11/07/2012 2:50PM

Breeders' Cup Recap


Out of all the excellent Breeders' Cup races, I believe that GROUPIE DOLL's Filly and Mare Sprint was the absolute finest. 

As I wrote in the "Performance of the Week" column published on the DRF Plus section of our website (as well as in the National Simulcast Weekly newspaper), "Groupie Doll's victory was impressive on many levels. Not only did she run a very fast race, but she did so while racing against the grain of a speed-favoring surface. Several of the main track winners during the two-day Breeders' Cup meeting raced on or near the lead while close to the inside. Groupie Doll, on the other hand, was wide throughout while racing in midpack."

Add in the fact that she effortlessly inhaled an extremely sharp performer in DUST AND DIAMONDS, a filly that certainly ran her race on Saturday, and Groupie Doll's effort sticks out.

Trainer "Buff" Bradley mentioned that he expects Groupie Doll to remain in training next year as a five-year-old. 

Here are some quick thoughts on some of the other Breeders' Cup races (all trainer and jockey quotes courtesy of Breeders' Cup):

*I think that Pat Valenzuela, seeking his first Breeders' Cup victory since Adoration's Ladies' Classic score in 2003, should have been more aggressive aboard odds-on favorite MERIT MAN in the Juvenile Sprint.  Merit Man was the only speed in the race and could have spread out the field down the backstretch.  Instead, they were tightly-bunched swinging into the stretch and the race turned into a two-furlong dash.  That scenario aided the maiden HIGHTAIL, who squeezed through along the inside to pull off the upset. 

Hightail's win was the nineteenth Breeders' Cup triumph for trainer Wayne Lukas (his first since Folklore's victory in the 2003 Juvenile Fillies).  "It's not real difficult, especially with two year olds, to shorten horses up and get them to accelerate in sprints," said Lukas after the race.  "The hard thing is to get the two-year-old that has gone six furlongs all year to stretch out over a mile." 

Lukas may now wheel Hightail back in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 24.

*Mike Smith would go on to grab the Bill Shoemaker award for "Most Outsanding Breeders' Cup Jockey," and is now the winningest Breeders' Cup rider in history, but he may have moved way too soon with ATIGUN in the Marathon. Smith had Atigun in a perfect spot passing the stands the first time, but inexplicably gunned him to the front on the second turn.  Atigun fought gamely in the stretch but understandably tired at the 14-furlong trip.  While the Europeans floundered on dirt and the Americans failed to stay, South American CALIDOSCOPIO beacme the oldest Breeders' Cup winner ever (9-years-old) by outlasting them all.

*FLOTILLA, a French filly trained by Mikel Delzangles, endured trouble in her final prep for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.  On Friday afternoon, she enjoyed a clean journey under Christophe Lemaire en route to an 11-1 upset.  Runner-up WATSDACHANCES reportedly lost her right hind shoe, grabbed a quarter and suffered cuts on all four legs.  Favored SKY LANTERN had traffic trouble and may have finished much closer if able to get through.  "I had plenty of horse," bemoaned her rider, Richard Hughes.  "Just nowhere to go. Usually in these kind of races, something will open up, but today there was no hole at all.” Ramon Dominguez was impressed with third-place finisher SUMMER OF FUN. "I was in behind horses, tracking the favorite, and I had to wait," said Dominguez.  "I think if we had gotten out before the eighth pole, she could have gotten second.  She ran a huge race."

*In the weeks leading up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, it appeared that trainer Richard Mandella was leaning to the Juvenile Sprint with BEHOLDER.  Instead, he opted for the richer and more-prestigious Juvenile Fillies and the daughter of Henny Hughes came through in a big way.  Beholder was sent immediately to the lead by Garrett Gomez.  She may have been aided by the speed-favoring nature of the main track and it didn't hurt that EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE started running sideways in the stretch, but it's hard to knock a filly that earned a 108 Beyer two starts back and handled her first race around two turns without a hitch.  KAUAI KATIE, a crack sprinter from New York, tired after chasing the leader.  "We got the trip we were looking for and had good position, but she couldn't stay with the leader," said her trainer, Todd Pletcher.  "We'll probably look at sprints in the future for her."  Pletcher's other entrant, DREAMING OF JULIA, finished a non-threatening third.  "She just wasn’t into it," said Dreaming of Julia's rider, John Velazquez. "She lost her focus right from the start. She would run for a little bit, then she’d stop. She’d run on the turn, then back out of it. She just didn’t run her race today.”

*ZAGORA is remarkably consistent and Javier Castellano gave her a perfect pocket trip in the Filly and Mare Turf.  While Zagora got through turning for home, THE FUGUE was hemmed in and forced to the inside.  "She was a bit unlucky," said The Fugue's trainer, John Gosden. "She didn’t have any room and William (Buick) was sitting there with nowhere to go. It was until the last sixteenth that she got out, and she finished well."  French raider RIDASIYNA finished belatedly for fourth.  "She needs pace and there wasn't any," said trainer Delzangles. "But she showed a good turn for foot."  Smith's mount, LADY OF SHAMROCK, ran well off an August layoff. "I had a really rough trip," said Smith. "I had trouble out of the gate and then more trouble at the three-eighths and the quarter-pole. Despite all that, I thought she ran well.”  NAHRAIN's trainer, Roger Varian, took a bit of a gamble by adding blinkers and Nahrain was rank en route to a disappointing tenth-place finish.

*After QUESTING failed to show speed, Smith gave defending Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner ROYAL DELTA a brilliant ride.  Smith made sure he secured the lead and the inside and Royal Delta set legimate fractions.  The previously-undefeated MY MISS AURELIA loomed turning for home, but Royal Delta shrugged her off.  AWESOME FEATHER, seeking her eleventh straight win without a defeat, was a major disappointment.  "She was just never comfortable today," said her rider, Jeffrey Sanchez. "At the three-eighths pole I asked her and she didn't really want to go.  She never got into the bit."  Royal Delta will return next year with long-term goals of facing males in both the Dubai World Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic.

*Ryan Moore is one of the best riders in the world and he gave GEORGE VANCOUVER a beautiful trip in the Juvenile Turf.  After ARTIGIANO broke poorly from an inside post, Moore assumed the role of inside stalker with George Vancouver, a son of millionaire Versailles Treaty, and they got the jump on the Chad Brown-trained duo of NOBLE TUNE and BALANCE THE BOOKS.  It will be interesting to see how George Vancouver is campaigned in 2013.  The Coolmore operation isn't afraid to take a shot in the Kentucky Derby and George Vancouver has a good amount of dirt on the bottom half of his bloodlines.

*TAPIZAR needs to run freely in order to give his best effort and Corey Nakatani made no effort to restrain him in the early portion of the race.  Tapizar settled into a nice groove while pressing stretchout sprinter EMCEE and he ran to some of his best races. SHACKLEFORD, likely making his final career start, broke very badly.  RAIL TRIP and JOHN SCOTT ran well considering they were asked to make up ground over the speed-friendly track.

*MIZDIRECTION absolutely loves the downhill turf course at Santa Anita and the filly rallied beautifully under Smith to defeat the boys in the Turf Sprint.  The underrated gray was the recipient of a wonderful training job by Mike Puype as she hadn't raced since late May at Betfair Hollywood Park.  UNBRIDLED'S NOTE has really come into his own in his last few starts and appears to be a colt with a bright future in these kind of races.

*Heading into the final turn of the Juvenile, it looked as if SHANGHAI BOBBY was on his way to a runaway win.  The undefeated colt had dismissed pacesetter TITLE cONTENDER and it didn't look as if anyone behind him was making a serious bid.  Shanghai Bobby began to feel the effects of chasing that hot pace, however, and he may have started looking for some competition as well.  HE'S HAD ENOUGH ranged up to challenge, but Shanghai Bobby dug in resolutely to win by a head.  Shanghai Bobby isn't flashy, but he always finds a way to get the job done.  "He outran the one horse (Title Contender) way too early because once he gets to the lead, he gets a little bit lost," said winning rider Rosie Napravnik. "I was worried at that point, because he just came to a walk. I was hoping those horses would come up to him sooner than later. They did, and he kicked on again. He’s a terrific horse.” CAPO BASTONE made a menacing move turning into the stretch, but flattened out when the real racing began.  His trainer, John Sadler, stated that both Capo Bastone and MONUMENT bled.  He's Had Enough ran very well for second.  He has a strong turf pedigree, but appears to have found a spot on the Triple Crown trail.

*LITTLE MIKE is amazing.  He'll do whatever you ask of him and Ramon Dominguez gave him a lovely trip behind the speedy TURBO COMPRESSOR.  POINT OF ENTRY may have been too far back over this course, but he ran another corker for second.  "I didn’t get the position I wanted," said his rider, John Velazquez.  "I got slammed coming out of the gate. And the horse in front of me kept coming in and out.  By the time I got out it was too late. He (Point of Entry) was by far the best horse in the race.” Defending champion ST NICHOLAS ABBEY did his best, but wasn't good enough. 

*It just didn't pay to rally over the main track and TRINNIBERG prompted longshot SUM OF THE PARTS in the early going of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.  THE LUMBER GUY was close up as well and had his chances in the stretch.  SMILING TIGER gave a big run off the June layoff while COIL didn't have the easiest trip.  Defending champion AMAZOMBIE was dull.  "He wasn't himself today," said Smith.  "I don't know what it was, but something was wrong.  I knew around the turn that we were trouble.  He quit running and it was like he didn't want to be here."

*WISE DAN continued his amazing run with a powerful finish under Velazquez in the Mile.  ANIMAL KINGDOM, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, was making his first start since February and rallied very well despite being held up behind horses along the rail turning for home.  EXCELEBRATION may have found this course a bit too firm and could have been knocked out from a big run in Europe two weeks ago. 

*FORT LARNED and MUCHO MACHO MAN ran 1-2 around the track in the Classic with Brian Hernandez Jr. getting the better of Smith at the wire by a half-length.  The winner has run several lightning-fast races this year and deserves all the credit.  FLAT OUT, RON THE GREEK and RICHARD'S KID all ran from behind, but it was so tough to make up ground.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (10/22/12 - 10/28/12):

1. BUFFUM - 104 - Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) - 7 Furlongs - Aqueduct
2. NEWSDAD - 103 - Fayette Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - Keeneland
3. LITTLE DISTORTED - 101 - Md Sp Wt 68k - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
4. ACTION ANDY - 100 - Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash - 6 Furlongs - Laurel
5. PEYOTE PATTY - 98 - Illini Princess Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Hawthorne
6. THE PIZZA MAN - 97 - Buck's Boy Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Hawthorne
6. TITLETOWN FIVE - 97 - Md Sp Wt 49k - 7 Furlongs - Churchill
8. BOOK REVIEW - 96 - Imperial Gesture Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
8. SAFE TRIP - 96 - Alw 42000NC - 6 Furlongs - Zia
10. FUTURE GENERATION (Ire.) - 95 - Serena's Cat Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Belmont
10. MAKER OR BREAKER - 95 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
10. MIA POPPY - 95 - OC 35k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
13. AFLEETING LADY - 94 - Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
13. SOMETHING EXTRA - 94 - Mt. Sassafras Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Polytack) - Woodbine
15. CONSOLE - 93 - Alw 51745N2L - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Keeneland
15. DERIVE - 93 - OC 30k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - Turf Paradise
15. GUIDOPANZINI - 93 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
15. HUGHES NEXT - 93 - OC c-25k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - Laurel
15. MEGAMOVE - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Calder
15. NO LIFT SHIFT - 93 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Calder
15. OCTANE - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
22. CALLMETHESQUEEZE - 92 - Alw 37500C - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
22. CLUBHOUSE RIDE - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
22. DANNHAUSER - 92 - Laurel Turf Cup - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Laurel
22. GLEAM OF HOPE - 92 - Walter R. Cluer Memorial Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Turf Paradise
22. POSITIVE RESPONSE - 92 - Alw 36150NC - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate
22. JOKING - 92 - Md Sp Wt 68k - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
22. SMOKE IT RIGHT - 92 - Alw 39400NC - 5 Furlongs - Delta

*BUFFUM's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*LITTLE DISTORTED, a juvenile son of Distorted Humor, received a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his career debut going six furlongs at Belmont on October 28.  A $180,000 yearling, Little Distorted is trained by Michael Mareina. His dam (by A.P. Indy) won at a mile and the second dam, Santa Catarina, took the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks (also second in the Kentucky Oaks).

*HIGHTAIL is getting the press out of the Lukas barn, but the Hall of Famer's best juvenile might be TITLETOWN FIVE, a $250,000 son of Tiznow that won his maiden by nine lengths going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on October 28.  Titletown Five was making his first start with Lasix.  In his previous race, he was necked by Violence and that foe returned to win the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes.  Titletown Five is out of D'Wildcat Speed, a Forest Wildcat mare that won the Grade 2 Rampart Stakes at nine furlongs. 

*HUGHES NEXT was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Timothy Keefe from trainer Michael Trombetta.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (10/29/12 - 11/4/12):

1. FORT LARNED - 117 - Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - Santa Anita
2. GROUPIE DOLL - 108 - Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
2. ROYAL DELTA - 108 - Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Santa Anita
2. TRINNIBERG - 108 - Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
5. WISE DAN - 107 - Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
6. LITTLE MIKE - 105 - Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
7. TAPIZAR - 104 - Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
8. DELAUNAY - 100 - Bet On Sunshine Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
9. CALIDOSCOPIO (Arg.) - 99 - Breeders' Cup Marathon (G2) - 1 3/4 Miles - Santa Anita
9. POLITICALLYCORRECT - 99 - Damascus Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
9. ZAGORA (Fr.) - 99 - Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
12. MIZDIRECTION - 98 - Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
12. NECK 'N NECK - 98 - Ack Ack Handicap (G3) - 1 Mile - Churchill
14. BOISTEROUS - 96 - Red Smith Handicap (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Aqueduct
14. GOOD LORD - 96 - Mountaineer Mile Stakes - 1 Mile - Mountaineer
14. WOLFCAMP - 96 - OC 32k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Laurel
17. BEHOLDER - 95 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
17. TEMERAINE - 95 - Alw 53920N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
19. HOGY - 94 - OC c-80k/N$Y - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Hawthorne
19. RHYTHM OF LIGHT (GB) - 94 - Goldikova Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
21. NAGYS PIGGY BANK - 93 - OC 80k/N$Y -N - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
21. SWEET MARINI - 93 - Md Sp Wt 56k - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
23. BELLEFIRE - 92 - OC 50k/N3X -N - 7 Furlongs - Calder
23. BRUSHED BY A STAR - 92 - Chilukki Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile - Churchill
23. RED LEAD - 92 - OC 35k/N1Y -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Remington

*FORT LARNED's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*HOGY was claimed for $80,000 by trainer Scott Becker from trainer Joel Berndt.

*SWEET MARINI made a nice impression in her debut win for trainer Jorge Gutierrez at Santa Anita.  The Cal-bred juvenile filly whipped open foes by 5 1/4 lengths at six furlongs with a 93 Beyer.  A homebred daughter of Marino Marini, Sweet Marini is out of a half-sister to Grade 3 California Derby winner I'm a Jewel.


Hi Dan
If you would post the pps for rapid redux it would be appreciated
Ronald Friedman

RAPID REDUX's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of the blog post.  The gelding set a North American record with 22 consecutive victories and has been pensioned at the Old Friends retirement facility in Kentucky.


Hi Dan,
Hope you hammered the sprint with Trinnie and Lumber Guy. Curios why you did not like Fort Larned? All I hear is there was such a speed bias that it escapes me you did not like him with his high cruising speed. I realize your post originated on Thursday. Historically, SA has always been speed favoring, with exception of the non dirt experiment years.
Would like to hear your feelings on the no lasix for two year olds only on BC days.
How about the Americans dominating the Mile and Turf Classic. I could hardly believe the come home times in both races. Man, Wise Dan reminded me of Lure running back in the day. Little Mike is such a cool horse, such a small guy who shows grit in most of the big time races. Thought the Classic was very good race, Think that BC days are what this sport is all about. I do fear that the lack of full coverage is something to think about. I know the golden age is over, but 1 hour on major network is not a good sign of the times.
What do this industry need to do to get a bit more coverage?
One last thing, have you heard any updates on Hialeah? Would love to see this grand old lady run for a six week meet in winter, it used to have an excellent dirt course as well as decent turf course. Recall Woody Stehens saying he felt Hialeah had one of the safest dirt courses in the country and was a great place to rev up his stable for the big races in spring and summer. It is a shame that this historic venue has been reduced to a few quarter horse races. Hope you escaped major damage from Sandy.
Always enjoy your blog, I find the bloggers on your site really care deeply for the sport and are knowledgeable as well as unselfish in there giving of angles and information to their fellow horse racing fans. Your posting of past performances of old favorite runners is always appreciated.
Best of Luck to You and and all the Bloggers.
Good Luck to You and All the Bloggers.
Irma Garcia

*Irma, thanks for reading.  I'm a big fan of Fort Larned but, aside from the Whitney, I've been wrong about him.  In the Classic, I had some concerns about his ability to get ten furlongs and I was also worried about a possible early battle with other speed runners like Game On Dude.  Live and learn.

*I don't agree with the decision to institute a "no-Lasix" rule.  It would have been nice if the Breeders' Cup paid for thorough post-race endoscopic exams for every juvenile performer and then published the results.  What if a significant amount of horses were found to have bled?  It would make an argument that Lasix is necessary to the short-term health of the thoroughbred.
The state racing board claims that none of the babies bled on the track or at the receiving barns after the races.  Some trainers have stated that their runners bled profusely. 

Who do we believe?

Consistent officiating is paramount in protecting the integrity of any sport. Imagine if the three-point play was banned in basketball only during the NBA playoffs?  Some teams would be compromised greatly.  Others wouldn't feel the effects as much.  Why should coaches of sharp-shooting teams scrap winning strategies at the most crucial time of the year?

In a perfect world, racehorses wouldn't run on medication. 

It's not a perfect world. 

Blame the "weakening of the breed" argument, if you will, but it does seem that many of America's thoroughbreds need medication in order to give their best. 

While the Breeders' Cup deserves credit in attempting to address a very controversial topic that is so often swept under the rug, I'm not sure that the "World Series" of racing is the place to make such a drastic change.

Either the sport completely bans medication or it doesn't.  It doesn't seem fair to pick and choose spots, especially at the Breeders' Cup where championships are decided. 

*I agree with you completely about LITTLE MIKE.  Earlier in his career, most doubted his ability to get nine furlongs, let alone 1 1/2 miles.  He keeps proving his critics wrong and it's good to see Dale Romans rewarded.  In a day and age where top horses run only a few times a year, Romans campaigns his good runners aggressively with success (SHACKLEFORD comes to mind).

I thought the turf courses were a bit hard for some of the European runners and the grass may have been a bit speed-favoring as well.  Little Mike and WISE DAN enjoyed perfect pace-tracking, ground-saving trips (the theme on grass, so it seemed, for both days), but you can't take anything away from their performances.

*For racing to enjoy a renaissance, we have to have live nationally-televised events on a weekly basis with emphasis on how seriously handicapping can lead to profits.  What we don't need is to tell people to bet based on the jockey's silks.  That gives the impression that winning at the races is nothing more than a crapshoot based on sheer luck.  Unfortunately, our industry is just too fragmented to gain traction with the general public.  We can't get racetracks to work together and tailor their post times so that races don't overlap.  Imagine the boardroom arguments concerning which races would be broadcast on a national show? 

*Hialeah's quarter horse meet begins on December 15.  There is so much in-fighting concerning racing dates in South Florida that it's very questionable whether we'll see thoroughbred racing there in the near future.


Congrats to JCass for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.

Penn National Rick's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.


Let's go with Friday's eighth race at Betfair Hollywood Park for this week's HandiGambling exercise.


 Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.
Best of luck to all.


Be back Friday with the HG analysis and some thoughts on the weekend stakes races.

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