10/03/2010 11:26AM

Super Saturday's Breeders' Cup Implications


Let's take a morning after look at Super Saturday's stakes races and what each race's Breeders' Cup implications might be. We'll break it down by track.


Vosburgh - I questioned the decision to cut Girolamo back to a six furlong distance at which he had never raced since he is bred, looks, and acts like a middle distance horse. But Girolamo's connections were right, and he scored decisively. Granted, this wasn't the best Vosburgh field ever assembled, but given the current unsettled nature of the sprint division, there is no reason to think that Girolamo can't be a force in the BC Sprint.

Flower Bowl - Let's be honest, this race was all about who could and could not handle the footing, which, by the way, seemed far more like soft than the yielding posted. Winner and runner up Ave and Changing Skies are just not true Grade 1 horses no matter what this result says, and it is unlikely this race will have a major impact on the BC Filly & Mare Turf unless identical footing prevails at Churchill Downs and a bunch of other horses don't run their races.

Beldame - I did not expect Life At Ten to rate just off the pace as effectively as she did here, but she did. And that she did makes this arguably the best of her five wins this year, and puts her right in the mix of a now wide open BC Ladies' Classic.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational - Although this race was more formful than the Flower Bowl, like the Flower Bowl, the footing for this race confuses what real meaning it might have in a Breeders' Cup sense. And while winner Winchester and runner up Paddy O'Prado are nice horses, they are not world beaters. As such, they will be in trouble in Louisville unless all the good Europeans stay home.

Jockey Club Gold Cup - Blame caught Battle Plan despite having a slow pace to run at in the Foster, and he caught Quality Road in the Whitney under similar circumstances, so it was a big surprise that he couldn't catch the lesser Haynesfield here. Good luck to Haynesfield in the BC Classic. Let's see how he handles top class pace pressure when Quality Road runs at him. As for Blame, he'll be better going two turns in the Breeders' Cup. But his loss here probably means that Zenyatta, who was already favorite for the Classsic, will now be a stronger favorite.


Norfolk - Jaycito, the winner, was much the best here. But how strong could this race really have been when Jaycito, a maiden going in, prevails after racing four wide around the track and under heavy, heavy pressure in the stretch, besting a colt in J P's Gusto who while California's most accomplished juvenile going in was always a huge question mark going two turns? Beyond the whole synthetic-to-dirt thing, the initial sense is this race won't be the key prep for the BC Juvenile. Not by a longshot.

Lady's Secret - I have always resisted the temptation to attach human characteristics to race horses. But after watching her just get there in time again in this race to make it 19 for 19, could it be that Zenyatta really does know where the finish line is, and now does only what is required to get there first? Either way, this race has meaning for the Classic (and ironically not the Ladies Classic) because Zenyatta will certainly be the favorite for the Classic.

Yellow Ribbon - It was a surprise to see Gypsy's Warning make the pace here. It was no surprise, given the weakness of the California female turf division, that a stranger won this. That stranger, Hibaayeb, was a Group 1 winner last year. But she has been so far below that level for most of this year that it is hard not to think that a European like Midday won't have her for breakfast in Louisville.

Goodwood - You want to cut this race additional slack because the winner, Richard's Kid, seems to always be unfairly underrated. This was his third Grade 1 win since moving West in the summer of last year. But in truth, it is hard to make a case that this race will have major impact on the Classic. Richard's Kid just got up after getting a dream run on the rail. Runner up Crown of Thorns probably doesn't want to be on the pace as he was here, but he still really didn't stay the nine furlongs, and the Classic is a furlong longer. And Twirling Candy might not have controlled the early pace like he figured to on paper, but he was totally exposed as something less than the second coming.


Indiana Oaks - Always a Princess was a very promising 2-year-old last year, and after a belated start to her 3-year-old campaign, a decisive victory here made her 2 for 2 this season. Her final time was only one-fifth of a second slower than top 3-year-old male Lookin At Lucky needed to win the Indiana Derby in the next race, although it should be noted that the pace Always a Princess set in the Indiana Oaks was much slower than the pace posted in the Indiana Derby. In any case, Always a Princess is certainly an intriguing late addition to the Ladies' Classic picture.

Indiana Derby - Yes, it is true that the field Lookin At Lucky beat here was not strong. It is also true that after a fast pace, this race slowed up considerably late, which helped Lookin At Lucky rally from last. But in his defense, not many, if any, horses won in the slop at Hoosier Saturday from as far back as Lookin At Lucky did. In the end, this was a nice return from an illness that kept Lookin At Lucky sidelined since the Haskell. This was also a very nice prep for the Classic that he almost certainly will improve on. As an aside, it's too bad we all couldn't have locked in that 5-2 that Lookin At Lucky was on the morning line. He paid $2.80.


Fitz Dixson Cotillion - We knew going in that while Blind Luck was an extremely good filly, she was not unbeatable. We also knew going in that Havre de Grace finished only a nose and a neck behind Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks and Alabama. Still, even when Havre de Grace had that big lead in midstretch here, I thought Blind Luck was going to catch her, and was a little disappointed in Blind Luck that she didn't. Blind Luck remains the leading 3-year-old filly in the country, but now she is at best only a tepid favorite for the Ladies' Classic. By the way, if Havre de Grace was named for the town in Maryland, then the pronunciation of "Havruh de Grace" is correct. But if she was named after the old Maryland race track, then the correct pronunciation is "Havruh duh Graw."


Hawthorne Gold Cup - With the distance of this race being the same as the distance of the Classic, you would think this race would be a stepping stone to the Classic. Not this time, I would think. To his credit, Redding Colliery had to go fast early to outrun a bunch of other speed horses, all of whom wound up being beaten (and I'm only exagerrating a little here) a million lengths. But Hawthorne is a speed favoring track. And that combined with a final quarter in a slow 27.10 seconds along with the reluctant to win Giant Oak being the main one running at you means Redding Colliery should really be looking at the BC Dirt Mile.