10/17/2007 11:00PM

Dark horses to brighten your Breeders' Cup Day

EmailThe annual search for somewhat overlooked, high-quality contenders in Breeders' Cup races now has been expanded to find horses for three additional BC races on Friday, Oct. 26, as well as the traditional eight BC races on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Longshots invariably spice up so many Breeders' Cup exotic payoffs, from single-race multi-horse bets to the various multi-race wagers. With that in mind, here are some potential longshot contenders.

Friday

Filly and Mare Sprint

They all will be trying to catch Dream Rush on a Monmouth Park surface that usually plays toward speed types. At the same time, the secondary positions that will determine the single-race exotic payoffs just might go to horses with something left for the finish. Either or both Wild Gams and Sugar Swirl, first and second in the recent Thoroughbred Club of America stakes at Keeneland, may very well fit this bill at generous prices.

Juvenile Turf

American-based stakes winners Prussian and The Leopard are well-positioned contenders for this inaugural BC race, but the Ken McPeek-trained Old Man Buck has improved rapidly since the summer, and his experience on Keeneland's Polytrack should help him make a smooth transition to the grass at Monmouth. At the same time it would be foolish to take lightly European-based River Proud or any other proven group performer from Europe.

Dirt Mile

Discreet Cat may be the most talented horse pointing for this race, but despite sharp recent workouts, his lack of recent good form is a concern. The door therefore seems open for the likely second choice, Diamond Stripes, to be a potential value play at modest odds, while longshots Gottcha Gold, who beat Lawyer Ron in the Salvator Mile earlier this season, and the Nick Zito-trained Wanderin Boy might outrun their odds on or near the pace.

Saturday

Juvenile Fillies

Trainer Bob Baffert's pair of Indian Blessing and Cry and Catch Me have excellent overall speed, and their respective riders probably will be under orders not to create a suicide speed duel. That said, Ron McAnally's stretch-running Izarra clearly advanced in her form when a she was narrow loser to Cry and Catch Me in the Oak Leaf at this distance on Santa Anita's Cushion Track. The McPeek-trained A to the Croft is improving along the same timetable as McPeek's Juvenile Turf candidate, Old Man Buck.

Juvenile

War Pass was an impressive front-running winner in the Champagne around one turn at Belmont, looking as if he will be the one to catch here. But the prospective field is going to include front-running Wicked Style and an array of lightly raced improving horses so typical of this event. Among them is the Steve Asmussen-trained Pyro, who was picking up momentum while finishing second to War Pass in the Champagne, and Tale of Ekati, a promising sprint stakes winner in New York, trained by Barclay Tagg and bred to appreciate longer distances.

Sprint

With Fabulous Strike out of the race, probable favorite Midnight Lute might not get the extremely hot pace scenario he will need to shorten up his electric stretch-running seven-furlong form to the six-furlong distance.

Two appealing upset threats are Greg's Gold and Smokey Stover. Greg's Gold looked good winning the Pat O'Brien at Del Mar and was an unlucky second to Idiot Proof in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita. Smokey Stover, a an early-season star, trained by Greg Gilchrist (who developed Lost in the Fog), went off form on a wet track at Calder, but earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in a recent performance to signal his return to top form.

Filly and Mare Turf

The unbeaten Nashoba's Key commands respect, but rapidly improving Lahudood, who won the Flower Bowl Invitational, could be an intriguing alternative at a square price. Lahudood has a European heritage and will be a dangerous foe along with any other high-profile European turf performers who make it into this field.

Distaff

This race has no real standouts or throwouts. It is a race in which the "all" will deserve attention for multi-race exotics. The bottom line is that the Distaff has the makings of a hard race to separate contenders for all payoff positions.

Mile

With the exciting Shakespeare retired because of injury, the majority of wagering action will focus on the European contingent, featuring perhaps a pair trained by Adian O'Brien: George Washington and Excellent Art. Meanwhile, American-based Kip Devllle, Shakis, and Trippi's Storm all rate close together on their best and will be strong consideration in trifectas and superfectas. Of these, Kip Deville may offer the most parimutuel value in the single-race exotics.

Turf

Arc de Triomphe winner Dylan Thomas looks formidable on paper for two reasons. He is a world-class multiple winner of Group 1 races, and is going to be facing weaker rivals than he has defeated more than once. The American contingent is led by the useful English Channel, who did win the United Nations over the Monmouth course. If the real Dylan Thomas shows up, though, every other horse will be running for second. Two to consider closely are Red Rocks and Sunriver.

Red Rocks won this race last year and has not fired his best shot in recent months. While it is hard to gauge his true current condition, if he shows up in the field, he has to be given a chance to recover his form. Sunriver, who is also being considered for the Canadian International, has shown step-by-step improvement since converting to turf in the spring. He rates a chance to surprise in here with a front-running effort, if he runs.

Classic

It will be difficult to get a big price on any of the highly ranked and most accomplished horses in this field: Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Travers winner; Curlin, who won the Preakness and Jockey Gold Cup; Any Given Saturday, winner of the Haskell; and Lawyer Ron, the Whitney winner. All are almost sure to bring loyal followings to the mutuel windows, none is a phony, and all are potential win candidates. Beyond them however, are Tiago, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and Goodwood; and Hard Spun, who won the King's Bishop and Kentucky Cup Classic.

Tiago is intriguing, especially as an exotics factor, given his steady finishing kick and the historical pattern of this climactic BC race that often involves a fast, contested pace and tends to require a strong finishing kick. Hard Spun, a terrific horse in his own right, could outrun expectations if he lucks into a favorable inside post position assignment on a track that might be souped up to boost the value of early speed a notch or two beyond the customary Monmouth speed bias.The annual search for somewhat overlooked, high-quality contenders in Breeders' Cup races now has been expanded to find horses for three additional BC races on Friday, Oct. 26, as well as the traditional eight BC races on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Longshots invariably spice up so many Breeders' Cup exotic payoffs, from single-race multi-horse bets to the various multi-race wagers. With that in mind, here are some potential longshot contenders.

Friday

Filly and Mare Sprint

They all will be trying to catch Dream Rush on a Monmouth Park surface that usually plays toward speed types. At the same time, the secondary positions that will determine the single-race exotic payoffs just might go to horses with something left for the finish. Either or both Wild Gams and Sugar Swirl, first and second in the recent Thoroughbred Club of America stakes at Keeneland, may very well fit this bill at generous prices.

Juvenile Turf

American-based stakes winners Prussian and The Leopard are well-positioned contenders for this inaugural BC race, but the Ken McPeek-trained Old Man Buck has improved rapidly since the summer, and his experience on Keeneland's Polytrack should help him make a smooth transition to the grass at Monmouth. At the same time it would be foolish to take lightly European-based River Proud or any other proven group performer from Europe.

Dirt Mile

Discreet Cat may be the most talented horse pointing for this race, but despite sharp recent workouts, his lack of recent good form is a concern. The door therefore seems open for the likely second choice, Diamond Stripes, to be a potential value play at modest odds, while longshots Gottcha Gold, who beat Lawyer Ron in the Salvator Mile earlier this season, and the Nick Zito-trained Wanderin Boy might outrun their odds on or near the pace.

Saturday

Juvenile Fillies

Trainer Bob Baffert's pair of Indian Blessing and Cry and Catch Me have excellent overall speed, and their respective riders probably will be under orders not to create a suicide speed duel. That said, Ron McAnally's stretch-running Izarra clearly advanced in her form when a she was narrow loser to Cry and Catch Me in the Oak Leaf at this distance on Santa Anita's Cushion Track. The McPeek-trained A to the Croft is improving along the same timetable as McPeek's Juvenile Turf candidate, Old Man Buck.

Juvenile

War Pass was an impressive front-running winner in the Champagne around one turn at Belmont, looking as if he will be the one to catch here. But the prospective field is going to include front-running Wicked Style and an array of lightly raced improving horses so typical of this event. Among them is the Steve Asmussen-trained Pyro, who was picking up momentum while finishing second to War Pass in the Champagne, and Tale of Ekati, a promising sprint stakes winner in New York, trained by Barclay Tagg and bred to appreciate longer distances.

Sprint

With Fabulous Strike out of the race, probable favorite Midnight Lute might not get the extremely hot pace scenario he will need to shorten up his electric stretch-running seven-furlong form to the six-furlong distance.

Two appealing upset threats are Greg's Gold and Smokey Stover. Greg's Gold looked good winning the Pat O'Brien at Del Mar and was an unlucky second to Idiot Proof in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita. Smokey Stover, a an early-season star, trained by Greg Gilchrist (who developed Lost in the Fog), went off form on a wet track at Calder, but earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in a recent performance to signal his return to top form.

Filly and Mare Turf

The unbeaten Nashoba's Key commands respect, but rapidly improving Lahudood, who won the Flower Bowl Invitational, could be an intriguing alternative at a square price. Lahudood has a European heritage and will be a dangerous foe along with any other high-profile European turf performers who make it into this field.

Distaff

This race has no real standouts or throwouts. It is a race in which the "all" will deserve attention for multi-race exotics. The bottom line is that the Distaff has the makings of a hard race to separate contenders for all payoff positions.

Mile

With the exciting Shakespeare retired because of injury, the majority of wagering action will focus on the European contingent, featuring perhaps a pair trained by Adian O'Brien: George Washington and Excellent Art. Meanwhile, American-based Kip Devllle, Shakis, and Trippi's Storm all rate close together on their best and will be strong consideration in trifectas and superfectas. Of these, Kip Deville may offer the most parimutuel value in the single-race exotics.

Turf

Arc de Triomphe winner Dylan Thomas looks formidable on paper for two reasons. He is a world-class multiple winner of Group 1 races, and is going to be facing weaker rivals than he has defeated more than once. The American contingent is led by the useful English Channel, who did win the United Nations over the Monmouth course. If the real Dylan Thomas shows up, though, every other horse will be running for second. Two to consider closely are Red Rocks and Sunriver.

Red Rocks won this race last year and has not fired his best shot in recent months. While it is hard to gauge his true current condition, if he shows up in the field, he has to be given a chance to recover his form. Sunriver, who is also being considered for the Canadian International, has shown step-by-step improvement since converting to turf in the spring. He rates a chance to surprise in here with a front-running effort, if he runs.

Classic

It will be difficult to get a big price on any of the highly ranked and most accomplished horses in this field: Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Travers winner; Curlin, who won the Preakness and Jockey Gold Cup; Any Given Saturday, winner of the Haskell; and Lawyer Ron, the Whitney winner. All are almost sure to bring loyal followings to the mutuel windows, none is a phony, and all are potential win candidates. Beyond them however, are Tiago, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and Goodwood; and Hard Spun, who won the King's Bishop and Kentucky Cup Classic.

Tiago is intriguing, especially as an exotics factor, given his steady finishing kick and the historical pattern of this climactic BC race that often involves a fast, contested pace and tends to require a strong finishing kick. Hard Spun, a terrific horse in his own right, could outrun expectations if he lucks into a favorable inside post position assignment on a track that might be souped up to boost the value of early speed a notch or two beyond the customary Monmouth speed bias.