Sunday’s $300,000 Nearctic (G1) at Woodbine is the final of 67 Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races, and the countdown to racing’s championship two-day event has begun.
A wide-open field of 11 will line up in the Nearctic, with the winner earning automatic starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). The Breeders’ Cup is Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park.
The final race of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge is a tough one. The race features four runners that ship north including my top pick Mr. Online, who is based at Delaware Park with trainer Mike Pino and is coming off a game second to Ben’s Cat in the Laurel Dash.
The best of the locals appears to be Excaper (3-1) for the Ian Black barn. The four-year-old colt landed outside of the exacta for the first time in seven starts over the local turf course when he finished sixth in the Woodbine Mile (G1).
The busiest guy in the paddock will be trainer Reade Baker who sends out a trio of runners in Bear Tough Tiger (12-1), Fatal Bullet (20-1) and Bear No Joke (15-1)
Let’s head out to Woodbine for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Woodbine Race 8 The Nearctic G1 Post time 4:24 ET
8 Mr. Online 8-1
9 Excaper 3-1
7 Strong Impact 8-1
4 Longhunter 7-2
Mr. Online invades from Delaware Park for the Mike Pino barn and the gelding is coming off a career top speed fig in a tough neck loss last out in the Laurel Dash at six furlongs. The gelding headed for home with the lead but drifted outward inside the final furlong and was nailed late by Ben’s Cat, who is a 14-time winner on turf and earner of $1.6 million for the King T. Leatherbury barn. Our top pick was claimed for just $30,000 back in March and the sharp outfit has him at the top of his game. The gelding is no stranger to Woodbine, breaking his maiden and passing the Alw-1 level over the turf here.
Excaper cuts back from a mile where last out the colt dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish sixth in the Woodbine Mile (G1) which was won by Wise Dan. The runner up was Za Approval, who won the Knickerbocker (G3) at Belmont Park on Saturday. The colt has never run at six furlongs but both of his trips at seven were solid, a win against optional claimers and a runner up finish in the Play King (G2). The colt has landed in the exacta in six of his seven trips over the Woodbine turf and has racked up a half million in earnings, but is still seeking his first stakes win.
Strong Impact invades from New York for the Bruce Brown barn. The gelding was off to a poor start last out in the Turf Amazon at Parx and after being outrun early made a mild late run to finish sixth. Two back over yielding footing he ran well in a third place finish in the Troy at 5 ½ furlongs at Saratoga. The winner of that race was Hogy, who won the Presque Isle Mile in his next outing. The seven-year-old earned his career top speed fig three back in his 34th career start in his win in the Fiddlers Patriot. He is better than he showed last out and we’ll have to overlook Alex Solis in the irons. The jock has been poison to our bankroll at Belmont Park.
WIN: Mr. Online to win at 5-1 or better.
EXACTA: 8,9 / 4,7,8,9
TRIFECTA: 8,9 / 4,7,8,9 / 4,7,8,9,11
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.