Steve Haskin's Updated Breeders' Cup Analysis

Steve Haskin's Updated Breeders' Cup Analysis
Photo:
Tiznow is back to defend his title in the 2000 Classic.
You can handicap the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races all you want, and you're still going to come away befuddled. There's simply too many good horses who can win, and very few horses with major weaknesses who can be dismissed.

What we're going to attempt is to point out longshots who might be huge overlays, and horses who have impressed us with their training and their appearance, although we admit to not having seen a number of the Breeders' Cup horses. This report will be updated tomorrow after we see the horses one final time and observe the Coolmore horses, who have not yet been to the track.

DISTAFF: It's not going to take much for an older filly or mare to nail down an Eclipse award. You can bet Tranquility Lake will come gunning out from the rail and will be given her head by Eddie Delahoussaye. This is a tough old mare, who if ignored, could be difficult to run down. It's hard to separate the 3-year-olds, as each one looks special. We were particularly impressed with Exogenous' work, especially the fluidity of her stride and the way she was extending herself under no urging in the slightest. Flute worked in :59 1/5, showing a good deal of zip around the far turn. But there are prices galore in here, and if Spain can run back to her last work and improve just slightly from the Beldame, she might repeat at a price once again. And certainly don't overloook Starrer, who is the forgotten 3-year-old. But this daughter of Dynaformer looks great physically, is coming into her own, and we believe she is sitting on a huge race. She would be our longshot special.

JUVENILE FILLIES: It's really hard to look beyond You in here. Bella Bellucci had a very strong work, but is conceding a great deal of experience. Her speed numbers have been impressive, and she should run big. We don't know good New York-bred Shesastonecoldfox is, but she looked good in her workout. However, on paper, there really isn't a filly who has done anything extraordinary enough to suggest she can beat You.

MILE: This is one big guess, but you can get some terrific value if you're lucky enough to find the winner. Affirmed Success was a bit too keyed up in his last work, but the 7-year-old gelding is making his fourth Breeders' Cup appearance, and we feel this could be his year if he gets the right trip. He's run three huge races with Jerry Bailey up, and if he can settle early, he's got a big shot, breaking from post 8. One of our longshot specials on the day is Brahms, who's been a hard-luck horse and is much better than his races this year might indicate. Remember, this is a horse who finished second to Giant's Causeway in a 7-furlong stakes in Ireland, and, despite some rough trips, has not been beaten more than 2 ½ lengths in any of his nine grass starts in this country. We're not sure whether the 3-year-old Navesink is ready to compete on this level right now, but this is a talented colt who should be a top 4-year-old.

SPRINT: This is the ultimate wide-open race, and you'll have to be pretty lucky to come up with the winner. With so much speed, and so many pure sprinters, the horse who really fits the Sprint profile is El Corredor, a top-class miler who has the speed to win at six furlongs. He's no bargain at 9-2, but we feel he's going to be very tough to beat. At 20-1, Bet on Sunshine is the sentimental choice, but is going to have to pass a lot of good horses. However, it is never wise to discount this tough old guy. A blistering pace would also benefit Left Bank, coming off a big stalking victory in the Vosburgh. But our pick in here is El Corredor.

FILLY & MARE TURF: Although she's never been over a mile, Banks Hill is fresh and looks to be coming into her best form. Her pedigree says the extra quarter mile will not be a problem. The favorite Lailani will be tough to beat again, bit watch for the two fillies she beat in the Flower Bowl – England's Legend and Starine –to show big improvement. England's Legend did not seem as comfortable on the lead as she did in the Beverly D, but this time Corey Nakatani will likely let her settle more, and she should be much tougher to catch. If you're looking for a megabomb in here, we have two. Neil Drysdale has Kalypso Katie looking great in the morning. She han't run since June, but if anyone can get her to return big, it's Drysdale. We're also intrigued with Lailani's stablemate Mon Juste, who is classic placed, has great tactical speed and acts on any going. She's getting good right now and is capable of a big effort.

JUVENILE: You can look all you want, and analyze all you want, but until Officer shows us he is not a freak, we don't see anyone beating him. We were extremely impressed with Came Home in the Hopeful, and he'd be the one to test Officer. But despite Came Home and the number of other talented youngsters in the race, we just feel we're dealing with something extraordinary in Officer. We've never seen a horse's coat shine like his did before the Champagne, and it still looks pretty darn good three weeks later. If you really want to take a shot and beat Officer, go with the unknown factor, Johannesburg, only because we have no idea if he's a bigger freak than Officer. But he'll have to be a freak, never having run past six furlongs.

TURF: Fantastic Light will be the strong favorite, and there's no reason why he shouldn't win with a good trip. But he'll get a tussle from With Anticipation. Our longshot pick would be Milan, who dropped back in distance from the marathon St. Leger to finish a fast-closing 5th in the Arc de Triomphe. This is a top-class colt with a big late kick and he could be overlooked here.

CLASSIC: So many questions. How will Galileo and Sakhee handle the dirt? Can Tiznow, Albert the Great, and Macho Uno rebound off defeats as the favorite? Will the 12-post hurt Aptitude, and will he regress any off his huge victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup? Rather than try to speculate on all this, we're going with two price horses who definitely are coming into the race on the upswing -- Include and Guided Tour. Of these two, we give an edge to Include, who should improve off his third in the Meadowlands Cup, in which he showed a good burst of speed at the three-eighths pole, while coming home his final five-eighths in :57 4/5. Both horses look great physically, and we love their demeanor out on the track. Meadowlands Cup winner Gander has new-found confidence and has been working sensationally, so don't throw him out. But Include has the running style, the talent, and the freshening to post the upset. We loved his two-mile gallop Friday morning. Both he and Guided Tour are 15-1 on the morning line, and that is too attractive to pass up.

One other note on the Classic, if you're a bit adventurous, put a few bucks on Galileo and Sakhee. Both are brilliant superstars, and if either takes to the dirt anywhere near the way they do the turf, they have the ability to turn the Classic into a rout. Sakhee does have a grass action, but so did Dubai World Cup winner Dubai Millennium. This colt has great muscle tone and has held his flesh beautifully. As for Black Minnaloushe, he's going to be a huge price, and gets reunited with Johnny Murtagh, who gets along with the colt much better than Mick Kinane. He has a good late turn of foot and you might want to consider him for a saver. One other note, if you're a Tiznow fan and are looking for a reason to like him, he's really gotten his act together since arriving last Saturday, and his gallops have been awesome, much like they were before last year's Classic.

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