11/07/2017 12:01PM

Breeders’ Cup 2017 insights from The Wizard


Breeders’ Cup telecast (C-)

The main track featured a dead rail both days. The on-air commentators made no mention of the bias until just before the final race, the Classic, was run. It was only then that Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss pointed out that speed had not been holding. They still never picked up the real story that if you raced on the inside part of the track, you were finished.

Peter Miller (A+)

No one was hotter than Peter Miller on Friday and Saturday. He won a stakes on Friday with Belvoir Bay at 3-1. On Saturday, Miller ran 1-2 in the BC Turf Sprint, winning with Stormy Liberal at 30-1 and Richard’s Boy at 13-1. The Miller cold exacta for $1 paid $277.50. He then won the BC Sprint with Roy H at 9-2.

Chad Brown (B+)

Trainer Chad Brown won the Friday Juvenile Fillies Turf with Rushing Fall at 3-1, giving him four wins in this race. On Saturday, he scored easily with maiden Good Magic at 11-1 in the Juvenile. Lady Eli had some trouble as the 3-2 favorite running off the board, but it’s impossible to hold that against Brown for her illustrious career and the training job he did with this superstar filly.

Aidan O’Brien / Ryan Moore (A)

One cannot bestow enough accolades upon trainer Aidan O’Brien, who continues his world dominance winning prestigious races around the globe. O’Brien won the Juvenile Turf with Mendelssohn at 9-2 and the Juvenile Turf Sprint with Declaration of Peace at 14-1, both with Ryan Moore aboard. O’Brien hit the board with a few others.

Steve Asmussen / Gun Runner (A+)

Steve Asmussen’s training job in 2017 developing Gun Runner into the best dirt horse in the world is a remarkable achievement. To win as Gun Runner did at a distance he had not been successful at and accomplish this setting a fast pace throughout was clearly a world-class performance by both trainer and horse.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Happily (F)
One of the rare poor performances by a well-meant O’Brien runner.

September (B+)
Ran a very strong third, despite a tough trip for O’Brien.

Dirt Mile

Sharp Azteca (A)
Ran his eyeballs out setting a pressured quick pace on the worst part of the track. 

Mor Spirit (F)
The favorite from the Baffert Barn was dead on the board and ran like it.

Battle of Midway (A)
Upset the field at 14-1. Blinkers have proven key to his vastly improved form and a great training job by Hollendorfer.

Juvenile Turf

Masar (B+)
Earns the award for the worst trip of any horse from the 13 Breeders’ Cup races. Finished sixth, but could easily have won. In tight early, he steadied in traffic numerous times. He was moving well on the far turn when his rider lost his left iron. Swung widest into the stretch, finishing best of all, but was too late under very mild urging.


Dallas Stewart and John Velazquez (A+)
John Velazquez earns his A+ for the ride, and Dallas Stewart earns his for the training that had Forever Unbridled ready to win.

Stellar Wind and John Sadler (F) … ’nuff said.

Elate and Bill Mott (D) when she was finished on the far turn as the favorite.

Juvenile Fillies

Heavenly Love and Moonshine Memoires (B+)
Both were disadvantaged and hurt by dead rails.

Turf Sprint

The worst performance by a horse who not only figured to win, but finished 10th.

Filly and Mare Sprint

Another who raced far better than it looks on paper while racing along the dead rail throughout.

John Kimmel (A)
For winning with impossible longshot Bar of Gold.

Unique Bella and Mike Smith (D)
One of the two most overbet horses at the Breeders’ Cup. One of Mike Smith’s worst rides in recent years in big races.

Filly and Mare Turf

Rough trip and poor ride by Javier Castellano, compromising her chances by having her out of position to fire.


Like Sharp Azteca on Friday, he ran one of the best races in defeat on a bad inside through the stretch.

Drefong (D)
The absolute worst betting favorite and a complete throw-out breaking inside as the speed on a dead rail facing pressure.


World Approval and Mark Casse (A)
Win machine proved he’s the best miler around. Terrific performance by both horse and trainer.

Blackcatjack (A)
Ran a super race running third, while racing wide throughout and with jockey losing whip at the top of the stretch.


Impossible trip to overcome. His flat-footed start resulted in being hung out very wide into the first turn. He continued to race out of positon and wide throughout. I still feel Bolt D’Oro is the best 2-year-old in the country.


Talismanic and Andre Fabre
Jockey took full advantage of his rail post with a perfect ride and trip. Dismiss Fabre “the Fox” at peril to your bankroll.


Gun Runner and Steve Asmussen (A+)
You saw the race; watch the video of Asmussnen during the stretch run again … it’s why we love this game.

Collected (B+)
He did all the dirty work chasing Gun Runner without threatening while holding position throughout. This is a classy rival with tactical speed.

West Coast (C-)
He held his own but was no match for the top two as the remaining 3-year old from a crop where the three Triple Crown race winners are in the barn or retired.

Arrogate (D)
Appearing to be working well into the race following two defeats and looking very much able to deliver a much-improved effort, Arrogate broke to the inside from post 1, labored along that dead rail, and was not up to the task of running down a dead-fit rival in Gun Runner. For goodness sake, he finished behind War Story.

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