Cup Countdown: Big Bucks Time
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 10/24/2008 11:30:10 AM
Last Updated: 10/25/2008 4:56:15 PM
Visit, in the Filly and Mare Turf, is one of Steve Haskin's longshot plays for Oct. 24.
Anne M. Eberhardt
This is part 1 of our annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships longshot columns, and you can bet there will be lots of bargains available this year, in what is without a doubt the most perplexing Breeders’ Cup in history. How will Curlin and the Euros handle the Pro-Ride, not to mention every other horse that has never run over it? That is but one of the dilemmas facing bettors in this gluttony of races.
We start of course with “Filly Friday,” and if you will only be attending on Saturday, or can only watch on TV on Saturday and will not be able to see Zenyatta in the Ladies Classic (gr. I), you’re out of luck. That is the decision the Breeders’ Cup’s came up with.
Anyway, here we go:
FILLY & MARE SPRINT: Even without Indyanne, there is an abundance of speed, which will bring down the odds of an obvious horse like Intangaroo, who has a powerful closing punch and has won three grade I sprints this year, all at this distance of seven furlongs. With or without speed, Indian Blessing looks like a standout in here, and if you’re going to play against her, you’d better at least use her in your exotics. But this is about price horses and potential overlays, and from what little I’ve seen of ZAFTIG, she looks like she’s crawling out of her skin. She hasn’t been out since her 4 1/2-length drubbing of Indian Blessing in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I), and has sort of been forgotten, considering she was being touted as something very special after that race, in which she earned a monster 113 Beyer Speed figure. That’s higher than any Classic horse has run this year. VENTURA also looks extremely live in here, but with Bobby Frankel touting her big-time, expect her to be bet down, probably to second choice. So, take Indian Blessing and Ventura, and/or any of the big closers and play them with Zaftig, and play Zaftig to win at a good price.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF: One of the many crap shoots. On form and from physical appearance the selection here is CONSEQUENCE. The Shug McGaughey-trained daughter of El Prado looks good physically and should show big improvement off her fourth (beaten a half length) in the Miss Grillo (gr. IIIT). That was only her second career start and she was stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. She also lost a lot of ground going wide and still was coming fast in an 11-horse field. Another who could be a live longshot is RENDA, who has never run on turf, but her last two starts, at Calder and Monmouth, were brilliant, and in her last turf work at Calder, she went six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 around the dogs. One horse that is intriguing, but only if you’re daring enough, is HEART SHAPED. The Aidan O’Brien filly has ability, but she’s been a mess breaking from the gate, and you could be a loser basically before the race begins. And she’s never been farther that six furlongs. So, she’s a major risk in here, as bad starts have cost her three straight races. But it is an opportunity to get a Coolmore filly at a big price. Play her at your own risk. So, Consequence looks like the solid play, Renda looks like a good gamble to handle the turf, and Heart Shaped, well, you handle her however you like. She might be worth a small wager if her odds are enticing.
JUVENILE FILLIES: This is a tough race, because we really don’t know how good Stardom Bound is. She looked fantastic schooling in the paddock, and if she handles this step up in competition, she will be tough to handle. Sky Diva could be better than most people think and cannot be left out of any exotic bet. I would have really liked Doremifasollatido had she not drawn the 13 post. If she gets lucky going into the first turn she can win this, but you’ll have to pay to find out if that will happen. Dream Empress is another very good filly and is coming off a big win on the Polytrack at Keeneland, but she also drew poorly in post 12. So, for a price, take note that Wayne Lukas-trained BE SMART ran a deceptively good race to finish second to Dream Empress in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I). She went head and head most of the way, gamely fought off her foes, and still had enough left to finish second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher. You also have to respect the Aidan O’Brien-trained PURSUIT OF GLORY, based mostly on her class, having run a solid third in the group I Cheveley Park Stakes in 1:09 4/5 for six furlongs. She also has never been farther than six panels, but she’s by Fusaichi Pegasus, out of a Storm Cat mare, so she should handle the dirt and the stretch out to two turns with no problem. Both these fillies might be worth a win bet, and play them in the exotics with the favorites. I’m even going to take a shot and play Doremifasollatido, despite her bad post, but I’ll cut down the amount. Just to throw another longshot at you, as a bonus, EVITA ARGENTINA has a big closing kick, should like the two turns, is by the hot sire Candy Ride, and has been training super at Hollywood Park. With all that, the two big bets in here at a price that I’m most confident with are EVITA ARGENTINA and BE SMART.
FILLY & MARE TURF: It’s going to be extremely difficult beating both Wait a While and Maurelakana, especially the former, who has never been beaten in California and relishes this turf course. We’re here for longshots, but there really aren’t any that are extremely appealing. I don’t know if she’s good enough to win, but PURE CLAN is talented enough to finish in the money, and could make an attractive exacta or trifecta prospect. She’s been training well, looks terrific physically, and loves a firm turf course. It’s just a question of stepping way up in class. A guess, just to take a shot, is VISIT, who has been lightly raced, is rounding into peak form, and is trained by the always dangerous Michael Stoute. You just don’t know.
LADIES CLASSIC: A longshot? Forget it. Just enjoy this one.
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