Updated on 09/17/2011 11:45AM

Feeling lore of stars, lure of longshots


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships have a 19-year history of producing dramatic upsets. Longshots such as Arcangues ($269.20), Wild Again ($64.60), and last year's Classic winner, Volponi ($89), are as much a part of the event's lore as the superstars who have won it.

Surprises occur frequently in the Breeders' Cup because almost all of the entrants have talent, and in a 14-horse field some will inevitably go off at sky-high odds. When a race looks evenly matched, or when a favorite appears vulnerable, it makes sense to take a chance with a plausible longshot. And that is what I will be doing in several spots Saturday at Santa Anita. Here are my selections:


Even if the defending horse of the year, Azeri, had been in the field, Sightseek was going to win. But with Azeri sidelined by an injury, the Bobby Frankel-trained Sightseek, winner of four straight Grade 1 stakes, is the day's only favorite who looks unbeatable.

Juvenile Fillies

Many handicappers think Halfbridled is unbeatable, too. After winning all three of her starts with ease, she will be an overwhelming favorite. But she benefited from perfect set-ups in her last two starts, and she has to overcome post 14 Saturday. I can't play Forest Music, the filly with the best Beyer Speed Figure; she has raced only once and doesn't have enough experience. However, both Society Selection and my top pick, Class Above, are capable of upsetting Halfbridled.


As usual, this is an inscrutable race with the potential to knock out pick six bettors quickly. The 14-horse field is loaded with speed horses, and it is likely to be won by a horse with a strong late kick. Touch of the Blues, 20-1 on the track's the morning line, may be the best finisher among the U.S.-based horses, but late kick is the Europeans' forte and the French invader Six Perfections may therefore have the edge.


Aldebaran is the morning-line favorite and has earned the best speed figure, but six furlongs is probably too short a distance for a runner with his come-from-far-behind style. Shake You Down is probably the logical selection, but he may not be as sharp now as he was earlier in the season. I am taking a shot with Cajun Beat, who will be a minimum of 20-1 Saturday. He has been improving since Stephen Margolis took over his training this summer, and was visually impressive winning his last start, the Kentucky Cup Sprint, in fast time. The 3-year-old appears ready to deliver a peak effort.

Filly and Mare Turf

The British invader Islington is in excellent form after finishing close to some of the continent's best males. But she looked equally formidable last year, and lost to a U.S.-based runner. The female turf competition in this country is strong, and nobody has looked more impressive than Musical Chimes did while finishing second in the recent Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita. In the 1 1/4-mile race, she accelerated her final half mile in a phenomenal 45 seconds flat. (At the same distance on the same day, the top-class male Storming Home, renowned for his late kick, closed in 45.80 seconds.) Musical Chimes can spring an upset.


Cuvee will be a heavy favorite after two runaway stakes victories in New York, but even in this weak field I couldn't play him. A son of sprinter Carson City, he has never raced around two turns and he is not going to improve as he tries longer distances. The outside post in a 12-horse field won't help him either.

There aren't many plausible alternatives to Cuvee, but Race for Glory has legitimate credentials. He won by seven lengths with a good speed figure at Santa Anita, and his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, has won five previous runnings of the Juvenile.


Four horses come into the 1 1/2-mile race with powerful credentials: Storming Home, Sulamani, Falbrav, and last year's winner, High Chaparral.

Falbrav has run some sensational races in Europe, and will like the hard Santa Anita grass course, giving him the edge, but for pick six, pick four and similar purposes, a prudent bettor would have to include all four contenders on his ticket.


Several outstanding older horses are capable of winning the day's main event, but there are knocks against each. The brilliant Congaree has suffered from a minor foot problem recently, and the 1 1/4-mile distance isn't optimal for him. Medaglia d'Oro has failed in big races too many times. Perfect Drift has displayed excellent form this year, but trainer Murray Johnson proclaimed that he wasn't going to run in the Classic and entered the gelding almost as an afterthought.

The 3-year-olds Funny Cide and Ten Most Wanted aren't good enough to beat their elders, but Dynever may be. I fell in love with the colt after watching his powerful finishes early in the year. He has disappointed in his recent starts, often with extenuating circumstances, but Saturday he will be running at the right distance with a fast pace to abet his stretch-running style. I can't abandon Dynever on a day when he is likely to be 20-1.

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