Garrity's Friday Breeder's Cup Picks: He likes three imports, a favorite and a Hidden Connection at Del Mar
Well, it is finally here: Day 1 of the Breeders Cup at Del Mar. Five of the fourteen championship races will be run this afternoon. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them, so let’s go.
Del Mar, Race 6, 5:50 pm ET
Grade 2 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, 5 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
The Juvenile Turf Sprint, which kicks off the 2021 Breeders Cup, drew twelve runners. Half of them made their last start in Europe, and we are expecting the winner to come from that group: specifically 7-Armor, who finished a very good third in his last start, just three-quarters of a length behind the winner, in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September. While that result looks good on the surface, we think it was better than it looks on paper, as Armor had a tough trip, getting stuck behind a wall of horses in deep stretch, and surging forward impressively when he found some room to run. He has the looks of a top-flight European who will move forward on firm turf, which in our view makes him strictly the one to beat. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 6, $40 to win on 7-Armor.
Del Mar, Race 7, 6:30 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
The field of the Juvenile Fillies came up short, with just six entered, and that is surprising, partly because it’s a Breeders Cup race, which almost always draw big fields, but also because it is a contest that has historically produced gigantic upsets. We are old enough to remember when Caressing won the race in 2000 at 47-1; the winner this year, whoever it is, will be a much shorter price.
The small number of entrants is presumably due to the presence of 6-Echo Zulu, a Steve Asmussen trainee and daughter of Gun Runner, who is undefeated and unchallenged in three career starts. She is 4/5 on the morning line, but will likely be much shorter at post time; the question is whether any of the five who will line up inside her can beat her.
We hope so, because we are betting against her, and we are doing so with 2-Hidden Connection, who like the favorite is undefeated, having won both her races by large margins, including her last, when she took the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs by 9 ¼ lengths. We see her sitting behind a speed duel between 5-Juju’s Map and Echo Zulu, and pouncing when the two of them begin to tire. We will bet Hidden Connection to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $30 to win on 2-Hidden Connection.
Del Mar, Race 8, 7:10 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
A full field of fourteen is entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Though the American contingent looks relatively strong, we still favor a European filly, 13-Mise En Scene, who comes to Del Mar off a trio of races in England. She has improved every time she has run, and another step forward here, something we are expecting, makes her enormously dangerous, as she has a world-class turf pedigree (she is by French stallion Siyouni, out of a mare by the all-time great sire Galileo), and is trained by James Ferguson, who is more than capable despite being young, just 31, and for garnering far less stateside attention than more prominent European conditioners. Mise en Scene has a bit of speed, which we like, and which should allow her to work out a good trip around the tight turns of the Del Mar turf course. At 6-1, we think her prospects are very exciting; we will bet her to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $40 to win on 13-Mise En Scene.
Del Mar, Race 9, 7:50 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
The Juvenile drew an even dozen 2-year-old colts. We are going with morning line choice 1-Jack Christopher, who starts for trainer Chad Brown. He has won both his two career starts, which is nice; but what makes him the pick is the way he’s run: his races have been both visually impressive and fast against the clock. He simply appears better than the rest, and that he has abundant speed and an inside post position on a Del Mar racing surface that favors both just seals the deal. We think he is a star in the making; we will bet Jack Christopher to win at 9/5. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Jack Christopher.
Del Mar, Race 8, 8:30 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
Fourteen colts line up for the Juvenile Turf. We like 1-Modern Games, who appears to have a world of talent, having won three of his five career starts, including a Group 3 at Newmarket on Sept. 23. He is a Godolphin homebred who is trained by Charlie Appleby, a team which has won a bunch of major stakes in North America this year, and we think they are going to add this one to their 2021 trophy case. Modern Games will get the firm ground that he seems to want, which is good; even better is that unlike many European horses, he has some speed, which, combined with his tactically advantageous inside post position, should allow jockey William Buick to negotiate a good trip for him. We will bet Modern Games to win at 5-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Modern Games.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.