Breeders’ Cup Friday Stakes Recaps
BREEDERS’ CUP 2019 STAKES RECAPS
Friday, November 1, 2019
BC JUVENILE TURF SPRINT – Winner: Four Wheel Drive ($5.00)
Four Wheel Drive was bet down to 3-2 and ran like a strong favorite. He went straight to the front from post 9, and this was a crafty ride by Irad Ortiz Jr. He broke alertly and seized control early, and Ortiz Jr. kept looking inside to get a good look at the early competition, which included Chimney Rock. Ortiz Jr. saw that he could clear the field, and he scooted closer to the rail and it was basically game over after the opening quarter. He was never in any serious danger of losing and won by 3/4ths of a length over Chimney Rock. The latter showed much improved tactical speed under Jose Ortiz and was clearly second best in a solid effort. Another Miracle nipped Kimari for 3rd, and Dr Simpson, Encoder, Dream Shot, Alligator Alley, Cambria, A’Ali, King Neptune, and Band Practice completed the order of finish.
BC JUVENILE TURF – Winner: Structor ($12.60)
In many of these BC races, especially the turf affairs, there are multiple possible outcomes depending on trip and post position, and those factors were on full display in this flat mile turf race. Graceful Kitten had a clear early lead but faltered in the stretch. 116-1 bomber Proven Strategies chased and took the lead in the lane but could not hold off the stretch runners. Local hope Billy Batts outran his 55-1 odds. He was in 3rd for much of the running and lead late, but Structor for Chad Brown sat the winning trip from post 2, and Jose Ortiz gave the winner a beautiful ride. He saved ground stalking the pace from midpack, and patiently sat behind horses while waiting for room in the stretch. He found clear sailing in the lane and took off late to win going away by a bit less than a length. Billy Batts held 2nd by a neck over stalking maiden Gear Jockey. Overbet late runner Decorated Invader was up for 4th, and overseas chalk Arizona ended up a troubled 5th and could have easily been right there with a different trip and post. Proven Strategies weakened to 6th, and there was a dead-heat for 7th between Fort Myers and Hit The Road. The latter bothered Deviant and was placed last through disqualification. Our Country, Andesite, War Beast, Peace Achieved, and Graceful Kitten also ran. Structor is expected to try the Derby trail next year, and he threw his hat in the ring for 2-year-old champion.
The pace did not play out quite as expected. It was contested, and I landed on Bast because I thought she would sit the right stalking trip behind fast fractions. I was not expecting her to be dueling on the lead with longshot Two Sixty and third choice Wicked Whisper. Donna Veloce sat in the garden spot behind the three dueling leaders, and she got first run and took over in the stretch under Flavien Prat. She only had one sprint prep under her belt and her lack of seasoning cost her the win. British Idiom was able to save ground behind the speed, and with two starts and a grade one route win on her resume, she was able to wear down Donna Veloce to prevail by a neck. Bast just kept on trying all the way to the wire and was about two lengths behind the top pair. This was a big effort to finish 3rd for Bob Baffert’s filly. Her two pace rivals faded badly, and the final results could have looked quite different if she was able to stalk the pace. Donna Veloce put in a very big effort in just her second lifetime start. She has plenty of upside. British Idiom will almost certainly get the top juvenile filly award. Perfect Alibi was 4th, followed by Wicked Whisper, Lazy Daisy, Comical, K P Dreamin, and Two Sixty. The final time was a slow 1:47.07.
BC JUVENILE FILLIES TURF – Winner: Sharing ($29.60)
Sharing worked out a super stalking trip from post 11 under Manny Franco. Graham Motion’s well-bred filly was tracking the pace about one path off the rail, and was in the perfect spot for much of the running. Sweet Melania broke from post 12 and was on or near the lead throughout. The Pletcher trainee was in front turning for home but Sharing tipped out, took the lead, and prevailed by a length and a quarter over Daahyeh. The latter was an overseas shipper, and she was my value top choice. She sat a nice inner trip from post 5, but Sharing was a bit more forward while getting the jump on her, and that was the major difference when all was said and done. Sweet Melania held 3rd, and Albigna was too far back in 13th and could only manage 4th. Selflessly was unable to work out a trip from post 13. She was wide throughout while in range, but could not overcome the lost ground and ended up 5th. Croughavouke was next, followed by Abscond, Tango, Shadn, Etoile, Crystalle, Fair Maiden, Unforgetable, and Living in the Past.
BC JUVENILE – Winner: Storm the Court ($93.80)
It was bombs away in the Juvenile, but this was probably not as big a surprise as the payoffs suggest. After Breeders’ Futurity (G1) hero Maxfield scratched, we were left with a less than stellar field of eight with two standouts, and once you got past the two favorites, anyone else could have won. Dennis’ Moment was the favorite based on a big local workout and endless hype from Dale Romans. His main accomplishment was a grade three victory in the Iroquois, and that first Derby points race is hardly a predictor of long term success. Local grade one winner Eight Rings was the second choice, and he sure looked like a need to lead type for Bob Baffert. Dennis’ drew the rail and figured to save ground tracking the pace, and those plans went out the window after he stumbled at the start. The favorite was virtually eliminated before he got started, and the race should have fallen into the lap of Eight Rings. The latter should have been sent to the lead, but jockey John Velazquez is frequently comfortable pressing outside in these situations, and he allowed Storm the Court and Flavien Prat to set the pace. Eight Rings easily handled Storm the Court in the American Pharoah (G1), but the tables were turned today. Storm the Court fought hard throughout on the lead and failed to let anyone pass. Golden Gate turf route maiden winner Anneau d’Or stalked the pace, came up to the early leader and looked poised to go on by, but he was turned away and missed by a neck. The top two were well clear of show finisher Wrecking Crew. The latter chased throughout and was best of the rest. Scabbard ended up a flat 4th. He was the third most likely winner on paper after his runner-up finish in the Iroquois (G3), but that race is looking worse by the moment. Full Flat, a fading Eight Rings, and Shoplifted were next, and Dennis’ Moment trailed throughout. The final time (1:44.93) was much better than the BC Juvenile Fillies, but this did not feel like a strong race, especially with the non-efforts by the two favorites. You can draw a line through this race for Dennis’ Moment. He had no chance to strut his stuff, but he has not really done much yet. He is 2-for-4 with one grade three win. Eight Rings seems to need everything his own way, and he is just too unreliable. The one horse to watch might be Anneau d’Or. This was just his second lifetime start and first on dirt. Just like Donna Veloce in the Juvenile Fillies, he put in an excellent effort considering his lack of experience.