11/04/2011 12:16PM

Breeders' Cup Friday!


1:15 pm: You've had Nov. 4 circled on your calendar through many months of fevered anticipation and now it's finally here: Opening Day at Aqueduct!

Oh wait, you say there are some pretty good simulcasts from Churchill later today?

The only announced changes for the six Breeders' Cup Friday races as of 1:08 pm are the scracthes of the two also-eligibles in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (#15 Bourbonstreetgirl and #16 Karlovy Vary) and Medaglia d'Amour from the Ladies' Classic, which was announced yesterday. Also, in race 2, a N1x allowance that is the second leg of the new 50-cent pick-5 on races 1-5, #3 Notoriety and #4 Santiva have been scratched.

Still haven't decided whether to make a token pick-5 play or not. I haven't exactly spent a lot of my time this week on the four non-Cup races that kick off the Friday card, and there's also the issue of not wanting to get blown out of three multirace exotics if I'm wrong about the Juvenile Soprint, which at race 5 is the fifth leg of the pick-5, the third leg of the ealr pick-4 on races 3-6 and the first leg of the pick-6 on races 5-10. I'm leaning towards playing the latter two instead.

As I wrote in the Friday column, today's races struck me as a potential chalkfest. On the other hand, when was the last time you saw six straight Cup races go off without something goofy happening in one of them? So my multirace strategy is proably going to be a C-heavy Pick-6 play, the kind that could have netted a sharper person a cool $800k 363 days ago for combining five perfectly haveable winners with Dakota Phone. That one still smarts.

As for Aqueduct, Shug McGaughey is the leading trainer at the meet after Aquifolia ($8.10) ran down 79-1 (!) Silver Mast to win the opener, the first of the next 1100 or so NYRA races that will be run at Aqueduct until Belmont re-opens in about six months.


1:58 pm: Oh, why not:

AAAAA: 96 @1.50 = $144

AACAA: 72 @ $1.00 = $72

AAAAC: 288 @ $0.50 = $144

Total: $360.00


2:10 pm: Rothko ($5.00), 3-year-old Padua homebred trained by Asmussen, stalked from third early, blew past the leaders on the turn and drew off by what seemed like the length of the stretch to win the opener in 1:09.52. Rothko has now won three straight races, a Saratoga maiden race and Monmouth N1x before today's N2x, after losing his first two starts.

The Churchill main track is labelled muddy but appears to be drying out and may be upgraded to good or fast by the first BC race, the Juvenile Sprint, scheduled for 4:10 pm ET.


2:43 pm: Feh, I think. Ran 2-3 with Chilled and Katz My Song behind Congo after a bumpy stretch run in the 2nd where none of the top three finishers kept a perfectly straight course. A tiring Katz My Song was coming out at the inside after leading most of the way, Congo in the middle was bothered by him and may have moved out bothering a slightly-lugging-in Chilled on the outside .Good old TVG cut away to show the 4th from Woodbine before even mentioning that Corey Lanerie on Chilled claimed foul againt John Velazquez and Congo and I'm still waiting for them to come back from a long string of commercials to report the official results.

Oh wait...I got put up! "Apparently Corey Lanerie claimed foul," TVG just reported. And apparently the stewards agreed. Woohoo. Chilled paid $7.00. Congo, placed second, crossed the wire first in 1:38.00.


3:00 pm: I've never passed on a Breeders' Cup pick-4, but as I'm still in action on races 3-5 via the Pick-5, I'm don't really see the point since I don't have much of a position to "protect" and my only opinion in the 6th (Juvenile Fillies Turf) is that the two favorites (Elusive Kate and Somali Lemonade) look pretty good. I wonder how many other people are in the same kind of position after $5 and $7 winners in the two opening legs of the pick-5.


3:34 pm: Fast Bullet, 2-1 favorite in race 4, the Jimmy V Stakes for 3-year-olds, was just scratched at the gate after unseating his rider. Field was backed out of the gate and vets determined Fast Bullet had injured himself.


3:40 pm: Will's Wildcat ($13.20), 12-1 ML who went from 7-1 to 5-1 after the gate scratch of Fast Bullet, took over early and held new favorite Wine Police safe down the stretch to win the Jimmy V. Will's Wildcat, the Jim Dandy pacesetter who then took a tough beat against older N2x horses at Saratoga, is now 3 for 3 at Churchill.

On to the pick-6. Secret Circle opened 1-5 for the Juvenile Sprint.


4:00 pm: Target budget for today's pick-6 was $1,000, went $56 over with the following play:

The all-A's-and-B's ticket is $576, and the 5A's/1C backups are $256, $48, $64, $64 and $48. Normally I wouldn't have used all as C's in the opening leg but I didn't want to get knocked out of 11 races worth of multirace action if one of the five I'm not alive to in the pick-5's (no willpays yet on TVG) wins.

Coverage starts now on ESPN2.


4:30 pm: Secret Circle ($2.80), a surprisingly close second early when no one else went after Trinniberg, was getting a little leg-weary late but comfortably held off the British filly Shumoos to win the inaugural BC Juvenile Sprint in 1:10.52. The final time was nothing special next to the clockings of 1:09.52 in the opener and 1:09.44 in the Jimmy V by Rothko and Will's Wildcat, but he did go faster earlier.

Secret Circle completed a pick-5 that returned $1,629 for $1. Guess I should have been rooting harder for Shumoos ($22,842 for $1, of which I would have gotten half.) Handle on the bet was $535,325, a healthy number for a new pool and a sequence that included only one Cup race. Cup officials had been looking for a pool of about $500k for tomorrow's pick-5, which should be even stronger.

If you took the "over" on how long it would take ESPN to show footage of the Borel/Castellano fisticuffs after the 2010 Marathon, you probably lost: The Marathon isn't until tomorrow, but the fight was shown, apropos of nothing, 25 minutes into today's telecast.


5:00 pm: Stopshoppingmaria looked home with a furlong to go in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but John Velazquez got through on Stephanie's Kitten at the inside and ran down the leader to win going away.

Kind of funny to see Velazquez mowing down a Repole/Pletcher runner; also kinda funny to see the winner's namesake -- Ken and Sarah Ramsey's granddaughter Stephanie -- bringing Stephanie's Kitten into the winner's circle moments after a replay showing Stopshoppingmaria's namesake -- Repole's wife, Maria -- apparently saying a bad word when they got caught nearing the wire.

Stephanie's Kitten could end up presenting an unusual case for a 2-year-old filly championship if there's a big upset in the Juvenile Fillies in an hour. With victories in the still-G1 Alcibiades on Polytrack and now the G2 JFT on grass, Stephanie's Kitten would lack a dirt victory but might attract support if G1 winners Grace Hall, My Miss Aurelia and Weemissfrankie all come up short in the Juvenile Fillies.


5:40 pm: The admirable Musical Romance just won the Filly & Mare Sprint, but she's no cinch to be named the champion filly sprinter over the sidelined Sassy Image.

Musical Romance ($42.40), a 4-year-old daughter of Concorde's Tune, was making her 33rd career start and her 14th of 2011 alone. The BCF&M Sprint, however, was her first Grade 1 victory. In her only previous Grade 1 appearance, she was second by a neck to Sassy Image in the Princess Rooney at Calder while carrying 117 pounds to the winner's 124. Sassy Image, sidelined after bearing out badly and being virtually eased in the Ballerina at Saratoga, won her previous three starts, scoring G1 victories in the Humana Distaff and the Princess Rooney.

Favored Turbulent Descent checked sharply down the backstretch, regrouped and took the lead in upper stretch, but then faded from her exertions in the final furlong. Switch, runner-up in this race last year, loomed dangerously at the furlong pole but flattened out and just got second over Her Smile. 

Something seems to be awry with the Trakus statistics ESPN is posting after each race. Supposedly no horse in the F&M Sprint travelled more than six feet farther than any other, which doesn't seem possible, and the in-race miles-per-hour graphics being generated are useless and silly. And don't get me started on the sillier and uselesser under-the-rail shot they insist on showing down the backstretch in every race, which adds nothing and only breaks the viewer's understanding of how the race might be unfolding.


6:30 pm: So much for any confusion about the 2-year-old filly championship: Miss Miss Aurelia just cemented the title, winning a good Juvenile Fillies over the other divisional leaders (Spinaway winner Grace Hall and Del Mar Debutante/Oak Leaf winner Weemissfrankie). The Stonstreet homebred sat second to Candrea early, shot past her at will turning for home, and finished strongly as Grace Hall put in a good late run for second. 


6:51 pm: Announce, who was acting up on the backstretch, was just scratched with 1 MTP for the F&M Turf, to the visible disgust of jockey Maxime Guyon, who argued to run her. Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the Association of Equine Practicioners, said she was ordered scratched because she had "several scrapes" from "bouncing off the rail" and there was no time to determine how severe the injuries were.


7:05 pm: I've always liked Perfect Shirl ($57.60), a half-sister to Shakespeare, but didn't think she was this good. She had lost nine straight since winning the Lake George at Saratoga two summers ago and failed in her two tries at the Grade 1 level.

I can't see how this one victory in 2011, albeit a good effort beating the European G1 winners Misty For Me and Nahrain, can maker the Eclipse winner. Stacelita, who was clearly not at her best with an eye infection and came up empty after a troubled trip, still looks to me like the pro-tem favorite for that award off her victories in the Beverly D and Yellow Ribbon, but now the door is open for Goldikova to get the nod if she wins the Mile tomorrow. 

Looks like there are five live Pick-Six tickets: Two each to Plum Pretty and Royal Delta, at $444,571.20, and one to Miss Match at $889,142.60.


7:33 pm: ESPN just reported "we were told by the Breeders' Cup" that there is only one live Pick-6 ticket, to Miss Match at $889k, but that sounds wrong since the willpays list Plum Pretty and Royal Delta as paying $444k, suggesting two winners to each. 


8:00 pm: We got the showdown for the 3-year-old filly championship we were hoping for in the Ladies' Classic. Coming to the eighth pole, they were 1-2-3 right where you expected -- Plum Pretty on the lead, It's Tricky bearing down on her, and Royal Delta gaining momentum on the outside. In the final furlong, Royal Delta ran by them both, as she did in the Alabama, nailing down the 3-year-old filly championship.

There were indeed two pick-6 winners, at $444k each, and the late pick-4 paid $23,428.20. The day ends with three of the five filly championships settled -- My Miss Aurelia for 2-year-old filly, Royal Delta for 3-year-old filly and, as we already knew, Havre de Grace as champion older filly or mare. Sprinter and turf filly are open to debate.

Six down, nine to go. On to BC Saturday. Don't sleep in: First post is 12:05 pm ET and the Cup races start with the 3rd, the Marathon, at 1:20 pm.