Ironicus the play of BC Saturday, plus a $3 million guaranteed Late Pick 4

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 4th, 2016

I'll admit that this year's Breeders' Cup Saturday card has been a more serious handicapping challenge for me compared to the 2015 program at Keeneland. Here are thoughts, such as they are, on the nine races we'll see.

JUVENILE FILLIES: Frankly, I have no serious opinion on this race and will pass it from a wagering perspective. Few of these fillies have differentiated themselves in the lead-up to this title match-up, and that's okay since you can't (and shouldn't) bet them all. A forced top selection would be Union Strike.

FILLY & MARE TURF: No offense to her opposition, but I really believe this is Lady Eli's to lose. She's that special. I've been a fan of Sea Calisi since the spring and think she does well, but a pecking order between her and Lady Eli seems to have been established in the Flower Bowl (G1). Japanese invader Nuovo Record is my longshot.

SPRINT: The field is now down to seven with the unfortunate scratches of Lord Nelson and Joking. Drefong is my top selection, but A. P. Indian is a clear danger if the pace is lightning hot and he handles the trip west.

TURF SPRINT: The more I've looked at this race, the more inscrutable it's become. Obviously is my top selection, but I'd toss Calgary Cat, Washington DC, Ambitious Brew, Om, and Green Mask in my multi-race exotics. I've been a Pure Sensation fan all year, but he drew poorly getting post 1.

JUVENILE: Not quite as inscrutable to me as the Juvenile Fillies, but a tough one nonetheless. I was most impressed visually by Classic Empire's win in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and he wouldn't need to improve much to take it.

TURF: Flintshire or Found would be enough to satisfy me. I've seriously contemplated standing against Highland Reel, but I'd ultimately come to regret it wouldn't I?

FILLY & MARE SPRINT: A difficult race on paper, but Haveyougoneaway has improved a lot since joining the Tom Morley stable and is coming into this race better than anyone. By the Moon has been lightly campaigned this year and her last two were very strong. My longshot is Finest City, who hasn't won on this track in five attempts, but certainly fits on her Santa Monica (G2) and Great Lady M (G2) efforts. Solid but excusable losses in her last three.

MILE: Ironicus is my play of the weekend, but I'd still include Tepin, Limato, and Ring Weekend in my multi-race exotics for insurance purposes.

CLASSIC: California Chrome is the most likely winner, but I'm not confident enough to single him. I'd throw in Arrogate and Melatonin as well.

With the exception of Ironicus in the Mile, my win wagers will be price dependent. However, the $3 million guaranteed Late Pick 4 looks like it can be had for $54 on a 50-cent ticket. Here's my play:

Race 9: 4,10,12

Race 10: 2,6,12

Race 11: 8,9,10,11

Race 12: 4,6,10

(Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)