Garrity's Friday Breeders' Cup Picks: 5 races for 2-year-olds previewing next year's Triple Crown stars
It's the first day of the Breeders Cup, which is a terrific reason for a special edition of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have plays in all five Breeders Cup races on the day, and while you’ll need to pace yourself, as it will take about three hours from start to finish, it’s nonetheless a terrific excuse to blow off work early, pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the delicious, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania ryes from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and enjoy races that are about as this great sport gets.
The weather in Northern Kentucky should be ideal, absolute autumnal perfection, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf for all races. Let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 6, 3:00 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 2-year-olds
A dozen juveniles line up for the first race in the two-day extravaganza that is the Breeders Cup. We began handicapping this race, as we do with every Breeders Cup race on grass, by assessing the merits of the European invaders. Euro horses are, broadly speaking, so overwhelmingly superior to their American counterparts when it comes to turf racing, as they’ve proved with their recent dominance at the Breeders Cup, that we assume that the race runs through them.
We think the U.S. group here is strong, in particular 2-Love Reigns, who starts for Wesley Ward, and while she could win, we still give the edge to Euros. 12-The Platinum Queen, a very talented Irish-bred filly who comes off a terrific win in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamps in Paris a month ago, looks very good, but as she is going to be a relatively short price, and probably prefers ground a bit softer what she’ll get today, we are instead going with 6-Persian Force, whose last three starts were in Group 1 races in Ireland, England, and France. He did not win any of those races, but he hit the board in all three, and the fact that he was competitive with some of the best juveniles in Europe makes us fancy his chances here, especially since he appears to like firm turf. At 15-1, that makes Persian Force an excellent play; we will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 6, $40 to win on 6-Persian Force.
Keeneland, Race 7, 3:40 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
The 2022 edition of the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies drew a full field of fourteen. We like 3-And Tell Me Nolies, who comes off a win in the Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita, a race won with a strong late rally. From a pace standpoint, she had an absolutely perfect trip in that race, but we expect something similar here, as there is a lot of speed in the race, and we think the early fractions will be swift enough to set up her late rally. Her speed figures are a little bit light, so And Tell Me Nolies will have to improve to win, but we think she is capable of a step forward, and that makes her 8-1 price very appealing. We will bet her to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-And Tell Me Nolies.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:20 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
The Juvenile Fillies turf is another race with full field of fourteen runners, and another turf race where we like a Euro: The pick is 12-Midnight Mile, who is short on experience, with only two career starts, but she won them both, and in doing so hinted at what we think is a very, very bright future. The trick with finding winners of juvenile races is identifying young horses who are about to improve, and we think Midnight Mile fits that bill. We will bet her to win at 10-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 12-Midnight Mile.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:00 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
The Juvenile has the shortest field of the Friday Breeders Cup races, and there is a very obvious reason: the imposing presence of 3-Cave Rock, the freakishly fast Bob Baffert trainee who is undefeated and unchallenged in three career starts. He is 4/5 on the morning line, and will probably be shorter at post time.
We are taking a shot against him, and are doing so with 6-Blazing Sevens, who comes from the Chad Brown barn. While he is a Grade 1 winner – he won the Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct a month ago – his form is a bit muddled, as his last two starts were run in the slop. While sometimes a wet surface will make a horse look better than he really is, we think the reverse is true with Blazing Sevens: We think he is actually better on a fast track, and that makes him a contender here, especially since we think the race shape will favor his stalking/closing running style. We see other jockeys going after Cave Rock early, as conceding the early lead to him is essentially conceding the race to him, and we think Blazing Sevens can pick up the pieces when the pacesetters run out of gas. We will bet Blazing Sevens to win at 6-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Blazing Sevens.
Keeneland, Race 10, 5:40 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
We found the Juvenile Turf, despite having a big field of fourteen, to be the easiest race of the weekend to handicap: 4-Silver Knott looks to be very much the best. He is a Godolphin runner from the Charlie Appleby barn, and if those names sound familiar, it’s because they’ve made winning Grade 1 turf races in North America look ridiculously easy. Silver Knott was last seen winning the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, a very strong effort that makes him look clearly superior to the rest of this field. Appleby won this race last year with Modern Games and it looks like he’s going to win it this year with Silver Knott. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $50 to win on 4-Silver Knott.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow – and what a day it will be! – enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.