Players Pick 5 on Breeders' Cup Friday
by Scott Shapiro
The Breeders’ Cup action does not commence until the 6TH race on Friday afternoon, but my favorite wager in Thoroughbred racing will get things started in Race 1.
The Players’ Pick Five with the low 14 percent takeout includes two optional claiming events and three stakes races and is quite the analytical puzzle. With full fields throughout the sequence, as well as a vulnerable 6-5 favorite, horseplayers have an early opportunity to pad their Breeders’ Cup bankrolls. I do not have a single in the sequence, but will narrow the Marathon down to two runners and go from there.
Here are my thoughts on the five races:
The Friday opener is a seven-furlong dash over the main track for three-year-olds and upward. In my opinion, this is the most wide-open of the five races involved in the Pick 5.
#8 Distinctive B is the deserving 7-2-morning line favorite, however I am concerned that seven-eighths of a mile is a bit longer than he prefers. Additionally, he has taken two months off since his career best performance, but still is likely to regress in this spot. I will use him, but also include #5 Blameitonthelaw going third off the long layoff for John Sadler and price options #3 Ain’t Misbehavin and #9 Westbrook.
The second leg of the Pick 5 is an optional claiming event down the hillside turf course. #3 Watch This Cat took well to the unique configuration last time out and is the one to beat if she can run back to that performance on October 8, but she did get an easy trip that day against lesser. I have a hard time tossing her, but also trusting her enough to single on the class hike. I will also use #5 Tryst in hopes that she moves forward in her first try down the hill, #7 My Palmilla and long shot #8 Ashley’s Sassy who was against the flow in her race in early October.
The third race is the Grade 2 Marathon contested at 1 3/4 miles over the main track. I am going to take a stand in this $200,000 race and use just two runners. #1 Scuba is razor sharp for trainer Brendan Walsh coming off two wins on the East Coast. If he takes to the Southern California surroundings he should beat this group. If not, locally based #8 Hard Aces stands a big shot. The six-year-old son of Hard Spun can run all day and has faced the best handicap horses on the West Coast.
The fourth is the sixth running of the $100,000 Damascus run at seven furlongs over the main track. This sprint drew an interesting field that includes 6-5-morning line favorite #3 Jazzy Times. I am going to take a shot against the three-year-old Discreetly Mine colt after a poor effort in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on October 8. He could win, but I think he is quite vulnerable and worth trying to beat. My price play in this spot is #2 Kafister. At anything near his 15-1-morning line price he will be a Win bet for me. The hard knocking veteran has won 8 of 16 over this track and 12 of 29 lifetime. He is a must use. I will also include #8 Prospect Park off the bench for trainer Clifford Sise. This talented Tapit colt has a ton of talent, but has not been seen since February. His best effort though definitely wins this one. Finally, I will include #9 Navy Hymn. The Songandaprayer gelding has won 5 of 6 at Santa Anita Park and draws well to the outside for trainer Richard Baltas.
The Pick 5 concludes with the fourth running of the Golden State Juvenile Fillies. The seven-furlong sprint drew a field of 11 young ladies. #8 Vai is the deserving favorite and my top pick. The Mark Glatt trained filly has rattled off two straight to start her career, but was not as impressive last time out against winners when she likely regressed off a big maiden score at Del Mar. I will also include maiden #9 My Pi Romancer at a price for trainer Keith Desormeaux, as well as #3 Only You Babe on the cutback to one turn for Northern California based trainer Steve Specht.
Here is my ticket: