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Saturday is the big day. Hosted by Santa Anita this year, nine championship races will be run on Saturday, with many of the best horses in the world battling it out for Breeders’ Cup supremacy.
Headlined by the $6 million Classic, the $4 million Turf, and the $2 million Turf, all nine races are Grade 1 and carry a purse of at least $1 million. Without further ado, let’s get right into the excellent card and my favorite wagers of the day.
After a few injuries knocked out some of the favorites in Arcangelo and the ill-fated Geaux Rocket Ride, Arabian Knight stands as the likely favorite on Saturday. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo will try to carry his speed a full 10-furlongs in his toughest test yet.
The morning line favorite is capable of winning, but with the talented speedster Saudi Crown likely to keep him company, I am liking a few others better in America’s richest race. White Abarrio seems to have the light bulb turned on after moving to the barn of Rick Dutrow, Jr. earlier this year. The gray should sit a great trip behind the early speed and comes off a huge performance in winning the Grade 2 Whitney at Saratoga.
Ushba Tesoro, meanwhile, has been a monster since switching to dirt and looked like potentially the world’s best dirt horse when winning the $12 million Dubai World Cup early this year. The Japanese runner looked good in his return and should be rolling down the stretch.
Of the rest, Zandon is my longshot to rally up and include in the exotics. In a tough call, I am going with White Abarrrio as my top pick over Ushba Tesoro, in a result which should carry him to the title as the United States Horse of the Year.
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - White Abarrio and Ushba Tesoro over White Abarrio, Ushba Tesoro, Zandon, and Arabian Knight = $60
American stalwarts Up to the Mark and War Like Goddess will look to defend U.S. turf, but a strong international cast could prove too strong for the home team on Saturday. Led by multiple Group 1 winners Auguste Rodin and Mostahdaf, the European contingent looks extra strong this year.
Both of those raiders from across the pond could win the 12-furlong turf affair on Saturday, but two other Group 1 winners from Europe cannot be overlooked as well. King of Steel paired with legendary rider Frankie Dettori comes in off a thrilling win in the Champions Stakes (G1) at Ascot, while Onesto recently was a strong third in the prestigious Prix de l’arc de Triomphe in Paris.
As good as the Americans are, I am looking for the Europeans to display their turf dominance in our richest turf race. All four mentioned have a big shot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but I will be siding with the one with the highest odds.
Onesto has been lightly raced this year, while the others have all had more demanding campaigns. The French-based son of Frankel seems to be peaking at the right time and should appreciate the 1 1/2-mile trip on Saturday. He is the top pick.
$20 Win, Place & Show - Onesto = $60
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Pace makes the race, as they say, and I believe this will be especially true in the race of the year for females on the dirt. The 9-furlong affair is loaded with talented stakes winners and provides a good mix of older against 3-year-olds. One thing the Distaff certainly does not lack is early speed.
Top contenders Idiomatic, Adare Manor, Randomized, and Search Results all like to be right there early, as well as longshot hope Hoosier Philly. The pace should be fast on Saturday and could well favor horses that like to come with a late run. Of the come from behinders, I favor Clairiere.
A multiple graded stakes winner each of the last three seasons, the Steve Asmussen-trained 5-year-old has come close in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff each of the last two years. With the right pace set up, she should be very tough here.
Off her excellent recent form, I cannot completely leave off the favorite Idiomatic and Wet Paint, a classy sophomore should also benefit from a fast and contentious early pace. Both will be on my tickets, but Clairiere is my top pick.
$5 Exacta Box Clairiere, Idiomatic, and Wet Paint = $30
$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Clairiere over Idiomatic, Wet Paint, Search Results, and Pretty Mischievous = $20
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In the final Breeders’ Cup race of the weekend, Elite Power will look to defend his crown in the Sprint. The favorite suffered his first loss in a long time last out, but this 6-furlong affair should set up for him better than did the 7-furlong Forego.
Chief among his rivals in the $2 million race are a quartet of talented sprinters in: Gunite, Speed Boat Beach, Dr. Schivel, and The Chosen Vron. All come with strong credentials in their own right and must be respected. Gunite is the horse who ended the Elite Power winning streak in the Forego, while the latter three are all excellent Californians.
Look for Speed Boat Beach and Gunite to set a strong early pace, which should only help the chances of last year’s winner. Dr. Schivel and The Chosen Vron should be involved at the head of the stretch, but Elite Power is the one most likely to finish strong.
I believe this 6-furlong race will set up nicely for the 2022 champion sprinter. Elite Power should get all the early pace he wants to set up his powerful stretch run. Just as he did last year, I expect him to be too much down the stretch and run to another championship on Saturday. He is the top pick.
$10 Trifecta Part Wheel - Elite Power over Gunite and The Chosen Vron over Gunite, The Chosen Vron, Dr Schivel, and Speed Boat Beach = $60
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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