10/24/2007 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup race analysis

EmailBreeders' Cup race analysis from DRF handicappers

Breeders' Cup Classic

Brad Free analysis

CURLIN is a pretty good horse. He won the Preakness, the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last time against older, and is making only his third start since spring. He may have one more forward move. Is that possible? HARD SPUN will try to wire the field, and this race did not come up with much speed. If he gets loose, look out. If it turns out the U.S. handicap ranks are overrated, European GEORGE WASHINGTON could upset. The Group 1 winner has had a light 2007 campaign, and might be fresher than when he tried this race last year. STREET SENSE has been less spectacular away from Churchill Downs; ANY GIVEN SATURDAY has never been better. LAWYER RON was a monster at Saratoga – this race is at Monmouth. The Californians appear overmatched, though TIAGO has been a picture of health this week and may be sitting on the race of his career.

Steve Klein analysis

ANY GIVEN SATURDAY ran a career-best race when he won the Haskell here two races ago, in his first start on this track. He tuned up for this race with a win in the Grade 2 Brooklyn, and should be ready to move forward today. LAWYER RON shows just one previous race on this track, and it was less than impressive. He settled for second as the 1-10 favorite in the Salvator Mile that day, then ran three consecutive races at Saratoga and Belmont that netted him the three highest Beyers he has earned from his 25 career starts. CURLIN edged Lawyer Ron at Belmont last time in his return, but it is interesting to note that he settled for third behind ANY GIVEN SATURDAY and HARD SPUN in his lone previous race here.

Dave Litfin analysis

TIAGO was beaten two lengths for third in the Kentucky Derby while making just his fifth start, and turned a corner in the Swaps when he came through narrow opening on the rail to kick clear; he is primed to run the race of his life at a big price, after slightly surpassing his previous Beyer top in the Goodwood. LAWYER RON was against the grain of a strong speed bias when he ran out of ground in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth, then stepped into another dimension with three giant races that raise the possibility of his being over the top. He faces a similar predicament as in the Woodward when he was deftly guided off the rail to stalk, and the big key is whether he can relax sitting just off HARD SPUN. STREET SENSE would love to see Lawyer Ron go after Hard Spun early and get into a fight; he is at his most explosive at Churchill Downs, however, and worked harder than expected to win the Travers over an unheralded rival who returned to disappoint in the Super Derby.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

CURLIN ran his best race yet winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and did so off a layoff. His dull third two starts back in the Haskell was, I believe, more attributable to him feeling the effects of having run in all three legs of the Triple Crown, rather than any dislike for Monmouth or inability to handle the turns. He should get enough pace to make his late run count. LAWYER RON was edged by the pick in the Gold Cup, but should like stretching back out to two full turns. The fear is that he might get involved in a prolonged battle trying to get by projected pacesetter HARD SPUN. ANY GIVEN SATURDAY ran huge when he won the Haskell, and the belief is he'll perform more like that than his less impressive effort winning the Brooklyn. STREET SENSE must be respected, but I still think he hasn't been as impressive away from Churchill Downs.


Breeders' Cup Turf

Brad Free analysis

Though many previous Arc de Triomphe winners have been foiled in the Turf, few faced the modest group DYLAN THOMAS meets this year. It is a shallow group. Meanwhile, Dylan Thomas has been a beast. He has four Group 1 wins this year against the best in Europe, and if he handles one more start in a nine-race trans-continental campaign, he should bury the field at odds that will be too low on which to make a serious wager. ENGLISH CHANNEL has been amazingly consistent the past three seasons, winning 12 of 22. His five Grade 1 wins include two on the Monmouth turf. GRAND COUTURIER made up much ground in a race dominated by speed. His Grade 1 upset one back puts him close. BETTER TALK NOW will finish; RED ROCKS was better in 2006. SHAMDINAN has been poorly managed after winning a Grade 1 for 3-year-olds in his U.S. debut.

Steve Klein analysis

DYLAN THOMAS has been very consistent this year. He won five races, and finished second in the other three. He has won three straight Group 1 stakes races, including the Irish Champion and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. If he is able to maintain his strong form just 20 days after his Arc victory, he will be hard to deny. RED ROCKS was in better form coming into this race last year than he is now, so I'm not counting on him to repeat. But this field lacks depth, so he might be able to complete the exacta. ENGLISH CHANNEL is 2 for 2 on this course, and just won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont at this distance. GRAND COUTURIER is going well now and might nibble in the exotics.

Dave Litfin analysis

RED ROCKS was no match for DYLAN THOMAS in England and Ireland earlier this year, but the outcome could well be different in New Jersey given the former's ability to ship and win the 2006 Turf and fact that he's been pointed to a defense of his title. Dylan Thomas is potentially the shortest-priced BC favorite, but this race seems like an afterthought in the wake of a draining Arc de Triomphe win, in which he lugged in steadily and survived a long inquiry. ENGLISH CHANNEL showed guts (his rider even more so) coming through a narrow opening to win his second straight Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. The two-time United Nations Stakes winner on this course projects to settle into easy striking range and will try to open up on the Euros and hang on. GRAND COUTURIER showed a glimpse of his best French form when upsetting in the Sword Dancer, but he had perfect hedge-hugging setup while getting weight.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

DYLAN THOMAS will be attempting to become the first to complete an Arc de Triomphe-Breeders' Cup Turf double. He picked the perfect year to accomplish this task. He is by far the most accomplished European entrant – he has won four Group 1 races this season – and the American contingent here is not especially imposing. By all accounts, he thrives on racing, so his busy schedule is not a concern. RED ROCKS upset this race last year, and while he is no match for the pick in Europe, he just might be a more effective performer under American racing conditions. ENGLISH CHANNEL loves Monmouth, but despite victories (over weak fields) in the last two runnings of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, I don't think he's at his best going 1 1/2 miles. GRAND COUTURIER shocked English Channel at this distance in the Sword Dancer and can get a piece at a price.


Breeders' Cup Distaff

Brad Free analysis

HYSTERICALADY is quick enough to establish position from post 12, and with only one true pace rival, she could get a comfortable two-wide trip pressing BEAR NOW. Proven at Monmouth, Hystericalady has more speed than she showed last time when second at odds-on. In her last start she sucked along the field, and the passive strategy cost her when she was worn down by a filly that pressed slow fractions. The weapon Hystericalady has is her speed. She must attack early, bust loose on the far turn, and be gone. Otherwise, GINGER PUNCH can win. She was flat when wheeled back on three weeks' rest in the Beldame, but has had a month to rejuvenate, and three previous wins are as good as any. Grade 1 winner LEAR'S PRINCESS is a consistent, developing 3-year-old. Bear Now has a shot to wire the field, though she falls short on class.

Steve Klein analysis

HYSTERICALADY was an impressive winner of her lone previous race here when she scored by 6 1/4 lengths, with speed to spare, in the Molly Pitcher. She has lost three straight on Cushion Track, and won three straight races on dirt, so I'm willing to forgive her loss by a nose at Santa Anita last time. UNBRIDLED BELLE overcame traffic trouble when she won the Grade 1 Beldame by a head. She has enough tactical speed to get a good trip tracking the leaders, and can win it with her best. INDIAN VALE fought hard throughout the Beldame and missed by only a head vs. the second pick. She'll be hard to handle if she runs as well today. GINGER PUNCH rallied then faded last time, and must find a stronger late kick to take more than a small prize.

Dave Litfin analysis

A big key is determining which direction INDIAN VALE is headed following the hard-fought Beldame, which was her first loss ever at 1 1/8 miles, so it's noteworthy she came off an identical Beyer Figure last autumn to win the Falls City with a career-best performance; getting back to two turns is a major plus. GINGER PUNCH had to work hard through the middle fractions of the Ruffian, and may still have been feeling the effects of that race just 22 days later in the Beldame; a legitimate concern is whether she's over the top after big campaign, but the fact that her connections opted to supplement indicates she's giving all the right signs. BEAR NOW has morphed from a teddy into a tiger since stretching out, and her Cotillion upset proved she's not just a synthetic marvel; key is whether she has the lead at the pace call (6 for 7 in that situation), and how hard she has worked to get there.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

INDIAN VALE couldn't handle 10 furlongs over the summer, but showed marked improvement when she narrowly missed last time in the Beldame while cutting back to this distance, a trip she adores. She doesn't need the lead to be effective, which means she might fall into a dream trip stalking a contested pace from close range. UNBRIDLED BELLE nailed the pick in the Beldame despite encountering some traffic problems. She is currently in the best form of her career, but being a closer, she might be subject to traffic trouble again, which might not be as easy to overcome in this big field. HYSTERICALADY is repeating the same Cushion Track-to-dirt move that led to her overwhelming score in the Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup two starts back. The issue with her is she may not want to go quite this far. LEAR'S PRINCESS, who beat Rags to Riches in the Gazelle, can get involved late.


Breeders' Cup Mile

Brad Free analysis

NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ showed a new turf dimension last time when he rated off the pace and exploded late to crush 3-year-olds. This is the first time he'll face older, but 3-year-olds have fared well in this race (Six Perfections and War Chant are recent BC Mile winners). A former Derby hopeful in a strong crop of 3-year-olds, Nobiz Like Shobiz found a new lease on life since switching to grass. SILENT NAME has trained super since changing barns to Bobby Frankel. Silent Name has always been just a notch below Grade 1 caliber, but he fires fresh and has a shot to outrun his price in his first start for Frankel, and first in nearly four months. Grade 1 winner EXCELLENT ART is among the elite European milers, but he was badly compromised by the draw, breaking from post 13. Good luck. Closer AFTER MARKET probably will encounter trouble, but he will be running late.

Steve Klein analysis

KIP DEVILLE rallied from off the pace in third, took a half-length lead, then was outkicked late and finished second in an improved performance in the Woodbine Mile. He can win this race if he continues on the upswing. EXCELLENT ART has the talent to win, but what kind of trip will he have today? He was last, or near the rear of the pack early behind slower fractions than he is likely to see today in each of his last four races. Rallying from far back in a crowded field isn't the kind of trip I want to bet on while accepting modest odds on a horse making his first U.S. start. AFTER MARKET should be within striking position early, and probably won't have to race as wide as he did last time. Include him in the exotics.

Dave Litfin analysis

Most U.S.-based runners are clustered around 101-105 in terms of top turf Beyer Speed Figures, with the two fastest races belonging to unlucky supplement REMARKABLE NEWS, whose 108 and 110 Beyers both came as controlling speed from inside posts – an unlikely scenario from his draw here in post 14. JEREMY ran well in back-to-back starts during summer versus Ramonti, Europe's top miler. Jeremy's even effort at Longchamp may set him up for a return to top form, and he handles any type of ground. PURIM has run his best races this year at Keeneland, but they were also his only two races at a mile since his second lifetime start. This hard-knocking veteran is reminiscent of the $50.60 bomber Miesque's Approval in the 2006 Mile. KIP DEVILLE beat a dozen rivals when run down by rail-skimming Shakespeare giving weight at Woodbine, and he made a good run through a fast third quarter in the Oceaport on this course two starts back. EXCELLENT ART looms a short price from tough post, must navigate through congestion rallying from rear.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

EXCELLENT ART's last three starts came in good Group 1 races in England. He won one and was a narrowly beaten second in the other two. Given his experience in Europe, where races are commonly run in slow early, fast late style, his late kick shouldn't be adversely affected by the paucity of bust-out early speed here. Most importantly, he meets a group of American turf milers who seem below par this year. JEREMY, another import from Europe, was compromised by deep going last time out in France, but was less than two lengths behind the pick two starts back. He also benefits from the suspect quality of the home team. KIP DEVILLE was a game second in the Woodbine Mile last time out, has cycled back to his past Grade 1-winning form, and will be forwardly placed from the start. TRIPPI'S STORM might offer value despite winning the Kelso most recently.


Breeders' Cup Sprint

Brad Free analysis

IDIOT PROOF was fortunate to win the Ancient Title last time over troubled GREG'S GOLD. The race, however, marked a forward move for Idiot Proof, whose outside draw and affinity for the Monmouth surface makes him the choice. Capable of a 22-second middle quarter, he holds the track record here and can score a mild surprise if he improves second start back. TALENT SEARCH is a blazingly fast East Coast sprinter who should improve off his runner-up finish in the Vosburgh. SMOKEY STOVER is fast, fresh, and would have been the top choice. He is stuck on the rail, though, with tons of speed breathing down his neck. MIDNIGHT LUTE will be overbet and as a seven-furlong specialist could find six furlongs too sharp. Greg's Gold will be finishing, and this race could fall apart up front.

Steve Klein analysis

SMOKEY STOVER dueled early, then pulled clear down the stretch in a strong performance in his first start on this track. He has trained well for his latest return from a freshening, and it is encouraging to see that trainer Greg Gilchrist shows 42 percent wins, and a $2.17 return on investment with horses returning in 31 through 60 days. IDIOT PROOF was an impressive winner of his lone previous race here three starts ago and would be a prime contender if he runs as quickly in his return to this oval. MIDNIGHT LUTE earned a remarkable 124 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 1 Forego last time. He will find plenty of speed to chase, but the possibility of regression at low odds following that huge effort must be considered. I will see if I can beat him.

Dave Litfin analysis

IDIOT PROOF may be a better price than GREG'S GOLD after Greg's Gold's obvious trouble in the Ancient Title, and it may be unwise to read too much into that race other than serving as a good prep for both. Idiot Proof demonstrated affinity for Monmouth shipping in to win Jersey Shore with a big figure, while Greg's Gold beat one horse in his only start away from his home circuit. SMOKEY STOVER also gets points for sharp score over local hero Park Avenue Ball in the Icecapade, an indication he's back to top form after disliking a wet Calder surface. More alert at the break than 2006, he needs quick start from inside post. MIDNIGHT LUTE, a hulking behemoth prone to slow starts, hasn't been this short since his first two career starts. He earned a flashy speed figure in the Forego, but he is vulnerable through short stretch with anything less than perfect racing luck.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

SMOKEY STOVER's only loss this year came in oppressive heat over a wet track in the Smile Sprint Handicap. He was most impressive winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint and the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup, and I like how his connections sent him across country for a successful prep over the track early last month. MIDNIGHT LUTE got a huge Beyer Figure winning the Forego, a number that has since been validated by several horses who finished up the track behind him. He can tail off a bit and still win, but the question is, does he prefer more distance? GREG'S GOLD should have won his last two, but was a very unlucky second most recently in the Ancient Title. He was, however, no match for the pick last April. BENNY THE BULL ran very fast finishing second in the Forego. This deep closer has had most of his success at this shorter distance.


Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Brad Free analysis

European Group 1 winner PASSAGE OF TIME was compromised by a throat abscess when she finished off the board one back, and then ran like a filly who needed a start Sept. 16 in France, where she finished third in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille. Beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by next-out E.P. Taylor winner Mrs. Lindsay, Passage of Time should move forward off that comeback. If she does, she can spring an "upset" over NASHOBA'S KEY, who has compiled a 7-for-7 record against less-than-stellar company in California. She beat Citronnade, an also-ran in the Beverly D., and Balance, who has done nothing outside California. It is not the fault of Nashoba's Key, of course, but this is a much tougher field than anything she faced out West. HONEY RYDER may not have cared for the soft ground at Arlington, but fits off her runner-up effort one back against Group 1-caliber males.

Steve Klein analysis

WAIT A WHILE ran a big race when she won the Grade 2 Ballston Spa in her return from a 2 1/2-month layoff, then regressed and finished third as the favorite in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl. A return to form would make her the one to beat. NASHOBA'S KEY is unbeaten, but not untested. She prevailed by only three-quarters of a length in 5 of her 7 wins, and she will probably need to run a career-best race to extend the winning streak today. Her perfect record will probably attract enough support to make her an underlay. LAHUDOOD has won 2 of her last 3, including a 21-1 upset last time in the Flower Bowl. If she improves second time back from the freshening, she will be a factor at a square price in the exotics.

Dave Litfin analysis

Seven of eight U.S.-based entrants have top turf Beyer Figures clustered in a narrow range, and though Wait a While's best figs are a bit higher, she has become increasingly hard to gauge and is more formidable at shorter distances on very firm turf. PRECIOUS KITTEN is also questionable at 1 3/8 miles, then again, so was Frankel-trained Intercontinental ($32.20) in the 2005 F&M Turf. Otherwise, she shows up every time, and she may set a leisurely pace. NASHOBA'S KEY handled 10 furlongs to keep her perfect record intact, running down Citronnade in the Yellow Ribbon – her fifth win by less than a length. She will be a short price, with no edge on numbers, and has faced small average field sizes (5) in her last four outs. The top two have no experience on yielding/soft ground, so Euros PASSAGE OF TIME and SIMPLY PERFECT move up in direct proportion to pre-race precipitation. Passage of Time was compromised by throat abscess in English Oaks, returned with useful tune-up vs. E.P. Taylor winner Mrs. Lindsay.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

NASHOBA'S KEY has met every challenge put to her so far, and I don't think she will stop now. Her win in the Yellow Ribbon last time out was even better than it looks on paper, as she worked early to keep Citronnade honest on the lead, and she still finished strongly. She is also bred to love the added distance. DANZON can contend at a price. She is in good form, having won the Kentucky Cup Distaff most recently, and her third against males last May in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic puts her right there.

PASSAGE OF TIME has yet to follow through on the promise she showed beating the classy colt Soldier of Fortune last fall. But her recent third off a layoff in the Prix Vermeille was her best race since. HONEY RYDER was third in this last year, and her second against males in the United Nations shows she likes this course.


Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Brad Free analysis

Longshot GLOBALIZATION will not get the same soft trip he did wiring maidens last time, but he might not need to. The improving Touch Gold colt romped in his first main-track distance race, winning in fast time by more than seven lengths while in full stride to the wire. He obviously has been crying for a route, and if he is as comfortable pressing as he was on the lead, he can post an upset over pacesetter WAR PASS. The latter ran them silly in the Grade 1 Champagne, and if he is able to stretch his speed two turns could be long gone. Z HUMOR continues to improve for trainer Bill Mott, whose 2-year-old colts this year have won 13 races. PYRO finished fast for second in the Champagne. OLD MAN BUCK finished well for third in a stakes that was dominated by front-runners.

Steve Klein analysis

In the Grade 1 Champagne, PYRO was finishing like a horse who would like more ground. WAR PASS was finishing like a horse who was running out of gas. I'll go with Pyro going two turns in the rematch. TALE OF EKATI outkicked relatively fresh horses in the seven furlong Futurity, a race that was slow early, and fast late. If he improves as he stretches out, and second time after the freshening, he'll contend. WAR PASS is probably going to be overbet, and cannot afford to distribute his energy as unevenly as he did last time. I'll play against him. Z HUMOR can be a part in the exotics if he improves with the addition of blinkers.

Dave Litfin analysis

Despite winning stakes at Woodbine, Churchill Downs, and Saratoga, KODIAK KOWBOY is a largely forgotten horse since being outfinished at 4-5 in Belmont's Futurity. But he did hold second through a very fast final furlong, and his huge-figure, tough-trip score in the Saratoga Special was impressive. On a day when all dirt winners set or pressed the pace, WAR PASS capitalized under aggressive handling to win the Champagne, while losing four lengths of his lead to Pyro in deep stretch. War Pass should have easy time clearing to the rail. The key is whether he can come back in three weeks off such a peak performance. TALE OF EKATI waited for room in upper stretch, dived to the rail, and won the Futurity powerfully over a quality rival. He was slated as top choice until final workout. SALUTE THE SARGE and WICKED STYLE couldn't have drawn worse for their initial starts on conventional dirt.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

PYRO finished well when a gaining second in the Champagne. He acts like a colt who will only improve with added distance, and stretching out to two turns. He also figures to get an early pace that will flatter his late kick. TALE OF EKATI was much the best winning the Futurity, coming back on short rest after dealing with sore shins and overcoming traffic trouble. He also acts like a middle distance horse, and his ability to run well from off the pace is an asset. WAR PASS remained undefeated winning the Champagne. He ran fast early, and was strong enough late to earn this field's top Beyer. But, the track might have been speed-favoring on Champagne Day, and I wonder if three weeks is enough time to recover after such a demanding effort.


Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

Brad Free analysis

INDIAN BLESSING followed a runaway debut win with another romping victory in the one-mile, one-turn Grade 1 Frizette. Though unproven around two turns, Indian Blessing benefits by a potentially soft pace. Only one other front-runner entered – PHANTOM INCOME, a sprinter. Indian Blessing does not require the lead and should get a comfortable pressing trip. She can attack on the far turn, open up, stagger home, and win by holding off GRACE ANATOMY. The latter ran super in the Alcibiades. She broke slow, raced wide, unleashed a huge middle move, and zoomed from seventh to first, then lost her punch. It was a big effort by a talented filly that has something the top choice does not – two-turn experience. SMARTY DEB is a 4-for-4 shipper from Emerald Downs. She beat colts last out and might be this good.

Steve Klein analysis

GRACE ANATOMY broke slowly and raced wide, rallied to grab a clear lead, then was outkicked late on the jump from a maiden win to the Grade 1 Alcibiades. She can improve with experience third time out and in the second race of her form cycle. BACKSEAT RHYTHM rallied steadily when she finished second behind INDIAN BLESSING. She'll like the extra half-furlong and appears to have more upside available. Indian Blessing was geared down late last time, but she might also have been fading a bit. I'm going to see if I can beat her at underlaid odds as she tries

1 1/16 miles and two turns. If she doesn't mind the surface switch, CLEARLY FOXY will be a contender.

Dave Litfin analysis

Eight starters come off races on turf or synthetic tracks, and four of five who last raced on conventional dirt try two turns for the first time in a daunting handicapping exercise. PROUD SPELL widened to win in 1:09 in a strung-out field second out and showed high quality returning in three weeks to ship and win the Matron as much the best. She is fresh, rates, and was readied for a route with stamina works by sharp horseman. INDIAN BLESSING catches a field with a surprising lack of early speed but does break outside primary pace rival PHANTOM INCOME, and projects to sit second early as in the Frizette, where she benefited from a speed-favoring track and held sway through a last quarter in 27.24 seconds. A TO THE CROFT is a deep closer who shouldn't be hindered by a wide draw. She will be moving late with BACKSTREET RHYTHM, GRACE ANATOMY, and ZEE ZEE.

Mike Watchmaker analysis

GRACE ANATOMY ran big when third in the Alcibiades last time out. She was left in the gate, made a strong move into contention around the first turn while five wide, and weakened only late while being the only pace player involved at the finish. And since that was her first start in almost two months, she can improve. INDIAN BLESSING made the Frizette her second big win from as many starts and she is a deserving favorite. But even though she went fast early in the Frizette, she came home slow, making it questionable whether she wants two turns right now. IZARRA had a favorable set-up when a sharp second in the Oak Leaf, but it was still her best race yet. And it might be no coincidence that it came in her first start around two turns. PROUD SPELL was visually impressive winning the Matron, but there wasn't much behind her.