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Four Wheel Drive, entered in the Juvenile Turf Sprint horse race, works out on the track at Santa Anita Park for the Breeders' Cup, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Four Wheel Drive, entered in the Juvenile Turf Sprint horse race, works out on the track at Santa Anita Park for the Breeders' Cup, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)|Associated Press
Thoroughbreds

Breeders' Cup Friday: Garrity picks the Juvenile races and a variety Pick 3 bets

First race 4:12 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity

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The Breeders Cup has finally arrived. The main event is tomorrow, but we get a nice appetizer today, with five races, all restricted to 2-year-olds. We get juveniles of both sexes, going short and long, on dirt and turf. Here are the races (all times are Eastern):

Santa Anita, Race 5, Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, 5 furlongs, turf, 4:12 pm

A full field of twelve will go to the post in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Trainer Wesley Ward, who's a wizard with 2-year-olds, has three in here, including 3-1 favorite 9-Four Wheel Drive, who is undefeated in two career starts, both turf sprint stakes races. Also noteworthy in the field is the presence of four fillies: the lack in the Breeders Cup lineup of a turf sprint restricted to females has a quartet of females running against the boys here, including Ward's other two runners, 7/2 second choice Kimari, and 12-1 long shot Cambria.

This race looks wide open to us, as the form edge the favorites have is very narrow, and in a race this short, and with a field this large, racing luck, getting a good trip, is going to be a huge factor. We like 2-Band Practice as a win candidate at a price; she's is one of the fillies in here, she's won three of five starts in France and England, she appears to be improving, and she looks like a Euro who will improve on firmer turf. We think she has a big shot at a big price, 12-1, and will bet her to win. But spread wide -- very wide -- if you include this race in multi-race wagers ,or if you're playing intra-race exotics like the trifecta or superfecta.

Santa Anita, Race 6, Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf: 1 mile, turf, 4:52 pm

A full field of 14 draws into the Juvenile Turf. This race has historically been dominated by European imports, and at first glance, that trend looks to continue, as Irish-based super-trainer Aidan O'Brien saddles 5/2 morning line favorite Arizona, who has been running competitively in the top juvenile stakes in the UK. He finished second in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in England, and third in the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland, both Group 1 races. Based on this race record, Arizona is a deserving and strong favorite.

But we see a potential reason for doubt: O'Brien, whose Coolmore runners have had great success running in American stakes the past 10 or 15 years, has been on an unbelievable cold streak: since Athena won the 2018 Belmont Oaks in July of 2018, O'Brien's North American runners are winless in 42 starts (thanks to TVG's Caleb Keller for unearthing this stat). That 0-for-42 is, we think, too too big a sample to be explained away as random, and reason to hesitate at the prospect of taking a short price on one of O'Brien's runners. We are going to wait until O'Brien wins a race before we bet on one of his horses, and that means looking elsewhere in the Juvenile Turf.

The field appears to lack the early speed that would set the race up for the deep closers. We see the pace being moderate, maybe even a bit slow, and that will favor the stalkers. We like 2-Structor, who runs for Chad Brown. and who is 5-1 on the morning line. He is undefeated in two career starts, won the Pilgrim stakes last out, and has a good combination of stalking speed and a strong closing kick. Brown has inexplicably never won this race, but we think that streak ends today.

Santa Anita, Race 7, Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 miles, dirt, 5:32 pm

The Juvenile Fillies is a race that has historically produced winners at big prices. At first glance, a long shot winner today would appear to be unlikely, for two reasons: the first is that the field is short by Breeders Cup standards, with only nine fillies entered, and short fields rarely produce big prices; the second is that the top two betting choices appear very solid: 3-1 morning line favorite 1-Donna Veloce has run only once, but her lone race, a win in a maiden race at Santa Anita on Sept. 28, was eye-popping: she wired a good maiden field in very, very fast time, earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure that is the best in the field. 7/2 second choice 7-Wicked Whisper looks about as good: she is undefeated in two career starts, including a very fast win last out in the Grade 1 Frizette. The past performances, and the figs, might, on the surface, make one think that these two are a cinch to fill out the exacta, one way or another.

Maybe it's just our inner contrarian coming out, but we have doubts about both of these fillies. They have very similar front-running styles, and they appear to have equal early speed. That means a taxing speed duel for both, and we see the two of them tiring late. We are also especially skeptical of Donna Veloce: the fig she earned in her maiden win was legitimate, but she beat only five other fillies that day, and betting against California horses who earned big speed figures against small fields has historically been a very wise thing to do. We're throwing both of these fillies out.

We like a long shot here, 8-K P Dreamin. There's a ton of speed in this race -- in fact, eight of the nine runners are speedsters, and KP Dreamin is the lone stretch runner. We see a very fast pace early, a lot of juvenile fillies gasping for air late, and K P Dreamin passing them all late. She is 20-1, and at that price, we think she is absolutely the horse to bet, another entry, hopefully, in the list of big prices to win this race.

Santa Anita, Race 8, Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile, turf, 6:12 pm

A full field of 14 draws into this race. Six fillies who last ran in Europe are among them, and we think that the race goes through them: the American runners appear to be a cut below the Euros: we are tossing all of them from win consideration.

We like 9-Albigna. This Irish-bred filly is top quality, having won a Group 1 at Longchamps on October 6 and a Group 2 at the Curragh in June, but she also looks like a runner who will thrive on Santa Anita's firm turf: she's never run on truly firm grass, but we think she will take to it like a duck takes to water. We will bet her to win at 9/2, and we will also use her as a key in our multi-race bets: we think she is the likeliest winner on today's card.

Santa Anita, Race 9, Breeders Cup Juvenile, Dirt, 1 1/16 miles, 7:03 pm

This year's Breeders Cup Juvenile drew nine entrants, but one, Maxfield, was scratched earlier this week, so eight will go to the post. We think that 8/5 favorite 1-Dennis' Moment a deserving favorite, and we think that 2-1 second choice 6-Eight Rings is obviously talented. A win by either would not be a surprise.

But we are against both, parimutuelly speaking, for an esoteric reason: both Dennis' Moment and Eight Rings both ran last out in stakes races, the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downsand the Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita, respectively. They each won those races. But it was the first time around two turns for both of them, and despite winning, they both earned lower speed figures than they had sprinting. History suggests that when juveniles trend slower as they stretch out, they very rarely reverse that trend in subsequent races. We think we may have already seen the ceiling on both of these colts, and it was not at today's mile and a sixteenth distance. At short prices, that makes both of them play-againsts, at least for us.

There is one colt here who improved going around two turns, and it is 5-Scabbard. Every one of his races has been at a longer distance than the last, and every one of his races has been better, and faster, than the last. This is the kind of progression that one wants to see with 2-year-olds this time of year, and it makes him very live in this spot. At 8-1, we think he is a much better bet than either of the favorites. He is our pick to win the race.

Here's how we are going to wager on these races. We will bet our picks to win, but we are also going to leverage use our picks by using them in some Pick 3s, with our key horse in each race singled, and played with the logical contenders in the other two races. The attack is as follows:

Win Bets:

Santa Anita, Race 5:

$20 to win on 2-Band Practice

Santa Anita, Race 6:

$10 win on 2-Structor

Santa Anita, Race 7:

$25 to win on 8- K P Dreamin

Santa Anita, Race 8:

$40 win on 9-Albigna

Santa Anita, Race 9:

$25 win on 5-Scabbard

Pick 3 Bets:

Santa Anita, Race 5:

2 with 2, 5, 12 with 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 ($6 ticket)

Santa Anita, Race 5:

ALL with 2 with 8 ($6 ticket)

Santa Anita, Race 6:

2 with 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 with 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14 ($20 ticket)

Santa Anita, Race 7:

8 with 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14 with 1, 5, 6, 8 ($16 ticket)

Santa Anita, Race 7:

1, 4, 6, 7 with 9 with 1, 5, 6, 8 ($8 ticket)

The cost of each of these Pick 3 tickets is based on the 50 cent base wager.

That's all for today. We will be back with a look at the Saturday Breeders Cup card, which is merely the best day all year in the Sport of Kings, or in any other sport, for that matter. Until then, enjoy the races, and good luck at the windows.