BREEDERS' CUP COUNTDOWN
By John Piesen
If you have plans on hitting the Pick Six on Day Two of the 2014 Breeders' Cup, good luck. You'll need it.
Due to the late withdrawls of Wise Dan and Beholder, and the presence of more inscrutablefour-legged Europeans than ever, there is nothing resembling a "single".
Unless you want to label the unbeaten 3-year-old Shared Belief a single. Up until the Awesome Again Stakes last month, he did look the part of a potential odds-on favorite in the Classic, but he was life-and-death to beat a weak field.
If you want, you can give Shared Belief points for overcoming a rough trip to stretch his record to seven-for-seven, that's fine. But what was he beating? Fed Biz, the runnerup, is a miler, and a Grade 3 miler at that.
The Classic, with a full field of 14 going a mile and a quarter, is always tough on a speed horse, and especially soon those with a target on his or her back. Just ask Game On Dude.
Despite losing Dude, Will Take Charge, one-two in the 2013 Classic; Palace Malice and top 3-year-old Wicked Strong, among others, the Classic loses much of its buzz this year, But the presence of 3-year-oldsBayern and California Chrome, as well of several gifted older horses makes the race a betting nightmare.
But there will be a Classic winner, as well as a dozen other BC winners, and I suggest you'll check my selections on-line and/or on the red-hot John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283)
Seven of the 13 races will be run on dirt, and the Santa Anita dirt track, more than ever, has been sweet on speed. But this factor does not necessarily translate to Breeders' Cup Day.
The BC is a different ballgame, With full fields of high-class runners, we've seen horses win fromout of the clouds on BC Day. I'm sure the reader.who thought he or she were home free, only to get nailed at the wire, know what I'm talking about.
I've covered 25 Breeders' Cups and Kentucky Derbys, most times spending a week on-site. A lot of fun times. Don't ask.
And the pattern was generally the same. Speed would dominate all week (especially at Santa Anita and Churchill Downs), until Race Day when the closers took over.
This year's Classic is especially tough because the top three choices -- Shared Belief, Bayern and California Chrome -- are basically speed horses, as are outsiders Moreno and Cigar Street, so the race cries for a Concern-type closer.
We'll have more, much more, on the Classic, and the eight other Saturday BC races, in this space next Friday. But for now, let's concentrate on Friday's four Cup races. Hopefully, we'll offer more Halloween treats than tricks.
The last six winners of this race ran their last BC prep outside the United States. I'd call that something more than a coincidence.
This year, the ones whodid so are (in alphabetical order) Aktabantay, Commerorative, Conquest Typhoon, Hootenanny, International Star, The Great War, War Envoy, Wet Sail, Faithful Creek and Ernest Shackleton.
All have some form, and all must have a chance -- otherwise the connections would not have gone to the expense and trouble to run them.
The old bromide: watch the board! certainly applies here.
The Ramseys' Luck of the Kitten looks like the main speed. Godolphin's Imperia was sharp winning the Pilgrim as a maiden. Danny Boy, Lawn Ranger in the mix.
Goldencents, one-two in 13 of 17 starts, and a front-end winner of this race last year, will be a short price to repeat. He loves the Anita strip, and is in top form. Try to beat him if you want, but you certainly you need to use him in the gimmicks.
Fed Biz must be respected off his close second to Awesome Again, Lucky Ticket was a closing second in this race last year. The 3-year-old Tapiture maintains his form off an exhausting campaign for Asmussen.
Vicar's in Trouble, another 3-year-old, may cook the favorite.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
There are several tough Euros in the field, notably Osaila and Quality, but they have to find a way to beat Chad Brown, who has four going -- Partisan
Politics, Lady Eli, Tammy the Torpedo and Sivoliere.
If Sivoliere wins, her rider - a fellow named Gary Stevens - will be the story of the day.
The Hall of Famer underwent right knee replacement in July, and at age 50, his riding career clearly seemed over.
But, after a three-month re-hab, here is old Gary back in the saddle -- and on a talented BC filly. She was three-for-five in France, and is training well at Belmont.
Sunset Glow exits two graded stakes wins at Del Mar for new trainer Wes Ward A solid but beatable favorite.
Untapable has been freakish this year, save for her dismal race against the boys in he Haskell.
With Beholder out. Close Hatches becomes the main speed. Draw a line through her Spinster.
Don't Tell Sophie, the Spinster winner, and eight-for-13, will be running when the others are stopping.
Thanks for tuning in, good luck this week, go Royals, and see you back here next week.