Breeders’ Cup Friday selections, jockey analysis

Two-year-old champions will emerge as the Breeders’ Cup begins on Friday at Churchill Downs. Five races for juveniles, including the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, comprise Races 5 through 9 on the Churchill card. We’ll discuss two of them here. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

Churchill Race 5 (Post time: 3:21 p.m. EST)

The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

Conditions: Five furlongs on turf

#2 SOLDIER’S CALL (9-2) has demonstrated a great deal of ability over in Europe. He won consecutive group-level stakes before taking third in his first start against older foes in the Group I Prix de l’Abbaye last time out. SOLDIER’S CALL fought on the lead every step of the way, turning back his early challengers before capitulating right at the wire to miss by a neck. His Timeform figures stamp him as the one to beat under Oisin Murphy.

#1 STRIKE SILVER (4-1, morning-line favorite) closed into a meteoric pace in the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland last time out and gained the lead under the shadow of the wire. Despite the good setup, STRIKE SILVER still performed admirably as he was last at the top of the stretch after steadying early and encountering some traffic under Julien Leparoux, who maintains the assignment on Friday. A neck away from being a perfect 3-for-3, STRIKE SILVER clearly has the best chance of the American competitors in here.

#10 SO PERFECT (12-1) cuts back in distance and drops out of some tough Group I stakes in Europe for trainer Aiden O’Brien. Wayne Lordan should have SO PERFECT well-positioned off the early leaders. He’s fast enough to land a major share in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

#5 BULLETIN (10-1) couldn’t have been much more impressive on debut, wiring stakes rivals by seven lengths. Though he spots experience, Todd Pletcher trainees are always dangerous and Javier Castellano sees fit to climb aboard.

The play: $10 win 2, $5 exacta box 1/2, $3 exacta 1,2/10, $2 exacta 1,2/5 ($30)


Churchill Race 9 (Post time: 6:05 p.m. EST)

The Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Conditions: 1 1/16th-miles on dirt

#9 GAME WINNER (8-5, morning-line favorite) gets the slightest of nods over second-choice #6 COMPLEXITY (5-2). GAME WINNER is undefeated through three starts under Bob Baffert’s care, winning from up close and from lengths off the tempo. In a race that many of the contenders appear to be need-the-lead types, GAME WINNER has an advantage under Joel Rosario.

COMPLEXITY’s win over #11 CODE OF HONOR in the Champagne last time out stamps him as the best horse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But if he goes after the lead along with #4 TIGHT TEN, #5 WELL DEFINED, #7 MIND CONTROL and possibly #10 KNICKS GO and #13 TOPPER T, he could succumb to the American Pharoah winner’s late rally.

#4 TIGHT TEN (30-1) demonstrated some flash in his runaway debut win at Churchill before consecutive runner-ups in the Saratoga Special and Iroquois Stakes. If Ricardo Santana Jr. can get him to rate early, TIGHT TEN could stick around late at a big price.

#11 CODE OF HONOR (5-1) was John Velazquez’s pick over MIND CONTROL off his highly-rated placing behind COMPLEXITY. If there’s a pace meltdown in this race, CODE OF HONOR will be the one rolling by in the lane.

The play: $6 exacta box 6/9, $2 exacta 6,9/4,11 ($20)

DFJ analysis: It will be difficult for jockeys to strike in volume during the ultra-competitive Breeders’ Cup cards, but John Velazquez and Ricardo Santana Jr. are poised to take advantage of their limited assignments on Friday.

Velazquez has seven mounts in all, and five are listed at single-digit odds. Fan-favorite Patch (3-1) begins his day in a Race 3 allowance. Later on, he’ll be aboard Current (5-1) in the Juvenile Turf, followed by CODE OF HONOR in the Juvenile.

Santana Jr. has just three mounts, but he’s on the second-choice in Race 1 and the favorite in Race 2. TIGHT TEN is a live longshot for him in the Juvenile.

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