11/06/2013 5:45PM

Post Breeders' Cup Thoughts


Let's take a quick peek back at last week's Breeders' Cup races:


LONDON BRIDGE, bred in New York with eight prior starts in Europe on his card, ran down the exhausted leaders in the 14-furlong marathon.  The pace was extremely fast with COMMANDER (8th) and EVER RIDER (DNF) battling through a torrid half-mile in 46.71 and six furlongs in 1:11.55.  After those two packed it in with over three furlongs to race, SUNS OUT GUNS OUT (4th), BLUESKIESANDRAINBOWS (2nd) and WORLDLY (3rd) made premature moves into contention.  Predictably, they all came apart in the stretch and London Bridge took advantage.  Blueskiesandrainbows ran well for second despite the early bid (his rider, Martin Pedroza, said afterwards that he was forced to go early when he saw others kick on for home).  Worldly, as he will do on occasion, hung a bit, but he was also very wide throughout (his rider, David Flores, noted afterwords that was by design as Wordly doesn't like getting dirt kicked in his face).  POOL PLAY (7th) has seen better days. 

In the last three Marathons, we've seen ridiculous early challenges that have eventually compromised logical contenders (see ATIGUN from last year's event).  The last move is the best move (see Calidoscopio and Afleet Again, the Marathon winners in 2012 and 2011, respectively) and the riders would do well to be more patient with their charges in the future.

As for London Bridge, he was sold prior to the race and will head to Australia.  Despite Friday's win, he may actually prefer turf. 

"He just had to work really hard," winning rider Mike Smith said. "He was never really sure of the dirt. The change in his shoes made a big difference, but even with that he was never really confident. I had to keep riding him at times, taking a hold of him, riding him, trying to get him confident, but keep moving all at the same time. I felt if I kept chasing them, he’d lose confidence. So I did a little of both and he outlasted them, because really, if it was on grass, it would have been a much better victory.”

London Bridge's victory marked the first of many European victories during the two-day Breeders' Cup extravaganza.  For the most part, the European performers shamed our horses.


BOBBY'S KITTEN (3rd) loomed the horse to beat, but was overbet at 13-10.  Extremely eager leaving the gate, he pulled Javier Castellano almost out of the saddle and set quick fractions of 22.27. 45.70 and 1:09.53.  Bobby's Kitten understandably tired in the stretch, but he ran a big race considering he was only beaten 1 3/4 lengths for all the marbles.  Trainer Chad Brown and owner Ken Ramsey were critical of the ride. 

"I’m very disappointed," said Brown. "He’s only two (years old) going out in 1:09 and change – that’s ridiculous.”

Europe ran 1-2 with Godolphin's OUTSTRIP the main beneficiary of those hot fractions up front.  He outfinished the West Virginia-bred, Irish-trained Giovanni Boldini and ran his final two furlongs in a sharp 22.68.  GOT SHADES (5th) endured a traffic-filled journey.  He'll now be pointed to races on dirt like the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds.


The talented GOLDENCENTS hadn't won since the Santa Anita Derby, but he had come so close in his last few races. He ran his eyeballs out here under the crafty Rafael Bejarano.  Bejarano hustled Goldencents out of there to gain early position and the two battled with BROADWAY EMPIRE (9th) through scorching splits of 22.12, 44.75, and 1:08.64.  After Broadway Empire dropped back tamely, Goldencents kept right on chugging.  He was clear at the finish over closers GOLDEN TICKET and BRUJO DE OLLEROS. 

Beaten favorite VERRAZANO (4th) never made an impact.  "He got a horrible trip into the first turn and got banged around pretty good," said his jockey, John Velazquez. "He lost all chance.”

"It was just one of those things," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "This track is so speed favoring and everyone is just send, send, send. It changes everything.”

Goldencents may race once more this year (the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Malibu Stakes late next month at Santa Anita).   Verrazano, before he retires, is possible for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.


Europe again.  CHRISELLIAM showed an excellent turn of foot to inhale the leaders when it counted.  TESTA ROSSI (2nd) made up a ton of ground in the final quarter mile.  MY CONQUESTADORY (4th) did well after breaking from the far outside post.  KITTEN KABOODLE bled.  VORDA, the beaten favorite, reportedly didn't handle the firm turf.  AL THAKHIRA (11th) tired very badly after finding a cushy early spot.

Chrisellium will now be shipped home to prepare for next spring's 1,000 Guineas.


Throughout most of the day, many racing fans were talking about the perceived speed bias on the main track.  One would have thought that BEHOLDER and ROYAL DELTA (4th), the two main speeds, would engage in a game of chicken during the first furlong.  The first rider that blinked, some reasoned, would concede the race.  Instead, Velazquez gunned AUTHENTICITY (3rd) to the lead and the rail with Royal Delta and a three-wide Beholder in close attendance.  Royal Delta, the two-time defending champion, packed it in very early, but Beholder was always traveling strongly.  She overwhelmed Authenticity on the turn and galloped home over fellow sophomore filly Close Hatches. 

"We didn't know if we'd get to use her or not, but I actually had a smile on my face going around the first turn," winning rider Gary Stevens said.  "It's how every workout has been devised, and the workout two weeks ago, if anybody had seen it, it was a thing of beauty.  She's just so intelligent.  I've always said what separates the mediocre horses to the good horses to the great horses is intelligence, and she's the most intelligent animal that I've ever been around."

I’m kind of dumbfounded," Smith said after dismounting from Royal Delta. "She didn’t have it today. No spark, man.  Early on, I knew it. She usually takes the race to somebody, but not today.  I thought when Beholder come up to her, she would pick it up, but she didn’t. I asked and I asked and nothing."

PRINCESS OF SYLMAR had a wonderful campaign, but it's quite possible that Beholder now has a strong leg up on champion 3-year-old filly honors.  “She stumbled really bad at the gate," said Castellano after Princess of Sylmar sputtered home last.  "I blame the track.  It’s all speed, speed, speed and unfair to come-from-behind horses. Unfortunately, she didn’t handle the track at all.  She was spinning her wheels.  Usually at the half-mile pole, she pulls, and today she didn’t pull at all.”

It looks as if Beholder will be back for a 4-year-old season.



The Breeders' Cup portion of the Saturday card got off on a somber note as SECRET COMPASS broke down and was euthanized.  Her rider, John Velazquez, was sent to the hospital and later underwent emergency surgery to remove his spleen. 

SHE'S A TIGER ran a huge race for trainer Jeff Bonde.  Gunned to the front by Stevens from the far outside post, She's a Tiger set fast splits of 22.55, 45.31 and 1:09.31 and opened up a daylight lead on the final turn.  She almost ran them all off her feet, but she got leg-weary (final 2 1/2 furlongs in 33.72, roughly a 27 final quarter) in the final furlong and drifted out in the stretch.  As she approached the wire, she bumped longshot RIA ANTONIA and then desperately held on by a nose.  Two of the three stewards decided that She's A Tiger should be punished for the infraction and she was disqualifed. 

RIA ANTONIA, adding blinkers for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, began her run at around the half-mile pole.  It looked like she was going to go by in midstretch, but, like the leader, was getting very tired in the stretch.  Her owner mentioned the Kentucky Derby as a long-term goal, but that seems like a very ambitious outlook on her prospects.

ROSALIND (3rd) is a prototypical grinder.  She'll love more distance next year for trainer Ken McPeek.  Favored SWEET REASON (4th) put in a threatening bid in upper stretch, but flattened out late.  The previously undefeated ARTEMIS AGROTERA (5th) faltered after racing in closest attendance to She's a Tiger.


Europe again.  DANK, so impressive in winning the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington on August 17, returned to the States with a vengeance.  EMOLLIENT (4th), surprisingly, carved out the fractions when the expected pacesetter, LAUGHING (7th), wanted no part of the front.  Dank cruised along while tracking the pace as her fellow European, ROMANTICA, stalked from the pocket.  They got the jump on late-runner ALTERITE and were best at the wire.  TIZ FLIRTATIOUS (6th) had a traffic-filled trip.

When asked why Dank hadn't competed since the Beverly D., her trainer, Sir Michael Stoute (celebrating his sixth Breeders' Cup victory), said "There was a temptation to run her in the Prix de L'Opera, but we determined that the ground wouldn't be suitable so we'd just bring her here."

Romantica may compete in the United States next year for trainer Bill Mott.


Reports of GROUPIE DOLL's demise were greatly exaggerated.  The defending champion, written off by some after being beaten in her final prep race at Keeneland, was unfazed by a wide trip from an outside post.  She swept to the front turning for home and held off JUDY THE BEAUTY, the filly that upended her in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes on October 5. 

DANCE CARD (3rd) ran well considering this was only her second start since a long, injury-induced layoff.  SUMMER APPLAUSE (4th) may want a bit more ground.  SWEET LULU (5th) somehow ended up on the lead from the far outside post, but was beaten a long way out.  DANCE TO BRISTOL (6th) bled through Lasix and has been retired. 

Groupie Doll sold for $3.1M at auction on Wednesday to Whisper Hill Farm and will more than likely be retired.


Right on the heels of defending champion Groupie Doll's win came MIZDIRECTION, who utilized a similar layoff pattern in winning her second consecutive turf sprint.  Unraced since tiring on boggy ground going longer at Belmont on June 8, Mizdirection was once again fresh and ready to tackle a Santa Anita turf course that she absolutely adores.  She tracked the wickedly-fast filly RENEESGOTZIP and TIGHTEND TOUCHDOWN through fractions of 21.47 and 43.36 and was simply the best horse in the stretch.  Reneesgotzip and Tightend Touchdown dead-heated for the place.

On Monday morning. Mizdirection sold for $2.7M to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani of Qatar. 


Beaten favorite HAVANA (2nd) and Grade 1 Hopeful winner STRONG MANDATE (3rd) ran excellent races as they were close to a good pace after breaking from the outside (22.66, 45.38, 1:09.70) and still were hanging around at the finish.  It was NEW YEAR'S DAY, however, who was really helped by the cooking up front.  New Year's Day, who missed the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes last month due to a minor illness, rallied nicely to pass Havana in the stretch for trainer Bob Baffert.  Havana may find this distance a bit too far. 

MEXIKOMA (6th) seemed uncomfortable in the early part of the race, but picked it up a bit in the stretch to finish sixth.  BOND HOLDER (4th) also ran well late and looks like one to follow.

"I told [to Martin Garcia] not to get caught up in the track bias," Baffert remarked  "Ride your horse, not the track.  If he gets there, he gets there.  If not, he's going to get something good out of it.  We're looking down the road."

Beyer and Associates released the following explanation:

"Mucho Macho Man won the biggest race of the Breeders’ Cup, and nobody should be surprised that he earned the biggest Beyer Speed Figure at Santa Anita, a 112.  But racing fans who examine all the figures on Saturday may suspect an error in the stakes for 2-year-olds.  How could New Year’s Day win the Juvenile in slower time than the Juvenile Fillies and earn a higher figure?

  New Year’s Day received a figure of 88 after running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.52.   She’s a Tiger and Ria Antonia each got an 82 after covering the same distance in 1:43.02 and finishing a nose apart.

   The explanation, said Andrew Beyer, is evidence suggesting that the Santa Anita track was significantly faster for the first two dirt races on the card than it was for the rest of the day.

   The Juvenile Fillies was marred by a breakdown and spill that caused significant trouble for at least half of the field.  The top three finishers, who avoided the trouble, had never recorded a figure above 80.  It is implausible that they would run faster than Havana, runner-up in the Juvenile, who had recently won the Champagne Stakes with a figure of 93.

   The theory that the track was faster early in the day was buttressed by the one dirt race contested before the Juvenile Fillies.  The second race on the card was a minor stakes for 3-year-olds that had drawn a thin field of five, and the winner was a colt who had never earned a figure higher than 91.  Yet he ran seven furlongs in an extraordinarily fast 1:20.76, almost the identical time recorded by the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Groupie Doll.

   “I am confident we are right that the track changed after the first two dirt races,” Beyer said. “But I am mystified by the downhill turf sprints.  I questioned whether the official times were accurate, but our colleague Randy Moss timed the races and confirmed that they were correct.”

   Mizdirection, who came into the Turf Sprint with a perfect 5-for-5 record on the downhill course, beat an accomplished field by running “about 6 ½ furlongs” in 1:12.25.  Earlier in the afternoon, a lesser $100,000 stakes race for fillies, in which the top seven finishers were only two lengths apart, was clocked in the identical 1:12.25.   Both races accordingly received the same figure, 94.

Despite the final time being slower than the Juvenile Fillies at the same distance, the Juvenile received a higher Beyer Speed Figure. 


Ryan Moore, the champion rider of England in 2006, 2008 and 2009, is doubtlessly one of the best big-race riders in the world and he pulled a rabbit out of his hat in guiding MAGICIAN home over fellow European THE FUGUE.  While The Fugue, under William Buick, made a wide bid to the front on the last of three turns, Moore saved as much ground as possible before switching Magician widest in upper stretch.  From there, it was all Magician, who stormed his final quarter mile in 22.88 to nip a game The Fugue.  A 3-year-old by Galileo, Magician won the Irish 2,000 Guineas in May, but suffered some bone bruising four days befor the St. James's Palace Stakes at Ascot.  He ran anyway and trailed in a disappointing performance.  Freshened since that Group 1 on June 18 and racing beyond 10 1/2 furlongs for the first time, Magician really caught the eye. 

"So he had a little bit of a mishap before Ascot," mentioned trainer Aidan O'Brien.  "With the benefit of hindsight, I shouldn't have run him.  He had a good break after that.  He hasn't run all the time since then because we were waiting on good ground.  But he was always a very exciting horse.  Listen, Ryan gave him an incredible ride today."

POINT OF ENTRY (4th) gave it a good try in his first start since fracturing his hind cannon bone.  He has been retired and will stand stud in 2014 at Adena Springs in Kentucky.


This division has been topsy-turvy all year long and SECRET CIRCLE, who stayed out of the fray due to injury, swept in and took the measure of all of them.  The winner of the now-defunct Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in 2011, Secret Circle was on the Triple Crown trail at three.  He won a division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes in February, took the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in March, and finished second to stablemate Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby in April before going down for the better part of a year with suspensory problems.  He looked as good as ever, if not better, in winning his first start back last month and he overcame some traffic to outfinish the late-running LAUGH TRACK. 

JUSTIN PHILLIP (5th) had an eventful trip, finished well and is now off to stud.


What can you say about WISE DAN?  He brings it every single time and he likely grabbed Horse of the Year honors with his second straight Mile victory.  He now has earned 14 consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures and has won 10 of his last 11 races (it took heavy rains and a course and distance change to beat him in the Shadwell Turf Mile). 

WISE DAN received a great setup behind a suicidal pace (21.94, 44.47, 1:08.55), swung wide and wore down a game ZA APPROVAL.  OLYMPIC GLORY (9th), fresh off a Group 1 win, went from 100 to 0 in a matter of two strides on the far turn.  His trainer, Richard Hannon, now holds a record of 16-0-1-0 in North America.


Midway on the final turn of the Breeders' Cup Classic, MUCHO MACHO MAN looked like he was about to repeat his dominating performance in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on September 28.  Cruising up to the front-runners while wide under Gary Stevens, Mucho Macho Man confidently took over the lead. 

It wasn't going to be that easy, however. 

Travers winner WILL TAKE CHARGE and the classy European, DECLARATION OF WAR, arrived on the scene in the final sixteenth of a mile.  Thankfully for Mucho Macho Man, the wire saved him when he was a nostril better than Will Take Charge.  Mucho Macho Man, the runner-up behind FORT LARNED (4th) in the 2012 Classic at Santa Anita, absolutely craves the dirt at Santa Anita. 

He is likely to stay in training for 2014.  Declaration of War will retired to stud at Coolmore in Ireland.  Fort Larned goes to Adena Springs.  Paynter (7th) heads to WinStar. 

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (10/28/13 - 11/3/13)

1. MUCHO MACHO MAN - 112 - Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - Santa Anita
2. ROMANSH - 110 - Discovery Handicap (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - Aqueduct
3. GROUPIE DOLL - 107 - Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
3. MAGICIAN (IRE) - 107 - Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
5. HEITAI - 106 - OC 15k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Delta
6. BEHOLDER - 105 - Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Santa Anita
6. GOLDENCENTS - 105 - Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
8. DANK (GB) - 104 - Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
8. WISE DAN - 104 - Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
10. OUR DOUBLE PLAY - 103 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 7 1/2 Furlongs - Churchill Downs
11. HEIR OF STORM - 102 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
11. W. B. SMUDGE - 102 - OC 35k/N$Y - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
13. R FREE ROLL - 101 - Bold World Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Calder
14. DON'T TELL SOPHIA - 100 - Chilukki Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile - Churchill
14. PHIL'S DREAM - 100 - Ontario Jockey Club Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
16. MAJESTIC CITY - 99 - Big Bear Stakes - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
16. VOODOO STORM - 99 - Mountaineer Mile Stakes - 1 Mile - Mountaineer
18. GOOD MORNING DIVA - 98 - Bet On Sunshine Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
18. SECRET CIRCLE - 98 - Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
20. ZEEWAT - 96 - Damascus Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
21. EGG DROP - 95 - Goldikova Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
22. HANG COOL - 94 - Alw 30000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Remington
22. MIZDIRECTION - 94 - Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
22. PONTCHATRAIN - 94 - Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (G3) - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
22. ZEALEVO - 94 - Alw 48500N1X - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Parx

*The lifetime past performances for MUCHO MACHO MAN are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Mr. Illman: You say that all 2 YOs are OFF LASIX ??? I thought they repealed that rule. In fact;DRF Advanced PPs lists most of these Juvies as running on Lasix. ??????
Brian Taylor

Juveniles will once again race with Lasix in the Breeders' Cup beginning next year.


Laura, Calvin, Dan, anyone else
Any thoughts on a NYbred 2YO named Goldstandardlady? By Posse out of Gold Ginny. Now training in NY with J. Englehart.
A friend has a piece of the filly and says they hope to have her run sometime in November at AQU.
I would appreciate any pedigree thoughts.
Ned Daly

GOLDSTANDARDLADY sold for $50,000 as a yearling and was a $47,000 RNA at the OBS April auction (her under tack workout can be seen at the below link under HIP #441):


Her sire, Posse, was a precocious and talented sprinter for trainer Steve Amussen.  As a 2-year-old of 2002, Posse won first-out by 13 1/2 lengths in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on dirt at Keeneland.  Two starts later, Posse took the Grade 2 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes going 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs. The following season, Posse won the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes at seven furlongs (108 Beyer) and the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Stakes with a 111 Beyer (also at seven furlongs). 
Posse never ran around two turns.  His only route start resulted in an eighth-place finish (beaten 19 1/4 lengths) in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes.

It isn't surprising that Posse's best progeny are sprinter/milers.  Kodiak Kowboy won the 2009 Eclipse Award for champion sprinter after winning the Vosburgh, Carter and Cigar Mile at four.  Caleb's Posse took the King's Bishop and Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at three while Rolling Fog prevailed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs over polytrack.  

Goldstandardlady's dam, Michigan-bred Gold Ginny, won three stakes races (two at seven furlongs, one at a mile) at Great Lakes Downs.  She is a half-sister to three-time stakes-winner Empress Livia, stakes-winning sprinter Zephyr Charlie, and
stakes-placed router Electric Venus. 

Goldstandardlady's pedigree indicates that she may do best in sprints. She breezed a half-mile this morning in 49.94 over the Belmont training track.


I just want to thank everyone for their excellent thoughts and analysis on the Breeders' Cup races.  Fantastic stuff.


The weekend handicapping previews should be available on the site soon.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Samuel Proud for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling contest.

Rick M's HandiGambling scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Let's go with Friday's eighth race at Aqueduct for this week's 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.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!



Best of luck to all.

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