10/31/2013 7:39AM

Steven Crist: Sprint, Turf Sprint two most inscrutable puzzles on Saturday's card

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Secret Circle could be ready to peak making his second start following a long layoff in the BC Sprint.

As much as any time in its 30-year history, this year’s Saturday Breeders’ Cup races will determine almost every one of racing’s divisional champions.

A victory by a previously unaccomplished longshot can always leave a division in disarray, but titles are there for the taking among the 2-year-olds (Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies), 3-year-olds (Palace Malice vs. Will Take Charge in the Classic), male and female sprinters (Sprint and Filly and Mare Sprint), male and female turf horses (Turf, Mile, and Filly and Mare Turf), and older male (Classic). The only unaffected titles are those for 3-year-old filly and older filly or mare, which will be cemented a day earlier in Friday’s Distaff.

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: See DRF’s top contenders]

Saturday’s nine Cup races begin with the Juvenile Fillies, where I’m trying to out-wiseguy all the wiseguys who are against Sweet Reason. I understand that her first two dazzling victories were on sloppy tracks, that she fell short in the Frizette and that her recent workouts have not dazzled the clockers. I also think she is freakishly talented, was best in the Frizette, and wins this if she runs her race. Untapable, Artemis Agrotera, and She’s a Tiger round out my selections.

The Filly and Mare Turf has an impressive nine Grade 1 winners, but Dank’s victory in the Beverly D. was better than any of them. Romantica is the wild card, making her U.S. debut with better form than Dank brought over here in August. Kitten’s Dumplings is the best of the 3-year-olds with room to improve, and Marketing Mix is solid on her best day, but I will be using just Dank and Romantica on the bulk of my multirace wagers.

I look for a repeat of August’s Ballerina in the Filly and Mare Sprint, with Dance to Bristol and Book Review duking it out to the wire. I admit partiality to Dance to Bristol because of her humble beginnings and will to win, but the two of them are virtually inseparable. Groupie Doll would trounce them both on her best day, but she hasn’t looked like her old self in any of her three starts this year. Sweet Lulu is the 3-year-old most eligible to leap into contention if she keeps improving.

As usual, I have no handle on the Turf Sprint, a race that should be run on Friday, and curse its inclusion in the pick six. I think the Eddie D was the key prep and I like Unbridled’s Note (third) and Boat Trip (second) best among those emerging from it, but I’ve got 10 of them open to win the race.

I’ve got no beef with favored Havana in the Juvenile, but he was second best to the absent Honor Code in the Champagne, and I was more visually impressed with the second-time starter I’m picking, Tap It Rich, who won his debut going two turns despite breaking behind the field and a wide trip. There’s a lot of talent there.

Point of Entry, who should have won last year’s Turf, faces a tougher task this time returning from injury and a 21-week layoff, but his ultra-conservative connections wouldn’t run him if they didn’t think he was up to it. I will go with the heart on him though the head knows that The Fugue, who should have won last year’s Filly and Mare Turf, can beat anyone in this field with a clean trip.

With the tragic and untimely loss of Points Offthebench, the Sprint is a muddle in what was a muddled division this year. I’m stabbing a little with second-off-a-long-layoff Secret Circle over Justin Phillip and Private Zone in another race where I will be using as many as I can afford in the pick-whatevers.

I’m inclined to go just two deep in the Mile with Olympic Glory and Wise Dan, my 1-2 selections. Wise Dan is a very good grass miler with a sensational career record and probably the most likely winner of the race, but Olympic Glory’s best efforts against better milers in Europe are just as good.

If wishes were horses, Game On Dude would win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and earn the Horse of the Year title that would have been his had he won the race in 2011 or 2012. The racing fan in me will be rooting for him, but the bettor in me just can’t unload on him as the 8-5 favorite when he’s 2 for 5 going 10 furlongs or more on the dirt and those two victories were in Santa Anita Handicap fields much weaker than this one.

I’m also reserving the right to vote for Game On Dude as Horse of the Year even if someone goofy comes from the clouds to nail him late, a la Drosselmeyer in 2011, and even if Wise Dan wins the Mile. With a 5-for-5 record and victories in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic, he has been the best horse in American racing this year in the kind of races that should matter most.