Super Saturday Wagering: Stars Come Out in Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races

Shackleford, shown here winning the Met Mile (G1) is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line for Saturday's Kelso (G1). © Cheryl Quigley |

It is Super Saturday at Belmont Park, with six Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races, a $500,000 guaranteed all graded stakes Pick 4, and a $96,841 Pick 6 carryover.

Toss in five Grade 1 races at Santa Anita Park later this afternoon, all Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, and we have a great preview for racing’s championship two day event, which is less than five weeks away.

Let’s take a look at what is coming up this afternoon at Belmont Park and Santa Anita Park:

Belmont Park

The Beldame: The top two finishers from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1), Royal Delta and It’s Tricky will square off for the fifth time, with the  winner likely to be the betting favorite for this year’s Lades’ Classic. The duo are the top two betting favorites right now in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic Future Odds.

The Kelso: Of the six stakes this is the lone Grade 2, but it drew a Grade 1 caliber field that includes Woodward (G1) winner To Honor and Serve and Met Mile (G1) winner Shackleford.

The Vosburgh:  A speedy group of ten will line up led by the top two finishers of the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1), Poseidon’s Warrior and Justin Phillip. Sean Avery, who has popped a pair of 112 Beyers in his career is ready to fire his best in his second start off the layoff.

The Flower Bowl: Four of the nine started their careers overseas including Dream Peace, who was the runner up in the Diana (G1) in her last start. She now makes her first start for trainer Chad Brown. Ballston Spa (G2) winner Zagora and Beverly D. (G2) victor I’m a Dreamer are the main threats to the Brown trainee.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic: The race drew a small field of six with Little Mike looking to wire the field in his first start at 1 ½ miles. Point of Entry is seeking his third Grade 1 victory in a row, coming off wins in the Man O’ War and Sword Dancer.

Jockey Club Gold Cup: The top four finishers from the Whitney Handicap (G1) are back, with Ron the Greek looking to turn the tables after being the beaten favorite last out, having to settle for second behind Fort Larned. Last year’s Belmont (G1) winner Ruler On Ice and Travers (G1) winner Stay Thirsty are both going to go off at generous odds.  Ron the Greek is sitting at 10-1 in the 2012 Breeders Cup Classic Future Odds.

Santa Anita Park

The Chandelier: The Bob Baffert trained Executiveprivilege is undefeated in four starts, all on the fake stuff, and now goes two turns for the first time. She is going to be a short price, and if she handles a route of ground, she is going to be the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

The Frontrunner: This is one of the trickiest races of the day, with four coming out of the Del Mar Futurity which was won by Rolling Fog, who is out of training. Gabriel Charles and Capo Bastone both had less than stellar trips and look likely to move forward with the stretch out.

The Zenyatta: Love and Pride ships went for the Todd Pletcher barn after beating Royal Delta and It’s Tricky in the Personal Ensign (G1). She is the fourth choice on the morning line and will be a good barometer on which coast has the best ladies.

The Rodeo Drive: Marketing Mix came up a tough neck short last out in the Beverly D. and likely geos off as the betting favorite. However, the race drew a big field of 13, and Yellow Ribbon (G2) runner City to City may be worth a look, as well as the speedy Let’s Go Cheyenne.

The Awesome Again:  Game On Dude is the 3-5 morning line favorite and for the first time in nine starts will not have Chantal Sutherland in the irons. After a runner up finish to Dullahan in the Pacific Classic (G1), hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert gave Chantal the boot, with Rafael Bejarano getting the call.

Saturday’s Best Plays Report includes my selections and analysis for all eleven Breeders’ Cup Challenge races.

Let’s head out to Belmont Park for the Kelso, which is the first race of today’s Pick 6:

Belmont Park Race 6 The Kelso Handicap G2 (Post time3:30 ET)

8 Pacific Ocean   15-1

6 Shackleford   2-1

5 To Honor and Serve   8-5

4 Tapizar   6-1

Analysis: Pacific Ocean is one of four in here sent out by the Tricky Rick Dutrow barn and probably one or two of them may scratch out of here. Our top pick is going to be a decent price in here and with his best he can be in the mix here. He exits the Forego (G1) where he set the early fractions while down along a dead rail and a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers, tiring to finish fifth. Two back the gelding won the James Marvin (G3) at the Spa in god time and he earned a career top winning the Vernon Underwood (G3) over polytrack. He stretches out to a mile here and speed has fared very well over the main track here at today’s distance. He gets a five pound weight break from the two logical favorites in here and if he gets the jump and speed is holding he is going to be around late. He has enough pedigree to handle the extra ground and has a strong off track pedigree and there is at least the potential we could still see a wet track.

Shackleford chased the early pace from the inside and faded to finish eighth last out in the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1) at the Spa, catching a dull rail and a surface that was not kind to speed that day. The cut back to six furlongs last out just did not make much sense to me. He won the Met Mile (G1) two back over the main track here. He was supposed to go in the Forego (G1) but came up with a cough and missed the race. He figures to bounce back with a better effort here and I like the stretch out to a mile. He should get a good trip sitting just off the pace. He has a solid off track pedigree but has not run very well in three starts over off going.

To Honor and Serve tracked the early pace, took over the lead in the stretch and battled on gamely while drifting outward to hold on by a neck to win the Woodward (G1) at the Spa. It was a nice bounce back after checking in a disappointing fourth in the Suburban (G2) as the beaten chalk. The colt has won 8 of 15 career starts and had a two race win streak snapped by Shackleford in the Met Mile three back. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and has run well at today’s distance.


WIN: #8 to win at 8-1 or better.

EX: 6,8 / 4,5,6,8

TRI: 6,8 / 4,5,6,8 / 3,4,5,6,8

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