Speed a common trait in Breeders’ Cup upset selections

Profile Picture: James Scully

November 1st, 2016

Expect some nice win prices in the two-day Breeders’ Cup. From the last three editions at Santa Anita (2012-14), 14 winners returned at least a $20 mutuel from the current 13-race program.

I will recommend a trio who appear capable of outrunning expected long odds and all should be forwardly-placed.

Lull (Friday’s Juvenile Fillies Turf, 15-1): A wire-to-wire winner in her debut at Belmont, Lull rebounded from a nearly disastrous mishap in her second outing (clipped heels and fell at Saratoga) when posting a sharp score in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies in early September. In the October 12 Jessamine (G3) at Keeneland, the bay filly contested a hot pace before finishing a clear second to an impressive La Coronel, who was hurt by post 14 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The set-up appears much-improved for Lull, who isn’t facing a cast full of speedballs like she was in the Jessamine, and the Christophe Clement trainee is well-drawn for a theft job in post 2. I expect her to be clear in the early stages with Joel Rosario and love the regal pedigree for the daughter of War Front; Lull is out of the unraced Tiznow mare Quiet Now, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam and Grade 2 queen Quiet Giant, dam of Dirt Mile contender Gun Runner.

Home of the Brave (Saturday’s Turf Sprint, 12-1): After a respectable sophomore campaign, Home of the Brave opened 2016 with an easy win in late April. Godolphin purchased the 4-year-old shortly afterwards and the front-running colt followed with a nice Group 3 score. He continued to perform at a high level versus better company in his next two starts for up-and-coming English trainer Hugo Palmer, recording a pair of seconds versus Group 2 foes, and the in-form chestnut should appreciate the about 6 ½-furlong distance at Santa Anita. Home of the Brave brings plenty of speed to the equation and can track the action if necessary.

Gloryzapper (Saturday’s Filly & Mare Sprint, 15-1): Despite the presence of 13 entrants, the 7-furlong race features a surprising lack of early speed. And when you consider probable favorite Carina Mia ran her two best races this year rating off the pace in the Acorn (G1) and Eight Belles (G2), and she lost the Ballerina (G1) as the odds-on choice after contesting the pace from the start, chances are good she won’t be dueling with any other speed. Gloryzapper will be sent from the gate by Stewart Elliott and the 4-year-old filly couldn’t be doing any better for dangerous conditioner Phil d’Amato. Throw out the turf start two back; Gloryzapper registered a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating when gamely capturing a Del Mar allowance three starts ago and netted a 100 when taking the local prep, the LA Woman (G3) on October 9. Those numbers are on par with any rival in a less-than-stellar Filly & Mare Sprint field and the improving Gloryzapper continues to show more speed in every start. Don’t be shocked to see her shake loose early.

Here is the breakdown of top Breeders’ Cup win payouts at Santa Anita from 2012-14:



$2 Win Mutuel (race)



$125.40 (Juvenile Fillies)



$62 (Mile)



$40.20 (Sprint)



$29.80 (Juvenile)



$66.60 (Juvenile Fillies)



$27 (Turf)



$23 (Juvenile)



$36.60 (Turf)



$32.60 (Dirt Mile)



$29.40 (Sprint)



$24.80 (Juvenile Fillies Turf)



$20.80 (Classic)



$20.60 (Juvenile Turf)



$20.40 (Filly & Mare Turf)




Gloryzapper photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/