Breeders’ Cup Saturday Stakes Recaps
BREEDERS’ CUP 2019 STAKES RECAPS
Saturday, November 2, 2019
BC FILLY & MARE SPRINT – Winner: Covfefe ($5.00)
Covfefe was a solid win contender on paper. The big question was the kind of trip the early-pressing type would get from the rail. Danuska’s My Girl was drawn in post 2, and she was a bit quicker than Covfefe early, and Heavenhasmynikki joined the pace from post 3. Spiced Perfection tracked from the outside post, and the race was on. Covfefe put away the aforementioned three rivals and opened up a 2-1/2 length lead in the stretch. The race was really over at this point, but Bellafina made a sustained run and cut into the winning margin, which was 3/4ths of a length at the wire. Bellafina ran a big race over the speed friendly main track and was 7+ clear of late running show finisher Dawn the Destroyer. Spiced Perfection lost 3rd late, and was followed by Danuska’s My Girl, Come Dancing, Selcourt, Lady Ninja, and Heavenhasmynikki.
BC TURF SPRINT – Winner: Belvoir Bay ($31.60)
Having turf sprint experience at Santa Anita has been the key to success when the Turf Sprint is run at the Great Race Place. That is why I went with Eddie Haskell, but he was shuffled back more than once in a miserable trip. Peter Miller is a deadly turf sprint trainer, and his 2-time Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal tried to win the BC again, but he has lost a step and weakened after chasing the pace. Miller also saddled Belvoir Bay, and she made short work of this field. She cleared from post 12 under Javier Castellano and it was lights out. She was never threatened in a comfortable 1-1/4 length front running victory. Om chased from post 11 and just edged fellow forwardly placed runner Shekky Shebaz for runner-up honors. Stubbins was up for 4th and just ran out of ground. Pure Sensation raced evenly in 5th, and was followed across the line by Imprimis, Leinster, Stormy Liberal, Final Frontier, Totally Boss, Eddie Haskell, and Legends of War.
BC DIRT MILE – Winner: Spun to Run ($20.20)
Spun to Run went straight to the front and kept on finding in a sharp 2-3/4 length victory. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode like the best jockey in the country this weekend. He was outstanding on dirt and turf. He understood how both surfaces were playing and frequently put his horses in the right spot. Omaha Beach was the beaten favorite, and I was stunned to see him so far back early. I am not sure what jockey Mike Smith was thinking. He showed excellent tactical speed in the past and was in striking range throughout in his SA Sprint Championship (G1) return at six furlongs. He tracked Shancelot that day, and he is one of the fastest sprinters in the country. How could he be more than six lengths back from a perfect middle post in this one mile race? The even money favorite made a sustained wide run to finish a clear 2nd. Blue Chipper was ridden perfectly by Flavien Prat. The shipper from Korea chased the winner throughout and was best of the rest in 3rd. Even Snapper Sinclair from post 10 was positioned in front of Omaha Beach for the first half-mile or so. He ended up an okay 4th. Improbable was 5th as my top choice. I had the right idea in regards to looking for a front running winner, but I landed on the wrong horse. I do not blame Rafael Bejarano at all. He tried to get Improbable close to the pace from post 2, and he was pushing on him early. Unfortunately, he was not quick enough to get to the front, and he chased inside and was not able to make a serious impact. Coat Front, Mr. Money. Diamond Oops, and Ambassadorial were next, and Giant Expectations was the distant trailer.
BC FILLY & MARE TURF – Winner: Iridessa ($28.40)
I did not think Sistercharlie was a lock to repeat due to a strong overseas presence, but a top three finish was a near certainty. Mirth was a runaway early leader under Mike Smith, but she figured to find this company too classy, and that was the case. After Mirth came back to the field, the real running began. Vasilika was in the right spot under Flavien Prat. She was sitting a clear 2nd behind Mirth and was patiently waiting for that one to get tired. She had a good three-length cushion on Iridessa for at least the opening six furlongs. Her cushion over the eventual winner evaporated and they both went after the lead in the stretch. Based on the way the race shape played out, it really was a match race between the two chasers, and the overseas runner prevailed by a hard fought neck. Vasilika ran a winning race but came up just short while well clear of the rest. Sistercharlie outfinished my value top choice Fanny Logan for show honors, and they were followed across the line by Just Wonderful, Mirth, Villa Marina, Billesdon Brook, Mrs. Sippy, and Castle Lady.
BC SPRINT – Winner: Mitole ($5.60)
This was a classic case of pure speed vs. class. Shancelot was wickedly fast early, and Mitole was a multiple G1 winner between 7-8 furlongs. Shancelot was my best bet top pick, and he put in a dazzling opening quarter in 21.47. Mitole was training lights out for this engagement and he sat the Omaha Beach trip. That one chased Shancelot and ran him down in the local prep for this, and it was Mitole’s turn today. The Steve Asmussen trainee came after Shancelot in the stretch and class prevailed by a length and a quarter under Ricardo Santana Jr. Shancelot did everything but win in an excellent clear place finish under his new rider Jose Ortiz. One of the closers figured to get a piece, and last year’s Sprint runner-up Whitmore took show honors this year under Flavien Prat. Engage was an okay 4th, and Firenze Fire was right behind him. Hog Creek Hustle was another nose back in 6th, and Catalina Cruiser and Matera Sky trailed.
BC MILE – Winner: Uni ($9.20)
Even though the pace scenario was muddled in this 13-horse field, it really did look like a match race between the two ladies. Got Stormy was my top choice based on her tactical speed and nice middle draw. Uni was more of a late runner and figured to need racing luck, but there was no denying her electric turn of foot in the stretch. The pace was honest with Hey Gaman, El Tormenta, and Bowies Hero from post 12 taking the first three spots early. True Valour was next, and Got Stormy was in a great spot in 5th. The latter got the first run as expected, but Uni was uncorking a big run under Joel Rosario. If it wasn’t the Ortiz brothers, it was Rosario this weekend, and trainer Chad Brown had a sensational BC as well. Uni’s strong late kick was just too much for Got Stormy and the final margin of victory was a length and a half. Got Stormy was second best in a strong effort, and Without Parole was along for 3rd under Irad Ortiz Jr. The latter might be one to watch next year for Chad Brown. Circus Maximus just missed holding the show, and Bowies Hero was behind him. Flavien Prat gave the latter a fighting chance from an outside post. Definitely cannot fault that ride. El Tormenta, Hey Gaman, Space Traveler, Lord Glitters, and True Valour were next. There was a dead-heat for 11th place between Lucullan and Train Fluors, and Next Shares trailed throughout from post 13.
BC DISTAFF – Winner: Blue Prize ($19.80)
I was wrong about Blue Prize. She was not my top pick in the BC Distaff last year, but I thought she had a good shot at her home track (Churchill Downs). At Churchill and Keeneland, she is really good, but I did not think she could elevate her game on the road in SoCal, especially from post 11. Wrong! Serengeti Empress ensured honest splits, and Flavien Prat gave her the ride and trip she needed. It looked like she might pull off a front running upset, but Blue Prize had all of the momentum from off the pace and Joe Bravo simply outmaneuvered Mike Smith. The latter jockey was aboard strong favorite Midnight Bisou, and I am surprised that she did not win this race. She was 7-for-7 this year and this race set up perfectly for her. She was four positions in front of Blue Prize early, and was still in front of that one after the first half-mile. Blue Prize made her move shortly after that, and that was the difference maker. Midnight Bisou was a 1/2 length in front of the winner after a half, but at the six furlong mark Blue Prize was a length in front of the chalk and moving forward. Blue Prize made that big, wide, sweeping move and won the race right there. Midnight Bisou angled out in the stretch and finished well but Blue Prize got the jump and already won the race at that point. Midnight Bisou was clearly second best and Serengeti Empress was best of the rest in 3rd. Ollie’s Candy chased the pace and ended up an even 4th under Joel Rosario (good ride). Dunbar Road was unable to get into the race and was taken out of her tactical game. She ended up an okay 5th. Not a bad effort for the lightly raced 3yo filly. Mo See Cal chased and retreated to 6th, and finishing behind her were Wow Cat, Street Band, Secret Spice, La Force, and Paradise Woods (broke slow from post 1, rushed up, faltered).
BC TURF – Winner: Bricks and Mortar ($4.00)
Bricks and Mortar probably sealed the deal for Horse of the Year with his victory in the Turf. Acclimate set the pace as expected, and the 40-1 longshot also weakened as anticipated by just about everyone. Hopefully some of the Today’s Racing Digest fans watched my BC Saturday video. I gave out a horse worth betting in each of the BC races, and my Turf horse to bet was United. He went off at 51-1, and he tracked the pace under Flavien Prat and almost pulled off one of the biggest BC upsets ever. He has the lead in the stretch but Bricks and Mortar got an outstanding patient ride and prevailed by a head. Who rode the winer? But of course it was Irad Ortiz Jr. Patience is the key in these marathons, and trainer Chad Brown pegged this one in interviews prior to this race. He said he wanted him patiently ridden in midpack and within striking range, and he got his wish. Quality trips and smart rides mean everything in these big races, and Ortiz Jr. did everything right again. United could not have run any better for Richard Mandella. This was his first marathon try and he has a bright future in these long distance turf races. This was no fluke. He is a quality turf runner in SoCal. Anthony Van Dyck did not have the smoothest journey under Ryan Moore. The overseas shipper ended up a solid 3rd. Zulu Alpha went from last to 4th, and was followed by Alounak, Mount Everest, Channel Cat, Arklow, Acclimate, Baudua, Old Persian, and Channel Maker.
BC CLASSIC – Winner: Vino Rosso ($11.20)
I was all over this one. Vino Rosso was my top choice because he was a sharp, fresh, tactical G1 winner at the Classic course/distance. It did not hurt to have Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle either, and he put Todd Pletcher’s colt in the right spot throughout. War of Will was the early leader but he was way too slow on paper and retreated as expected. McKinzie was in a great forward spot under Joel Rosario. This is the ride and trip the Bob Baffert trainee needed. Unfortunately for him, a mile and a quarter is a bit beyond his reach. He took the lead around the far turn and into the stretch, but Vino Rosso never looked like a loser. He was traveling smoothly in 4th, ranged up outside McKinzie in the stretch, and pulled well clear to win by 4-1/4 lengths. He was much the best in this race. Higher Power rallied from midpack and was best of the rest in 3rd under Flavien Prat. Elate ended up too far back early and was well clear of the rest in 4th under Jose Ortiz. The top four BC jockeys dominated the Classic superfecta. Math Wizard rallied from last to get 5th, and picked up 3% of the purse in the process. I am sure his connections are happy with that $180k result. Seeking the Soul and Code of Honor were next, followed by Yoshida, War of Will, and Owendale. Mongolian Groom chased the pace under Abel Cedillo before suffering an injury to his left hind leg in the stretch. He was pulled up and vanned off, and could not be saved in a very sad ending to the 2019 BC races.