Tough post for Nyquist, Liam’s Map starts in a favorable position
Post positions were drawn early Monday afternoon for 11 of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races, with the University of Kentucky’s John Calipari serving as the emcee for the Classic and Distaff draws later in the day, and there were a few notable takeaways.
Inside posts excelled in dirt routes at Keeneland this fall, especially over the final week of the meet that ended Saturday, and a couple of probable favorites will be starting from outside gates in the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.
Nyquist, unbeaten in four starts, got the worst of it in the 14-horse Juvenile, receiving post 13. Trainer Doug O’Neill would probably prefer to sit just off the early leaders from a better position, but the difficult draw likely forces his hand given that the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and FrontRunner (G1) winner possesses good speed. I’m expecting to see jockey Mario Gutierrez send Nyquist from the get-go, but they still risk getting caught wide into the first bend.
Songbird is the one to beat in the Juvenile Fillies, winning all three starts with authority, but she’ll have to overcome the outermost post among 10 runners. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is more of a confirmed front-runner than Nyquist and was going to flash forward at the start regardless, but jockey Mike Smith may be asking her a little more now from the gate, trying to clear rivals before the first turn.
On the other side of the equation, Liam’s Map drew perfectly in post 3 for the Dirt Mile and looms as the most overwhelming favorite among four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday. Not only did the post draw go perfectly in an 11-horse field, but Liam’s Map won’t have to deal with the speedy Appealing Tale, winner of the Kelso Mile (G2) and Pat O’Brien (G2) in his last two outings, after that rival was withdrawn Sunday due to an injury.
Opinions differ on Runhappy’s woes from the starting gate, with some handicappers viewing it as a non-factor, but I’ve watched all his races and been dismayed by his tendency to break flat-footed, most notably in a pair of convincing victories the last two starts, the Phoenix (G3) and King’s Bishop (G1).
The probable TwinSpires Sprint favorite received post 5 in a 14-horse field. It’s not as bad as being in post 1 or 2 at the six-furlong distance, but there are still nine horses to his outside and Runhappy risks being blocked with another slow start.
Brisnet.com has the Breeders' Cup PPs files available for all 13 races -- 4 on Breeders' Cup Friday (30th) and 9 on Breeders' Cup Saturday (31).
And check out the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup News & Notes blog for all the news, features & photos in one place!