We all know who the favorites are and who the contenders are. But we also know that no Breeders’ Cup is complete without its share of longshots.
So here goes. Try these Friday longshots on for size.
It’s actually hard to figure out who the longshots are in this race and who the contenders are, it’s that evenly matched.
It’s been three years since Atoned has been on the Derby trail, but he still has that back class to fall back on. He has a victory over Alcomo and Eldaafer in the 1 ½-mile Nasty and Bold Stakes in the slop at Belmont. This year’s he’s been third behind Redding Colliery in the nine-furlong John B. Campbell, run in a sprightly 1:47 1/5. In his third and most recent start after being sent to Neil Howard, he rallied from last to finish a close third, beaten three-quarters of a length by Eldaafer, in the 1 ½-mile Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III).
He’s been training at Churchill Downs, breezing a mile in 1:44 on Oct. 20, and the feeling here is that his back class and natural speed and stamina make him a live longshot at 20-1.
One horse who has caught the eye in the morning and in the afternoon grazing is Gabriel's Hill, who can take them a long way on the front end at 20-1. Don’t ignore this son of A.P. Indy, who was beaten a nose by Alcomo in the final jump of the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II).
As a side note, although he’s only 9-2 on the morning line, A. U. Miner looks terrific. He’s quite an eyeful, and you might not want to keep this grand-looking son of Mineshaft off your exotic tickets.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
It’s going to be a mighty task knocking off both Winter Memories and Kathmanblu, so we can’t strongly endorse any longshot, although the latter’s 10-1 odds seem awfully high. One of the Europeans, Flood Plain, has some upside at 20-1. She has been running in big fields, has only two starts, and her two grandsires, Lure and Zafonic, were two of the most brilliant grass milers we’ve seen over the past 20 years.
The other Euros have good credentials and any one of them can spring an upset, but trying to figure out which one is not easy.
Of the other North Americans, Wyomia, is somewhat attractive at 12-1, assuming you’re willing to gamble she’ll handle the turf as well as the Polytrack. Her speed figures are excellent, and she’s won her last two, including the Mazarine Stakes (Can-IIIT).
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
This is a total crapshoot. Very few fillies in here would be a major surprise, and the recommendation here is to box Champagne d'Oro (6-1), whose last was a toss; Evening Jewel (15-1; yes, we said 15-1), who is all class at any distance over any surface; and Sara Louise (15-1), who should improve by leaps and bounds off her last start, which was her first of the year. She showed what she’s capable of last year, and we like all three of these to run big.
Good luck on this race. It is tough to say the least.
We have another exotics box, and two of the three are live longshots. Joyful Victory, who is our longshot special in this race at 15-1, broke her maiden from the 12-post at a mile and 70 yards at Delaware Park for trainer Tony Dutrow. She ran a game race to win by a neck, with the runner-up finishing 7 ¼ lengths ahead of the third horse. That is impressive in a 12-horse field. She then dropped back to one turn in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and ran a respectable third behind the two Juvenile Fillies favorites, A Z Warrior and R Heat Lightning. She should relish a return to two turns.
Believe in A.P. broke her maiden at Philly Park in her fourth career start, which does not sound like the resume of the BC winner, but that victory was accomplished under wraps, with the daughter of A.P. Indy winning off by 12 ¾ lengths. Her two prior starts were on the turf, and her debut was a toss after she broke poorly. She’s 15-1 and could be any kind.
A win bet on both these fillies looks enticing.
The third horse is Awesome Feather (6-1), who is undefeated in five starts at Calder, and her last, a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes series, was spectacular, as she romped by 8 ¼ lengths, and her time was 2 2/5 seconds faster than the colts ran in the In Reality division of the Stallion series on the same card. Who knows how good she is?
FILLY & MARE TURF
Yes, you have Midday and Plumania, and Harmonious, but our best bet of the day is Red Desire, although she’s only 8-1 on the morning line. The Japanese-trained filly was flying fastest of all at the end of the Japan Cup (Japan-I) last year, beaten 1 ½ lengths by the great Vodka. In that race, she finished ahead of Conduit, who was coming off his second straight score in the BC Turf (gr. IT).
Red Desire also has defeated Buena Vista, who ran second in the grade I Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night this past March. She ventured to Dubai herself, where she nailed eventual Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Gloria de Campaeo in the final strides on the Tapeta surface.
She was brought back only 1 ½ months later and finished a fast-closing fourth in a grade I in Japan going a mile. Out for 4 ½ months, she was trained extremely lightly for the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) and still finished a solid third over a bog, in which she showed more early pace than usual, struck the front too soon, and hung on gamely to soft-course specialist Ave, beaten only three-quarters of a length.
She turned in the most impressive work we’ve seen at Churchill Downs over the past week, breezing five panels in :59 3/5, with Kent Desormeaux never moving his hands on her. He knows her much better now with the Flower Bowl behind him, and we feel she will return to her late-running style and run a bang-up race. And she gets the firm course she likes.
She looks like a strong play to win and in the exotics with the contender or contenders of your choice.
For two monster bombs, don’t ignore Miss Keller and Keertana, even though they seem outclassed in this tough field.
We are in love with Blind Luck and respect Life At Ten, but Persistently, at 12-1, looks extremely enticing in here. Her victory over Rachel Alexandra may not be the fluke most think it is, and she did beat Life At Ten by over 10 lengths.
She had no shot in the Beldame (gr. I) over a speed favoring track and in a five-horse field, and did well enough to finish third. She looks good and sharp physically and mentally and appears to be at the top of her game. All in all, she seems to be flourishing at Churchill Downs.