Predictions and betting tips for Saturday's Breeders' Cup races
Cody’s Wish looked like the horse to beat after the entries were announced and now seems like a lock after Practical Move was withdrawn after it died on Tuesday after a workout from an apparent cardiac arrest and Algiers was withdrawn on Wednesday. The loss of Practical Move has taken a lot of the excitement out of this race and the Breeders' Cup in general this year. Cody's Wish, the Godolphin owned horse, is the defending champion in this race and won three of 4 races this year, only losing the Whitney after it slipped and could never get back in contention. That race can be forgiven and the domination in the Vosburgh stakes most recently where he got away slow but rebounded and easily got up for the win is more realistic of his talent. He is showing as 9/5 in the morning line, but since Practical Move and Algiers are still listed in the morning line odds, it will be shocking if he doesn’t go off at odds closer to 2/5. Zozos is the clear speed in the race but he has never run against this caliber of horses and his Beyers are not even close to Cody’s Wish. National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes but was soundly beaten in the Belmont Stakes, the Travers and the Awesome Again Stakes. The last 2 races were on wet tracks and it’s clear National Treasure likes a fast race track. While a Triple Crown race winner would automatically be considered a strong contender, it appears this year’s Triple Crown races were nothing special. National Treasure has always run more than a mile since his maiden win at 6 ½ furlongs, so it will be interesting to see if the shorter distance will help. Charge It, the Todd Pletcher horse has a lot of class but has been beaten by Cody’s Wish on numerous occasions. The others seem to be way outclassed.
Dirt Mile Prediction:
Winner: Cody’s Wish (9/5)
Second Choice: National Treasure (8/1)
Long Shot Possibility: None
Filly & Mare Turf
This race is usually dominated by Europeans and there is no reason to believe it will be different this year. Inspiral is the morning line favorite and rightly so. She has five Group 1 wins in Europe against male and female horses, including two dominating wins most recently in France and at Newcastle in England. The John Gosden trained horse will have Frankie Dettori as the jockey, and he has dominated in Breeders' Cup races in the past. If there is one question about Inspiral, it’s the distance. Every race she has run has been at 1 mile but this race is a quarter mile longer. Her running style seems to suggest she can handle it, but we will only know at race time. In Italian has been in the money in all 13 of her races, including 7 wins. She ran in this race in 2022 and was just beaten at the wire by Tuesday. She was my pick to win last year, as I figured the pace would be slow, and I was right about the pace. There doesn’t seem to be any horses this year with her speed and from the rail could wire the field. Warm Heart will be tough as well. The Aidan O’Brien trained horse has five wins in 8 starts and thrives in races at 1 1/4 miles and 1 1/2 miles. In fact Warm Heart won both races at this distance. She doesn’t mind a firmer turf and has Ryan Moore as the jockey, which is always a threatening combination. Moira ran in this race last year also and was closing well, although was never really a threat, but recently she lost to Fev Rover and With the Moonlight in the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine. Fev Rover did run a good second to In Italian at Saratoga earlier this year and With the Moonlight is a Godolphin owned horse ridden by William Buick, meaning it can never be fully discounted. Didia has won 9 of 11 races in her career, including a win in under 2:00 in her most recent race at Santa Anita, but she does seem to be a class below. Lindy ran against top horses in France before coming to the U.S. where she won a handicap race and just missed in a Grade 1 race at Keeneland. Lumiere Rock ran second to Warm Heart in Europe earlier this year but has been improving. The rest of the horses seem outclassed.
Filly & Mare Turf Prediction:
Winner: In Italian (4/1)
Second Choice: Inspiral (5/2)
Long Shot Possibility: With the Moonlight (20/1)
Filly and Mare Sprint
Goodnight Olive returns to defend her win in this race last year and appears as strictly the one to beat. Despite drawing the rail, she has enough speed to ensure she won’t get boxed in. If there is a concern about the horse, it’s that she barely won a Grade 2 race at 2/5 odds where she only posted a 97 Beyer figure and then lost to Echo Zulu in the Ballerina Stakes on a muddy track, where she posted a 108 Beyer figure. Echo Zulu was my pick last year in this race but is not running this year after suffering an injury in early October, although reports are she is recovering well. Society seems to be the biggest threat to Goodnight Olive and could well wire the field, if no horse challenges her on the lead. She won the Chicago Stakes by over 10 lengths in record time at Ellis Park (moved from Churchill Downs) in June over Matareya, and in August won by more than five lengths in a non-graded race at Charles Town. The Beyer figures for those two races were 105 and 106 respectively. Matareya did beat Goodbye Olive earlier in the year, which makes Society’s win all the more impressive. Society ran in the Breeders Cup Distaff last year where she was trounced, but it’s clear she is just a sprinter and should never have tried a 9 furlong race. Kristenbosch is likely the next best horse in the field but she and the others don’t seem to have the class of the top 3.
Filly and Mare Sprint Prediction:
Winner: Society (5/2)
2nd Choice: Goodnight Olive (6/5)
Long Shot Possibility: None
This race is usually dominated by the Europeans, but this year there are only three European horses, two Japanese horses and the rest are from North America. The morning line favorite is Songline, a horse from Japan, but it’s hard to figure out why she is so coveted. Japan had two wins at the Breeders Cup in 2021, both in shocking fashion, but has been shut out before that as well as last year. Songline is the top miler in Japan and has Timeform figures over 100 in her last 3 races, but she was badly beaten by Casa Creed earlier this year and her racing style doesn’t suggest success here. Casa Creed is a multiple Grade 1 winner and comes off a hard fought win in a Grade 1 race at Saratoga. The time off since then is slightly concerning, although trainer Bill Mott often uses layoffs to freshen his horses. Kelina is a French horse who won a Group 1 race at Longchamp and seems like a horse who can go to the lead or sit just off the pace. The filly is out of Frankel, arguably the best horse in Europe to ever run and some say the best horse ever, period. Prior to that race, Kelina was struggling but she does have four wins in 9 races. Master of the Seas is a Goldolphin owned horse trained by Charlie Appleby with William Buick riding which is always a threat. She had some good races in Europe but really showed her meddle coming to North America where he romped to Victory in the Woodbine Mile in an impressive time and then just missed in the Coolmore Turf Mile, losing to Up To The Mark, which will be one of the favorites in the Breeders Cup Turf. Mawj is another Godolphin horse, which led throughout the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Keeneland at a longer distance but is two for two at the mile distance and has been an impressive runner in Europe, winning several important races albeit at shorter distances and lower classes. Of the double digit longshots, Gina Romantica has had some good races, as has More than Looks. But the most intriguing may be Shirl’s Speight who drew the rail. He raced well, finishing second to Master of the Seas in the Woodbine Mile despite being bumped in the stretch and in last year’s Breeders Cup Mile he barely lost to Modern Games at over 50/1 odds. Look for him late.
Winner: Master of the Seas (7/2)
Second Choice: Mawj (4/1)
Long Shot Possibility: Shirl’s Speight (30/1)
Idiomatic is the morning line favorite having won four straight races, including two races going away in the Personal Ensign and Spinster Stakes. The Juddmonte Farms filly will be ridden by top jockey Florent Geroux. It’s clear she prefers to be on the lead, which could be a problem since there is plenty of speed in this race to run at her, including Adare Manor, the Bob Baffert trained horse, which has won straight straight races in California, and Randomized which has won consecutive Grade 1 races in New York. Clairiere ran in the Distaff last year and barely missed out after making a charge in the stretch. She has only been out of the money four times in her career and has eight wins and six seconds in 21 races. She was trounced by Idiomatic in the Personal Ensign, but it’s clear she didn’t like the footing. Pretty Mischievous won the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes and will be facing older horses. She lost her last race on a sloppy track in a Grade 1 race at Parx, but showed she can stay just off the lead and rally. Search Results has run in this race twice before finishing poorly, but she seems to be in good form right now, including a dominating win at Churchill Downs in a Grade 3 race in her last effort. Wet Paint has had some good races and lost as the favorite to Randomized last time out. But Randomized will likely be challenged on the lead this year and if the pace is as fast as I believe it will be, I think the closers will have a distinct advantage, which could set it up for a closer like Wet Paint.
Winner: Clairiere (4/1)
Second Choice: Pretty Mischievous (8/1)
Long Shot Possibility: Wet Paint (10/1)
Another race dominated by the Europeans, this year should be no different. Aidan O’Brien has already won this race seven times in his training career and this year he sends out three horses with Auguste Rodin, Broome and Bolshoi Ballet. Of those, six time winner Auguste Rodin is clearly the best of the three, having just won the Irish Champions Stakes as well as a dominating win over King of Steel in the Epsom Derby. Broome had a great race just missing out to a charging Ybir in the 2021 Breeders Cup Turf, but last year showed little in this race. The 7-year-old horse also seems to be showing his age. Bolshoi Ballet was impressive winning the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga, but appears to be a cut below the others. King of Steel, as mentioned, just lost to Auguste Rodin at Epsom and the Irish Championship, but won in dominating fashion in the Qipco Stakes at Ascot on a soft turf last time. Frankie Dettori will be riding him. Mostahdaf is the morning line favorite after dominating the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot and then winning the Juddmonte International at York. And at 5 years old he may have a slight advantage over the 3 year old contingent. Up to the Mark is the main North American threat having won the Turf Mile at Keeneland following a long layoff, edging Master of the Seas before that, and winning the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont. He has never run a mile and a half but there’s no reason to suspect the distance will be an issue. War Like Goddess and Onesto can’t be totally discounted.
Winner: Auguste Rodin (3/1)
Second Choice: Mostahdaf (5/2)
Long Shot Possibility: War Like Goddess (12/1)
Always the last race on the card, the Classic this year will be the third last race. NBC didn’t want to compete against college football, so the first two races will be shown only on USA Network and FanDuel TV. The third to sixth races will be shown on NBC and FanDuel TV and the Classic will only be shown on NBC. The Turf Sprint and Sprint will be shown only on Peacock and FanDuel TV since NBC feels the Michigan vs. Purdue game is more important than two of the 2 traditionally most exciting races in the Breeders Cup. But the TV scheduling is a topic for another article.
Arcangelo has been scratched from the race making Arabian Knight, White Abbario, and Ushba Tesoro the only horses with morning line odds in single digits. As I suggested earlier with Songline in the Mile, the enthusiasm for Japanese horses is probably overblown due to one fluke year of the Breeders Cup. That said, Ushba Tesoro could is different. The horse has run numerous races on dirt with good success and in 2023 he dominated the $12 million Dubai World Cup in March going away over some good horses and in his last race he easily won a race in Japan. The horse has a six race winning streak which is very impressive considering he has 30 lifetime races and only 10 wins. So clearly the horse has found a second wind at 6 years of age. Yuga Kawada will ride him and that’s the jockey that rode Loves Only You to the shocking win at the Fillies and Mares Turf race in 2021. Arabian Knight has 3 wins in 4 races for Bob Baffert but was soundly beaten in the Haskell Stakes and one of his wins was in the slop. The win at the Pacific Handicap was not in a particularly fast time and he barely hung on, so how he has such low morning line odds is confusing. White Abbario comes off a dominating win in the Whitney Handicap but has been hit and miss otherwise. Other than a charging win in the Florida Derby in 2022 there is nothing that makes one believe this horse is anything special. White Abbario will also be scrutinized since he is trained now by Rick Dutrow who just returned this year after a 10-year suspension for drugging horses. Ironically, Dutrow only got the right to train White Abbario after his previous trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was suspended by Kentucky after two of his horses died in races at Churchill Downs. The state has since revoked the suspension butt it appears White Abbario’s connections preferred to find a different trainer. Zandon, lost to White Abbario at the Whitney but then dominated his last race in the Woodrow Stakes winning in a good time. He also beat White Abbario in the Metropolitan Handicap the race prior and was third in last year’s Kentucky Derby compared to White Abbario’s dismal 16th place finish. Saudi Crown has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 5 races including a good win in the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx in the slop and he will definitely be the pace setter. If the place is slow enough he could shock. Whether he can get a mile and quarter distance is also a concern. Bright Future who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Proxy who was second in that race also can’t be fully discounted because it’s one of the weaker Classic fields in memory.
Winner: Ushba Tesoro (4/1)
Second Choice: Zandon (12/1)
Long Shot Possibility: Saudi Crown (12/1)
Arguably the toughest of the 14 Breeders Cup races to handicap, an argument can be made for every horse in the race. Caravel returns to defend her title when she stunned the crowd with a 40/1 win at Keeneland. In 2023 she has 3 wins in 5 races although she was well beaten by Nobals in the Grade 3 Troy Stakes on a soft turf and narrowly beaten by Tony Ann in the Grade 2 Franklin Handicap. Nobals has 9 wins in 17 races but has never run a Grade 1 race and Tony Ann never really showed she can run at this level. Azrak charged in the stretch to win the Grade 2 Woodward Stakes, although he never showed that kind of ability before and Live in the Dream led most of the way before fading as the favorite in that race. Prior to that he showed great promise with some Group 1 wins at 5 furlongs in Europe. Motorious has run very well of late and will be charging if the pace is slow. He won his last race in California but just lost out to Nobals in the Turf Sprint Handicap in May at Churchill Downs. Clearly, he needed the time off. Jasper Crown represents Japan in the race and is ridden by Yuka Kawada so is an unknown. Gear Jockey beat also eligible One Timer by a head at 23/1 odds in the Turf Sprint Handicap at Kentucky Downs. Aesop’s Fables had some good races in Europe for Aidan O’Brien including a close third in a sprint race on Arc day in France at 43/1 odds, but he only has 2 wins and was well beaten by Live in the Dream earlier this year and prior to the last race he showed little. Roses for Debra has 7 wins in 10 races albeit as a much lower class but has the racing style that could be a benefit in this race and Big Invasion had a good win at Woodbine in his last race, but he lost to both Caravel and Nobals this year and would probably prefer an extra furlong. Beer Can Man draws in after the scratch of Bradsell and could surprise if he is allowed to dictate the lead.
Turf Sprint Prediction:
Winner: Nobals (6/1)
Second Choice: Live in the Dream (9/2)
Long Shot Possibility: Jasper Crown (12/1)
Only nine horses run in the sprint this year and the morning line favorite is Elite Power. The Curlin horse has 8 wins in 12 races including a win in this race last year when he shocked heavy favorite Jackie’s Warrior. In 2023 he had three straight wins before losing to Gunite last time out in the Forego Handicap at Saratoga. In that race Gunite was able to set an easy pace but that likely won’t happen here. Gunite lost his last race in the slop at Parx. Speed Boat Beach, trained by Bob Baffert, won 3 races out of 4 in 2022 with the only loss being a poor showing in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. In his only race in 2023 almost a year later he pressed Dr. Schivel throughout but lost that race by a head to the more seasoned horse. He may have needed that race. Dr. and if in top form could pull off the victory. Dr. Schivel came second by a head in the 2021 Breeders Cup Sprint, had only one race in 2022 but missed the rest of the year with an injury and returned a year later to win an allowance race and then after two mediocre efforts at longer distances won the forementioned race at 6 furlongs on a wet track. The Chosen Vron has had some really good races in California including a win recently in the Bing Crosby and will be charging hard if the pace is fast. The others seem to be a step below.
Winner: Elite Power (9/5)
Second Choice: Gunite (4/1)
Long Shot Possibility: None