Super Saturday Review: Nyquist, Beholder and Smooth Roller Advance to Breeders’ Cup World Championships

A lot can change between now and the 1st Saturday in May but here is your early 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite. Nyquist, named after Detroit Red Wings hockey player Gustav Nyquist, won the FrontRunner Stakes and demonstrated a willingness to fight for the win in extreme heat at Santa Anita Park. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is perfect thus far, 4 starts, 4 wins.

The race played out exactly as I had predicted in my preview blog, a Nyquist-Swipe 1-2 finish. American Pharoah won this race last year with a time that was almost a full 3 seconds faster than Nyquist’s time of 1:44.89 (the 2nd slowest in 27 years). But I am not concerned, they were moving up post times and throwing buckets of water on winning horses due to the heat. With the win, Nyquist has assured himself of a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet) along with Cocked and Loaded on October 31st.

The Zenyatta Stakes

Beholder won the Zenyatta Stakes (shown below) in easy fashion. Jockey Gary Stevens said in a post-race interview that he never asked her to run. She has now won six straight races and three straight Zenyatta Stakes. My Sweet Addiction, ridden by Mike Smith, finished 2nd. Beholder secured herself a starting spot in the Longines Distaff but her owner has committed to entering her in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Awesome Again Stakes

Smooth Roller was the surprise winner in the Awesome Again Stakes (shown below). Just who is Smooth Roller and how does a horse, who had three career starts entering this event, find himself qualified to race against the top thoroughbreds in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in October?

He beat race favorite and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, who finished 3rd. The 4 year-old gelding’s winning time of 1:48.08 in the extreme heat condition was very impressive as this tops the time of three great horses who had won this event the past three years: Shared Belief in 2014 (1:48.58), Mucho Macho Man in 2013 (1:48.30) and Game On Dude in 2012 (1:48.98). He received a 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance.

Smooth Roller will likely be one of the longer shots in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but he proved yesterday that he deserves a chance against racing’s best.

Coming on Wednesday, my updated Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings.


Super Saturday: Awesome Again, FrontRunner and Zenyatta Stakes Previews

Zoe Metz/Eclipse Sportswire

This coming Saturday, September 26th, is “Super Saturday” at Santa Anita Park that has five “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup races.

The three really key races Saturday are:

The FrontRunner Stakes (1 1/16 mile) for 2 year-olds that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Post Time is 4:32 CST. Remember, last year that American Pharoah won this race–need I say more? Headlining this field is Nyquist, my way too early Kentucky Derby favorite, who has won 3 straight races. I have got to go with the hot horse Nyquist in this one and I forsee another Nyquist-Swipe 1-2 finish like we had in the Del Mar Futurity (shown below). Swipe looked like he could handle the added distance in the Del Mar. But with 2 year-olds, they are unpredictable at this stage.

From the Bob Baffert stable, Mt Veeder, whose sire was Ghostzapper, is undefeated and is ridden by Martin Garcia. He has never raced longer than 6 furlongs but he would be my surprise pick to upset Nyquist.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

  1. Go Long (122) Desormeaux – 20/1
  2. On Fire (122) Callaghan – 12/1
  3. Blameitonthelaw (122) Sadler – 5/1
  4. Nyquist (122) Gutierrez – 6/5
  5. Hollywood Don (122) Blance – 5/1
  6. Rare Candy (122) Talamo – 15/1
  7. Swipe (122) Desormeaux 5/1
  8. Mt Veeder (122) Garcia 6/1

The Zenyatta Stakes (1 1/16 mile) for 3 year-old fillies and mares that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff. Post Time is 5:40 CST. Highlighting the field is Beholder–who I have ranked #1 in my Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings. Warren’s Veneda is probably the second biggest name horse in this field. I expect My Sweet Addiction’s 8/1 odds to lower come post time. At any rate, Beholder will win this race comfortably.You may want to consider placing a $25 “9 over 6,8” Exacta which would cost $50.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

  1. Oscar Party (119) Graham – 30/1
  2. Savings Account (119) Van Dyke – 15/1
  3. My Monet (119) Gonzalez – 15/1
  4. Big Book (116) Desormeaux -15/1
  5. Kyriaki (119) Gutierrez – 20/1
  6. MySweet Addiction (124) Smith – 8/1
  7. Wild in the Saddle (119) Bejarano -12/1
  8. Warren’s Veneda (121) Baze – 6/1
  9. Beholder (124) Stevens – 2/5

The Awesome Again Stakes (1 1/8 mile) for 3 year-olds and up that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Post Time is 7:14 CST. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern is entered as well as Hoppertunity and Hard Aces–who are ranked 11th and 13th respectively in my Breeders Cup Classic rankings.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

1. Hard Aces (124) Espinoza – 4/1
2. Sammy Mandeville (119) Bejarano – 10/1
3. Point Piper (119) Gutierrez – 8/1
4. Global View (119) Van Dyke 12/1
5. Hoppertunity (121) Smith 3/1
6. Imperative (119) Nakatani 6/1
7. Smooth Roller (119) Baze 6/1
8. Bayern (121) Garcia 5/2

Overall, this is a difficult race to handicap. Bayern has been training well and may be showing signs that he could be getting back on track. Hard Aces had a disappointing 6th place finish in his last start in the TVG Pacific Classic. Hoppertunity is probably the safer pick here with a Place bet. Too many unknowns to make any exotic bets and an 8 horse field probably means that superfectas won’t pay out big unless longshots finish near the top.


In other news, Shared Belief has begun light workouts and will return to racing in 2016 as will California Chrome.