By Jude “Pontiff of the Pick Four” Feld
Race 4 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)
NOBLE TUNE has been perfect in both his starts. He owns a nice turn of foot and no doubt will benefit from a fast pace. He has trained well for this race and should be right there at the wire. KNOW MORE has always had a touch of class. The Doug O’Neill-trained juvenile will try the turf for the first time, but his polytrack races at Del Mar were excellent and he has the pedigree to make the transition. DUNDONNELL is the top European invader on recent form. He hails from the powerful Juddmonte Stable and they didn’t ship him to California to get hot and dirty. BROWN ALMIGHTY has been running big races on the turf all summer. He should be on all your exotic tickets at his ridiculous 20-1 morning line. DRY SUMMER has beaten both Power Broker and Title Contender and cannot be ignored in his return to turf.
Race 5 – Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1)
GROUPIE DOLL has the perfect style for this race and is in razor-sharp form. She handles dirt and synthetics with equal aplomb and should be ready to pounce on the leaders turning for home. Her blowout was excellent too, indicating her fondness for Santa Anita’s main track. DUST AND DIAMONDS has gotten hot at the right time of year. Her paired 105 Brisnet speed figures from her last two starts put her square in the hunt and there is little early speed to challenge her. MUSICAL ROMANCE is the defending champion. She has been thoughtfully prepared for this race by trainer Bill Kaplan and may be overlooked in the wagering. The Florida-bred star has a similar style to the top choice and could be effective with a good trip.
Race 6 – The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
EMCEE is trying two turns for the first time – a tall order in light of the quality competition. He has shown the ability to rate in his sprints, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has given him some solid, easy breezes leading up to this race to help him relax in the early stages and carry his speed. SHACKLEFORD has had to fight with off tracks in his last two starts and he absolutely despises anything but terra firma. The Dale Romans trainee could rebound with a huge performance. TAPIZAR has run a couple of big races at Santa Anita and could be part of the trifecta in a very wide open heat.
Race 7 – The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)
UNBRIDLED’S NOTE should have won the King’s Bishop (G1) at Saratoga but was Leparouxed. He vindicated that loss with a victory in the inaugural Eddie D. (G3) over this downhill course on opening day of the current meet. He continues to train well and should be right there at the wire. BRIDGETOWN seems to have the perfect style for the downhill run. He should be able to relax more the first part of the race and have a much bigger finish. His Woodford (G3) victory at Keeneland was solid and he has trained well over this course too. TALE OF A CHAMPION impressed when he won Calder’s Turf Sprint Stakes in July. An ill-advised try in the Del Mar Mile (G2) was followed up by a good effort versus the top pick in the Eddie D. He is a great exotics tool and will be a huge number. If you throw out STARSPANGLEDBANNER’s two races on heavy and soft turf his form looks pretty solid. He boasts a massive 125 Racing Post rating making him a must-use in all exotic wagers.
Race 8 – The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)
CAPO BASTONE made a premature move in the Front Runner (G1) and subsequently tired in the drive. That was his initial two-turn event, so he should benefit from the experience and conditioning. SHANGHAI BOBBY has destroyed his competition on the East Coast. He has yet to travel two turns but seems to have the relaxed and athletic style to handle that test. The Todd Pletcher trainee could be a very special colt. TITLE CONTENDER exits a maiden victory and takes quite a step up here. The son of Pulpit earned a massive 100 Brisnet speed figure when he broke his maiden for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and could be this good.
Race 9 – The Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)
ST. NICHOLAS ABBEY has been facing the best company in the world with some degree of success. He is the defending champion in this race and used the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) as a springboard to victory last year. POINT OF ENTRY rides a string of three Grade 1 victories into this race. His Hall of Fame jockey, John Velasquez fits him like a glove and the dynamic duo should be able to work out a great trip. SHARETA also exits the Arc (G1). She has had an excellent year and a victory here would be the icing on the cake.
Race 10 – The Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1)
COIL ran a smasher in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). He has looked great in the mornings since and should run another big one this afternoon. FAST BULLET is undefeated in two starts. He is coming off a very long layoff but has been training quickly for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. JIMMY CREED is a talented sprinter who finished just three-quarters of a length behind Coil last time out. He is a major contender. AMAZOMBIE is the defending champion and should improve off his last race, which he probably needed. CAPITAL ACCOUNT also has talent and comes out of the common race where he ran second. The local horses hold all the cards in this event.
Race 11 – The Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)
WISE DAN is probably the best older horse in North America. He can beat you at any time, on any surface and at most distances. He’s been virtually flawless for over a year, but he has talented foes EXCELEBRATION and ANIMAL KINGDOM to fear. The former owns three victories in his most recent six outings. He has been whipped by the great Frankel in the other three and now finds himself in the unenviable position to run down WISE DAN. Kentucky Derby winner ANIMAL KINGDOM has had an injury filled year, but has been training in “beast mode” for this race. His trainer, H. Graham Motion, is the master at having horses in peak form off layoffs and will no doubt have his stable star at a fever pitch here. OBVIOUSLY will make the lead and is the lone speed in the race. He is a tough customer to get by and should not be ignored.
Race 12 – The Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)
GAME ON DUDE has never lost a race at Santa Anita. He’s won two Grade 1 events this year and continues to train like a top-class gelding should. MUCHO MACHO MAN is a colt with upside. A June foal, he has been facing elders for his entire career, but may have finally caught up to them in seasoning and condition. His best races are fresh, so a solid performance could be in the offing. FORT LARNED has a nice pressing style for this race. If the Ian Wilkes trainee can get the distance, he could be right there at the wire. RON THE GREEK loves the distance and the surface. He will need to rebound from his dismal effort in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) but returning to Santa Anita, where he won the Big ‘Cap (G1), enhances those chances.
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