11/02/2011 10:59PM

Brad Free: 2011 Breeders' Cup analysis


Breeders' Cup Friday

Juvenile Sprint
1-Secret Circle
2-Holdin Bullets

The fastest in the field, SECRET CIRCLE is obvious at odds-on. Both starts in California were 97-Beyer crushers; he showed versatility second out rallying from behind. He was “in hand late” both starts, and is the weekend’s most probable winner. The bomber HOLDIN BULLETS moves up to longshot-contender status. He is quick based on his only start in April, a front-running win at four and one-half furlongs. He worked well for his first since, and could be the one to catch at a price. After the top pair, anything goes. SEEKER misfired last time, but fits off his 95 Beyer two back in the Saratoga slop. VEXOR is not “fast,” but has won two of his last three. BLACKY THE BULL ran the best race of his career last out in his first one-turn sprint on dirt. He will roll late.

Juvenile Fillies Turf
1-Elusive Kate
2-Sweet Cat
3-Somali Lemonade

Euro-shipper ELUSIVE KATE is logical choice off an outstanding campaign with four consecutive wins including a Group 1. Each performance has been better than the one before, and she can ship. She travelled three times from England to France, winning all. Trainer John Gosden is 4-for-26 in the Breeders’ Cup. SWEET CAT might turn the tables on the filly (SOMALI LEMONADE) that beat her last time. Improving each start, ’CAT finished nine clear of third last out. Her speed should lead to a good trip. SOMALI LEMONADE followed her impressive debut victory vs. maidens with an equally impressive stakes win. The deep closer will fly late, but is stuck on the far outside. STOPSHOPPINGMARIA is a More than Ready filly trying grass for the first time. She could be the speed of the field, with a shot to steal it.

Filly and Mare Sprint
1-Turbulent Descent
3-Pomeroys Pistol

TURBULENT DESCENT has never faced older, favorites are winless this race, three of four beaten favorites were 3-year-olds. The sample is due for an update. No sprint filly or more has been as dominant as ’DESCENT, whose victory in the Test was flattered when the runner-up returned to crush older. SWITCH raced wide and finished third in a six-furlong sprint that was a prep race for this. She won twice at seven furlongs in winter. However, her works have not been dazzling; there is a chance she has tailed off. POMEROYS PISTOL is getting better. Runner-up in the Test, she dusted older by four lengths last time in a career-best effort. TANDA pressed a hot pace and finished third in a better-than-looked prep. GREAT HOT is the bomber. She defeated 3-year-olds two weeks ago on synthetic, and is better on dirt.

Juvenile Fillies
1-Grace Hall
2-My Miss Aurelia

Undefeated GRACE HALL and MY MISS AURELIA are close in ability. The edge goes to the filly with two-turn experience. GRACE HALL followed her G1 Spinaway with a good two-turn win at Delaware. The improving Empire Maker filly has thrived since, and benefits from the (fast) pace scenario. She can sit, wait and rally late for the win. MY MISS AURELIA was sensational all three starts including a blowout in the Frizette. The high-figure filly, her three wins were accomplished near the front end. The trouble is this race could unfold at a hot pace. Her dam was a sprinter whose only previous foal is Albergatti, also was best at one turn. CANDREA ran super pressing a hot pace in her prep. But the California fillies are modest. She got beat by WEEMISSFRANKIE, who is 3-for-3 including two Grade 1’s.

Filly & Mare Turf
3-Dubawi Heights

STACELITA emerged as the top turf filly in North America winning the Beverly D and Flower Bowl; the absence of top Europeans from this makes her the one to beat again. She is 10-for-17, and can stay a mile and three-eighths. Lightly raced NAHRAIN won a G1 in France last out, while racing for the first time in three months. She is 4-for-4. DUBAWI HEIGHTS finished second to the top choice in summer, and has improved since. She won her comeback prep (though the runner-up had trouble and was best). The tactical speed of ’HEIGHTS means she is likely for another good trip. ANNOUNCE was the beaten favorite behind NAHRAIN, falling short by a nose. CAMBINA is not good enough on form, but she occasionally packs a wallop in the stretch. She should start at a giant price, and could hit the board.

Ladies’ Classic
1-Plum Pretty
2-Royal Delta
3-It’s Tricky

PLUM PRETTY holds the pace advantage racing over the track where she won the Kentucky Oaks. She ran wild last out (108 Beyer), trained well since, and faces few pace rivals. With a pressing trip or wire-to-wire, she is solid. ROYAL DELTA improved as the year progressed; her runner-up try behind BC Classic-bound Havre de Grace was a mere tune-up. ’DELTA has worked super at Churchill Downs, and if the front-runner tires, she might get there. IT’S TRICKY has defeated the top pair this year, and also F&M Sprint favorite Turbulent Descent. She could get a good trip tucked just behind the favorite. PACHATTACK is good on all surfaces; she enters off two decent runner-up finishes. MISS MATCH is the bomber. She drops from a G1 vs. males; the last time she raced nine furlongs on dirt against fillies and mares she sprang a 45.20-1 upset.

Breeders' Cup Saturday

3-Giant Oak
4-Pleasant Prince

An anonymous field entered this forgettable mile-and-three-quarter dirt race. BIRDRUN, whose best race was going a mile and a half, stretches out and drops in class after pressing and fading vs. tougher. Second start following a short layoff, he can win with a forward move. CEASE has improved each successive start this year, including a solid third-place finish last out against better. His pressing style should play well in a race likely to unfold at a soft pace. GIANT OAK, beaten favorite this race a year ago, tries again after chasing better all year. He will finish. PLEASANT PRINCE has run races that put him in the hunt against this group, including a runaway last out over Rail Trip. ELDAAFER, upset winner of this a year ago, is back for another go. He was better last year, however.

Juvenile Turf
2-Caspar Netscher
3-State of Play
4-Animal Spirits

FINALE turned into a tiger on turf, 3-for-3 including a win six weeks ago in a productive race. That Woodbine race produced 2010 winner Pluck for this trainer, and 2009 runner-up Bridgetown. Freshened six weeks with tactical speed to overcome post 13, FINALE is logical. European shipper CASPAR NETSCHER arrives in peak form. He finished fifth by a length last time in a Group 1; by all accounts he was best. This is his first try beyond six furlongs. STATE OF PLAY is 2-for-2 and a clever G2 winner at Saratoga two months ago. From the outside post, he must use his speed early. ANIMAL SPIRITS followed a solid runner-up debut with a deep-closing G3 upset at Keeneland. Look for him late. MAJESTIC CITY was unruly in his final California workout; he probably is the speed of the field.

3-Giant Ryan
4-Jackson Bend

California sprinters have been “Crushing the Cup” by winning 14 of 27. The streak can continue. AMAZOMBIE returned to form with a sharp recent comeback, and bounced out of the Grade 1 win in top shape. Recent works have been super, he is well drawn, with a versatile style to press or stalk. EUROEARS was compromised when he drew the rail; he is not quick from the gate. If he breaks slowly, forget it. But if he breaks cleanly, he could be gone. He has worked brilliantly since a nightmare trip last out. GIANT RYAN has won six straight with big figs, though Belmont observers say he benefitted from a bias last out. JACKSON BEND will be over-bet turning back from longer distances. He will finish, but six furlongs could be too sharp. BIG DRAMA was better last year.

Turf Sprint
1-Regally Ready
3-Chamberlain Bridge

Early this year REGALLY READY was unbeatable in turf sprints. He tailed off, but he is coming around again even if his slow-pace win last out was less than dominant. But it marked a forward move as he cycles into form, and his pressing style should play well in a race without much gas. CARACORTADO sprinted on grass once; it was a powerful comeback victory last year. The G2 winner missed time in fall with a minor setback, but worked well lately. He runs well fresh. Look for him late. CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE won this a year ago and is 4-for-6 at Churchill Downs. Not sure if the fractions will quick enough for him, however. HAVELOCK has won his last four turf sprints. He might be this good. RAPPORT will lead partway. He might get brave at a price first-time turf.

Dirt Mile
1-Tres Borrachos
2-Trappe Shot
4-The Factor

Bombs away with TRES BORRACHOS, whose recent two-turn pace duel vs. better sets him up for a class-drop upset at one mile. Assuming realistic pace, he can sit, wait and tag them late. His form looks similar to last year’s Dirt Mile upset winner Dakota Phone. TRAPPE SHOT has been splashing around earning big figs in the New York mud. It is unknown if he is as effective on dry land in Kentucky, but this is an easier spot. Front-running 3-year-olds TAPIZAR and THE FACTOR create an interesting early duel. TAPIZAR is drawn outside his pace rival and will apply pressure. His comeback was solid, in winter he was among the fastest Derby prospects in California. THE FACTOR is stuck on the rail, facing pace pressure from the outside. Not sure if he is as good as most in California initially believed.

1-St Nicholas Abbey
4-Sea Moon

North America’s championship card is hereby interrupted with an obligatory curtsy to Europe. The grass horses in Europe are simply better; the top four choices are shippers. ST NICHOLAS ABBEY loomed a threat in the Arc homestretch last month, but lost his punch while making his second start back. Top class and 5-for-10 overall, he is rounding to top form and set for a smasher. MIDDAY skipped the F&M Turf for a tilt at the boys; she finished second twice this year in Group 1’s vs. males. Her recent fourth-place finish was merely a prep race. SARAFINA finished a disappointing seventh at low odds in the Arc. This is an easier spot. SEA MOON, a lightly raced 3-year-old, had a compromising trip and finished third as the favorite against possibly better. He is better than that makes him look.

1-Union Rags
4-Creative Cause

The devastating Champagne win by UNION RAGS stamps the 3-for-3 colt as a worthy favorite. He has improved each start. Last time he waited behind runners into the lane before bursting clear. Two turns is new, but that is not likely to be an issue based on his overpowering last start. ALPHA could be the “sneak horse” after a troubled runner-up trip behind the top pick. He broke slowly, got bottled behind runners, raced in traffic, and finished evenly. It was only his second start; he has much upside. DRILL was rank and unhappy behind a slow pace and finished second as the odds-on favorite in the Norfolk. He can improve in his second route. He has worked well with blinkers off. CREATIVE CAUSE crushed the Norfolk with a perfect trip. The pace this time will be quicker.

1-Strong Suit
3-Gio Ponti
4-Mr Commons

The sky is the limit for improving 3-year-olds in fall; a huge recent victory by England-based STRONG SUIT sets him up to upset despite post 11. GOLDIKOVA seeks an amazing fourth BC Mile victory. However, for this first time in her career she lost more races this year than she won. Runner-up three of her last four, she enters with deserving accolades for a stellar career (17-for-26). The knock is price. She will be heavily favored. GIO PONTI is overdue for a BC win after finishing second to girls the last two years (Goldikova, Zenyatta). GIO PONTI fires every start, and will roll late. MR COMMONS will be a fat price. A 3-year-old getting better, this might be the time to catch him at long odds. BYWORD arrives from France after winning two straight vs. easier.

1-Ruler On Ice
2-Havre De Grace
3-Game On Dude
4-So You Think

Longshot RULER ON ICE, the Belmont winner, can upset this field. The improving 3-year-old finished well in his final prep and should have legitimate fractions to run at. His odds will be about 20-1. The filly HAVRE DE GRACE earned a shot here based on a win against males (including subsequent G1 winner Flat Out) in the Woodward. She followed with a blowout over fillies and mares. Her numbers are good; she can stay a mile and a quarter. She may start favored. GAME ON DUDE is the speed of the field with a chance to lead gate to wire. He can stay a mile and a quarter, and is one tough customer in the lane. SO YOU THINK is a 12-for-19 international warrior making his third start in a month. UNCLE MO is brilliant, but suspect beyond a mile and a sixteenth.