Shapiro’s Late Pick 4 analysis for Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day at Santa Anita

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TwinSpires Staff

September 28th, 2018

Accelerate wins the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar (c) Benoit Photos

by Scott Shapiro

A quartet of “Win & You’re In” events headline a massive day of racing on Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day at Santa Anita Park.

The American Pharoah (G1) is the first of the four races with Breeders’ Cup spots on the line in Race 6 and then three others make up an All-Stakes Pick 4 sequence that commences in Race 9 with the Chandelier Stakes (G1).

Here are my thoughts on the races that make up the late Pick 4:

RACE 9: Chandelier

The 1 1/16-mile race for two-year-old fillies gets things started. The $300,000 event drew a compact field of six led by Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Sorrento (G2) winner BELLAFINA (#6) (9-5 ML). The $800,000 FTF March 2018 purchase for Kaleem Shah was beaten as the 1-2 favorite on debut at Los Alamitos, but has done nothing wrong since. Like everyone in this field outside of longshot VIBRANCE (#3) (8-1), the question now becomes how she takes to a route of ground. I expect her to be just fine though going two turns.

The highly regarded BRILL (#4) (3-1) disappointed badly last time out in the Del Mar Debutante when she simply failed to fire, but I expect her to bounce back in this spot. The $1 million purchase for Oxo Equine should appreciate the increase in ground and appears the likeliest to turn the tables on Bellafina.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert sends out two contenders as well in the Chandelier.

MOTHER MOTHER (#1) (4-1) was beaten on the square by Bellafina in the Del Mar Debutante after an extremely impressive debut effort on July 22. The half-sister to 2014 Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve gets blinkers and Mike Smith so I expect her to be sent to the lead from her inside draw. At 4-1 she presents the best value option.

DER LU (#5) (4-1) makes up the second half of the uncoupled Baffert entry. The $900,000 daughter of Orb won going away at 3-5 in her first start on August 5. The “waters get deeper” for the Baoma Corporation filly, but she may have the talent to be competitive with this bunch. I will include.

RACE 10: Rodeo Drive

The second leg of the late Pick 4 is the $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1). The 1 1/4-mile race over the Santa Anita sod looks like a two-horse race between VASILIKA (#6) (8-5) and CAMBODIA (#8) (9-5).

Vasilika got the best of Cambodia last out in the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar when the daughter of Skipshot saved a bit more ground and had enough in the lane to best the Winter Quarter Farm mare, who disappointed backers at 4-5. It remains to be seen who will be better at 10 panels since neither have traveled that long in their careers. I cannot separate the two of them.

RACE 11: Awesome Again

The 1 1/8-mile event only has a purse of $300,000, but it does reward the winner with a berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The 2018 Awesome Again also looks like a two-horse race on paper.

ACCELERATE (#6) (3-5) is the clear one to beat after his 12-length romp in the Pacific Classic (G1) in mid-August, but he meets 2017 Eclipse Award winning three-year-old male WEST COAST (#5) (7-5).

Accelerate has put forth four consecutive triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings, including a career-best 114 last out, but I doubt trainer John Sadler has him fully cranked with the Classic in Louisville, Kentucky, being the clear end game.

West Coast has not raced since a runner-up effort in the March 31 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), so it is hard to imagine he will be at the top of his game.

I would love to side against these two, since there are reasons to think they will not be at their best, but the competition is just too light to endorse any of their rivals.

RACE 12: Unzip Me

This $75,000 race down the hill may not reward the winner with a spot in the Breeders’ Cup, but it is by far the best wagering event in the sequence. There are several ways to go, but I will be aggressive and single HEY NEGRITA (#5) (5-1).

The Allied Racing Stable filly cuts back to one turn after a less than ideal voyage victory going 1 1/16 miles over the Del Mar grass on September 2. The daughter of Langfuhr retains the services of jockey Drayden Van Dyke and should be rolling late in her initial try down the hillside turf course.


Race 9: 1+4+5+6
Race 10: 6+8
Race 11: 5+6
Race 12: 5