11/03/2012 1:17PM

Breeders' Cup Saturday: Back at Aqueduct


2:15 pm: Back in the Big A pressbox for Breeders' Cup Saturday. The home electric mercifully came back on last night after a 97-hour hiatus, but the cable, phone and Internet access are still out.

The hot topic in these parts has changed from lack of power to lack of gas. Four out of every five gas stations remain closed, either lacking power or awaiting deliveries, and when a station does open up a line of cars quickly forms, stretching more than a mile. When I got back to Long Island from Aqueduct after 9 pm last night, traffic on Peninsula Boulevard was at a standstill as cars were lined up as far as the eye could see. 

Less than an hour until the Juvenile Turf, the first "official" Breeders' Cup race of the day (as opposed to the two BC "Preview" races that started the card, a juvenile filly sprint and a juvenile turf sprint.) It's the first of nine straight Grade 1 BC races. The Juvenile Turf begins an early pick-4 on races 4-7.

The $2 million guaranteed pick-6 starts with the 7th, the Turf Sprint, and the $2 million guaranteed pick-4 starts two races later with the 9th, the $3 million Turf. I'm putting $5,028 into the pick-6 for myself and Capital OTB is putting in the same tickets on behalf of a group of its customers. I'll post the tickets a little later on. The play is looking heavy on A's -- I found it very hard to get any race down to one or two A's -- and light on C's, because when you have a thick main ticket, each backup horse gets very expensive. 

I just can't bring myself to lean on any the "Big Three" making their Horse of the Year bids -- Point of Entry in the Turf, Wise Dan in the Mile and Game on Dude in the Classic. They'll all be A's but not singles: I think you have to rate the top Europeans just as highly in the turf races, and I need some closers to go along with Game on Dude given the favorite's shakiness at 10 furlongs.


2:50 pm: Early pick-4, caveman ticket, for some half-dollar action:



3:05 pm: George Vancouver ($20.60), second and third in European Grade 1's, got through and finished strongly to win the BC Juvenile Turf for the Coolmore gang and trainer Aidan O'Brien. The same outfit won last year's edition with Wrote.

George Vancouver, bred in Kentucky but raced in Europe until today, is a son of Henrythenavigator, runner-up in the 2008 BC Classic, and Versailles Treaty, the Danzig filly who won the Alabama, Test, Gazelle and Ruffian for Cynthia Phipps. George Vancouver is named for the British naval officer who explored the Pacific Northwest and is the namesake of the city of Vancouver, BC.

Noble Tune and Balance the Books, both trained by Chad Brown and winners of the Pilgrim and Bourbon in their last outs, ran second and third in that order. George Vancouver ran the mile in 1:33.78.


3:40 pm: Groupie Doll ($3.40) easily ran down Dust and Diamonds and drew off to win the $1 million BC F&M Sprint and looms a unanimous Eclipse Award choice for the nation;s champion female sprinter.

The 4-year-old Bowman's Band filly broke sharply but then dropped back and took a while to get into gear. She picked up steam around the turn, and once she got going she was a runaway winner. Dust and Diamonds held well for second with Switch, last year's runner-up, finishing third.

Groupie Doll, bred and raced by the Bradley family and traied by William Bradley, has won her last five after three losses at Giuilfstream and has been untouchable since adding blinkers at the start of her streak, which includes the G1 Madison, the G1 Humana distaff, the G2 PID Masters, the G2 Throroughbred Club of America and now a Breeders' Cup race.

Shackleford has opened the 2-1 favorite for the Dirt Mile, with Emcee the 5-2 second choice.


4:25 pm: Tapizar at 15-1 led a procession of longshots under the wire in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, as all four favorites finished worse than fourth.

Rail Trip was second at 8-1, followed by 18-1 Delegation and 12-1 John Scott. As for the favorites, shackleford stumbled at the start, middle-moved up to third and tired; Emcee dueled with Tappizar early and tired in his first two-turn try; Jersey Town was prominent in upper stretch but faded, and Fed Biz showed little.

Tapizar, who was off poorly when last behind Jersey Town and Shackleford in the Kelso (though he showed little thereafter), paid $32.60 to win and keyed a superfecta that paid just under $25k for $2.

Here are the willpays into the 7th, the Turf Sprint, first leg of the pick-6. For some reason, Mizdirection (20-1 ML) opened at 7-2 and is third or fourth choice in the multirace willpays:

4:35 pm: Here's the pick-6 play:


That only comes out to $4,914, so I spent the remaining $114 with two goofy tickets adding a couple of backups in races 7 and 12 to thinned-out mains:


3,6,11/4/1/11/6/5,10,11 = $18

9,10,14/4/1,3/7,11/6,9/4,12 = $96

Otherwise, the usual ABC rules apply -- 6 A's or 5 A's and 1 B, or 5A's and 1 C or 4 A's and 2 B's --except that if I somehow get home in the A column in the first leg, I can have B's in races 8, 10 AND 12. 


5:05 pm: Didn't like Mizdirection at all; congrats if you did. Only live ticket is the tiny one with four singles ahead. Bah humbug. On to the late pick-4.


5:28 pm: Really on a roll: No heat in the Aqueduct press box. Brrrrrr.


5:50 pm: Having technical issues now, apologies if these blog entries are coming up late and if I have to sign off early.

Shanghai Bobby ran an interesting race holding on to win the BC Juvenile and lock up the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old. While he ran an agonizingly slow fourth quarter (1:10.28 to 1:37.78), Trevor Denman was premature pronouncing him "exhausted," and there's something to be said for Rosie Napravnik's opinion that he lost focus once he made a clear lead. When challenged, he did come on again, though it's also fair to say the ones who couldn't catch him were not stellar in defeat.

In any case, we have a winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby, though his formidable accomplishments this year -- winning the Hopeful, champagne and BC Juvenile and around $2 million -- will do him little good in securing a derby berth under Churchill Downs's nutty new qualifying system.


6:30 pm: If Royal Delta can win a BC race from gate to wire, why not Little Mike winning one without the early lead?

Little Mike ($36.60), who had been on the lead in all 11 of his 2001 and 2012 starts, showed a new dimension stalking Turbo Compressor and Optimizer early, then opened a lead and just held off a rallying Point of Entry to upset the BC Turf -- and begin an interesting discussion about who should be America's champion turf male this yeart.

That discussion can't really begin until we see what Wise Dan does in the Mile, but Little Mike's victory was his third Grade 1 this year -- he also won the CD Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Arlington Million. Point of Entry had won three straight G1's -- the Man o'War, Sword Dancer and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, the latter a race where Little Mike stopped and finished 5th, beaten 28 lengths.

St Nicholas Abbey, who won the race last year, was up for third with Trailblazer fourth and Shareta fifth.

Little Mike, a 5-year-old Florida-bred Spanish Steps gelding trained by Dale Romans, has now won 12 of 21 career starts for owner-breeders Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza.

"I didn't get the position I wanted," said John Velazquez, who rode Point of Entry. "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 was by far the best horse in the race."


7:10 pm: Trinniberg, the fast but erratic 3-year-old who dueled for the lead in the Kentucky Derby before backing up to 17th, faced his elders for the first time today and came away with a 13-1 victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The Lumber Guy, who won the Vosburgh in his last start, was second with Smiling Tiger third and Sum of the Parts, who led Trinniberg early, fourth. The $2 superfecta paid over $108k.

Trinniberg, a $21k 2-year-old purchase last year by trainer Shivananda Parbhoo amnd his family, had won three of his seven previious starts this year -- the G3 Swale, the G3 Bay Shore and the G2 Woody Stephens, all against fellow 3-year-olds. He lost his last three, and jockey willie Martinez said he had not been breaking quite as sharply as usual, so the Teuflesberg colt was re-equipped with blinkers, which he had not worn since he was a 2-year-old.

Trinniberg ran the 6f in 1:07.98.


7:30 pm: Bad as my opinion has been today, I think I have to bet on Moonlight Cloud at 6-1 here in the Mile. To my mind she's supposed to be more like 3-1 -- she's a legit G1 Euro miler, handles firm ground, gets first Lasix...and she's the same price as Animal Kingdom?


Turns out it's not just the press box -- Con Ed turned off the heat to the entire Aqueduct building. They're shivering everywhere. People who have tv service at home are heading there, while we cableless few watch our breath for another hour until the Classic. 


7:50 pm: Wise Dan staked his championship claim  -- for a turf title and maybe Horse of the Year as well -- with a quick victory in the BC Mile over Animal Kingdon, Obviously and Excelebration.

Wise Dan, always close to a mild pace on the inside, took over turning for home and drew clear in course-record time of 1:31.78, breaking Atticus's 1997 mark of 1:31.89. The SA turf is clearly very fast -- two races ago, Little Mike equalled Hawkster's 23-year-old course record of 2:22 4/5.

Just got word that cable and Internet are back up at home, so I'm leaving these icy confines for Long Island and will be back when it's all over. Here are your willpays if you're alive for anything:



9:15 pm: Made it back home for for the Classic and it was a good one, with Fort Larned holding off Mucho Macho Man and a long way back to Flat Out and the rest of them. It sure helped to be forwardly-placed and not wide today on a track where no one was swooping late, but horses from all parts of the country handled it if they had the right style and even if the track was somewhat biased, it was a lot fairer than when they ran it on a synthetic surface.

I suppose Wise Dan is the frontrunner for Horse of the Year -- he's a very good horse and very versatile but he'd be the first to win that honor for a campaign whose highlights were all one-mile turf races. It's all a bit of a cold and expensive blur at the moment, but nothing that some heat and an overdue cocktail won't clarify.