The 33rd annual Breeders’ Cup kicks off at Santa Anita Park this Friday with four championship races, including the long-awaited showdown between SONGBIRD, STELLAR WIND and BEHOLDER in the Distaff. I’ll take a look at two of the four Breeders’ Cup races planned for Friday in this column. In addition to betting the action the old-fashioned way, there is FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game to consider. Good luck with all your wagers on Friday, and keep checking this site for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup analysis!
Santa Anita Race 7
The Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
Purse: $1 million
#3 DORTMUND (6-5, morning-line favorite) is perhaps the easiest ‘single’ in any of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races taking place this weekend. He gets away from California Chrome after chasing him in vain three straight times and should be sharp on the cutback to a mile. DORTMUND will be reunited with Martin Garcia, with whom he captured the Santa Anita Derby in 2015, among other triumphs. He could carve out the fractions or let #7 RUNHAPPY (3-1) go then pass him late.
#9 GUN RUNNER (9-2) is my pick to complete the exacta. He’s been remarkably consistent this year for Steve Asmussen, aside from his try in the slop in the Haskell back in July. This will be his first try against older foes, but he’s fast enough to contend on paper and the cutback in distance should suit him. Florent Geroux can work out another good stalking trip with GUN RUNNER.
#8 TAMARKUZ (8-1) is a good backup to have off back-to-back runner-up performances in the Forego Stakes and Kelso Handicap. Mike Smith stays aboard this Kiaran McLaughlin trainee.
#5 ACCELERATE (20-1) is one of two longshots I’m considering in the underneath slots. He broke his maiden decisively when he was finally stretched out to a mile, then romped in his next start in the Shared Belief Stakes. He received his first graded stakes win in the Los Alamitos Derby last time out. ACCELERATE should be forwardly-placed under Tyler Baze, who’s had a productive fall meet at Santa Anita (21%).
#6 TEXAS CHROME (20-1) has kept only modest company, winning the Grade III Louisiana Super Derby and Oklahoma Derby in successive starts, but he always shows up with his best effort. He should be running on late under C.J. McMahon.
#7 RUNHAPPY won’t be on my tickets at all after completely flopping in his last try at a mile, the Ack Ack Stakes, last time out.
The play: $8 exacta 3/9, $4 exacta 3/5,6,8 ($20)
Santa Anita Race 9
The Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Purse: $2 million
Firstly, this is probably not a race you’ll get rich off of. #1 SONGBIRD (6-5, morning-line favorite), #5 STELLAR WIND (5-2) and #8 BEHOLDER (5-2) are clearly superior to their competition on paper, so there’s no reason to think they will not comprise the exacta at the least, if not the trifecta.
The chess match in the early stages for SONGBIRD, STELLAR WIND and BEHOLDER will be fascinating to watch. SONGBIRD will likely be sent along from the inside post under Mike Smith, with STELLAR WIND and Victor Espinoza hot on their heels. But unlike STELLAR WIND’s last two victories in which she was able to duel BEHOLDER into defeat, STELLAR WIND will be asked to battle SONGBIRD early then try to hold off BEHOLDER late. That seems like an impossible task. Look for Gary Stevens to save ground on BEHOLDER on the first turn before pouncing around the final bend. SONGBIRD and STELLAR WIND should be fighting it out to the wire for second, but BEHOLDER gets the nod to end her career on a high note.
The play: $5 exacta 8/1,5 ($10)
DFJ analysis: With so many of the nation’s top riders vying for mounts at Santa Anita this Friday, quality should be valued over quantity when filling out your stable. Martin Garcia is currently undervalued at $8,000, as he’s had a down year, but he should get on the board in a big way with DORTMUND in the Dirt Mile.
Florent Geroux ($10,500) should also be in your stable for Day 1 of the Breeders’ Cup. His best rides on Friday are GUN RUNNER in the Dirt Mile and La Coronel (9-2) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
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