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Breeders' Cup Friday: Live from ... Aqueduct
By Steven Crist
1:30 pm ET: There's power, heat, hot water, phone and wifi service at Aqueduct, luxuries I haven't enjoyed since the hurricane hit and the lights went out on Long Island at 6:52 pm Monday. So here I am in a nearly deserted (two reporters and a lonely mutuel clerk) Big A Press Box for Breeders' Cup Friday.
Looks like about 156 minutes before post for the BC Juvenile Sprint, first leg of a pick-6 I'll be playing, both for myself and for a group of fans at Capital OTB. Capital and I are each putting up $1,000 today and $5,000 tomorrow.
Overall I got lucky with the hurricane -- minor property damage and being cold and cut off from the world for a few days is nothing next to the 100,000 Long Islanders whose homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, and the hordes more who had to be evacuated from coastal areas.
That's not my house in the picture at the right but one right around the corner, and a few blocks up a house completely exploded from a gas leak. Trees are still down everywhere in Hempstead and we're not among the 300,000 people who are getting their power back today but supposedly everyone's electricity will be back by the weekend -- the weekend of Nov. 10-11, that is.
It's been a weird few days, a throwback to Colonial, if not Paleolithic, living: You spend the days foraging for firewood and ice (the stores pretty much ran out of both a couple of days ago), light your evening fire and hope to fall asleep before the wood runs out.
I was able to send and receive texts sporadically if I parked outside the nearest Starbucks, but wasn't able to look at pp's until yesterday. So handicapping has not been foremost on my mind but it's the Breeders' Cup and play we must. I'm going to go try to find some hot soup down in the grandstand and get to work and get that pick-6 play up here before 4 p.m. If you're just getting tied on, here are the Friday BC scratches: Super Ninety Nine is out of the Juvy Sprint; Worth Repeating is out of the Marathon; Sustained and Moulin de Mougin are out of the Juvy Filly Turf, and Infanta Branca gets in from the AE's; and Nereid is out of the F&M Turf.
3:35 pm: Here's the Friday pick-6 play -- I'm putting it in once for myself with my dough, and capital OTB's putting it in once for its customers who won a share. It came out short of $1,000 at $972, which means means I get an extra $28 for tomorrow's play, which will be $5,028.
I'm leaning on Merit Man, who has opened even-money for the Juvenile Sprint, and/or Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic -- it's a great field, but I think her best race beats them. If I can get them both to win, I'm looking for fireworks in the Marathon and the Juvenile Fillies Turf, where I've got a 7x7 if I can stay on the A train in the other four.
What a forlorn field of six this is for the Juvy Sprint. Maybe they need more than $500k, but when this race began last year everyone predicted it would draw full fields because the one thing American racing supposedly has plenty of is 2-year-olds who can go six furlongs.
Thirty minutes to post time.
4:04 pm: Make that a forlorn field of five, including a maiden. South Floyd scratched with two minutes to post.
4:20 pm: Carryover? I'd have had to hit the All Button to use the 0-for-8 maiden Hightail, but congrats to anyone who did and to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has now won 19 BC races and is still the master of gotta-be-in-it-to-win-it. With a tiny field of dubious quality, anything could happen, and it did.
That sound you're hearing is that of 86 trainers kicking themselves for not entering a race that was there for the taking.
Hightail, a $345k March 2-year-old purchase by Bluegrass Hall LLC, lost three starts at Churchill downs, four at Saratoga and one at Keeneland before today, trying dirt, turf and synth along the way. The Mineshaft colt made his first five starts without Lasix, then added it when Bluegrass Hall dropped out of the no-Lasix-pledge group, but raced without it today.
Hightail came up the rail to edge odds-on Merit Man by a head, with Sweet Shirley Mae 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Hightail paid $32.80 as the longest shot in the field of five and ran the 6f in 1:09.75.
4:25 pm: They just finished the Aqueduct card. There's a pick-6 carryover of $10,757 to tomorrow -- the lowest I can recall in the three decades of the bet in New York.
5:00 pm: Whether you liked him or not, Calidoscopio was a pretty cool winner of the Breeders' Cup Marathon.
Making his 40th career start at the age of 9, the Argentine-bred son of Luhuk (Forty Niner) rallied from last to run away with the race with Grassy a distant second and Atigun third. Fame and Glory, the richest and classiest horse in the field, did not handle the dirt in his first start on anything except grass.
Calidoscopio paid $36.40 and completed an early pick-5 -- with 14 percent takeout -- that returned $37,705.45 for $0.50 ($150,821.80 for $2.)
5:55 pm: Flotilla, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths in G1 company i n France last time out, outkicked the field to win the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf by 1 1/4 lengths at an overlaid 11-1. Irish-bred Watsdachances, winner of the P.G. Johnson and Miss Grillo in her two stateside starts, was second with 43-1 Summer of Fun third. Tara from the Cape, who tried to wire the field, was fourth and The Gold Cheogsam finished fast for fifth.
The favorites Sky Lantern and Spring Venture did not have smooth trips, with the former stopped at the inside and the latter very wide turning for home.
Flotilla ($24.80), a French-bred daughter of Mizzen Mast, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Thani, the sixth son of the present Emir of Qatar, and trained by Mikel Delzangles.
6:20 pm: Beholder ($9.80), who was going to run in the Juvenile Sprint until a change of heart by the connections Monday, led every step of the way to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile fillies over the previous divisional leaders, Executiveprivilege and Dreaming of Julia.
It was the first two-turn effort by Beholder, who earned a monstrous 108 Beyer Speed Figure last time out winning a N1x allowance at Santa Anita last time out. Previously, she led until the final strides before being nailed by Executiveprivilege in the Del Mar Debutante.
Beholder broke to the lead and Kauai Katie chased her from the start but could never get lapped on her. Executiveprivilege made a strong move up the inside but flattened out, as did Dreaming of Julia after a menacing middle move.
Beholder. a $180k Henny Hughes yearling, is owned by Spendthrift Farm and trained by Richard Mandella. She set all the fractions -- 22.67, 46.47, 1:11.00 and 1:36.89 with a final time of 1:43.61.
7:05 pm: Zagora ($20.40) got a superior ride from Javier Castellano to win the $2 million BC Filly & Mare Turf, with Marketing Mix second and The Fugue an unlucky third as the 8-5 favorite.
Zagora, who ran the 10f on the turf in 1:59.70, saved ground, moved out in midstretch at just the right time, and finished strongly to run down Marketing Mix. The Fugue was bottled up with nowehere to go almost the entire stretch run after jockey William Buick elected to keep her down at the rail.
Zagora's lone previous G1 victory was in the 2010 Diana. This year, she had won four graded stakes but come up short in her three G1 tries, running fifth in the Jennie wiley, third in the Diana and second in the Flower Bowl last time out.
Zagora, a 5-year-old French-bred mare by Green Tune, is owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown.
There are two live horses in the Pick-6 -- Grace Hall or Royal Delta would reward one winner with $773,865.20, otherwise that's the carryover into tomorrow:
8:00 pm: The outcome was no surprise but the rest of the script was a shocker: Royal Delta, a stretch-runner throughout her career, set a fast pace and just kept going to score a scintillating victory over My Miss Aurelia and defend her title in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff. It was a worthy duel of champions -- Royal Delta was last year's champion 3-year-old filly and My Miss aurelia was last year's champion 2-year-old filly.
Something went awry with Questing, the expected front-runner, who was far behind the field after a quarter of a mile and pulled up shortly thereafter. But this was not a case of Royal Delta inheriting a soft lead: She broke sharply and laid down fractions of 22.69, 45.81, 1:09.80 and 1:35.42. My Miss Aurelia tracked her from the inside and made a bid but Royal Delta was just too good for her and maintained her advantage while stopping the timer in 1:48.80. Include Me Out looked dangerous in upper stretch before flattening out but held third in a good effort. Grace Hall was fourth and Awesome Feather, previously 10 for 10, was never involved.
The victory stamped Royal Delta as an easy choice for Champion Older filly, and she may get some support for Horse of the Year depending on what happens tomorrow. The daughter of Empire Maker is scheduled to race as a 5-year-old next year for Besilu Stables and trainer Bill Mott.
Her victory rewarded one pick-6 player with $773,865.20. No carryover, but we'll be playing.
steve ,i can't find will pays for ladies classic/breeders cup classic can you post them if you have them, thank you
What makes the Breeder's Cup so great is that fans like myself out here in California, suffering through a weak group of females this year, were able to see champions like Royal Delta and My Miss Aurelia. I've always respected Royal Delta as an elite runner, but when looking at some of her lukewarm efforts I just couldn't quite get why she was such a darling among the Eastern media as well as Eastern fans. And make no mistake, she has been the darling of the East going back to last year's Alabama. However, having now seen her in person, I get it. I totally get it. She's much taller and bigger than I expected(her AP Indy low head running style doesn't flatter her height); she was the standout physical presence in the paddock. And she does have a presence, a class about her. Then came her actual performance in the race. She repeats in the Ladies Classic, running on the lead out West after winning from behind back East last year. I love it when top horses prove themselves in multiple regions, and are able to win employing different styles. I don't think the Beyer fig for Royal Delta is going to come back strong(101?), and she didn't win by alot, but any knowledgable observer watching the race had to know they witnessed a great performance. The final fractions and final time fail to fully capture Royal Delta's performance. I don't think Royal Delta vaulted past I'll Have Another in the Horse of the Year debate, but I do believe she secured her place, eventually, in the Hall of Fame. Next year, the goals will be the Breeder's Cup Classic and an even higher place among the great fillies and mares of all-time.
Santa Anita did a dreadful job of hosting the event today, only those with VIP passes were allowed into the paddock area where the horses were being saddled!
Meadowlands practically deserted today Friday Nov. 2. No power here either. Handicaqppers thqat freeze together...
I know Bill Mott is a hall of famer and knows a few things about horses. I get it. BUT... The connections have gotta feel they picked the wrong race? C'mon!! Both two turn dirt races were wire to wire winners. Really could make Game on Dude an even shorter price?
Steve, If RD hadn't won would the carryover been added to the guarantee or just assure the guarantee? mpm101
SC, Glad to hear that you are physically okay. You have to get some kind of Eclipse award for handicapping under these circumstances ! Talk about determination and digging in with grit -- hope you do well this weekend.
There is no late double for the 9th and 10th due to the special 2 day double between the Distaff and the Classic as they didn't want to confuse anyone by offering both.
Steve, Is there any reason ther is no late double for the 9 and 10 races? mpm101
Glad that you got through relatively unscathed. Has to be hard seeing all the damage and destruction Sandy has done (and we technically are not even done with this storm). Now, we are looking at ANOTHER storm middle of next week that could easily compound the misery people in the northeast are having. Personally, if I ran BC Ltd., I would have once we knew how big Sandy was going to be gone into discussions with both Santa Anita and Hollywood Park about postponing the Breeders' Cup by one week to next weekend, when people in the east would be better equipped to handle this BC (one that is going to take a SEVERE hit in handle because of everything that has happened here), not to mention the criticism BC Ltd. could very well wind up having from those who don't normally follow the sport and look at having events like this (even at a place like Santa Anita that was far away from Sandy) as being insensitive. It would have created a LOT of inconveniences for people who made plans to be there this weekend, but given the extreme circumstances with Sandy, I probably would have postponed and faced the wrath of those upset about doing so looking at the bigger picture. That said, if this BC had been at Belmont Park like so many felt NYRA was "entitled" to, we likely would have been looking at a postponement to Thanksgiving weekend due to it possibly needing that long for all essential services to be fully back to normal in the region. As for the no Lasix issue, this should be just the beginning. We need to fully get rid of Lasix in the sport, as I would do over a five year period starting first with the Breeders' Cup, Triple Crown and selected Grade 1 Races otherwise plus ALL races for two year olds and slowly expanding from then until Lasix is fully phased out of the sport. That to me will help the breed considerably.