11/04/2010 4:40PM

Friday Breeders' Cup Opinions

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"Good luck to Zenyatta in her quest for perfection 20-0," welcomes visitors to Louisville Standiford Field airport.

There is no doubt who the draw is for this year's World Thoroughbred Championships.  Usually the event itself is the lure.  "Breeders' Cup" stands on its own.  Very rarely will an individual horse bring the people out in droves.  Curlin didn't in 2008 and he was a top, top horse.  Goldikova?  Say her name to a casual fan, and you'll receive a puzzled look. 

But there's something about Zenyatta.

At the airport.  On the plane.  In the hotel.  She's on everyone's mind, her name on everyone's lips. 

We'll have to wait and see.

For the appetizers, well they're not exactly microwaved Pigs in a Blanket. 

Friday's Breeders' Cup "Ladies Day" boasts some competitive betting races.  I'll be down and I'm sure you will be as well. 

Here are some opinions.

BC Marathon:

Arguably the weakest race on both Breeders' Cup cards, the Marathon features Grade 3 types and Europeans that are actually expected to handle the mammoth 14-furlong distance.  Like many, I'll concentrate on the two horses exiting the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup at ten furlongs on October 2.  The Gold Cup was once a realistic prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic and Redding Colliery, this year's winner, has the potential to be a very useful Grade 2 or lower-tier Grade 1 runner.  There are no Redding Colliery's in the Marathon for A. U. MINER and GIANT OAK to down, and the perceived drop in class may get A. U. Miner to the winner's circle. 
A four-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, A. U. Miner was mired in the entry-level allowance condition for 12 races before finally breaking through at Oaklawn Park on March 11.  He's been lightly-campaigned since, taking the "Win and You're In" Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park on July 17 before being freshened prior to the Hawthorne Gold Cup.  A. U. Miner is no superstar - none of the entrants in the Marathon are - but he doesn't have to be to win this race.  All the late-runner needs is a quick pace, and there may be the rub.  Other than GABRIEL'S HILL, there doesn't appear to be a good deal of speed in the race, and that could work against A. U. Miner.  Still, someone has to win and A. U. Miner appears to be in career form. 
As for Giant Oak, he's the runner with all the tools in the world.  Unfortunately for his connections, he's just never put it all together.  A plodding type with a hulking physique, he should handle this trip, but he just isn't very dependable, winning only 1 of his last 19 starts. 
Bettors could do worse than PRECISION BREAK at 15-1 on the morning line.  The European adds Lasix for his American debut, seems to have some tactical speed, and is proven at this distance.
AWESOME GEM is the class of the race as he upset Rail Trip in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in July thanks to a picture-perfect trip.  While another that sometimes finds one or two better in big races, he's run pretty well on dirt, winning 4 of 12 on the surface.  He's seven now, and dangerous on his best, but I'm not sure I trust him at too short of a price.
Selections:  A. U. Miner, Giant Oak. Precision Break, Bright Horizon

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF:

I think ten can win so I'll probably sit this one out.  They tell me to make selections so here they are.
Selections:  Quiet Oasis, Fancy Point, Tale Untold, Together

FILLY AND MARE SPRINT:

I will gladly take 30-1 on MOONTUNE MISSY in the Filly and Mare Sprint.  I can't find a bad race on dirt from this Eoin Harty-trained filly, and she just finished ahead of SARA LOUISE when a head shy in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on September 25.  She's won from off the pace (the fractions should be solid here), she's won at seven furlongs, and she seems to be in the best form of her life.  Her workmate, the juvenile colt Anthony's Cross (October 24 workout), just broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on Thursday afternoon.  The "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 18 noted that she "went easily with Graham up."  Seven mornings earlier, she reportedly "went very easily."  Obviously, this will be her toughest test to date, but the price is certainly right.
RIGHTLY SO, the morning line favorite, may be the speed of the speed and is worth using in multi-race wagers, but I think she may have been aided by two speed-favoring tracks in her last couple of races.  SWITCH cuts back in distance after facing Zenyatta, and should be running late while I thought CHAMPAGNE D'ORO ran very well in the Test at this distance during the Saratoga meet.  Also, Sara Louise should do better in her second start following a bruised foot suffered during training over the summer at the Spa.
Selections:  Moontune Missy, Rightly So, Switch, Champagne d'Oro

JUVENILE FILLIES:

I really like AWESOME FEATHER.  She's a perfect 5-5 in her career and her last two Beyer Speed Figures are faster than anyone else in the field has ever run.  But, since she's based in Calder, she may not take the betting action that she should.  She looked really good when completing a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes in the My Dear Girl on October 16 at this distance.  The race was over two seconds faster than the juvenile colt division and Awesome Feather won by open lengths.  I think she'll stalk the speeds from fairly close range before moving on the turn. 
A Z WARRIOR and R HEAT LIGHTNING, the 1-2 finishers of the Grade 1 Frizette, are the two morning line favorites and project to take a great amount of money.  The latter didn't have a very good trip in the Frizette, but she may have distance issues.  The former was helped by a good trip in the Frizette and her female family is all speed as well.  I'll let them beat me.
TELL A KELLY has an explosive bid and is pretty professional.  She'll try dirt for the first time, but I wouldn't be surprised if she handles it just fine.
Selections:  Awesome Feather, Delightful Mary, A Z Warrior, Tell a Kelly

FILLY AND MARE TURF:

MIDDAY will be the popular choice as the defending champion enters this year's renewal following three Group 1 wins in Europe.  She's obviously the horse to beat and is a must-use in multi-wagers. 
I will take a stab against her, however, with the solid MISS KELLER, a filly that's been in excellent form for Roger Attfield.  She looked great winning the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap two back at Woodbine, and I really think she moved too soon last time out in the E.P. Taylor.  In-and-among horses for the early part of the race, she moved four wide once she found a seam at the top of the daunting Woodbine stretch.  She soon made the front, but was run down late by European invader Reggane.  The main concern is that Midday is considered several lengths better than Reggane, but Miss Keller has been good of late, and will offer some value.
HARMONIOUS got a little goofy during the stretch run of her recent score in the Queen Elizabeth II, and will tackle older runners for the first time.  She does have talent and upside.
Selections:  Miss Keller, Midday, Harmonious, Forever Together

LADIES' CLASSIC:

I really wish I had more of an opinion on this race as it features some salty performers.  But I don't.  I thought Life At Ten had a great setup tracking a pace battle in the Grade 1 Beldame.  BLIND LUCK is very, very good, and very, very game, but I felt she lacked a bit of focus when rallying for second in the Cotillion at Parx Racing.  HAVRE DE GRACE drew a terrible post position.  All of the above are usable, but I do think that ACTING HAPPY is sitting on a good race for Rick Dutrow.  She'll add blinkers for the first time, has been freshened up for this, and has the tactical speed to sit off the early speed at a big, big price. 
I won't be doing much with this race.
Selections:  Acting Happy, Havre de Grace, Blind Luck, Life At Ten

Don't forget that Saturday's HandiGambling is Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic.  Rules and past performances are available on the previous blog entry.

Best of luck.  Enjoy the great racing!