Wide Open Breeders’ Cup a Puzzle

It has been a trying week emotionally leading up the Breeders’ Cup, but all we can do is move on and hope for safe trips for everyone. What we’re trying to do here is look for some live longshots to make things more exciting. ~ Steve Haskin

Wide Open Breeders’ Cup a Puzzle

By Steve Haskin


With the way things have been going this past week let’s cut right to the chase before we lose more horses, especially in the Classic. And we will start off with the Classic, which has seen the defections of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers, and Haskell winners in less than a week. With the loss of Arcangelo we no longer have a horse in the entire Breeders’ Cup who would be assured of the Horse of the Year title with a victory regardless of what anyone else did.  And if Cody’s Wish and Up to the Mark both get beat we have no horse, even with a victory, who look to be deserving of the award.


From day one of last year’s Derby Rankings, ZANDON was never ranked lower than No. 2, and went into the Derby as my No. 1 ranked horse. I also wrote about him in my horses to watch “Sleepers” column after he broke his maiden as a 2-year-old. I just loved the way he did it and the class he showed. That’s how high I have always been on this colt. And now here he is two years later in the Breeders’ Cup Classic coming off a wake-up victory in the Woodward Stakes following a frustrating string of second and third-place finishes, all in major stakes, including five Grade 1’s.

He still is an imposing sight physically, with his jet black coat and his classy demeanor, and even with the defections of Arcangelo, Mage, and the ill-fated Geaux Rocket Ride and Frankie Dettori on his back for the first time he still will be a good price, with 12-1 morning odds and most people feeling he is more likely to just back up the exactas and trifectas. But I still have confidence in him and believe he is capable of winning with the right pace setup. He is the only horse in the field with four negative Thoro-Graph numbers and they were in his last four starts.

He is going to need a good solid and contentious pace, so it is important that Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown hook up early, with White Abarrio putting enough pressure on whoever cracks first. The key is whether his impressive Woodward victory has given him the confidence to build on it. I know the talent is there. And let’s hope Dettori believes in him because he can work wonders on a horse.

WHITE ABARRIO has had a couple of work hiccups, but he’s been at Santa Anita since mid-September and his last work was terrific. And if he comes even close to duplicating his Whitney victory and that huge “negative-6 ½” Thoro-Graph number I doubt anyone can beat him, even at 10 furlongs. He has really developed physically and has gotten much stronger this year, and his early trainer at the farm, Edilberto Herrera, said he has turned into a “monster.”

So I am sticking with Zandon and will be playing him with White Abarrio and two hard-knocking older horses, CLAPTON and PROXY. I am also betting Proxy to win, as I find him way under the radar and I know he will love the 1 ¼ miles. I remember him from the Derby Rankings days when he would always lug out and cost himself any shot of winning. Mike Stidham has done a great job with him and he is so much more professional now. He was beaten a neck in the 10-furlong Santa Anita Handicap, breaking from post 9 of 9 and going very wide turning for home, and was beaten a nose in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup, getting caught behind a crawling six furlongs in 1:14. His most amazing victory came in the Oaklawn Handicap when he looked like he was going nowhere at the five-sixteenths pole, but found his best stride after again rallying very wide and ran down closers Last Samurai, Stiletto Boy, and Senor Buscador with a blazing :11 2/5 final furlong, earning a strong “negative-3” Thoro-Graph number, second only to White Abarrio in the Whitney. Throw out his Stephen Foster, as he had to take up sharply on the first turn and then go nine-wide at the top of the stretch. This is also a horse who is versatile enough to win the Monmouth Cup wire to wire and the Grade 1 Clark Handicap tracking the leader the whole way in second. He is ridden by Joel Rosario, one of the strongest finishers in the game and should be coming at the end.

Clapton is only one of three horses in the field to have run three negative Thoro-Graph numbers and continues to improve every race.  He also has been compromised by wide trips, but always is closing and can certainly pick up a piece of it if he gets a good pace.

At least I feel I know all these older horses, unlike the lightly raced 3-year-olds Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown, both of whom could retire at the end of year, just like the majority of top 3-year-olds. But at least Arabian Knight’s owner has shown he likes to see his horses run.

The big question is what to do with the two Japanese horses, USHBA TESORO and DERMA SOTOGAKE, for whom I have a great deal of respect. The former, winner of the Dubai World Cup, can easily win this race if he handles the starting gate OK after having several issues with it. A winner of three of his first 22 starts, he finally was put on the dirt and has been near unbeatable since. He can stalk the pace or come from last and has looked fantastic in the morning.  He moves so smoothly, including his lead changes, and I love the way he lowers his head and reaches out with great determination, while on a loose rein. I have a feeling he is going to be bet heavily, especially with all the Japanese money pouring in, so he will be too low to bet to win. Derma Sotogake was a hot commodity at the Kentucky Derby and ran big after a terrible trip, but hasn’t run since, so he is more of an unknown. I will have to see their odds before deciding what to do with them. You cannot ignore Japanese horses anymore. They are raised and trained the right way and are happy horses who get to spend a lot of time outside their stall.

So it is Zandon to win at double-digit odds, a big saver on Proxy, and a smaller saver on Clapton as a mega-bomb. And I will play Zandon, White Abarrio, and Proxy in the exotics with Clapton and Ushba Tesoro and let the 3-year-olds beat me. I will let Derma Sotogake’s odds determine what I do with him; it’s just too early to commit with him. But not knowing what he’s been doing at home makes him a bit sneaky in here. I just don’t like going more than five horses in a trifecta box.


I recently wrote a column proclaiming UP TO THE MARK as the best horse in America. I still believe that, but as for betting the Turf there are four European monsters to deal with, and he still is listed at only 5-1 on the morning line. I believe he has the turn of foot to match any European, but he still has to prove it at 1 ½ miles. I have enough faith in him to bet him on top of Auguste Rodin, King of Steel, Mostahdaf, and Onesto, as he should get a good setup from Auguste Rodin’s two pacesetters, Broome, who was narrowly beaten in the 2021 BC Turf, and Bolshoi Ballet, who has won two stakes in America. But if there is a concern it is the longer distance against an exceptional group of Europeans. Most believe he should be in the Mile and he would seem to have a much better chance to win that race against a less talented field at a distance at which he is already proven. But I feel he can win the Turf because he’s so gifted and I really don’t know what his best distance is.

So I am going all in on Up to the Mark on top in the exotics and will put my win bet at a price on ONESTO, a fast-closing third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe who also won the Grand Prix de Paris last year. The French horses always have that big turn of foot and this colt should be flying late at a good price. With only three starts this year, the Arc was the perfect prep for the BC Turf. I must admit, however, that my heart lies with the old Amazon mare WAR LIKE GODDESS. I don’t know if she can handle these tough boys, but she has won back-to-back Joe Hirsch Turf Classics and has finished an unlucky third in the last two runnings of the BC Turf. Does she have one more big run in her? Let’s hope so. One fascinating horse is the Japanese-trained SHAHRYAR. Winner of the Japanese Derby, Dubai Sheema Classic, and a close second in the Japan Cup last year, he has run poorly in both his starts this year, so he is a bit of an enigma. He did have throat surgery and it is encouraging that they brought him, so they must feel it worked, For 15-1 you get a classy Japanese horse who may be ready to return to his best form, I’ll take a shot here along with Onesto.

Another reason for rooting for Up to the Mark is that he could very well lock up a well-deserved Horse of the Year title with a victory. And other than Cody’s Wish there is no one else to even consider right now.


This race has pretty much fallen apart with the tragic loss of Practical Move and the defection of Algiers, leaving a field of seven and only one true speed horse, Zozos, who should be able to get a pretty easy lead unless Bob Baffert decides to send Preakness winner National Treasure from the outside post or they send Skippylongstocking, who did get away with slow fractions on the front end in the Charles Town Classic at 1 1/8 miles, but neither looks to have Zozos’ speed going a mile. What could help is that it is a two-turn mile this year and Zozos seems to be best at one turn. That of course brings us to CODY’S WISH, who is training up a storm and looks great physically. But at his odds I couldn’t bet him, especially considering he is a far better horse going one turn. Even though he won the Dirt Mile last year going two turns he just got up in the final stride. I admit I hate the Dirt Mile being two turns, which cheapens it and takes away the whole challenge that a flat mile presents. I probably should just watch this race and root for Cody, but if the odds are enticing enough I likely will bet on STAGE RAIDER and CHARGE IT, who can be very dangerous on his best day when he doesn’t lug in and has his mind on running. I feel blinkers off is going tto help him, as he was a better horse without them earlier in his career, but needed to mature and focus more.. He did win the one-turn mile Dwyer last year by a staggering 23 lengths, but he has been better going long, as he showed winning the 1 ¼-mile Suburban this year in fast time. He is best when he is on or just off the lead, but we’ll see if he has the early speed now going this short. I will gamble on his class. Although Charge It has a class edge he is more of a guess than Stage Raider, who has improved dramatically since going to Cheri DeVaux, and his stong second to Zozos in the one-mile Ack Ack Stakes sets him up for a big effort, and he could be a huge overlay in a relatively weak field.

Because Cody’s Wish may be vulnerable, as many handicappers believe, and this is not a strong field, I am going to expand the comments on this race  I have to mention one horse who is also easy to root for that is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. who unfortunately had White Abarrio taken away from him because of a decision by Churchill Downs to ban him that has since been overturned. That horse is SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING, whose last 12 starts have been run at 11 different racetracks in eight different states. Along the way he has won three graded stakes on fast and sloppy tracks and finished third in the Belmont Stakes and Wood Memorial, both times to Mo Donegal. In winning the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream he earned a 106 Beyer speed figure. Yes, he is another longshot, but in a seven-horse field with a lot of questions, who knows?


I doubt there are many racing fans in the U.S.who won’t be rooting for the 7-year-old warrior CASA CREED,who will be running in his fourth Breeders’ Cup – three in the Mile and one in the Turf Sprint. However, he will have to deal with Godolphin’s brilliant filly Mawj, winner of the 1,000 Guineas and the recent Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland; Japan’s champion miler Songline, a powerful closer who actually has split her two meetings with Casa Creed in Saudi Arabia; and Godolphin’s Master of the Seas, winner of the Woodbine Mile and beaten a nose by Up to the Mark in the Keeneland Turf Mile.At 15-1 you have to give GINA ROMANTICA a shot the way she is improving, both visually and her speed figures. And she ran faster that Into the Mark in their respective races at Keeneland last out. Also on te European front there is a big question is whether Kelina can duplicate her 27-1 upst of Kinross in the recent group 1 Prix de la Foret at seven furlongs.

But all that aside there are two monster longshots to consider to pick up a piece of it. One is the Mark Casse-trained LUCKY SCORE, who is actually better sprinting but has closed well in his two starts at a mile to finish third. Casse is always dangerous and I like horses coming off that big sprawling course at Woodbine. And this horse has finished in the money in his last nine starts. Another huge longshot that bears watching is MORE THAN LOOKS if he can overcome the 13 post. He has a dynamite closing kick and blew his opponents away in the recent Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs. I don’t know if he’s classy enough to handle this field, but he did look terrific in his most recent work at Keeneland. Again, these two are just mentioned because they should be at least 30-1 if you’re looking for two bombs to fill in your exotics. As for me I’ll be rooting for Casa Creed and will play him to win if the price is right.


This race is simple on paper. You have LOCKED and TIMBERLAKE from the east and PRINCE OF MONACO and MUTH from the west, or Pletcher and Cox vs. Baffert. Then just throw in a couple of vintage wines for good measure – THE WINE STEWARD from the east and WINE ME UP from the west. The first four are Grade 1 winners and the two wine horses are Grade 1 placed. If you want to look to the future, Wine Me Up ran a sensational second to Muth in the American Pharoah coming off only one sprint and finished 5 1/2 lengths ahead of the third horse after cutting out a :46 2/5 and 1:10 1/5 pace His pedigee is all stamina, so watch out for this guy, if not Fiday then later on. This is a Derby horse in the making.

But wait a minute, what is FIERCENESS doing in this race coming off a 20-length drubbing in the Champagne Stakes? Is this a Pletcher decision or another Mike Repole call? Either way, if you just focus on his mind-blowing 11 ¼-length maiden romp and 95 Beyer figure and his impressive final work for the Juvenile and throw out his no show performance in the Champagne, in which he broke horribly and just plodded around there in the slop, then you might want to consider him at odds he surely will never go off at again. In the first Derby Future Wager, which closed on Thursday, he was made 99-1 and by Wednesday was 28-1. Yes, Repole actually bred this colt and would love to see him in the Juvenile, and even if he did make the call that doesn’t mean this colt doesn’t have a shot if he runs back to that stunning maiden score.

I loved Timberlake’s Champagne victory, in which he looked so powerful I see great things for him in the future, and Locked’s gutsy win in the Breeder’s Futurity after racing very wide the whole race showed his class, but Fierceness is the intriguing price play at what could be a huge overlay if he is anywhere near as good as he was in his debut.


I’m going to speed through the races that don’t grab me, and the Distaff is pretty much about the three speed horses, Idiomatic, Randomized, and Adele Manor, and if they will set it up for Clairiere. Or can the 3-year-olds Pretty Mischievous and Wet Paint make an impact with late runs? To be honest I don’t have a clue other than it should be a fascinating race. So if I was forced to make a bet I will of course make it on SEARCH RESULTS, another who can run with anyone on her best day and who has finished in the money in 15 of her 16 career starts, eight of them Grade 1 stakes, and she can stalk any kind of pace from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Along the way she has won six stakes at 3, 4, and 5. She should be a good price in here. But if CLAIRIERE is ignored and is over 6-1 you have to play her after two close defeats in the last two Distaffs, and with a contentious pace to set up her big closing kick. She surely is one who deserves to win this race. 


Good luck beating the Euros Inspiral, Warm Heart, and Lumiere Rock, all top-class fillies, the first two championship caliber. Yes we have the speedy frontrunner In Italian stretching out in distance, the Japanese filly Win Marilyn looking to regain her top form from last year when she won the group 1 Hong Kong Vase; Lindy, the French 1,000 Guineas runner-up; the consistent McKulick; and several other classy fillies, but one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen this year was by DIDIA. The Argentine-bred mare has won five of her six starts since coming from Argentina, where she won her last three starts. She has run big at Colonial Downs, Fair Grounds, Churchill Downs, Belmont and most recently at Santa Anita where she outkicked and then drew away from the powerful closer Anisette in the Rodeo Drive, running the 1 ¼ miles in 1:59 3/5 with a sensational final quarter in :22 2/5. That was all I needed to see to convince me this mare was special. Whatever price she is it should be an overlay. And I am also going to bet on LUMIERE ROCK despite her outside post. This Joseph O’Brien-trained filly has never run a bad race, has good tactical speed, and I loved her close third-place finish in the Prix de l’Opera, which has produced a number of Breeders’ Cup winners.


The top choices look too strong and although there are some talented price horses in the field none really stand out. On the surface it looks to be all about Elite Power, Speed Boat Beach, Dr. Schivel, and Gunite. Even the Cal-bred The Chosen Vron is fast and tough and has won eight in a row. This is one I will probably stay away from, especially only being on TVG and Peacock.But if I like what I see on the board, HOIST THE GOLD and NAKATOMI finished necks apart for third and fourth in the grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita behind the brilliant Taiba. They are probably a bit better at seven furlongs, but they are coming off a close one-two finish in the Phoenix Staks at Keeneland in 1:09 flat, in which both horses looked very sharp, so this could set them up for a big effort here at a price, especially if we get a fast pace. If works mean anything Speed Boat Beach’s six-furlong drill from the gate was sensational.


Last year’s winner Goodnight Olive and the sometimes brilliant Society look to be the standouts here. The Baffert-trained Eda had her seven-race winning streak stopped last time out by Kirstenbosch, who has shown big improvement with blinkers and is a major come-from-behind threat for John Sadler, especially when she gets a :43 3/5 half to run at as she did in her last start. But it is going to take a huge effort to beat Goodnight Olive. If her opponents have a ray of hope it is her drawing the rail, which can be troublesome going seven furlongs.


Because we have no idea how good she is I wont even try to beat Tamara, although I feel Candied is a nice filly and should run well. But Frizette winner JUST F Y I is a potential star who will have to overcome the 12 post. If she can save ground I give her a good shot, and she may be an overlay with all the money on Tamara. What I will do looking for a huge price in the exotics is go with two bombs, the maiden WHERE’S MY RING and the nose maiden winner ESPRIT ENCHANTE to pick up some of the pieces in the stretch. I’m not sure ow good a race the Chandalier Stakes was, but if you are looking for a rare Todd Pletcher longshot to get in the picture, runner-up SCALABLE, who was sent to Santa Anita after her maiden race at Saratoga, found another gear late in the race to finish second in only her second career start. This could indicate it was a weak race, but what if it wasn’t? After Tamara and Candied, all Beyer numbers ae in the same ballpark.

I am pretty much leaving the juvenile and sprint turf races alone, although I will play both of the Christophe Clement runners, BIG INVASION and ROSES FOR DEBRA at double-digit odds. Big Invasion will be flying late and throw out Roses For Debra’s defeat in the Turf Monster run over soft going. Her four straight wins before that were brilliant. But with some fast Euros in there it’s like picking out of a hat. One angle is AESOP’S FABLES, who responded big-time with blinkers to finish a close third in the group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at 43-1 in an 18-horse field under 137 pounds. Aidan O’Brien said he’s a different horse with blinkers. If I have any revelations on the three juvenile turf races I will put them in the comments tomorrow. Right now I am looking at SHARDS in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at a price, LAUINE in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and AIR RECRUIT in the Juvenile Turf. But Aidan O’brien’s pair will be tough to beat.

Racing historian, author, and award-winning retired journalist for the Daily Racing Form and The Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame’s Media Roll of Honor in 2016. Known for his racing knowledge and insightful prose, he has been an exclusive contributor to since 2020.



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141 Responses to “Wide Open Breeders’ Cup a Puzzle”

  1. Discopartner says:

    For weeks, handicappers were hinting Elite Power, Goodnight Olive and Cody’s Wish would lose. They had lost a step or weren’t good enough around 2 turns, in CW’s case. The problem is, I listened to them, except I came back to Goodnight Olive. I didn’t follow the two sprinters’ careers very closely. I found their names hard to remember or connect with their pictures. Plus I believed Irad Ortiz was in a slump and maybe isn’t as good as I thought. But then when they raced, the horses were great and Irad didn’t mess up. Elite Power was awesome and has gotten little specific congratulations, just nods. It’s been done but it’s hard to get dual sprint victories. Goodnight Olive was incredible to see on the track, that dark bay coat stood out. She also won easily. I think Cody’s Wish would have won by more, but he hestitated a little when he pulled even, communing with his rival. Strictly speculating, no one would have beat him at the mile, the race would have been different with different entrants, or with a different pace. He indicated again he has the heart of a champion, as it’s hard to close on fast frontrunners at a mile, on a slow track. These three are all great and to repeat is a rare achievement.

  2. Lynda King says:

    Tamara had a small fracture in hind leg. No surgery needed. Going on vacation with plans to come back in spring per Mr Mandella.

  3. Lynda King says:

    2023 BC Trivia

    Elite Power 111
    Cody’s Wish 107
    Auguste Rodin 106
    White Abarrio 106
    Fierceness 105
    Inspiral 105
    Master of The Seas 105
    Nobals 102
    Goodnight Olive 98
    Idiomatic 96
    Salesman 92
    Seal Team 90
    Hard to Justify 85
    Just F Y I 79

    Aiden O’Brien is in a 3 way tie with 2nd highest total BC wins. As of Saturday he leads with the most BC turf race wins, 7.

    Three horses won back to back BC races; Cody’s Wish, Elite Power and Good Night Olive

    Secretariat appears in the pedigrees of 6 of 9 Breeder’s Cup winners on Saturday. He appears in the pedigrees of all 5 Breeder’s Cup winners on Friday.

    Cody’s Wish will stand in 2024 at Darley America , fee set at 75,000. Proxy will also stand at Darley America, fee set at 25,000

    Curlin leads sires with three BC winners for two years in a row. In the 40 year history of the BC no sire has had more winners.

    As to HOY. In 2016 California Chrome won his second HOY. That same year Arrogate, who came in 2nd in the voting won 5 of 6 races including the Breeder’s Cup Classic and the Travers in which he broke the long held record time by General Assembly.

    Just my opinion but while White Abarrio made an amazing comeback after placed with Mr Dutrow, there are at least 3 other horses more deserving of HOY consideration.

    • Discopartner says:

      HOTY = White Abarrio.

    • Matthew W says:

      I’m a big believer in classic distance, White Abarrio’s win being much bigger than every other race with the exception of the Turf, which is also the classic distance—had Up to the Mark won it would be a close vote, for me, but White Abarrio did win, I give him my vote ..

    • Gloria S says:

      Thank you so much for the salient hat tip to Secretariat! His legacy carries on proudly.

  4. Jiffy says:

    This weekend reminded me again why I have loved racing for 60 years and will continue to love it in spite of tragedies, problems, and issues. This was about as good as you can get. I didn’t bet, but I did make selections in each race. On Friday I had just one winner but that was more than enough. Fierceness was the horse I cared most about–I really wanted him to prove he was as good as his first race and not as bad as his second. I was thrilled to watch him blow away the best two-year-olds out there, and I look forward to seeing more of that form next year. On Saturday I had five winners–not a great achievement because they were almost all favorites, but I still had the pleasure of watching them win. Nobody has to elaborate on the emotional impact of seeing Cody’s Wish win his last race, and White Abarrio’s win was also very appealing. I was pleased to see Elite Power and Goodnight Olive make it two in a row, and I was happy to see Irad get the Shoemaker Award–he earned it. I just found it a wonderful Breeders Cup weekend, and I’m grateful to the horses and people who made it possible.

    • Davids says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Jiffy. Although the winners circle was a rarity for my favorites I thoroughly enjoyed the carnival, a lot more than many I’ve watched beforehand and I’ve seen them all.

      I was thrilled that White Abarrio finally reached the potential he showed last year but even more so seeing Proxy flying home for third. What a pity US racing has been reducing the length of races over the years to compensate for the lack of stamina in the overall heard. Alas, Zandon didn’t fire but you can’t have it all.

      Bill Mott’s success was another highlight and Aidan O’Brien’s conviction that Auguste Rodin would shine at Santa Anita. Inspiral flashing home as she always does was sine tingling to watch. Racing at its best.

      Ten out of ten for Santa Anita and the Breeders’ Cup institution.

      • Todd Vaughn says:

        Though difficult to handicap, the European turf horses are thrilling to watch. Bill Mott has long been the most dangerous man at the breeders’ cup. I believe he deserves the Eclipse this year for the campaigns of Elite Power and Cody’s Wish. If one of those horses gets the HOY instead of WA, i believe Elite Power is far more deserving, emotions aside.

        • Davids says:

          Todd, although I would agree with you that it’s more difficult to handicap European racing, than US racing, it’s even harder to handicap Australian racing. The tendency here to slowly maneuver around the track then suddenly bursting home on the final turn leaves a lot of ‘things’ up in the air. The over use of the whip is abhorrent as well.

          On returning to Melbourne a few years back now, memories flooded back on the frustration of the more tactics involved with Australian racing by jockeys. Nonetheless, the thrill of racing wins out anyway.

          • Todd Vaughn says:

            I was not aware of the whip issues in Australia, though the big fields appear chaotic. Most of the European horses i’ve seen racing here seem to be willing finishers, but racing has always had to deal with the undercurrent of human nature, which sometimes is not positive.

            • Davids says:

              Here are the universal limitations of whip use in Australia:

              “The rules are pretty simple. Jockeys are only permitted to use the whip on five occasions before the 100-metre mark of a race, and not in consecutive strides, with unfettered use of the permitted in the final 100 metres of the race.” The jockeys flail the whips like windmills during the last 100 meters.

              In France the jockeys are allowed to strike only 4 times throughout a race; Flat racing in England six times is the limit; Flat racing in Ireland 7 is the limit in a race.

      • Matthew W says:

        Ryan Moore seemed depressed, in his interview after The Turf, talking about his bad trip…hey guy you WON!

  5. John Goggin says:

    Thoughts and confessions….
    Oh well on the idea of home field advantage….I was incorrect with that projection.
    Santa Anita has got to be the most beautiful horse racing track in the world…on Friday you had the ‘robbins egg blue sky’, the those palm trees reaching to the heavens, the dusting on the top of the San Gabriel Mountains and the crushed red brick in the paddock area and infield along with mid 80’s weather.
    Saturday the high clouds came in with filtered sunshine…loved the drone shot of downtown Pasadena off in the distance whereas I spent selling the Pasadena Star News and the San Gabriel Tribune along Colorado Boulevard during the Rose Parade decades ago.
    Most inpressive in my opinion was Fierceness on Friday. Does the BC have a mandatory dress code because Mike Ropole probably needed to lose the coat and tie….his facial perspiration had me reaching for an ice cold beer.
    Didn’t like the format of the Classic followed by two other BC races when the national tv went to college football games. Always liked having the Classic as the end race of the day. But I’m not in charge.
    Simply amazed at how the European grass horses have dominated the American grass horses. They are the best. Period.
    Finally, question of the day…if National Treasure would have hung on to win the Dirt Mile over Cody’s Wish would he (NT) have been DQ’d?

  6. Matthew W says:

    Five Euro winners, Nine Saratoga winners….one Japan big finish—-zero western winners it seems track played fair, the best horses won…

    • Eliza says:

      And of the five European horses, two were sired by stallions standing in Japan: Auguste Rodin (Deep Impact) and Nobals (Noble Mission).

      White Abarrio’s sire, Race Day, was exported to Korea, where he stands for $5000.

      Curlin and Justify had two winners each, which is nice.

      Is it just me, or did there seem to be quite a number of stakes this year, graded and black-type, whose winners had GB or IRE after their names?

  7. Ms Blacktype says:

    Well, that was fun! I enjoyed all of the races, and there were so many deserving winners. I had a surprising amount of success parlaying three- and four-horse boxed exactas into winning results, if only on paper. (Who knew a four-horse boxed exacta was so cheap?) This may become my new betting strategy when I actually go to the track.

    Any opinions on whether White Abarrio will be horse of the year, or will there be blowback on Dutrow?

    • Todd Vaughn says:

      In my opinion, he deserves it, though Elite Power and Idiomatic have valid claims. If WA doesn’t get it, i don’t think Dutrow is the problem; having just two major wins is a problem. His two wins were kind of the “wow” moments of the year.

    • Lynda King says:

      IMHO, HOY will be between Idiomatoc, Elite Power and Cody’s Wish.
      Even though she did not run against the colts, she has been undefeated this year.
      Elite Power and Cody’s Wish each lost one race and they both won back to back Breederr”s Cup.

    • Davids says:

      Good question, Ms Blacktype. White Abarrio wins, arguably, the two most prestigious races in the US with comfortable ease and, as Todd mentions above, the two ‘wow’ moments of the year.

      Will there be blowback on Dutrow, I think yes. Who is the best racehorse in the US, White Abarrio by the margin he has won his last two races. Is Horse of the Year supposed to be the best racehorse or the horse with the best race record of the year? I’d go with the former.

      Oddly enough, some people were claiming Flightline shouldn’t have been voted Horse of the Year last year. Curiouser and curiouser…

    • Lynda King says:

      Correction: Idiomatic took 2nd in the Champagne.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I doubt we have ever had a Horse of the Year with only two stakes wins and who didntt win a stakes until August.

      • Ms Blacktype says:

        All worthwhile arguments. Problem is, White Abarrio was the only male showcased on the national NBC feed. Cody’s Wish ran in the FIRST race of the BC card, and Elite Power was relegated to Peacock and Fanduel after the Classic, despite the Sprint being one of the premiere BC races. As for Idiomatic, she’s won three Grade Is, but all against other fillies and mares. Cody’s Wish, with his three grade 1s and a Grade 2, fits the HOTY profile a bit better than either White Abarrio or Idiomatic. However, what if he loses the older male championship to White Abarrio? On paper, there is no clear winner for HOTY.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        I also believe UP TO THE MARK is the best horse in America … he almost defeated the best horse of Europe (albeit on Turf). The son of Not This Time deserves to be in the HOY conversation as the most accomplished this year…along with Idiomatic…

        Cody’s Wish, Dutrow’s redemption (yes Babeeee!) and the Japanese effort are good stories…

        • Davids says:

          Nelson, the best European horse is Ace Impact by quite a descent margin. Timeform ratings has Ace Impact on 133, Westover on 131, Hukum on 130.

          Auguste Rodin is on 129 with a slew of other horses.

          In the Cartier Racing Awards for Horse of the Year, Paddington is miles out in front with 172 points followed by Tahiyra on 132 points then Auguste Rodin on 128. Ace Impact only has 96 points.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            You are right about the European rankings… I meant almost beat one of the best 3-year-old in Europe (i.e. 1-1/2 mile horse) and defeated a nice group as well… to me four Grade One victories in Europe and America is a big deal …

            Anyway, let’s see how the experts see the Horse of the Year election…

            • Davids says:

              That’s right, Nelson. There is so much ‘politics’ involved with the awards these days. Timeform’s assessment has always been rock solid for me since I was a child so I bow to their judgement.

              Paddington has been spectacular this year but he’s nowhere near being what he could be next year which, unfortunately, we’ll never see.

  8. Terri Z says:

    The Great White Hope delivered a great Breeders Cup Classic win. It was redemption for the trainer and the horse. Irad Ortiz was overcome with tears after he won on White Abarrio. It was a Classic to remember.

  9. Todd Vaughn says:

    Great outcome in the Classic. Rick Dutrow had WA so ready to make that move into the turn, getting away from Derma S. Credit due to Irad, perfect. And a huge effort from Derma S, hard ridden from the 5/8 pole and kept coming.

    • Davids says:

      Exactly, Todd. I thought Proxy ran a credible race as well. Fantastic race and as you wrote Ortiz Jr rode a perfect race.

      • Todd Vaughn says:

        And good for Larry Rivelli in the turf sprint. One for the little guys. Two Phils was probably the best 3 year old, got unlucky with him.

  10. Nelson Maan says:

    The Great White Hope was indeed Great today…! Hope joyfully fulfilled!

  11. arlingtonfan says:

    None of my picks came in in the Classic, but White Abarrio was quite impressive. And how ’bout that Derma Sotogake!

  12. Lynda King says:

    Auguste Rodin!
    What a thrilling race.

  13. Davids says:

    Idiomatic wins the Distaff for the worldwide dominate family of Best In Show – stamina+!!

  14. Steve Haskin says:

    Surprised tto see Shirls Speight at 23-1

  15. Lynda King says:

    WOW Inspiral!

  16. arlingtonfan says:

    WHAT A RACE! What a wonderful finale to an inspiring career. I thought nothing could top his thrilling BC victory last year, but I was wrong!

    Cody’s Wish for HOTY!

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      I picked National Treasure but am delighted that Cody won — and finished the race safely, as did NT.

    • Todd Vaughn says:

      For what appeared to be a substandard field, the race was an epic. Cody’s Wish is not the horse he was, but did enough to win. Bill Mott and Junior Alvarado handled all the pressure of knowing Cody was not what he used to be, but got him there for the fairy tale ending. And a mature Bob Baffert understood the moment and appeared to handle a crushing head bob with class and stoicism, as far as i could tell.

  17. Lynda King says:

    Finally tears of joy.
    Cody’s Wish!!!!

  18. Matthew W says:

    Right after The Belmont I said a three year old would win The Classic….well Two Phils, Forte, Disarm, Arcangelo, Practical Move and Geaux Rocket Ride are all gone, it’s up to Arabian Knight, Saudi Crown and Dreamlike to fulfill my prediction….wow..

    • Matthew W says:

      Forgot Mage, making seven big ones that didn’t make the race…and Derma Sotogake one of four three year olds maybe should box them…..

      • Davids says:

        You can add Tapit Trice to the list. At least he’ll be running next year. I thought White Abarrio, Proxy, and Zandon would fill the placings for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

  19. Matthew W says:

    Nice hit on Fierceness, Steve …I didn’t play him but did include him in my late pick three, and hit it…horse had a terrible start, on the NY stakes….I had noted the Irad switch, to Noted, but I was locked onto Locked, who looks like his daddy Gun Runner, I like him still, and a lot….

  20. Eliza says:

    What strikes me so far:

    1.Mr. Haskin hit it just right with Fierceness!
    2. Homebred winners: Fierceness, Just F Y I (a great naming job)
    3. So many scratches, and still two injuries. We can do all in our power, as well we should, and sadly never have zero injuries.

    Safe running to all today.

  21. Terri Z says:

    It looks like Justify is going to be a great sire of fillies. His daughters, Just FYI and Hard to Justify, won the first day of the Breeders Cup. Like his 6th generation grandsire, Secretariat, his girls won on dirt and turf. And this is the 50th anniversary of his relative’s Triple Crown.

    • Davids says:

      Justify’s son, City of Troy, is the red hot favorite for the 2,000 Guineas at this stage and the lads think they can win the English Triple Crown with him, then pop over the pond and win the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

  22. Davids says:

    Nelson, have you been watching the Breeders’ Cup races? Any thoughts on the Classic, Distaff, or the Turf?

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Hi Davids. Thanks for asking.

      I have been enjoying Steve’s last columns about the Breeder’s Cup and all your comments here…

      Glad you were able to watch the Victoria Derby in person… it has been a great two days already for the progeny of American TC champions Justify and American Pharoah … Coolmore America is having a great end of season …

      Matt Damon attendance at Flemington was great advertising for the Melbourne Cup Carnival kick off … were you able to also see Alessandra Ambrosio in the VIP balconies?

      I just hope that Tyler Swift is kind enough to date any Jockey or Trainer and give a little boost to American Horse Racing… can you imagine a multitude of teenagers frantically screaming at Santa Anita race after race …LOL

      Regarding the Breeder’s Cup races today I foresee unavoidable burning early pace in the Distaff and Classic. I foresee Clairiere making a winning comeback.

      The Breeder’s Cup Turf is one of the greatest races this year. Mostahdaf, Auguste Rodin, King of Steel, Up to the Mark, Onesto, and War Like Goddess are already starring golden pages of racing history. I will be just happy to watch this epic 1 ½- mile race
      The European star Inspiral and the Japanese Songline will be very hard to defeat.

      If I thought that Ushba Tesoro was good enough to win he Dubai World Cup I still think the son of Orfevre is more than able to win the Classic. His prep race at Funabashi on September 27th was very encouraging specially because he broke alertly and travelled very powerfully the whole 1 1/8 mile …stunning workout indeed. There is an unbelievable motivation for the Japanese to seek glory for their country.

      My BCC superfecta will be with the Japanese winning and five underneath:
      Ushba Tesoro with Zandon/Proxy/Senor Buscador/ Bright Future/White Abarrio.

      Enjoy the next 11 races at Santa Anita.

      Good luck and safe trips to everyone …!

      • Davids says:

        Hi Nelson, yes I did see Alessandro Ambrosio, very briefly, there was an entourage following her. Ha ha There were over 80,000 fans present so you kind of find a comfortable spot rather than walk around too much. They are expecting over 100,000 for the Melbourne Cup so I’ll watch it at home with friends.

        I’m hoping Inspiral wins but Lindy and Warm Heart are real dangers. With the Turf the heart/mind makes it too hard, White Abarrio for the the Classic, Search Results for the Distaff. Enjoy the spectacle.

      • Davids says:

        Well Nelson, Rick Dutrow knew what he had with White Abarrio. I had White Abarrio, Proxy, and Zandon. Nonetheless, what a performance from Derma Sotogake for second, that’s horse training.