Eight Breeders’ Cup races will take place at Churchill Downs before the Classic goes off at 5:44 p.m. EST, with the Filly & Mare Sprint kicking off the action at Noon. We’ll dive into a pair of those races here. Be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Churchill Race 5 (Post time: 1:16 p.m. EST)
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
#10 CATALINA CRUISER (8-5, morning-line favorite) looks like one of the shakier favorites on Saturday’s card under Drayden Van Dyke. He’s 4-for-4 lifetime and romped in his last two starts, the Grade II San Diego and the Grade II Pat O’Brien, but has beaten a grand total of seven horses in those two races. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is by far the biggest test of his career to date.
#1 CITY OF LIGHT (5-2) didn’t take to the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Santa Anita Gold Cup, then was carried extremely wide in the Forego last time out. Prior to his summer campaign, CITY OF LIGHT won three graded stakes in a row, two at Santa Anita and one at Oaklawn. CITY OF LIGHT travels well, has trained exceptionally, and owns speed figures that are fast enough to win this. Javier Castellano will be in the irons.
#6 SEEKING THE SOUL (5-1) has won his last two starts at Churchill Downs, the Grade I Clark and the Grade III Ack Ack last time out. The deep closer is 8-3-1-2 all-time over this course and 4-2-2-0 at the one-mile trip. SEEKING THE SOUL continues to train well and will be piloted by Brian Hernandez Jr., a Churchill regular.
The play: $10 exacta 1/6
Churchill Race 9 (Post time: 4:16 p.m. EST)
The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Conditions: 1 1/8-miles on dirt
#11 MONOMOY GIRL (2-1, morning-line favorite) has yet to lose a race in six starts in 2018, not counting the heinous DQ she suffered in the Cotillion when last seen. She answers the bell each and every time and is the one to beat on speed figures. MONOMOY GIRL is a perfect 2-for-2 at the Distaff distance and 3-2-1-0 over this strip. Florent Geroux maintains the assignment.
#7 MIDNIGHT BISOU (6-1), awarded the win in the Cotillion, has yet to beat the top one fair-and-square. She struggles beyond 1 1/16th-miles but is fast enough to last for a major share under John Velazquez.
#2 ABEL TASMAN (7-2) laid an egg in the Zenyatta last time out, but Bob Baffert said his prize filly was possibly dealing with an illness. Santa Anita has never been her favorite track, which goes a long way in explaining why she’s raced primarily on the east coast in her career. ABEL TASMAN won the 2016 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. Mike Smith will be aboard.
#10 BLUE PRIZE (6-1) put a scare into her backers after drifting wildly in the Spinster but still won. She’s a little light on speed figures but is hard to leave out based on her 5-3-2-0 record at Churchill and 8-4-3-1 record at the distance. Joe Bravo has the call.
The play: $5 exacta 11/7, $3 exacta 11/2, $2 exacta 11/10 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano appears well-positioned for a solid Breeders’ Cup Saturday. He’ll ride some of the shortest-priced horses of the day, starting with Audible (2-1) in the Cherokee Run. CITY OF LIGHT (Dirt Mile) and Imperial Hint (Sprint) are considered prime contenders in their respective Breeders’ Cup events. Live longshots for Castellano include A Raving Beauty (Filly & Mare Turf) and Catholic Boy (Classic).
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