Garrity's Saturday Breeders' Cup Picks: Filly & Mare Turf, Mile, Turf, Classic, Sprint - fear horses from afar
No windy introduction is needed today: it’s Breeders Cup Saturday, the biggest day of the year in horse racing, with nine championship races to be run on a glorious afternoon in Southern California.
We’ve selected five of the Breeders Cup races as worthy outlets for our wagering dollars. The weather at Santa Anita will once again be perfect; the main track will be fast, and the turf course firm. Let’s go.
Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 3:10 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf, 1¼ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The Breeders Cup is all about stars, and we think we are going to see one in today’s Filly & Mare Turf: 6-Inspiral looks the part, as she has eight wins in twelve career starts, including her last two, when she took a pair of Group 1 races, the Prix Jacques Le Marios at Deauville in August, and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last month. She starts for English trainer John Gosden, who is as skilled a horseman as there is in the world, and who doesn’t come to the Breeders Cup unless he has the goods – Inspiral simply looks the best, especially since she should thrive on the very firm Santa Anita grass. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $50 to win on 6-Inspiral.
Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 4:30 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Breeders Cup Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
The Mile is always a good race, but its quality is especially high this year, as it features a full field of fourteen going to the gate, with entrants from Japan, Dubai, and the British Isles among them. We fancy 11-Kelina, an Irish-bred 3-year-old filly who has raced exclusively in France, where she was a bit slow to develop, but who has moved forward massively since the beginning of summer, especially with her thrilling victory in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last month. Her run that day was nothing short of sensational: She broke well, settled in mid-pack early, and earned the prize with a very strong stretch drive, the kind of running style we love in turf races. She looks like a very special filly, and for those who question the chances of a 3-year-old filly running against older males, we will note that Kalina just beat them in the Foret. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 6, $50 to win on 11-Kelina.
Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 5:50 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Breeders Cup Turf, 1½ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
One of the fun things about handicapping Breeders Cup races, especially the turf races, which feature horses from all over the world, is seeing how horses from different countries stack up to each other. This exercise can be quite difficult, but in the 2023 Breeders Cup Turf, we think identifying the best horse is actually quite easy: It’s 5-Auguste Rodin, an international star who has managed an incredible triple this year, winning the Epsom and Irish Derbies as well as the Irish Champion Stakes. One can drive oneself crazy analyzing these races, but in this case, we are going to keep it simple: Identify the best horse, and bet him to win. We will play Auguste Rodin at 3-1 odds. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $50 to win on 5-Auguste Rodin.
Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 6:40 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic, 1¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The history of international horses in the Breeders Cup Classic is fascinating: there have been quite a few who have run well, but they have very rarely won. One has to go all the way back to Arcangues, whose victory at 133-1 odds is one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, to find a Classic winner who came from abroad.
We think that trend will change today, as the American contingent looks very weak, and 8-Ushba Tesoro, a 6-year-old from Japan, looks very strong. He began his career on turf, but has been world-class since trainer Noburo Takagi switched him to dirt last year: He’s won seven of eight starts, with five of them at this mile and a quarter distance – that last bit is huge, as several of the U.S. runners appear to be better at slightly shorter distances. This year has been a humiliating one for horse racing in the United States, and we think that will continue in the day’s biggest race: we see Ushba Tesoro taking the trophy back to Japan. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $50 to win on 8-Ushba Tesoro.
Santa Anita Park, Race 11, 8:00 pm ET
Grade 1 Breeders Cup Sprint, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
We don’t know why the geniuses at the Breeders Cup scheduled two races after the Classic. This is an inexplicable, and inexplicably idiotic, decision that will make afterthoughts of stakes that deserve far greater attention than they will receive had they been carded earlier. This is not the most pressing problem facing this beleaguered sport, but it is yet another indication of the dysfunction present in a sport in utter free fall.
That said, we think the Sprint is a good race, for both sporting and pari-mutuel purposes, the latter primarily due to the presence of 9-Gunite, who should rebound off a subpar effort in the Parx Dirt Mile. Look for him to be just behind the flight of first horses early, to move to the front on the far turn, squirt clear in mid-stretch, and hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 11, $50 to win on 9-Gunite.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.