Breeders' Cup Favorites 2012: Projecting How Top Entries Will Finish
The 29th edition of the Breeders' Cup starts today and everybody is ready to start rooting for their favorite when the action starts from the Santa Anita Race Park.
Six races stand out from the 15 that will be run over the two days at "The Great Race Place".
Those races are the ones with the most expectations either because there is an East Coast vs. West Coast showdown, or an America vs. Europe showdown.
Whichever is your reason to watch it, you are in for a thrilling weekend of racing.
Let's take a look at those six races and how the favorites should fare in each of them.
Date: Nov. 2, 7th race
Post Time: 3:08 p.m. PST
Distance: 8.5 furlongs
Purse: $2 million
In the Juvenile Fillies, the four best fillies in the nation will square off. Unbeaten stablemates Dreaming of Julia and Kauai Katie will be the East coast's best, facing Executiveprivilege (unbeaten in five starts) and Beholder, the West coast's best.
The jockeys will have the race in their hands, and we have four of the best aboard them. Two of the all-time best in John Velazquez and Garrett Gomez, and two of the best of the newer generation in Rafael Bejarano and Rosie Napravnik.
You can also look at the trainer angles here. On one side, you have Todd Pletcher (Dreaming of Julia, Kauai Katie), who has been the top trainer in the nation since the second half of the last decade.
On the other are Hall of Famers Bob Baffert (Executiveprivilege) and Richard Mandella (Beholder). Hollywood is just a few miles away. Let's start the script for this movie.
Each coast has two speeedsters and two stalkers. Beholder with Gomez is expected to go right for the lead, taking advantage of her rail post, while Kauai Katie with Napravnik will have to settle in close second, having the outside post.
Dreaming of Julia with Velazquez and Executiveprivilege with Bejarano should stalk the leaders.
Beholder and Kauai Katie will try and manage to outrun each other and still have enough gas left to hold off Dreaming of Julia and Executiveprivilege. Now, these last two have to make sure they don't make an early move that would cause the other to have more left at the end.
Expect Velazquez to keep Executiveprivilege covered to the inside and make a move for the lead as they approach the stretch.
Dreaming of Julia should take the lead and hold off any incoming challenges. The one to look for is Beholder who showed incredible form in winning her last one.
If Beholder is able to keep that high cruising speed she will be hard to catch.
Date: Nov. 2, 9th race
Post Time: 4:30 p.m. PST
Distance: Nine furlongs
Purse: $2 million
What makes this race one that many would consider as the best race of the event is that it may be the field with the highest quality— from the top contender down to the longest shot.
Royal Delta and Awesome Feather come from crushing their opposition in their most recent starts. They are both working lights-out and come into the race in the best shape of their lives.
My Miss Aurelia has been able to step up to every new challenge during her career and has overcome all of them, beating Questing (GB) in her most recent race in a thrilling stretch battle. Now, she will face another one, but she has shown she can run with the top two.
Questing (GB) had won two straight Grade I races and was considered as a possible favorite for this race before her recent hard-fought loss to My Miss Aurelia.
Love and Pride has been moving forward in her recent races and was the last one to defeat Royal Delta.
Grace Hall has races that show, with a move forward, she can contend for the win here.
But there is no going around Awesome Feather. She has been just flying above the track both in the races and the workouts.
She looks to be close to the pace set by Questing (GB) and Love and Pride. She will take first aim at the leaders and enter the stretch on the lead.
Royal Delta will come with her dash in the stretch, but will not get to Awesome Feather.
Date: Nov. 3, 8th race
Post Time: 2:36 p.m. PST
Distance: 8.5 furlongs
Purse: $2 million
The Juvenile is essentially a battle between the east coast's Shanghai Bobby (unbeaten in four starts) and the west's Power Broker, who's coming off a very impressive win on his first start on dirt—coincidentally at Santa Anita and at 8.5 furlongs.
We see another showdown between the trainer-jockey combos of Todd Pletcher-Rosie Napravink (Shanghai Bobby) and Bob Baffert-Rafael Bejarano (Power Broker).
Speak of Logistics and Title Contender here should go for the lead from the start with Power Broker and Shanghai Bobby following just behind. Expect Monument to be also near the lead pack.
Both Power Broker and Shanghai Bobby have shown the ability to stalk the pace, and that will be key here. It will make them basically run a match race that could end up in another thrilling stretch duel that would surely bring everyone to their feet.
Power Broker should have the better part of the duel and win. He certainly made an impression with his romp as he finished strong. It looks like he could even move forward from that effort.
One horse to look for in case any of the two favorites should falter is Monument. He also has a win over this course at 8.5 furlongs and his final time wasn't that far from the one Power Broker did.
Date: Nov. 3, 9th race
Post Time: 3:18 p.m. PST
Distance: 12 furlongs
Purse: $3 million
If Point of Entry will end Europe's domination in this race, he will have to defeat a very good field led by the defending champion, St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) and the filly Shareta (IRE).
Point of Entry comes off five straight stakes wins, including three straight Grade I races. He has impressed with his workouts and seems primed to fire his best race.
St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) and Shareta (IRE) disappointed in the Arc, but had been running great prior to it—especially Shareta (IRE), who had defeated the Arc winner Solemia in her prior race and finished second in the Arc the year before.
Japanese import Trailblazer (JPN) goes for his second race on US soil and will have a half-mile more to work on Saturday, and that should benefit him.
Another intriguing horse is Dullahan, who has been a monster on synthetics. But he has yet to transfer that form to the turf and would still have to see if he can handle the 12 furlongs.
Point of Entry looks like a winner here. It will not be an easy task, but he's in top form and has been showing it throughout his workouts for the race.
He has everything going and his closets enemies are Shareta (IRE) and Trailblazer (JPN). Whomever is going to beat him will have to run the race of their lives.
Date: Nov. 3, 11th race
Post Time: 4:40 p.m. PST
Distance: One mile on turf
Purse: $2 million
This race has the most implications, and you can be sure it will draw the most international attention of any race.
According to the official Timeform world rankings, Frankel (GB) leads the way with 147, and Black Caviar (AUS) is second with 136.
Excelebration (IRE) is co-ranked third with Cirrus Des Aigles (FR) with 135 points, and Wise Dan is fifth with 134 points.
A win by either Excelebration (IRE) or Wise Danhere could mean a move upwards to second place in the world rankings.
For Wise Dan, it could mean he could also earn Horse of the Year honors and validate his status as a possible Dubai World Cup participant next year.
But it won't be an easy task for anybody who wants to win this race. Obviously (IRE) would go wire-to-wire and win this race. He is a speedball that will play catch-me-if-you-can here.
The filly Moonlight Cloud (GB) is used to play with the tough competition back in Europe. The returning winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom, is in great shape although he comes from an eight-month layoff.
Wise Dan and Excelebration (IRE) will surely run their race together. Everyone knows that Obviously (IRE) has to be engaged before the half-mile, and they will both do that.
Expect this to be a thrilling stretch run where Wise Dan will win the race by a small margin. It's hard to go against Excelebration (IRE), but when you see what Wise Dan has done as well, you just know he has it in him to go out there and take on Europe's best miler not named Frankel (GB).
Date: Nov. 3, 12th race
Post Time: 5:30 p.m. PST
Distance: 10 furlongs
Purse: $5 million
The Classic will always be the pinnacle of the Breeders' Cup, but in my opinion it will play second string this year to the Mile.
Game on Dude, the likely favorite, is unbeaten in five starts over the course and has been one of the best horses in the division all year long. He has been blazing his workouts, has the top jockey in the west aboard and a perfect post.
Flat Out was the losing favorite on this race last year, but couldn't deliver on the sloppy track. He is once again coming off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and is the top contender to Game On Dude.
Ron The Greek comes off a dull effort in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but his form prior to that and his workouts show he is ready to bounce back up and contend, especially if there is an honest pace upfront.
Fort Larned is expected to take a move forward from his last effort at the Jockey Club Gold Cup and that makes him a dangerous opponent here.
Game On Dude will most certainly either go for the lead or be in second place, most likely behind Handsome Mike.
But he will be hard pressed early, especially with Fort Larned, To Honor and Serve and Mucho Macho Man on the race.
This will prompt an earlier than expected move by Game on Dude who, even though he has won at 10 furlongs, has shown a crack on his armor at that distance.
That is where Ron the Greek will benefit and get to Game on Dude in the closing strides just like Drosselmeyer did last year in the Classic.
History will repeat itself, but with a different horse. Ron The Greek will win the Classic.