11/01/2017 12:49PM

Hammersly: How I'd play the early Breeders' Cup pick five on Friday


The early pick five (races 1-5) at Del Mar Friday has its own intrigue before the Breeders’ Cup feeding frenzy begins. It also provides an opportunity to bolster your bankroll for the championship races.

Race 1

SILENT BIRD (#1) looked like a Breeders’ Cup-type last year and early this year. He’s had a couple setbacks, but an encouraging third behind two Breeders’ Cup horses (Giant Expectations, Calculator) in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien here Aug. 26 hints he’s headed back in the right direction. And a super work at Santa Anita Oct. 27 backs up that assessment. MR. HINX (#6) has blossomed this year, and a second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship to Roy H (one of the favorites in Saturday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint) shows he’s the real deal. AMERICANIZE (#5) can sizzle and has done nothing wrong in seven of his eight starts (lost his rider in one). Sprinting appears his forte.

A’s) 1, 6
B’s) 5
C’s) None

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Race 2

The play here can change because a couple of my leading prospects are on the also-eligible list. LITTLE SCOTTY (#14) dueled for the lead and paid the price at Santa Anita Oct. 14. He was claimed that day by Vladimir Cerin, who has strong off-the-claim numbers. He stays at the same level, and figures prominent from the bell. TEMPLE KEYS (#4) was pulled up at Santa Anita May 26 in his last start, but he’s worked well for his return, has run well here, and it’s encouraging to see no drop by trainer Richard Baltas. CONQUEST SABRE CAT (#13) was claimed for $40,000 when fourth here Aug. 16. After two months off he ran sixth at Santa Anita for this same price Oct. 21, but he may have needed that race. RITZY A. P. (#11) takes on elders for the first time, but the 3-year-old certainly has ability and appears to be improving. FRITZ JOHANSEN (#2) left himself with too much to do at Santa Anita Oct. 10, but his prior run here at this level would make him a big threat.

A’s) 4, 14
B’s) 11, 13
C’s) 2

Race 3

While you need to spread in some of these tough races, at some point you need to take a stand. I’ll do it here with CITY OF LIGHT (#2), who looked super blasting maidens here Sept. 1 and backed that up with a strong second in his first try against winners at Santa Anita Oct. 7. He’s worked well since, and his maiden win shows he likes it here. PRIME ISSUE (#1) has loads of speed, and with 11 wins knows where the wire is. DONWORTH (#3) has plenty of back-class, and while routing vs. graded stakes types may be a bit beyond him at this point, he’s still got speed and won the only time he tried this shorter trip.

A’s) 2
B’s) 1, 3
C’s) None

Race 4

SPICED PERFECTION (#8) is 2 for 2 on this track, including a stakes win over a few of these last time out in the Generous Portion Aug. 30. ISMELUCKY (#3) has won her last two. She hasn’t run since winning a stakes at Los Alamitos Sept. 16, but that win came off a longer layoff, so she can fire fresh. PULPIT RIDER (#6) comes off two romping wins, beating a few of these over this track Aug. 31. SMILING TIGRESS (#7) may have turned the corner. After a couple so-so outings to start her career, she was second here Aug. 31 and then laughed at maidens at Santa Anita Oct. 5.

A’s) 8
B’s) 3, 6
C’s) 7

Race 5

DESTIN (#3) nearly won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes in 2016, so he’s shown he can go long and has the class. He may not be that horse any longer, but likely still has enough under the hood to beat these. HARD ACES (#7) is a tough old warrior. He was second in this race last year at Santa Anita and has run well on this track. ARCHANOVA (#1) was third behind two graded stakes types in the long-distance Temperence Hill at Belmont Oct. 1.

A’s) 3, 7
B’s) 1
C’s) None

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