Mucciolo: Juvenile Fillies ripe for a price, but Juvenile all about Bolt
Thirteen two-year-old fillies will go 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar on Saturday in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). This is a well-matched field that could produce a number of different results, and I will take a shot at narrowing the list.
For the sake of having to settle on a horse with value, combined with my respect for the handicapping acumen of my colleague, Vance Hanson, I'll go with CALEDONIA ROAD from the barn of Ralph Nicks. The bay by Quality Road was an impressive debut winner at Saratoga in a strong maiden win and I really liked how this one closed to be a clear second in the Frizette (G1), finishing more than eight lengths ahead of her nearest foe.
The Kentucky-bred has caught "good" and "sloppy" ovals from a pair of runs to date, and if she thrives on a fast surface which she will likely encounter on Saturday, I think she could be moving as well as any filly in the field in the stretch. Getting Breeders' Cup savant Mike Smith in the stirrups is brilliant. With the potential of a sturdy early tempo in this field, the juvenile lass could get the perfect race set-up, too.
SEPARATIONOFPOWERS is an obvious win contender and looked the part in rebounding by taking the Frizette in a professional manner. The Chad Brown pupil is bred to run long and has the early foot to overcome this impossible post, though a tardy break or getting carried wide around the first turn could crush her chances. I have no doubt that this is a fine prospect, but I am not willing to go overboard at an expected smaller price.
Mark Casse is triple-fisted for this affair with impressive Alcibiades (G1) queen HEAVENLY LOVE and Mazarine (G3) starlet WONDER GADOT being the top duo. The former could be any kind after dominating foes on the turf and then on the dirt in her last two, though the rail draw could be a tricky one in a sizable field. The bay by Malibu Moon is another bred to run long and appears to have an extremely bright future. Julien Leparoux rides her once again.
Wonder Gadot has obvious class and could be the one if she happens to thrive on dirt. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro has good gate presence and dons the pedigree to handle this distance and beyond. The dark bay has put in a pair of fine half-mile morning drills in advance of this and will likely be forwardly place once again with go-to pilot Patrick Husbands.
Division leader MOONSHINE MEMORIES is unbeaten from a trio of lifetime runs and the dual Grade 1 queen in also two-for-two on this oval, which is a big edge. The Simon Callaghan trainee is surely fast and the $650,000 daughter of Malibu Moon proved that she can carry her speed last time in the Chandelier (G1) going two turns. The bay didn't come home swiftly, though, which is making me question the class of that field and the juvenile filly division from the west. I will not settle on a short price with this talented Kentucky-bred.
ALLURING STAR led in the Chandlier before being passed and nearly lost the runner-up spot late for Baffert. An $850,000 daughter of Exchange Rate has appeal to me, for sure, with her raw speed and her likelihood to improve in just a third lifetime try for an expert conditioner. I think her price will float up and she should be dead fit with a quartet of morning moves in advance of this affair.
PRINCESS WARRIOR ran second as the 3-2 choice in the Alciabiades and looks like an overlay at 12-1 on the morning-line. The Kenny McPeek trainee has a good turn of foot, and like our selection, she could get a nice pace to run at in the lane from a good draw near the rail to save ground early on. The daughter of Midshipman could be a nice value play for the vertical exotics.
The wagers for me are an across-the-board play with CALEDNOIA ROAD, as well as a exacta, trifecta and superfecta plays with her on top of the aforementioned six other fillies.
BOLT D'ORO will likely be an overwhelming favorite for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), and deservedly so. The Mick Ruis trainee has been sublime from a trio of lifetime runs to date and towers over his foes on paper. Bay son of Medaglia d'Oro is perfect from a trio of runs, was sensational in his two-turn debut and also is two-for-two over this Del Mar surface.
The $630,000 yearling purchase has improved his BRIS Speed figure in every lifetime run and has trained well since as the likely heaviest favorite over Breeders' Cup weekend. The bay colt has no chinks in the armor and will roll home with his best showing. Corey Nakatani will retain the mount atop the Kentucky-bred.
FREE DROP BILLY has done little wrong to date and will make his west coast debut following an emphatic tally in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. One of two from the Dale Romans barn, the son of Union Rags has been first or second in each of his four career tries and could improve in a second run going a route of ground.
Romans will also saddle HOLLYWOOD STAR, second in both the Saratoga Special (G2) and Iroquois (G3). The $550,000 son of Malibu Moon has a fine turn of foot and will pick up Joel Rosario, though the 12 post will not do this one any favors. The dark bay will be a late presence with another move forward.
Unbeaten THE TABULATOR is a big price on the morning line and will get his litmus test in this fray. Larry Rivelli pupil beat the aforementioned at Churchill most recently in acing his first route test, and the $460,000 purchase could be a bit underrated. His :36 and change blowout over this main oval earlier in the week is a positive.
FIRENZE FIRE and GOOD MAGIC ran one-two, respectively, in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park last time out. I'm not sure how much I liked the field on that day, though the latter has more upside after running just twice to date and will get a try at two turns for the initial time. The Chad Brown trainee is bred to love a route of ground and the $1 million son of Curlin is a live exotics player in here with improvement.
Baffert's SOLOMINI was a distant second to the favorite in the FrontRunner (G1) and had to work pretty hard to hold the place spot over a huge long shot, giving me some mixed emotions on his ability at this stage of his development. He rates a top-three chance for sure but would be a surprise in the top slot.
The wildcard in the field is the top European U S NAVY FLAG. Aidan O'Brien trainee comes in off of a pair of superb scores overseas, bagging both the Middle Park (G1) and Dewhurst (G1) for his record-setting conditioner. He draws the rail, but since Euro handicapping savant and colleague Kellie Reilly thinks it would be a lot to ask of this colt winning this race, I will limit his inclusion to the exotics.
It's impossible for me to look past Bold d'Oro from a wagering standpoint. There are two schools of thought in the multi-race wagers with such a popular favorite -- single him and try and catch value elsewhere, or buy the race and hope for an unpredictable outcome. My opinion in this case is to take the free space.
In addition to singling him, I will key "d'Oro" on top in exactas and trifectas with Free Drop Billy, Good Magic and Hollywood Star underneath.
(Bolt d'Oro photo: Benoit Photos)