Preview, picks and betting tips for the nine Breeders' Cup races on Saturday

A handicapping breakdown of all 9 Breeders Cup races on Saturday, with picks and longshots to bet on.

Predictions and betting tips for Friday's Breeders' Cup races

The 2021 Breeders' Cup will be held at Del Mar Racetrack in California. The track is known for its speed bias on short races, as well as an advantage to inside positions on the turf, but disadvantage to inside positions on the dirt. Breeders Cup Del MarThe European horses dominated the turf races in 2017 and almost certainly the same will happen this year as well. The forecast is for mostly clear skies and temperatures in the low 70s which will be ideal for horses from both sides of the pond.

With that in mind, here is an analysis of Saturday's Breeders' Cup Races, including some longshot selections.

Filly and Mare Sprint

Even though there are six horses in the race, only three have a legitimate chance. Gamine is the 3/5 morning line favorite and rightly so. She has 9 wins in 10 races and her only loss was in last year’s Kentucky Oaks where the distance was just too long for her and she faded at the end finishing 3rd. As a sprinter she looks unbeatable. She won this race by 6 ½ lengths last year and looks like she’ll be hard to beat. Bella Sofia has four wins in 5 races, including a rout in the Grade 1 Test Stakes and her Beyer and TimeForm rating are actually better than Gamine. Ce Ce has an outside chance, although she was beaten easily by Gamine at the Ballerina Stakes. Her biggest hope is that the pace is so fast she passes the two favorites at the end. The other three horses have no chance.

Filly and Mare Sprint Prediction: Winner: Gamine (3/5). 2nd Choice: Bella Sofia (3/1)
Long Shot Possibility: None

Turf Sprint

Always a tough race, most horses can make a claim for why they should win her. Golden Pal, won the Juvenile Turf Sprint easily last year and hopes to win one for 3 year-olds and up this year. Other than a Group 1 loss at York earlier this year, he has yet to finish worse than 2nd. Emaraaty Ana has some impressive runs including a 2nd in a Group 2 race at York (the same race where Golden Pal was badly beaten) despite carrying 137 pounds. Lieutenant Dan has won three straight races and has among the highest speed ratings although it’s uncertain if he’s beaten much. He also tends to drift in the stretch, which could be a concern. A Case of You won a Group 1 race in France on soft turf and has had some good runs.  He seems to be peaking at the right time. No doubt he’ll want a fast pace, as he is a closer. Glass Slippers has the rail, but two straight losses to A Case of You makes him suspect. Kimari looked strong for Wesley Ward after winning her last race in a Group 1 at Keeneland, but she hasn’t raced for seven months and her workouts since have been ok at best. Gear Jockey, Fast Boat and Extravagant Kid all have shown some promise, but may be weaker than these and the outside posts will hurt their chances.  

Turf Sprint Prediction: Winner: A Case of You (8/1). 2nd Choice: Emaraaty Ana (5/1)
Long Shot Possibility: Extravagant Kid (12/1)

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Dirt Mile

Life is Good is the 4/5 morning line favorite for this race and rightly so. He has won easily in all races except a 7 furlong Grade 1 race at Saratoga, where he was caught by Jackie’s Warrior  - the favorite in the Breeders Cup Sprint. He seems to prefer the extra distance and has the best speed ratings in the field. Silver State had a six race winning streak snapped when he lost to Knicks Go in the Whitney Stakes, a race he really had no chance but he was then beaten as the favorite in a non-graded race at Parx. He broke very slowly in that race and lost all chance, which would be a disaster this time, as he draws the rail. Ginobli romped in an allowance race at Del Mar in July and them came back to win a Grade 2 race at Del Mar last time out at seven furlongs, but he doesn’t appear to be in the same class as Life is Good. Eight Rings finished behind Ginobli earlier, but Bob Baffert horses can never be discounted. No other horse inspires much confidence.

Dirt Mile Prediction: Winner: Life is Good (4/5). 2nd Choice: Ginobli (4/1)
Long Shot Possibility: None

Filly & Mare Turf

War Like Goddess, the morning line favorite, has won six of 7 races, including a dominating closing win at the Flower Bowl championship at Saratoga in September. She will be hoping for a fast pace. Going to Vegas, who has the rail, is the only other American horse that appears to have a chance. Of the European horses, Audarya returns to try and repeat her win of this race last year, but she draws the outside post and she has not won since that race. She was beaten by two others running in this race since last year’s Breeders Cup win.  Rougir is one of those horses, as she charged at the end to beat a tiring Audarya in the Prix de l’Opera in France. The question is whether Rougir needs that extra ½ furlong or whether she can win at 1 3/8 miles. Love is the other European horse that beat Audarya in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot and had an incredible run of four wins in a row, where she looked like one of the best horses in Europe. She lost her last three races, however, but on her best day she can beat these and you can never count out an Aidan O’Brien trained horse ridden by Ryan Moore. Loves Only You is an interesting Japanese horse, but Japanese horses have had little success at the Breeders’ Cup in the past.

Filly & Mare Turf Prediction: Winner: Love (4/1). Second Choice: Rougir (6/1).
Long Shot Possibility: Going to Vegas (12/1)


Usually one of the most competitive races at the Breeders’ Cup, this year there’s a standout runner.

betting tips Breeders Cup SaturdayJackie’s Warrior the 6/5 morning line favorite has 8 wins in 11 races. He lost last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as the heavy favorite to Essential Quality, who may end up as this year’s horse of the year, when Jackie’s Quality couldn’t handle the mile and one sixteenth distance. He followed that up with another loss to Essential Quality at the same distance on a sloppy track, proving that Jackie’s Warrior is strictly a sprinter. He has won his last three races in a Grade 2 and Grade 1 race at Saratoga, the latter providing the highest Beyer and TimeForm ratings by far in the race, and in his last race he romped to victory in a Grade 2 race at Philadelphia Park. The biggest concern for Jackie’s Warrior is that he’s never run in California. Dr. Schivel has won five straight races, including the Del Mar Futurity as a two year-old, and a Grade 1 and Grade 2 race in California. His times for the 6 furlongs were far slower than Jackie’s Warrior ran, however. Following Sea lost by 9 lengths to Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1 race at Saratoga, but followed that up with a dominating win at the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont, a race that has produced Breeders’ Cup Sprint winners before. Following Sea will be hindered by having the rail in this race.  Firenze Fire, Aloha West, C Z Rocket and Special Reserve all have produced some good wins, but seem to be a step below Jackie’s Warrior and Dr. Schivel.

Sprint Prediction: Winner: Jackie’s Warrior (6/5). Second Choice: Dr. Schivel (5/1).
Long Shot Possibility: None


A race that generally goes to the Europeans, there are three Europeans that look like they have a shot in this race.

Space Blues, the morning line favorite at 3-1, comes into this race after posting a convincing win in France for Godolphin and William Buick. He has 10 wins in 18 lifetime races and could be tough. Pearls Galore was second to Space Blues in that race, but he is always competitive and could surprise, if he’s allowed to set a slow pace. Mother Earth was 2nd in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, but he only has one win since, although he has been running in top notch races in France and England. Ryan Moore gets the ride for Aidan O’Brien. As for the American horses, Got Stormy was my pick in last year’s Turf Sprint, but he finished a disappointing fifth and this year he has been just ok with a Grade 1 win at Saratoga at this distance, but little else. Mo Forza is the best local hopeful with two Grade 2 wins in California this year and he is on a four race win streak. Jockey Flavien Prat always does well at the Breeders’ Cup. Smooth Like Strait just missed to Mo Forza in both those races and has the advantageous number 2 slot. He will be on the lead, and has a good shot if he can set a slow pace. In Love has won three straight races and will get some support, although these will be tougher than he’s faced. Blowout will challenge Smooth Like Strait for the lead, and he only has one race worse than 3rd, a 4th place finish to Got Stormy in the Grade 1 race mentioned earlier. Ivar was 4th in this race last year, but showed little in three races since, including a convincing loss to In Love.

Mile Prediction: Winner: Got Stormy (10/1). Second Choice: Space Blues (3/1).
Long Shot Possibility: Smooth Like Strait (10/1)

Saturday Breeders Cup selections picksDistaff

11 horses will run in this year’s Distaff and Letruska is the overwhelming morning line favorite (8/5). The 5 year-old has 17 wins in 22 starts and is on a six race win streak. She defeated many of the challengers in here and loves being on the lead. Her toughest challengers so far have been Shedaresthedevil and Royal Flag. Shedaresthedevil has four wins in 5 races this year, with the only loss being to Letruska. Shedaresthedevil loves to lead, but she let Letruska set the way in that race and was never really ever able to close. Royal Flag has finished close up to Letruska before and she prefers to sit off the pace and close at the end. If the top two horses take each other out with a blistering pace, she could upset. Private Mission has won two straight impressive races at Del Mar, including the Zenyatta Stakes. Malathaat is the most intriguing horse of the newcomers and she could be the real threat to Letruska in this race. The 3 year-old filly, whose parents were superstars Curlin and Dreaming of Julia, has six wins in 7 races, including the Kentucky Oaks, where she overcame a rough start to beat the field at the wire. Three year-olds have done well in this race before.

Distaff Prediction: Winner: Malathaat (4/1). Second Choice: Letruska (8/5).
Long Shot Possibility: Private Mission (8/1)


This race is usually dominated by the Europeans, Tarnawa, last year’s winner, returns as the morning line favorite and will be tough, despite the outside post position. She got off to a rough start last year but charged through the stretch and caught Channel Maker, who looked like a sure winner at the top of the stretch as well as Magical, who was the race time favorite. She has raced three times since last year’s Breeders’ Cup with a resounding win in Ireland, a narrow loss to St. Mark’s Basillica in the Irish Championship and a narrow loss in the Arc de Triomphe. None of those races were disgraces and she will be tough.

Domestic Spending is the most intriguing American horse. He has six wins, a second and a third in eight races and like Tarnawa loves to close. His Beyer figures are the best of the American horses in the field. Walton Street blew away the field in the Canadian International at Woodbine, thus gaining him an entry to this race, but the Godolphin horse has been hit and miss in Europe and Dubai throughout his career. Gufo was charging against Domestic Spending three times and just missed out in each of those races, although if he can stay closer to the lead, he is an upset possibility. Yibir was an impressive winner in a non-graded race for Godolphin and William Buick at Belmont and Charlie Appleby only decided to give him a shot in that race after posting an impressive Grade 2 win at York the race prior. He could be peaking at the right time. Teona looked good in her last two races in England and France and the 3 year-old will be helped in the fact that only Acclimate and Tribshuvan have early speed. That could set her up to sit just off the pace and make a move at the right time, hoping to hold off the charging horses.

Domestic Spending has been scratched from this race meaning Channel Maker will likely be racing. So mentioned Channel Maker almost won wire-to-wire last year and he has every chance to do that this year as well. Channel Maker is a legitimate longshot chance.

Turf Prediction: Winner: Tarnawa (9/5). Second Choice: Teona (6/1).
Long Shot Possibility: Yibir (12/1)


Always a fun race, nine horses will be vying for the 6 million dollar purse. Knicks Go is the morning line favorite at 5/2. He won the Dirt Mile easily last year and since then has put together four resounding wins along with two lesser performances in the Metropolitan Mile and the Saudi Cup. This will be his first time running 1 ¼ miles although it appears he should handle it ok. He will be setting the pace, and like many others before him, will hope to wire the field. And as was noted at the beginning of these prediction articles, Del Mar is known for a speed bias. Art Collector was trounced by Knick’s Go in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but has run off three straight victories, including the Woodward Stakes, where he got the perfect ride. Max Player surprised most with a resounding win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but he’s really shown little else besides that. Most of the focus, however, will be on the 3 year-olds in this field.

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby for Bob Baffert, but it was a controversial win after it was discovered that the horse tested positive for a banned substance. Baffert was consequently banned from racing in both New York and Kentucky for several weeks. Medina Spirit then finished a well-beaten third to Rombauer in the Preakness and sat on the sideline for three months until he won a non-graded race at a mile at Del Mar and most recently winning handily in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in wire-to-wire fashion. He will no doubt be challenging Knicks Go for the early lead. Essential Quality had a poor start in the Kentucky Derby but still managed a good 4th place finish and he returned in the Belmont Stakes where he beat Hot Rod Charlie and Rombauer. He also won the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes in good time after some impressive stretch runs. Hot Rod Charlie was a close 3rd in the Derby and just faded to lose to Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes, but he has rebounded with impressive wins in good times at Monmouth in the Haskell Stakes and at Philadelphia Park in the Pennsylvania Derby. Hot Rod Charlie tends to drift, which Flavien Prat needs to control. The other horses have little chance. My hunch is that Knicks Go will start fading after being pressured on a hot pace and it will come down to the 3 year-olds.

Classic Prediction: Winner: Medina Spirit (4/1). Second Choice: Essential Quality (3/1).
Long Shot Possibility: None

For Hartley's betting advice for Friday's Breeders' Cup races, click here

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