Mucciolo: Breeders' Cup reflections; the good, bad, and ugly
I survived yet another Breeders’ Cup weekend, and I once again came out on the positive side of the ledger, albeit by a small amount. The World Thoroughbred Championships have been good to me on more occasions than not over the years, but I did leave it very late this season to find a signature win.
Here are a few of my experiences from the grand weekend of Breeders' Cup racing:
My top pick in the Turf (G1), Yibir, won the race with a fantastic closing effort for trainer Charlie Appleby. And my third choice, Teona, checked in third. It would have been utterly fantastic for me if the latter grabbed the place spot, but nonetheless, I spread well enough with that duo, and the trifecta paid handsomely to turn my weekend around.
On a side note, Yibir displayed a monstrous closing kick in each of his two stateside starts this season despite being a bit unfocused at times, and he is an ultra-exciting performer to keep tabs on whenever he races going forward. Especially if the colt ever puts it all together!
I had a lot of eggs in the basket of War Like Goddess in the Filly and Mare Turf (G1), both as a single in the vertical exotics, and in various exacta and trifecta wagers, as well. When the Bill Mott trainee went from last-to-first in a virtual hand ride to gain the edge in early stretch under Julien Leparoux, I thought the race was over. But I was obviously wrong.
Imports Loves Only You and Love were the two horses that I feared most in the affair, and each registered a top-four finish while Goddess was somehow nailed late for the place spot and finished third. I can’t fault my top selection for her huge showing in defeat, but I could have structured my wagers a bit better and ensured myself of making a profit in the turf tilt that I handicapped pretty well.
I punched a fairly expensive (for my standards) Pick 4 ticket with a lot of confidence, and surviving the opening leg was my major fear. Using Space Blues, Master of the Seas (who was a gate scratch), Pearls Galore, and Mother Earth, I advanced to the second leg after Space Blues put on a classy performance for Godolphin. And then the ugly occurred.
The Distaff (G1) featured a powerhouse cast with numerous major contenders, and I felt good that the favorites would duel early and tire in the lane, which happened exactly as I had hoped. Royal Flag, Clairiere, Malathaat, and Dunbar Road, represented the top closers in the field in my opinion, and I was sitting pretty when the pace players were rapidly backing up in the lane to set things up for that quartet. Or so I thought.
Japanese invader Marche Lorraine not only pulled off a remarkable upset in the race, but to her credit, she earned it every step of the way. The daughter of Orfevre held off challenge after challenge to finish first in one of the tightest, and most painful, photos I have witnessed in a while.
I used seven of the 11 horses in my Pick 4, but didn’t include the 45-1 upsetter. The lesson I hope that I learned (probably not) is -- if I go that deep to spread in a race, just click the ‘all’ button and invest a little more in the wager. And especially so in the Breeders’ Cup, when the impossible often becomes possible.