't ignore him since his price is likely to rise into the double digits.