The Breeders’ Cup gets underway on Friday, with Royal Delta and Princes of Sylmar squaring off again in the $2 million Distaff (G1).
There are five Breeders’ Cup races on Friday (the remaining nine will be run on Saturday), with Princess of Sylmar able to toss out the first salvo in the Horse of the Year race if she is able to beat Royal Delta again in the Distaff.
The three-year-old filly has won four Grade 1 races this year including beating Royal Delta in the Beldame Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park in their first meeting. A win in the Distaff along with losses by Wise Dan in the Mile and Game On Dude in the Classic would make the filly the frontrunner for Horse of the Year.
It is a bit of a longshot, as Wise Dan is the even money favorite in the Mile and Game On Dude is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the Classic. Could they both lose?
The Distaff drew the smallest field of this two-day championship event with just six headed to the gate, but while the race is short on quantity, there is plenty of quality.
Royal Delta is the two-time defending champ of the Distaff (formerly the Ladies’ Classic) and is a six-time Grade 1 winner.
Princess of Sylmar was the upset winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at 39-1, which I thought might be a fluke. No, she has gone on to win the Coaching Club of America Oaks, the Alabama and the Beldame.
Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and has won three Grade 1 races this year. She won the Las Virgenes in March, the Santa Anita Oaks in April and the Zenyatta in her final prep on Sept. 28. She has won five of her six starts over the Santa Anita main track.
Closes Hatches is completely under the radar and comes into the Distaff off wins in a pair of Grade 1 races, the Mother Goose at Saratoga and the Cotillion last out at Parx Racing.
Authenticity has won a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 and has run second in three Grade 1 races. Completing the field is Street Girl, winner of the Calder Oaks and third in the Cotillion in her last outing.
The first Breeders’ Cup race on Friday’s card is the $500,000 Marathon (G2), which drew a field of 10. The race is the ugly duckling of the Breeders’ Cup, but with exacta payoffs of $453.60, $668.40 and $505.00 the past three years, what’s not to like?
The $1 million Juvenile Turf (G1) drew a wide-open field of 13 including four overseas invaders. The Euros hold a 4-2 edge over the home team, with Aidan O’Brien winning the last two, both with longshots.
Wrote returned $25.20 in 2011 and last year George Vancouver retuned his backers $20.60. Ryan Moore rode both winners.
O’Brien will saddle two contenders this year, Giovanni Boldini (with Moore up) and Wilshire Boulevard. The best hope for the home team is the Chad Brown trained Bobby’s Kitten, who looked very impressive winning the Pilgrim (G3) in his last outing.
The $1 million Dirt Mile drew the strongest field in the history of the race, with seven in the field having won at least one Grade 1 race.
The Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt was a disappointing seventh in the Travers (G1) in his last outing. Two back he earned a 116 Beyer winning the Haskell Invitational (G1) by 9 ¾ lengths.
The $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf drew a full field of 14 fillies including four overseas invaders. The U.S. based fillies won the first four runnings of the race, with only last year’s winner Flotilla coming from across the pond.
Trainer Chad Brown, who won this race with Maram ($24.20) in 2008 will send out four runners including Ms Grillo (G3) winner Testa Rossi and Jessamine (G3) winner Kitten Kaboodle.
The one to watch however could be Ready to Act, who was on her way to winning the Natalma (G2) at Woodbine until she veered in sharply in the stretch and dumped her jockey.
Post time for the opener at Santa Anita on Friday is 10:40 PT.
2013 Breeders’ Cup Television Schedule
Friday, November 1 4-8 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday, November 2 3:30-8 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday, November 2 8-9 p.m. NBC
(All times eastern)
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the Friday and Saturday card from Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2.
The Breeders’ Cup offers 14 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Santa Anita Park.