Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Six Days and Counting: Breeders Cup Championships

Posted by Brian Appleton on November 1, 2009

breederscup2   There are only six days to go until the Breeders Cup Championships start on Friday November 6.  Everything is beginning to take shape, last minute decisions are still being made and horses with preferences in multiple race divisions are holding off on placement in their race of choice till the last possible second.  One of those horses is

Zenyatta1

Zenyatta

Zenyatta, the brilliant mare who matched the immortal Personal Ensign’s lifetime achievement of 13 straight races while remaining undefeated.  Indications from Zenyatta’s connections have been that they are strongly leaning towards entering the perfect “queen of racing” in the Breeders Cup Classic (gr. 1) against the boys instead of the Ladies Classic which she won last year.  Only a very good last work by the mare before the championship races would continue that thinking trainer John Shirreffs said.  Well, after seeing the results of her work today, there is no doubt the gargantuan daughter of Street Cry is ready for whatever her connections decide to send her way.  With regular jockey Mike Smith aboard for the work, Zenyatta completed six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 at Hollywood Park and galloped out beautifully.  Smith said after the work that she is bigger and better than she was last year when she won the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic (gr.1).  When asked if he thought the distance of the 1 ¼ mile Classic might compromise Zenyatta who has never raced at the distance, trainer John Shirreffs replied that he was not.  He said that he believes she will be able to lengthen her stride and hold her own.  If there was any indication before Zenyatta’s work that she is ready to face the boys in the Classic, there are practically no doubts left now.  She is indeed ready.  There will be an announcement possibly as soon as Sunday about which race Zenyatta will enter after her connections have a meeting this evening.

The Breeders Cup Ladies Classic (gr.1 )

CarelessJewel1

Careless Jewel

   The Ladies Classic (gr. 1) will still be one of the most intriguing races of the championship weekend, with or without Zenyatta.  The buzz surrounding this race is all concentrated on a striking gray daughter of Tapit.  Careless Jewel, a three year old filly who might have challenged Rachel Alexandra for three year old filly honors in any other year. She has been ultra impressive this year, winning the Alabama stakes (gr.1) by 11 lengths with ease, then romping to victory over a synthetic surface in her most recent start. Careless Jewel has the speed to win in gate-to-wire fashion, and she can rate off the lead, blow away in the stretch and draw off under mild urging.  These abilities make her an extremely dangerous horse coming into the Ladies Classic and could even see her becoming the favorite come post time.

Music Note1

Music Note

    Music Note is the most likely older female favorite and seems to have gained back her explosive form from last year and then some. Two starts back she defeated dual-champion Indian Blessing and Informed Decision in the Gr. 1 Ballerina by open lengths, then came right back and defeated the ever consistent Unbridled Bell in the Beldame Stakes (gr.1) by 2 ¼ lengths.  On a quick side not here: Unbridled Belle returned to action today winning the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr.3) by four lengths at Aqueduct in her second to last start of her career. (back to Music Note) This very talented daughter of A.P. Indy put together a championship caliber three year old season last year ending with a third place finish behind Zenyatta in the Ladies Classic (gr.1).  She appears to be peaking this year at exactly the right time and has done everything with ease and in exactly the right way.  She will be very hard to beat, Zenyatta or no Zenyatta.

LifeIsSweet1

Life Is Sweet

 The field also includes the tough luck mare Life Is Sweet.  Being a stable mate to Zenyatta she has had the misfortune to face the giant on several occasions this year and always runs her heart out. She last out came in a fast closing third to Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret Stakes.  Earlier in the year she won the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr.1), La Canada (gr.2) and El Encinco (gr.2) all at Santa Anita, and she also faced the boys which resulted in a third place finish.  She loves Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetics and has proven that she is never to be taken lightly when at her best.  She comes into this year’s Ladies Classic with her record somewhat tarnished after a string of defeats, but she appears to be coming back into form.  I think she will run big in the Ladies Classic if she continues to remain healthy and fit, and is given a good clean trip.

CocoaBeach1

Cocoa Beach

  There are only eight fillies and mares (excluding Zenyatta) entered in the Ladies Classic this year, but there is a ton of class. Cocoa Beach is back this year after finishing second to Zenyatta last year.  Although she hasn’t been able to put together as glittering a record as she did last year, she only began racing the last half of the year and could be reaching her top form.  Either way she is proven against top tier competition and finished ahead of Music Note last year in the Ladies Classic.  Lethal Heat is another hard knocking older filly who adds more quality to the field.  She is cross-entered in both the Ladies Classic and Turf Sprint (gr.1) with first preference in the Turf Sprint.  Trainer Barry Adams said that although she has first preference in the Turf Sprint, he will point her for the Ladies Classic if Zenyatta opts for the Classic. Europe’s champion two year old filly of last year, Rainbow View is entered in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but has first preference for the Ladies Classic.  She is the wild card here, never having started on a synthetic surface and will probably get a good amount of backing after the European sweep at the Breeders Cup last year.  She does not seem to be quite as good as she was last year, but still runs competitively at the top level. The remaining two fillies/mares in the field are Mushka and Proviso.  Proviso who is also from Europe,finished ahead of Mushka in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr.1) last out, but was disqualified to second and Mushka was awarded first, securing her an automatic berth in the Ladies Classic.  I like Music Note, Careless Jewel and Life Is Sweet in that order. 

The Grey Goose Breeders Cup Juvenile (gr.1)

   I’ll start right out by saying that I don’t know a whole lot about some of the colts running here, so I’ll concentrate on the ones I have more knowledge about.  The Breeders Cup Juvenile is fun for a number of reasons, and for different reasons than those of watching more mature horses run.  When horses are this young anything can happen, I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.  They improve and change so fast at this age that any horse at any one time can show such drastic improvement that they vault to the front of the line and become the leader of their division in the blink of an eye. 

LookinAtLucky1

Lookin at Lucky

  Lookin At Lucky will be the very heavy favorite, no doubt about that, and there is also no doubt that he deserves it.  He is undefeated in four starts including the Norfolk Stakes (gr.1), Del Mar Futurity (gr.1) and Best Pal (gr2), all on synthetics.  There is no way I’m going to choose against this guy, not only does he have his Norfolk win over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride, no worries there, but he is also a son of Smart Strike, sire of Curlin, and I love Curlin.  It’s all in the family.

DFunnybone1

D'Funnybone

   D’Funnybone is owned by Paul Pompa Jr., the man who owned last year’s sensational Big Brown.  D’Funnybone flew to victory in the Saratoga Special (gr. 2) just one month after Pompa purchased him, then further impressed with his victory in the Futurity (gr.2) in September.  For awhile it seemed he might bypass the Breeders Cup, but fortunately for us his connections decided to give it a shot.  He is untested on synthetics, but trainer Rick Dutrow is confident he will rise to the task.

   Alfred Noble, from Europe, won the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-1) in July then finished last as the heavy favorite in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Ire-1).  Beethoven, another Breeders Cup Juvenile contender came in third in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and is owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derek Smith.  He is an extremely talented colt who always runs well over turf.  Most of the European runners are untested on synthetics but turf form in many cases results in a good showing on synthetics. 

   The rest of the field is completed by 20 young hopefuls.  Not all will be able to run due to field size regulations, but any defections/scratches will open the doors for others to join.  Other notable names in the race are as follows: Awesome Act, Dave In Dixie, Eskendereya, Gallant Gent, Noble’s Promise, Pulsion and Pounced.  

Eskendereya1

Eskendereya

   Eskendereya deserves some mention here, he won the Pilgrim Stakes in his last start by 7 ¼ lengths for trainer Todd Pletcher after the race was taken off the turf because of wet conditions.  He has only run twice, finishing runner-up in his debut on the turf, then his victory in the Pilgrim.

   There is a very large contingent of highly capable juveniles from Europe this year.  All in all, this is a very high quality field and will be very intriguing to watch compete.  Enjoy choosing a winner from this one, aside from a few standouts, practically everyone here seems to have a shot at winning or at least placing in the top three.  I left out many other good names I realize, so feel free to bring up any names you can think of.

Six days and counting…

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10 Responses to “Six Days and Counting: Breeders Cup Championships”

  1. Hannah said

    I wish i had cable so i could watch =/

    • Find a friend who has cable. You can always find replays on ntra.com, youtube.com or breederscup.com also.

    • Hannah,

      You obviously have cable…I found that ESPN360.com will be carrying both days of the Breeders’ Cup on streaming video. I took a quick look at the site, it seems like it’s a free memebership but make sure you unmark the optional ESPN Insider which is a money membership service.

      I hope you have the chance to catch the racing, it is shaping up as an exciting event!!! I went to SA for the morning works today with my wife’s new camera…WOW!!! What a difference a good camera makes! Those are all some magnificent equine athletes. It certainly got my blood pumping to attend and take more pictures with the silks, jockeys, etc. If the weather’s anything close to today, it will be a wonderful day!

      Enjoy.

  2. Brian,

    This is gonna be quite a Breeders’ Cup…I took pics this a.m. with a new Nikon at Clockers Corner and all of the Breeders’ Cup entrants I captured look magnificent. So many horses set to give the performance of their lives.

    I went on Friday as well, with a much less exact camera/video recorder. Both days, LETHAL HEAT moved magnificently on the Pro-ride. CARELESS JEWEL looks like the shipping and new surroundings are to her liking. Those were the only ones I saw in the Ladies Classic division.

    As for the Juvenile, LOOKIN AT LUCKY was lookin real good as was NOBLE’S PROMISE for Ken McPeak. McPeak was kind enough to say he was happy with how his colt went (he had a hoof infection after his Breeders’ Futurity win), informed he went 5f in :59 2/5.

    Clearly, finding a winner this week is not prudent as all the ones I saw looked magnificent. There are so many others I still haven’t had the pleasure to watch this weekend. Go by the PP’s, they’re your best bet.

    Didn’t participate in your poll yet…got more studyin’ to do!

    Have fun!

    • Nice! I’m liking Careless Jewel more and more, she does everything right. Seems like all the contenders this year are coming into the Breeders Cup primed for huge efforts and peaking physically for the year, should make for some very exciting championships!

  3. sher said

    Brian,

    Love it! So informative! I will be sending hubby this way so he can chime in on his picks 😉

  4. Mom said

    Careless Jewel has my vote!! 🙂

  5. B,

    Sorry about CJ…she just ran off setting up LIFE IS SWEET.

    Better luck tomorrow!

    • I actually chose Life Is Sweet for the win when I saw her in the paddock before the race. I’ve chosen her every time this year when she’s run against Zenyatta and I couldn’t go against her this time either, she looked great and I’d been hearing good things about her for the past three days. So glad she finally won a big one, she deserves it. Careless Jewel blew it with that brutal pace. She still seems very immature before her races and very excitable.
      Looking forward to tommorows races and seeing the Queen!
      Thanks for checking in again!

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