Mucciolo’s Live Longshots on Breeders’ Cup Saturday
In a search for some live price plays that could, if nothing else, make the vertical exotics juicier on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, I’ve landed on the following horses:
Recent Woodward S. (G1) upsetter Shaman Ghost (20-1) is a great example of a talented sophomore who took the next step at four, with more room for improvement being relatively lightly raced with just a dozen career outings. The bay son of Ghostzapper will have to find another gear to make a big impact in this strong field, but I think there is the likelihood of a late runner getting into the money with speed contenders California Chrome, Arrogate, Melatonin and to some extent, Effinex, in the field. Equipped with Lasix for the initial time in the Woodward, Shaman Ghost topped a an accomplished group and shows a sharp half-mile move at Santa Anita to hint that he likes the locale.
Ironicus (8-1) makes a second start off the layoff for conditioner Shug McGaughey and nearly stormed home a winner in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) last time, missing by just a head under the line. The consistently good son of Distorted Humor has been handled ideally by his connections, finishing either first or second in 10 straight races, including five in succession at the graded level. While I do have doubts he will be able to match the turn of foot of some of his European foes, Ironicus lands in a field full of early speed and things could set up for a strong run inside the final furlong with regular rider Jose Ortiz.
Filly and Mare Sprint:
Gloryzapper (15-1) is my favorite longshot of the weekend and I will be using her in everything at an expected big price. Trained by Phil d’Amato, the lightly raced daughter of Ghostzapper has been most impressive in her last two dirt tries: a win in the L. A. Woman (G3) most recently and a game allowance tally three back over the ultra-talented Vale Dori, who came back to win by more than 10 lengths last Friday for Bob Baffert. This dark bay four-year-old might be the one to catch in this spot with the other early types to her outside and if she breaks well, look for Stewart Elliot to set sail for the front. A trio of strong recent drills on this strip makes Gloryzapper most appealing to me.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won this race three times in the 21st century and since I never question the decisions made by this expert horseman, I will tab Ulysses (12-1) as a contender in a very good field. The lightly raced son of Galileo has been highly regarded by his connections since early in his career and while his credentials are lesser than those of his stout counterparts, the sophomore’s ceiling may be higher than some or all of his foes. In addition to Stoute’s confidence, my colleague, Kellie Reilly, spoke well of this three-year-old, and the opinions of those two experts are more than good enough for me.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has my two live longshot plays in Theory (12-1) and Syndergaard (6-1). In terms of raw talent, it’s possible these two are right at the top. The former is a son of Gemologist who is unbeaten from a pair of tries, including an easy tally in the Futurity (G2) leading up to this. The $335,000 juvenile buy has never been two turns nor in a field of this quality, though he has done nothing wrong to this point and can’t be faulted for that. The price looks right with Javier Castellano in the silks.
The latter was ultra-impressive in the Champagne S. (G1), suffering his first defeat by a scant nose. $450,000 son of Majesticperfection set scintillating early splits, was confronted in early stretch, and dug in gamely to never give up while well clear of third. The Empire State-bred will also be making a two-turn debut in this field and while the pedigree suggests it could be challenging, his talent should make up for it. The lone concern is the chestnut getting hooked up in an early speed duel from post 2 if he fails to clear.
As stated previously, I have long liked Limousine Liberal (15-1) and the four-year-old could be the one in a field with quality speed. Trained by Ben Colebrook, the talented son of Successful Appeal is far from a win machine but comes off a huge runner-up showing to A. P. Indian, who is the nation’s best one-turn horse not based in the Golden State. The dark bay gelding has early foot but is a stalker when at his best and the potential of him sitting a few lengths off of contested and swift fractions, while getting first run on the late closers, makes Limousine Liberal worth it to me after a recent sharp bullet drill.
Filly and Mare Turf (G1):
Sea Calisi (8-1) has done little wrong from four starts this season since arriving from Europe, capped by a score in the Beverly D. S. (G1) two back. The Chad Brown pupil had a pretty solid prep race for this when third in the Flower Bowl (G1) last out and I fully expect her to improve second time off the layoff in this affair. Well drawn on the rail to save ground to the top of the lane, the four-year-old daughter of Youmzain faces a stellar cast but could get a dream set-up in a field with a lot of pace signed on. Florent Geroux will guide Sea Calisi for the third straight time and the late runner could be moving as well as any inside the final furlong.
Shaman Ghost photo courtesy of David Alcosser/Coglianese Photography