Geo Sette deep dives the 2021 Breeders’ Cup from Del Mar

November 4, 2021

You may and then again you may not be able to get a seat at our Breeders’ Cup seminar including a replay of you miss the live version. Check HERE to find out of there is a spot available.

It is Breeders’ Cup weekend! Two of the best days of racing in the world. The stage is set and we’re ready to go!

Our man Geo Sette famous for his successful and insightful deep dives in to the big races gives us the entire Breeders’ Cup! Geo tackles all the Breeders’ Cup races over the two championship days meticulously. We’d expect nothing less.

Geo “attack mode”

This amazing two-day Breeders’ Cup event has reached its 38th chapter and is now returning to Del Mar in Southern California for the 2nd time (The first being in 2017).

Inaugurated back in 1984, it keeps getting more compelling with the collective fields packed with size and talent. The very best thoroughbred racing can offer with two explosive days, huge fields and often huge payouts with horses that know how to win.

Early November in Southern California we can expect ideal weather conditions, so as I provide my analysis, I am doing so banking on a fast track and a firm turf course. Of course, if need be, I will share a thought where needed for a particular horse that may have an affinity towards the off going on the soil or on the weeds, but as I write this column, the forecast calls for two beautiful days.

There’s a storied history of the Breeders’ Cup where new champions are crowned each year, and as all who are familiar with our great Sport of Kings, every one of the 14 races will offer wagering value.

Quality horses at a price, there is no other multi-race event that can provide such a degree of the “Overlays” and “Underlays” we hope to uncover.  Will there be some odds-on choices? Absolutely! You just need to know when to pull the trigger and when to harness your enthusiasm.

That’s the beauty of handicapping past performances, diving deep into pedigrees, and realizing a horse’s behavior and willingness to give it all he has.  The odds we know will be determined by the action at the windows, a beautiful thing. We are all facing one another and hopefully, I can help you along the way.

Aidan O' Brien horses training for the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar
Aidan O’ Brien’s set training at Del Mar

As I have often written about, as a guide, especially for the Breeders’ Cup, always keep in mind the significance of the European and foreign-based runners. Throughout the storied 37-year history, they have had tremendous success, of course most often with the races run on the turf.

It is imperative that you consider their abilities and the significance of their bloodlines, they are fabulous contenders and worthy of their presence on the track.

To the thoroughbred racing fans, every year it’s like Christmas coming early, bringing us the joy and excitement for fabulous Friday and mega intense Saturday.

Five Breeders’ Cup Championship Races on Friday for all the Juveniles who have had great campaigns as two-year-olds and nine Breeders’ Cup Championship races on Saturday which cover every division leading to and concluding with the $6,000,000.00 Breeders’ Cup Classic which will go off in prime time on the East Coast at 8:40pm.

As I typically do, I have dedicated countless hours to pedigree acknowledgments, film study, and covering every aspect of past performance handicapping.  For all 14 Championship races, I have provided my top 4 contenders in a precise order of finish, and to provide added coverage, I will offer a bullet point with a longshot or two to consider.

The best way to approach each race is to be decisive, cover your horses and embrace the gimmicks that are offered to position yourself for what could be the biggest score of your life.

It all begins on Friday, November 5th Race # 6 The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint with an estimated post time of 5:50PM EST. Are you Pumped up?  Let’s Go!  Thanking you in advance for your dedicated readership, it’s time to make some money! Good luck to all! Let’s make this Breeders’ Cup one we’ll be talking about for years!

Fast three year old filly Bella Sofia
Fast Bella Sofia

Friday November 5th

Race #6 The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint 5 Furlongs Purse $1,000,000

#11 Derrynane (ML 12-1) A beautiful filly, N.Y. bred and daughter of Quality Road, she won her debut vs MSW state bred fillies at Saratoga, then took solid window action as she was ambitiously entered in the 120k Bolton Landing where she ran well but was excessively wide, even still she finished with interest. Then she was shipped up north to Woodbine where she showed fabulous maturity and patience. She broke well, settled inside and then effortlessly trounced the field running by the field in the final furlong. The ever confident, strong-armed Joel Rosario is back in the saddle for the Christophe Clement barn who knows how to prepare for a big step up in class.  This is a talented filly. She will need room late, as there are several with defined speed in this race, but if she gets a nice trip, there’s no doubt in my mind Rosario can get her home with swift fractions at a generous price.

#8 Averly Jane (ML 5-2) An aggressive filly, she comes into this race after winning all 4 of her starts over 4 different surfaces. Her last was on the turf at Keeneland where she posted her very best speed figure. Trained by Wesley Ward, who has a great reputation working with juveniles which warrants the consideration for this filly to be a major contender in this race. She has a couple of works on the turf around the dogs for this race which gives an indication that she’s fresh and fit.  Tyler Gaffalione is back up. Look for her to break alertly to seize the lead or sit a stalking 2nd or 3rd, she’s fast for sure, but this is a tough field to boss easily. I originally had her placed 3rd, but moved her to 2nd with my respect for her nose for the wire.

# 3 Go Bears Go (ML 15-1)  This colt is a European invader who gets blinkers on and Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez. He’s got nice gate speed from the inside. There’s no doubt he will be racing at his best distance, having raced twice at 5 Panels on the weeds, winning one and finishing a solid 2nd on the other, just missing by a head in a Grade 2 Stakes event.  Watch the board, but your odds will likely be generous. I’m expecting a solid effort turning back to 5 furlongs wearing the mask and getting the big rider switch to Johnny V.

# 6 Twilight Gleaming (ML 4-1) Another attractive filly, European invader, and another starter saddled by Wesley Ward. She gains the services of the ultra-consistent Irad Ortiz  who always rides with strength and confidence.  She’s been working well over the Keeneland lawn and she will likely provide a menacing finish as they turn for home. A must use in your betting gimmicks, capable of taking it all

Longshot threats:  #7 Armor (European Invader capable of strong close) and #2 Kaufymaker ( Racing well from a top barn with Jose Ortiz).

Race #7 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies One  Mile and 1/16th on the dirt Purse: $2,000,000

#6 Echo Zulu (ML 4-5)   This wonderfully bred $300,000 daughter of Gun Runner is a deserving odds-on favorite. She’s already a two-time Grade 1 winner who owns the very best speed figures in the race. She has progressed perfectly, increasing her distance with each start. She does lose her regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr., but gains the services of Joel Rosario. Trained by the all-time winningest trainer,  Steven Asmussen, she is likely to be sitting on or near the lead. Although she’s racing for the first time around two turns, she appears to be very much the horse to beat even at the expense of several other swift fillies in the race.

#5 Juju’s Map ( ML 5-2) A rather dynamic filly who has developed well since making her first start at the end of July. Also, a $300,000 yearling purchase, the daughter of Liam’s Map is working brilliantly out of the Brad Cox stable. She has won over the distance and has demonstrated quality speed as well. To me she’s the biggest threat to my top choice. An obvious contender with Florent Geroux in the saddle. Watch the board, perhaps pairing for an ice-cold exacta

# 2 Hidden Connection (ML 5-2) She’s quite an imposing filly, and she’s been professional and dominant as she has romped to victory in her two career starts, her last over this same distance.  Solid connections of Gutierrez up for Calhoun puts her in the mix as well. She’s deserving of exacta consideration and will be a big threat if Echo Zulu doesn’t fire her best.  Tough race, must respect.

# 4 Tarabi (ML 12-1) Nice looking filly coming out of a winning barn who was a solid 2nd, but beaten soundly by my top choice in the grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. Javiar Castellano is back up as she’s stretching out for the first time. Feeling she warrants respect to once again close very well and out-finish many of these, she’s working well too and is likely sitting on her best race, so I would use her aggressively in your bottom gimmicks.

Race # 8 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf  One Mile Purse: $1,000,000

#7 Consumer Spending (ML 8-1)  There’s lots to like and appreciate about this beautiful and rather precocious filly.  Trained by Chad Brown who is a 5-time winner of this race and now switches riders to Flavien Prat who was her pilot for her debut at Saratoga this past August. This attractive gray was purchased for $200,000. The daughter of More Than Ready has appreciated the distance and now turns back 1/16th after a couple of productive works over the Belmont lawn. I’m expecting a moderate to fast pace so she just might be sitting perfectly ready to strike, I would say around 4 to 6 lengths off and then smartly positioned by Prat for a major stretch run as they turn for home.  Make no mistakes, this is a very competitive group of Juveniles where many are contenders if they fire their career best race, but after some intense film study, I have decided on her being my top choice.

# 5 Bubble Rock (ML 8-1)  This filly has the look of being a very nice professional racehorse. In her first 3 career starts she has been a major factor, winning her last 2 and running well in her debut. She now steps up after winning the Grade 3 Matron while sprinting at Belmont. Like my top choice she’s a daughter of More Than Ready, by Southern Halo that suggests this mile distance will not be an issue to overcome.  Irad Ortiz up for Brad Cox adds to her appeal and she’s been working consistently on the lawn around the dogs at Belmont Park so she looks primed to handle the stretch up after sprinting in her first 3 starts.  I see her braking well and for Irad to be somewhat tactical but patient, putting her in a menacing position for what will likely be a very thrilling stretch run.

# 6 Hello You (ML 10-1) Sweet looking filly shipping in from Europe after winning her last, an impressive field of fillies going 7 panels on the turf in England.  She’s got 6 lifetime starts, so she’s one of the more experienced in the race, so I’m feeling she handle the trip very well in this her U.S. debut. Johnny Velazquez gets the riding assignment, which improves her chances for a good trip.  Yes, it is her first time going a mile, but her pedigree suggests that the distance fits her well. She’s very seasoned after running in 5 straight graded stakes races overseas. She can potentially add some great value to your wagering gimmicks, and she’s a contender to take this all under perfect trip circumstances.

# 11 Haughty ( ML 10-1)  A 2ND filly entered by Chad Brown (stablemate of my top choice) was purchased for $310,000.00 and is the daughter of Empire Maker and the Dam Soaring Emotions. The expectations have been great for this filly and she has not disappointed, winning her first 2 starts ( but she was D’Qed in her debut win and placed 3rd). She raced very well over both the Keeneland and Belmont turf courses so I’m expecting her to feel some comfort on the Del Mar lawn as well. Her post wasn’t the best of draws, but there’s talent here, so watch the board and consider using her in your multiples and bottom gimmicks. She’s likely to be a price for a barn that knows how to win.

Longshots to consider: #12 Malavath ( European Invader) and # 1 Pizza Bianca (who really isn’t a longshot) but deserves consideration based on her connections and 2-race history body of work, and she should be right there contending with the right trip.

 Race # 9 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile  One Mile and 1/16th on the dirt Purse: $2,000,000.00

#12 Corniche (ML 5-2) This “Mega Cost” colt was purchased for a cool $1,500,000 and ran for the first time during the Labor Day weekend and trounced the field of MSW maidens in a sprint over this same Del mar oval.  Remaining on the West Coast, he was entered in the grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita and stretched out to this same distance and did not disappoint in any manner, promptly wiring the field at 2:5 odds. He has since stayed the course on the WC working effectively at SA with a series of 5 panel works.  Obviously, each year this field of young colts brings hope and promise for what could be very real Kentucky Derby type horses, so this colt fits the role. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, there’s no doubt he’ll be once again greatly backed at the windows. When I watched him on film, for a big colt, he moved with smooth powerful strides, and he seems to be a very mature individual. There were too many positive factors for me not to place him as my top choice. Even with drawing the #12 post, I feel the owner Speedway Stables LLC have a big horse in the making here.

#10 Command Performance ( ML 5-1)  This very powerful looking gray colt, the son of Union Rags, began his career over a muddy Saratoga strip this past September. He was sprinting and had a troubled trip, yet still managed to finish 2nd in a field of 9. His Trainer, Todd Pletcher, then breezed him a few times before stretching out and stepping up into the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes where he raced wide but was patient and he gathered great momentum making the turn for home and raced willingly, but he was chasing the strong winner in Jack Christopher. I watched that race several times, and I believe he will improve off of that effort, especially if he’s faced with a strong pace scenario in this race, and based on this collective field, I believe it is very possible.  So now he’s going two turns for the first time with Irad Ortiz back up in the saddle (he rode him at Saratoga) and feel he’s primed for a powerful stretch run if he takes well to the West Coast soil at Del Mar, so I’m placing him 2nd with the possibility that he can turn the tables on Jack Christopher who beat him rather soundly by almost 3 lengths and a contender to win with the right pace and if my top choice falters.

#1 Jack Christopher. (ML 9-5)  This colt comes into the race undefeated in his 2 career starts. As I mentioned above, he won the Grade 1 Champagne going one turn at Belmont Park, and he posted the best last race Beyer while doing so. There’s very little doubt that he will draw a great betting interest being backed at the windows based on his two victories and drawing the rail where he’ll be able to use his speed to be tactical or seize the early lead himself. He is wonderfully bred being the son of Munnings and the grandsire of speedster Speightstown.    Trained by Chad Brown with Jose Ortiz, for obvious reasons he’ll be a contender to win this, especially if he moves forward with improvement.  I originally had him placed 2nd, but decided to give the nod to Command Performance as I feel the pace may very well be to his advantage.

#7 Giant Game ( ML 30-1) This guy enters the race after graduating 3 weeks ago at Keeneland at the same distance. He was purchased for $500,000 and comes into this race with greater expectations from the Dale Romans barn who has proven to upset high profile fields from time to time.  He does have a solid work over the track and gets Joe Talamo back in the saddle, who has been his only pilot thus far early in his career.  This guy needs to step up his game and run faster than he has in his first 2 starts, but I feel he possesses the ability to do so, look for him to show some tactical ability and finish the race well with interest. If he improves, he can hit the board at a very generous price.

Longshot considerations: #2 Jasper Great who is the race wildcard, making his US Debut after winning his only start in Japan by 10 lengths.  #9 Pinehurst, Johnny V up for Bob Baffert, a promising colt who comes into the race 2 for 2 with both wins coming over the same Del Mar oval. He’s working well and should improve further stretching out, watch the board to see the action both these colts are taking in.

Race #10 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf One Mile on the Turf for Colts and Geldings Purse: $1,000,000

#2 Albahr (M-L 6-1)  In this race there are many questions to be answered, but one thing for sure is that Charles Appleby is saddling two of the more pronounced contenders, and I’m making this gelding my top choice. This well bred (Godolphin) horse has been nothing less than sensational in winning 4 of his 5 lifetime starts, with his only loss a third-place finish in his debut where he was off slow that day.  He shipped from Europe and made his travels successful by winning the Grade 1 Summer stakes at Woodbine in Canada, and now he travels again to the West Coast lawn of Del Mar with his very experienced and ultra-dependable rider in Frankie Dettori.  I’m feeling he’ll be in great position early and as I expect a very smart ride, I’m confident he’ll be a major force in the final furlong charging towards the wire. He’s the most probable winner.

#3 Dakota Gold ( M-L 8-1)  This guy is one sharp looking colt who began his career at Saratoga in an off the turf sprint and then stepped up and stretched out to win going away in his turf debut going a mile at Monmouth Park. I watched both races a few times and notice that he was very composed in his approach and winning rather easily each time. This son of Freud is a N.Y bred which would normally make me consider others in a field like this, but his performances on the track, coupled with his steady and rather fast morning drills on the lawn is giving me a very rich sense of confidence. Luis Saez up for popular N.Y. circuit trainer Danny Gargan, so the connections add to his appeal, feeling this guy hasn’t shown his very best yet, he’s my 2nd choice and I will be using him in many of my betting gimmicks as well as my multi-race wagers.  Expecting a powerful close from this guy, watch the board too.

#6 Mackinnon (M-L) This guy certainly is a horse for the course, coming into this huge race with two impressive wins over this same Del Mar lawn.  A physically gifted son of American Pharoah that was purchased for $285,000 and trained by the consistent Doug O’Neill stable. He’s raced 5 times during his juvenile campaign and has shown continuous improvement, winning his last 3 all at this same mile distance. He’s got the talented and reliable JJ Hernandez back in the saddle and has been working well too. I’m feeling that he’ll advance again in this race, in my opinion he is deserving of respect to be consider a contender in this field.

#1 Modern Games.  A notable European invader, and 2nd starter for Charles Appleby in this race. He’s got the pedigree to suggest he’ll be fine with stretching out another furlong.  He’s got speed and the inside post which should work in his favor in this large field. He’s raced 5 times overseas, winning 3 and finishing in the exacta another time. William Buick who has been on him the last 3 times he’s raced is coming in to ride him. You never know how some of these youngsters will handle the travel and be prepared for race day, but I do trust this barn and their winning reputation.

Longshot considerations:  #14 Dubawi Legend , another European invader  who has shown some talent overseas.  # 11 Grafton Street, he ran 2nd to my top choice at Woodbine in the grade 1 Summer Stakes as a maiden and then returned to graduate over their synthetic track, comes in with a bullet work for this race.

Saturday November 6th

Race # 4 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on dirt  7 Furlongs Purse $1,000.000

Gamine looks ready for her Breeders' Cup date at Del Mar
Gamine awaits her date at Del Mar

# 5 Gamine (M-L 3-5)  Trust me, I like most seasoned handicappers dug as deep as I could to find a competent and more importantly likely reason to bet against this great filly. I tried but nothing made enough sense to be decisive and confident for that matter.  She’s been a picture of consistency for Bob Baffert, now 4 for 4 in 2021 and she has now won 9 of her 10 lifetime starts, with her only blemish in last year’s Kentucky Oaks which was run in September going 9 furlongs for the first and only time. Purchased with the robust price tag of $1,800,000, she has never disappointed and she’s almost  at that amount with her career earnings, a 5-time grade one winner and the winner of this race last year at Keeneland. This gal has been on the shelf since the end of August coming off her last with a 104 Beyer in the Ballerina at Saratoga. She possesses high speed and will likely face a challenge to her outside by Bella Sofia who has certainly developed into one of the faster fillies in the country. Even so this filly just has too much of a resume to bet against her, looks like you’ll have to find value playing the exacta or triple. In this spot, considering the year she has had, it’s a grab a hot dog and watch, or be compelled to use her on top and hope to collect on your gimmicks.  Johnny V back on this assignment, her should enjoy the ride again.

# 4 Ce Ce (M-L 4-1) This mare has been a proven hard hitter and a sprinter who has had a fabulous 2021 as well.  Now a true veteran, she has won 3 of her last 5 all while sprinting and keep in mind she has won multiple grade 1 races at distances over one mile too.  At the Ballerina she was ultimately no match for Gamine who ran off to victory, but she was still willing and kept on professionally finishing 3rd behind Gamine and Lake Ave, she then followed with an odds-on runaway victory in a grade 3 event at Santa Anita, and easy coasting hand ride going 6 & ½ panels. Victor Espinoza is back up for Mike McCarthy and I’m feeling she’s coming to this race very fit and with lots more in her tank and if Bella Sofia somehow softens up Gamine, this mare can potentially be a real menacing threat as they come down the lane. She’s my 2nd choice to run a big race and to keep everyone away from the chalk exacta.

# 6 Bella Sofia (M-L 5:2)  This filly possesses high speed and she too has had a very special 2021 campaign. Now they are asking her to beat older mares. Luiz Saez is up again riding for Rudy Rodriguez. This filly never raced as a juvenile but has developed nicely in this her first campaign, I will take for granted that she will gun for the lead and challenge Gamine, or at the very least not allow her to get away, she’s only gone these 7 panels once before, and that was the overly impressive romp in the grade 1 Test at Saratoga where she was allowed to jump out to a clear lead and she never looked back.   There’s big time talent for sure with this filly, but in this spot, she’s my 3rd choice. She’s an obvious contender, especially if Gamine somehow doesn’t fire her best, but if this race pans out as I see it, I’m thinking she will lose 2nd with Ce Ce charging late into the fast pace.  She’s good enough to win this on her best day, but Gamine has just been too good.

Longshot consideration:  #3 Edgeway, she’s a cut below in class to the others, but she’s working very well, gets Joel Rosario in the silks and John Sadler is a capable trainer too and only to mention for my readers, # 2 Estilo Talentoso is an honest filly who always tries hard, and now is 16 for 17 lifetime in the money.

Race # 5 Breeders Cup Turf Sprint  5 Furlongs on the Turf  Purse: $1,000,000

# 9 Kimari ( M-L 6-1)  Wow, was this race a real head scratcher, there was so much to cover. It really has the makings of a classic dog fight, as there are many contenders. As I always say you need to be decisive in your approach so I have selected this filly as my top choice.  Joel Rosario is back up for the 3rd straight time for Wesley Ward. She’s been on the shelf since the beginning of April after back-to-back impressive wins including the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland where she took to the 7 panels rather easily. I’m not concerned with the layoff as she came back running after a 6-month layoff to win in the slop at Oaklawn Park. She also made her three-year-old debut off a layoff and won the very same way. This filly is extremely versatile, racing with tons of heart over various surfaces. She’s 5 for 6 in the money lifetime on the weeds including two victories at today’s distance.  She’s been working steady and smartly for her return and I’m trusting that this daughter of Munnings will bring her “A” game and take advantage of her versatile ways.  She can break alertly and be very tactical ( to her advantage) and with a smart ride from Rosario, she’s likely to have a big shot to run them down in the stretch.  A contender for sure to take it all, but I would also use her in many of your betting exotics.

# 4 Lieutenant Dan ( M-L 6-1) What’s not to like and appreciate about this seasoned gelding? He comes into this race on a 3-race winning streak, showing quality speed in each on the lawn. He’s a perfect 3 for 3 at the distance, including 2 victories over this same Del Mar lawn.  There was a period where this guy ran exclusively with California state breds, but this year during his perfect 2021 campaign, he has gotten better racing in open company. I look for him to be a defined pace setter or very close to the lead as they turn for home, these 5 furlong sprints on the turf go by in the blink of an eye. Very dependable pilot in Geovanni Franco up for the consistent barn of Steven Mlyadl, this guy is 6 for 7 in the money on the weeds and 15 for 16 for his career overall. He habitually finishes races well and must be considered on many of your tickets. For me today he’s my 2nd choice.

# 3 Golden Pal( M-L 7-2)  This is a flashy colt facing older, more seasoned horses, but is training well for the Wesley Ward stable and gets the services of Irad Ortiz this time around. This guy loves the weeds and possesses superior early foot and typically breaks very well from the gate.  This son of Uncle Mo seems to be primed for his first Grade 1 test.  Of course speed is always an advantage in such a quick race in a large field, so you’re likely to have him in the mix throughout the race, just feeling that perhaps this dogfight may just be a little tough for him to have everything go his way.  A contender for sure, but listing him as my third choice.

# 11  Fast Boat ( M-L 12-1)  This guy is another hard-hitting gelding who has proven to have a nose for the wire and a true love for the lawn where he’s won 10 times in 26 career starts, 7 coming at this sprinting distance.  I have great respect for trainer Joe Sharp who saddles Tyler Gaffalione who was his rider posting a big number in the Grade 3 Troy this past summer at Saratoga.  This veteran packs some powerful closing punch and I am expecting him to be flying down the stretch once again, a contender for sure in this crazy competitive field.

Longshot considerations: #12 Extravagant Kid, this is another seasoned veteran coming from the very consistent Brendan Walsh stable, would not be a shocker if he ran well in this spot. #10 Gear Jockey, this colt ran exceptionally well in winning his last at Kentucky Downs posting his career best Beyer at 105, not sure he can repeat that effort over the Del Mar Lawn, but he is 11 for 12 lifetime in the money on the lawn.

Race # 6 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile  One Mile Purse: $1,000,000

# 1 Silver Slate (M-L 7-2)  This colt has been having a fabulous four-year-old campaign and I’m staying with him because he may be sitting on his very best race. He’s trying the West Coast and the Del Mar soil for the first time. I’m delighted to see he’s got a work over the track and after watching all of his races in replay, there’s no doubt in my mind that the mile distance is his very best.  Ricardo Santana Jr is back up for Steven Asmussen and I’m looking for him to leverage the rail and save some ground, then to be in solid position to fire his best with some powerful closing punch over the final ¼ of a mile.  He’s got to bring his best effort, but I feel this son of Hard Spun will be up for the task. He’s my top choice to take it all.

#3 Ginobili (M-L 4-1) This gelding has been some story, none can argue that he’s been training well and he’s coming off a pair of fabulous performances, both over this same Del Mar oval.  No doubt this will be his toughest task, but it’s hard to ignore how well he has run since the middle of July.  I’m trusting trainer Richard Baltas that he’ll be ready. Look for him to show some tactical speed and to make his presence felt down the stretch too.

#5 Life Is Good ( M-L 4-5)  Very flashy and highly regarded three-year-old who missed the entire Triple Crown due to injury. He has come back with two nice efforts, including winning the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont Park comfortably going wire to wire at 1/9 odds . Irad Ortiz gets his 2nd mount up for Todd Pletcher, this colt has a world of natural speed and will be the deserving favorite.  Purchased for $525,000, this son of Into Mischief may find it more of a challenge to beat this field.  There’s no doubt my top two need to bring their very best to pull off what would be a huge upset. But I’m feeling that he may be vulnerable this time around.  Obviously he can’t be ignored for the win, and must be used in your muti-race wagering opportunities. I’m just taking a stand against him as a lead in my exactas and triple combinations.  Lastly,  I did want to inform you that this colt won his debut on this Del Mar soil, simply crushing the field last November by almost 10 lengths.

# 6 RestrainedVengence (M-L 20-1)  This guy has been a consistent and reliable gelding who has been versatile in his ways racing on the dirt as well as performing well on the turf. In this spot he looks to be in over his head to pull off an upset for the win, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he hit the board at a price to complete your bottom gimmicks, especially your deeper triples and superfectas. He’s 17 for 34 lifetime in the money earning just under one million dollars.

Longshot consideration:  #7 Snapper Sinclair, Rosario up for Asmussen’s 2nd entry. He’s capable of closing into your exotics.

Race # 7 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf  One Mile & 3/8th’s Purse: $2,000,000

#7 War Like Goddess (M-L 7-2)  This filly has been on a dynamic winning streak, and is my choice to continue her winning ways. This beautiful daughter of English Channel has mastered the distance and has shown continuous improvement along the way. The way she won the Grade 1 Flower Bowl was a thing of beauty, sitting comfortably and passing them all in the stretch rather effortlessly.  Julian Leparoux is up again for Bill Mott, and with a good trip, I see no reason why she couldn’t run them all down again.  It’s a quality field with many very talented European horses making the trip, but she’s my top choice to once again improve and emerge victorious.

# 8 Loves Only You ( M-L 4-1)  This mare has been running with many classy horses while racing in Japan, and has earned over 5 million in career earnings. She is very suitable for this distance and will likely close powerfully if she gets a clear lane. I have heard the connections are very high on this mare, so I feel it’s important to watch the board to see how much added support she’s getting. 

#1 Going to Vegas ( M-L 12-1)  This mare also comes into this race on an impressive winning streak, winning her last 3 including her first Grade 1, using her speed to take the field wire to wire. Trainer Richard Baltas has this daughter of Goldencents in the best form of her racing career and she’s proven over the Del Mar turf course hitting the board in 6 of her 7 tries.  I’m also loving her workout line which includes a beautiful bullet work on the Del Mar weeds around the dogs, running handily for 4 furlongs in 49.1 on Halloween. I’m expecting her to break well and use her tactical speed to perfectly position her for the turn for home. Over her last 3 races, she’s been well supported at the windows. In this spot you will see similar support, but in this field packed with turf class, there’s no doubt you will have betting value with this mare.  I would use her in many of your betting scenarios and believe she should be regarded as a threat to take it all as well.  Do not ignore, she’s dangerous.

# 2 Pocket Square ( M-L 15-1)  This is a developing filly who failed to fire in a few Grade 1 events earlier this year, but clearly she has found her way going 9 furlongs in her last 2 and I’m comfortable based on her pedigree that she will take well to the added distance. She’s won 5 of her 9 starts and it looks like Chad Brown has her fresh and fit to perhaps run her career best against this field.  Irad Ortiz comes back to ride her which obviously adds to her appeal. She has been working well with her turf morning drills.  I’m looking for her to get a smart ride from Ortiz, perhaps sitting mid-pack while moving up methodically to be in prime position to fire her very best.  She’s my 4th choice and can better my rating. Use in your betting exotics, you will have nice value with her.

Longshot considerations: #6 Love, European invader, always must respect Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore connections. She loves the weeds and has won 7 of 14 lifetimes starts. #12 Audarya, look no further than her winning this race last year where she had a perfect trip and was able to run down the field at 17-1.

Race # 8  Breeders’ Cup Sprint  6 Furlongs Purse: $2,000,000

# 2 Jackie’s Warrior. (M-L 6-5) This guy appears to be too much to handle and will likely be a significantly small price, probably be bet down to 4:5. He possesses high speed so will likely seize the lead early on, or at the very worst sit a stalking 2nd if one of the other colts darts out exceptionally quickly.  He’s a multiple Grade 1 winner and will likely surpass 2 million in career earnings if he wins this race.  His last at Parx was merely a tune-up in the Grade 2 Gallant Bob stakes, and he posted a dominant 110 Beyer. This will be his first try over the Del Mar strip, but he does have a 3 furlong spin over the track in his latest morning drill.  Joel Rosario is back up for Steven Asmussen,  I’m not in anyway simply going with the chalk here. I tried in different capacities to logically find a reason to bet against him, but I came up empty.  He’s the most likely winner especially if he’s not challenged much early on.  There’s an abundance of speed in the race, but this colt is simply the fastest.  If he doesn’t have his best, and is forced to be in a sizzle of a duel, then it’s possible to open the doors for a horse to mount a powerful close off the pace, we’ll just have to watch the fractions.

#9 Dr. Schivel (M-L 4-1) This guy, the son of Violence, has been racing brilliantly coming into the race winning his last 5 races, all of them on the West Coast with 3 of them coming on this same dirt oval at Del Mar. He’s 4 for 4 winning at 6 panels and has hit the board in every race of his career. Flavien Prat will be the pilot again for Mark Glatt. Based on his body of work and his speed, he’s an automatic contender, I just think he’ll come up short in his efforts to beat Jackie’s Warrior.  He does have the ability to stalk and fire his best in the final furlong, but the circumstances need to be present for him to do so.  He’s in top form and comes into the race with a bullet work in .58 and 2. Dangerous for sure and should be used on all your multi-race wagering tickets, likely to complete what could be an ice cold exacta.

#1 Following Sea ( M-L 6-1)  This three-year-old possesses inside speed which could factor greatly in this race if he runs very fast early. Todd Pletcher has always been confident and has spoken highly about this colt. This son of Run Happy disappointed greatly down the Jersey Shore at the Grade 1 Haskell and then again at Saratoga, but he rebounded well with a very smooth hand ride win in the Grade 2 Vosburgh at Belmont Park. I believe he still hasn’t run his best race, so I will give him respectful consideration here, but he would need my top two to falter badly to win this race.  I would use him in your triples and superfectas for sure, he’s a quality sprinter, just think he’ll be better and stronger as a four-year-old.

# 3 C Z Rocket ( M-L 12-1)  This gelding is certainly a hard hitter and is usually very game in his stretch runs, always showing up. If the pace was sizzling here with a major duel going on up front, it would increase his chances of flying down the lane to nail the front runners at the wire. Florent Geroux is back in the saddle for Peter Miller. He’s raced over the Del Mar strip 3 times hitting the board all three times, winning once. I give him a punches chance, but he would really need to have the race fall apart in front of him.  He’s a gutty sort, so you will get your money’s worth if he’s running for your tickets.  He’s clearly my 4th choice is this raced packed with quality sprinters.

Longshot consideration: #4 Matera Sky, he’s been a winner in Japan, so you’ll never know what he’ll bring to Del Mar, consider in your deeper wages to use underneath. #7 Lexitonian is a threat to hit the board if he runs his very best race.

Race # 9 Breeders’ Cup Mile , On the Turf  One Mile Purse: $2,000,000

#2 Smooth Like Straight (10-1) This colt has been racing brilliantly throughout the calendar year and in my opinion could be perfectly placed in this very competitive and high quality turf mile field.  This powerful looking son of Midnight Lute has run off 5 consecutive triple digit Beyer performances. He’s got the speed you need early on and a jockey ( Rispoli) who knows how to ride him. Now sure he’s been beaten (just barely) the last three races, twice by Mo Forza who benefited from simply fabulous trips.  In fact these two may very well be at the wire together again, that’s how consistent they have been racing in this division. This guy has raced 8 times at the distance and has made the exacta all 8 times with 4 wins and 4 strong 2nds (ridiculously so by a head or less each time). He’s proven to love the Del Mar lawn. He’s my top choice for the winning Mike McCarthy stable.  Lastly,  he’s been working fabulously too, he’s such a game horse.

#4 Raging Bull ( M-L 15-1)  I have always appreciated this horse and his efforts with many stretch runs, and feel he may get overlooked to a degree in this spot, so you are likely to get value with him that you do not see often. He’s 15 for 21 hitting the board for his career on the turf, winning 7 of them and many where he faced some of the very best Grade One company you will find.  He’s a powerful closer and is capable of a thunderous close either in between horses or swinging wide to the outside. He did come out flat in his last two at Saratoga and Woodbine, but to me that was illogical, then I took a long look at his Del Mar Turf victory going back a few years and it was truly a thing of beauty. If this guy gets a lane with the aggressive Irad Ortiz in the saddle, watch out, he could possibly pass them all.  He’s very dangerous with his best and a great trip. My choice for 2nd money which can easily add great value to your exacta and triple wagers.

#6 Mo Forza (M-L 5-1)  Just as I described with my top choice, this is the colt who finished ahead of him twice.  He’s in top form, winning his last 4, also posting triple digit Beyer’s each time.  Flavien Prat is again up for trainer Peter Miller and I’m confident he’ll press all the right buttons to put him in a position to win this race.  It really is a fabulous field where a handicapper can make a stand for about 7 horses in this race. Many are difficult to totally dismiss, but as I have mentioned often, it’s important to be decisive in your approach. So, with that said, this colt will be my 3rd choice, and of course he’s a threat to take it all, perhaps his trip won’t be perfect, my top choice owes him something.

# 3 Space Blues ( M-L 3-1) This colt has been as good as you will find shipping in from Europe. He has a  fabulous pedigree and overall performer coming to us from the Charles Appleby stable with his regular rider William Buick getting the assignment again.  Much respect for this colt, just not sure how well he will handle his travels, so watch the board and watch his behavior over the track during the post parade as he’s making his U.S. Debut.  He’s talented enough to win this race, just feeling he’ll come up a little short and I’m going with my top 3 who I know very well and have watched much more in race replays.  Obviously, you shouldn’t ignore him completely, I will be using him in my gimmicks.

Longshot considerations: #7 In Love, Hard hitting gelding has never been better, capable of a powerful finish.  #12 Pearls Galore, another pedigree rich filly coming in from overseas, she’s got great form and could surprise at a price.

Race # 10  Breeders’ Cup Distaff  One Mile and 1/8th  Purse: $2,000,000

# 2 Royal Flag( M-L 8-1)  One thing I have said throughout the history of the Breeders’ Cup,  The Distaff showcases the very best fillies and mares in training. It is always very compelling and a huge fan favorite, and this year’s installment is no different, as we are blessed to watch a fabulous field take to the Del Mar soil.  I believe Chad Brown and Joel Rosario can pull off the upset, so this gal is my top choice.  She’s a seasoned mare who has become better in her later years and has enjoyed a solid five-year-old campaign. She is obviously facing a few dynamic multiple Grade 1 winners, but I feel she still has her best race coming to her, so why not on a beautiful Breeders’ Cup Saturday? She is 5 for 5 hitting the board at the 9-furlong distance, winning 3, including 2 of her last 3. In this spot she could very well be set up perfectly to show her typical patience then guided by the skillful strong arms of Joel Rosario to mount a perfectly timed close to run them down in deep stretch.  There’s no doubt you will get value in using her, you just have to have the stones to do so.

# 3 Malathat ( M-L 4-1) This stunning beauty, daughter of Curlin, was purchased for $1,050,000 and has never disappointed as she was wonderful during her juvenile campaign. It has continued throughout her three-year-old campaign by winning 3 Grade 1’s and just missing by a head for a 4th. Trained by Todd Pletcher, this is one classy filly who has been on the shelf since late August, but appears to be fresh and fit based on her posted workouts. I am expecting a fast pace, so there’s a good chance she will greatly benefit from it. Her latest at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Alabama stakes, she stumbled at the start and recovered nicely to still get the win as the odds-on favorite. She’s as good as you will find in this division, expecting her to give it her best, which puts her right there in the mix. My 2nd choice here, but she’s a win candidate for sure, she must be greatly respected.

#6 Letruska ( M-L 8-5) This is one sensational filly,  for 2 full years now she’s arguably been the very best filly in training. Remarkably the winner of 17 of her 22 career starts, including winning 4 of 5 starts at this 9-furlong distance.  So why am I placing her as my 3rd choice?  Well she possesses high speed, and this time she’s facing an extremely talented field which exhibits nice speed to her inside and outside, so perhaps this will be an unwelcome challenge. I expect her to run a quality race as she always does, but maybe it’s time for my top two to shine even brighter.

# 8 She Dares The Devil (M-L 4-1)  This is another filly with a world of talent who has also run off back to back fabulous campaigns. She has hit the board in 15 of her 16 lifetime races, winning 9 of them.  She has also matured greatly and has two solid races over the Del Mar oval. There’s no doubt she’s a major contender in this race, especially when considering she’s already defeated Letruska at her own game with a great battle to the wire.  Brad Cox will have this filly ready to roll, with Florent Geroux back up as her regular rider.   I will be using her in many of my deeper wagers. She is talented enough to take this whole thing, especially if those I have listed above never fire their best.

Longshot considerations: #11 Dunbar Road,  she’s another from Chad Brown who was fabulous in 2020, but has been disappointing this year. She’s a threat to close powerfully if she returns back to the closer she once was. #5 Clairiere, she’s a tough competitor with lots of upside, she will be a very strong four-year-old next year. 

Race #11  Breeders’ Cup Turf  One Mile and ½  Purse $4,000,000

# 7 Walton Street ( M-L 8-1)  This is a 7-year-old gelding from the Charles Appleby stable who raced in the middle of September after being shipped to Woodbine in Canada where he flat out dominated the field in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International covering the same 12 furlongs and posting a robust 110 Beyer. As I watched the race, he seemed to take care of business without breaking a sweat.  That was it, he became my top choice. He’s a 5-time winner at the distance and off of that race, I’m comfortable in thinking he can repeat the effort. This time rider James Doyle will take the reins after Frankie Dettori led him to the easy victory in Canada. Look for him to be close to the front runners early on, and then as long as the pace works well in his favor, look for him to have lots left in the tank in the most important last quarter mile.  He’s my top choice in this very compelling field of mega routers.

#3 Domestic Spending ( M-L 4-1)  This lightly raced four-year-old gelding comes into this race in top form impressively winning 3 of his last 4 ( All Grade 1 events) while just missing at the wire in his latest at Arlington Park.  In this spot, Chad Brown is confidently stretching him out to run at the 12-furlong distance for the very first time. I feel he will be just fine. He’s got a win over the Del Mar lawn in the Hollywood Derby which was his last race in 2020.  He’s been working brilliantly with a series of quality turf breezes for his first race since August 14th. He has never been off the board in his career while winning 6 of his 8 turf starts.  Flavien Prat knows the horse well and I’m confident he’ll ask him to run at the right time which should result in a thrilling stretch run leading to the wire.  He’s a major win contender in this race and his chances improve even more if my top choice fails to deliver his very best.

#13 Tarnawa ( M-L 9-5)  This is one tough mare, and she’s making her 4th start of the year against the boys,  and she’s been fabulous with a win and a pair of close 2nds.  As we all know she was the winner of this event last year at Keeneland where she closed with authority to win going away while posting a 109 Beyer.   She’s a five time winner at the distance and has proven that she can handle the trip from Europe. The connections of Dermont Weld and Colin Keane understand how to get it done, but I’m feeling this year they just might come up a little bit short.  She is likely to be the betting favorite, so watch the board and do not dismiss when putting together your wagers, especially your multi-race opportunities. She is as talented as anyone in the field, and could be the most talented filly you will find going 12 panels.

#11 Gufo ( M-L 8-1)  This is a very strong imposing colt, who has relished the distance, loves the weeds and has the pedigree to run all day.  Joel Rosario is up for Christophe Clement who is still seeking his first Breeders’ Cup victory which to me is unusual considering the fabulous success the barn has achieved over the years.  This colt has always been backed at the windows and I feel he’ll be supported very well on Saturday again.  Look for him to mount a powerful close as they are turning for home. He’s my 4th choice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished higher, must respect.

Longshot Considerations: #1 Rockemperor,  Javier Castellano is up again for this Chad Brown gutty performer who comes off a flashy win at the distance a month ago at Belmont Park.  #2 United,  this gelding has been though many wars in this division and has shined on the Del Mar lawn, and his last he fired a big race, just getting up by a nose, now switching to Johnny Velazquez. 

Race #12 Breeders’ Cup Classic One Mile and ¼  Purse: $6,000,000.00

Medina Spirit in his stall ready for the Breeders' Cup Classic
Medina Spirit awaits his shot at the Classic

# 4 Essential Quality (M-L 3-1)   This field of nine sports all the deserving colts in training, three-year-old’s and a few older horses. I have long studied this colt, watching every one of his races several times, and I simply could not go pass making him my top choice. He was the juvenile champion, and he carried that success throughout his three-year-old campaign and now all that stands in his way in becoming the Horse of the Year is a victory in this classic.  He’s as tough and as gritty as you will find, his win going 12 furlongs at the Belmont Stakes was one for the ages. He then went on to win the grade 2 Jim Dandy and then again in the Grade 1 Travers he showed how game he is by dueling down the stretch, out finishing Midnight Bourbon by a neck.  He’s been on the shelf since and has been working as good as any trainer can expect of him, with his last a razor sharp 59.2 bullet breeze at Churchill Downs.  His toughness should never be questioned, even in defeat at the Kentucky Derby, he raced wide throughout and had a rough trip.  He’s answered every call and now must face some killer older horses, but the race looks to be set up well for him.  I’m expecting him to be somewhat tactical and patient, sitting like 2 or 3 lengths behind the field then being timed perfectly by Luis Saez to make a winning run at the front runners. He’s 8 for 9 ,  feeling he’s the best horse in the race and my top choice to take it all.

#9 Max Player ( M-L 8-1)  This guy was a mystery for a while where as a three-year-old he failed on numerous occasions, but he has switched gears under the careful conditioning of Steven Asmussen and he has made his 2021 campaign a very productive one, all leading to this opportunity to run for this six million dollar purse.  He has transcended into a horse that can be tactical while saving his best for last, and I feel he’ll need that in this field.  I’m being somewhat aggressive here with a 2nd place finish, but I definitely feel it is well within reach. He’s certainly battle tested at the distance, and he’s very rich in Grade 1 Stakes experience. If I am right, he will add great value to all betting exotics.

#3 Hot Rod Charlie ( M-L 4-1)  This son of Oxbow has been as tough as nails,  and I consider him a very worthwhile contender in this Classic.  As I mentioned Essential Quality’s Belmont Stakes,  this colt’s race was just as amazing considering the fractions he set while racing in the Test of Champions. Training Doug O’Neil believes in his colt, and for this race they are going to add Blinkers, a move I agree with, His race Beyers absolutely put him in the mix and he’s also greatly battle tested at the distance. This guy should be in the thick of things into the final 1/8th of the race. I originally had him placed for 2nd, and very late in my handicap switched him to 3rd, because I am overwhelmed with the job Asmussen has done with Max Player.  This colt is a must use with always multiples and he can easily find his way into the exacta and threaten my top choice if he gets a perfect trip.

# 5 Knicks Go ( M-L 5-2) Yep, he’s earned over $5,500,000 by winning 7 of his last 9 races.  He’s super-fast and has dominated several Grade 1 events, Brad Cox and Joel Rosario are forever confident with this guys raw ability, but he faces new challenges on the lead in this race and above all he’s never completed the 10 furlong distance.  He’s working well, and looks to be fit, but it’s time to take a firm stand against him. If he beats this field, then we’ll crown him perhaps as Horse of the Year. He’s always had a defined tactical advantage over many of his rivals, but in this case at this time, I do not believe that to be true.   He’s the horse to beat, but he’s my 4th choice at the wire.

Longshot considerations: #6 Art Collector, he’s never been better, wouldn’t be a shocker if he ran well in the classic.  #8 Medina Spirit, this guy has speed and heart, a deadly combination, and he’s proven at the distance.  He won’t be a longshot, but I had to give him a respectful mention.

Contributing Authors

Geo Sette

Geo has been fascinated with the Sport of Kings since he was 15 years old. He was raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York. His...

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This is so beautifully written; You bought a horse and took him to a farm moved me. Bless You.

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