Updated on 09/15/2011 1:19PM

Mike Watchmaker's Breeders' Cup analysis



Aptitude cannot not be knocked for who didn't start in or who didn't fire in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, because that would diminish what was a giant performance (123 Beyer) from him; keeps on rolling. Include has a license to improve on a close third in the paceless Meadowlands Cup last out; can contend at a nice price. Tiznow is the defending Classic champ and I respect him, but he took an alarming step backward when third again last out. Sakhee may truly be a freak, but I firmly believe stablemate Fantastic Light had a much better chance to win this than he does.


Godolphin had a chance to win both the Turf with Sakhee and the Classic with Fantastic Light, but made a shocking decision to go the other way. Now, they'll only win the Turf with Fantastic Light, who overwhelms these off his strong European form. Mutamam was a narrowly beaten fourth in this race last year and his Canadian International win says he's in the same form now. Milan, a stylish Group 1 winner two back, would like firmer ground than he got in the Arc. With Anticipation is on a roll, but the American turf division was sub-par this season.


Officer proved he can handle the distance and the surface in the Champagne last out and is 5 for 5. He has yet to receive so much as a challenge; short price beats a long face. Siphonic finished with a flourish destroying his field last out at Keeneland despite leaping in both class and distance; he is the main danger. Came Home can really run, but is at a distinct disadvantage having missed his final prep for this because of an ankle filling. Johannesburg, Europe's standout 2-year-old, has a dirt pedigree, but this will be his first start beyond six furlongs.

F/M Turf:

England's Legend didn't have to run off to that big early lead when upset in the Flower Bowl last out and can rate better than that, as evidenced by her win at Belmont in July; gets the money. Lailani looked good beating the pick last out to remain perfect this year; can't afford a step backward, however, and I do anticipate a "Euro-bounce." Starine didn't have the big late kick in the Flower Bowl that she did in her devastating Diana win and remains a question at this distance. Banks Hill was a Group I winner this year in England, but has never raced beyond a mile.


Flute wound up on a dead rail in an effort to stay inside of the bearing-out Beautiful Pleasure when upset in the Beldame Stakes last out. She will benefit from her first start over the Belmont Park surface and will return to the win column here. Spain ran her best race of the year when third in the Beldame considering she was put into a drive early on the far turn and was intimidated by the lugging-in winner. Exogenous beat the top two in the Beldame and is much improved since blinkers were added; fear she peaked too soon, however. Fleet Renee could be trouble if able to run back to her big Mother Goose score last June.

Juvenile Fillies:

You couldn't have been more decisive winning the Frizette at today's distance over this surface, two points that cannot be overstated; will be very hard to beat. Bella Bellucci impressed winning her first two career starts at this meet; may eventually prove best of her generation, but concedes valuable experience to the top one. Habibti showed as much talent as any of these winning her first two career starts, but is at a disadvantage, having missed her final prep because of a fever. Tempera was whipped by Habibti in her last; anticipating an improved effort this time.


Delaware Township loves Belmont Park, is in career form, and can be placed anywhere early depending on how the race unfolds; ability to close fits the pace scenario to a tee; scores. Kona Gold didn't look invincible when upset last out and has never run at "Big Sandy" a.k.a. Belmont. Still, the defending champ won't go down without a fight. El Corredor has tons of quality and will run big despite the significant cut back in distance. Swept Overboard ran lights out beating Kona Gold in his last; the pace set up and Belmont's sweeping turns support his closing style.


Val Royal may have been perfectly set up in the Oak Tree Mile, but he still finished very strongly to win in fast time; love the fact he's wheeling right back after previous spotty activity; up in time. Noverre won two Group 1's in Europe earlier this year, but defeats in his last two, one to his pacesetter, suggest he has tailed off a bit. Brahms has had several bad trips this year; late threat if he gets a clear journey. Irish Prize was compromised by the 14 hole in the Atto Mile; contender, but had the bad luck of drawing the 13 post this time.