2017 FrontRunner Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes Previews


September 29th 2017

Coming up tomorrow at Santa Anita Park are key two “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The FrontRunner Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and the Awesome Again Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The FrontRunner Stakes

1 & 1/16th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 6:03 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Zatter – Bejarano/Baffert – 5/2
2. Take the One O One – Talamo/Koriner – 15/1
3. Ayacara – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 10/1
4. Bolt d’Oro – Nakatani/Ruis – 2/1
5. City Plan – Van Dyke/Harty – 20/1
6. Texas Wedge – Roman/Miller – 6/1
7. Encumbered – Gutierrez/Callaghan – 8/1
8. Solomini – Prat/Baffert – 4/1
9. Continental Divide – Espinoza/Cassidy – 15/1

My Pick: I think this race comes down to Bolt d’Oro and the two Baffert entries. I like Bolt d’Oro for the win. With the unpredictability of 2-year-olds, I would make straight win bets on Bolt d’Oro and wouldn’t play trifectas or superfectas. The only exotic bet I would consider is an exacta keying Bolt d’Oro over Solomini and Zatter. That is 4 over 1,8.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.

The Awesome Again Stakes

1 & 1/8th Mile – Race #10 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 7:05 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Win the Space (122) – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 15/1
2. Dortmund (122) – Stevens/Sherman – 8/1  Scratched
3. Midnight Storm (122) – Baze/D’Amato – 3/1
4. Curlin Rules (122) – Prat/Sadler – 6/1
5. Breaking Lucky (122) – Smith/Baker – 5/1
6. Mubtaahij (122) – Van Dyke/Baffert – 4/1
7. Donworth (122) – Gutierez/O’Neill – 6/1
8. Cupid (126) – Bejarano/Baffert – 2/1

My Pick: Cupid is the only horse in this field coming off a win. He’s my race favorite and should have this field covered. As for exotics, this field is unpredictable and I would stick primarily with straight win bets on Cupid. Any of the remaining six horses could hit the board.

On the Docket…

My next blog will be an updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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2016 Woodward Stakes Preview and the looming Armageddon in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

September 1st 2016

Horse racing is very much a “What have you done for me lately” sport. California Chrome and Arrogate have laid down gauntlet with great performances the past few weekends, raising the bar for the looming Armageddon this fall in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It’s the Met Mile record holder Frosted’s turn to impress us once more, to assure us that this is more than a two horse battle. Frosted is the 1/2 odds favorite in the upcoming Woodward Stakes this Saturday at Saratoga. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network between 4-5 PM CST.

Last month, Frosted won the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga by two lengths with a time of 1:47.77 (107 Beyer Speed Figure). It was a nice win but somewhat disappointing coming off his 123 Beyer Speed Figure and track record (1:32.73) that he set in the Metropolitan Mile (aka Met Mile) back in June.

The Woodward Stakes is the same 9 furlong (1 1/8th Mile) distance as The Whitney. For Frosted, any time higher than 1:47 flat on a dry, fast track should be viewed as a disappointment. I really think he needs to run in the mid 1:46 range to be still considered a huge threat to beat California Chrome and now Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The track record for the Whitney Stakes is 1:46.64 set in 2007 by Lawyer Ron. The Woodward Stakes track record is 1:45.80 and is shared by two horses: Forego (1976) and Dispersal (1990).

The Tapit gray colt’s biggest opponent in this race will be himself and time.

The Woodward Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Saturday September 3rd – Race #10 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:46 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

Post Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Shaman Ghost (120) – Castellano/Jerkens – 12-1
2. Breaking Lucky (120) – Contrejas/Baker – 20-1    
3. Frosted (124) – Rosario/McLaughlin – 1-2  
4. Bradester (122) – Bravo/Kenneally – 6-1 
5. Catholic Cowboy (118) – Saez/Zito – 20-1
6. Samraat (118) – J.Ortiz/Violette – 10-1
7. Tale of Verve (118) – Velazquez/Stewart – 30-1
8. Tapin Mojo (118) – Franco/Chatterpaul – 50-1  
9. Mubtaahij (118) – I.Ortiz/McLaughlin- 5-1

My Prediction: Frosted draws a favorable inside post but has early speed next to him in Bradester. I don’t think this one will be close. The real battle will be for 2nd place between Bradester, Samraat and Mubtaahij. My projected order of finish: 1) Frosted, 2) Bradester, 3) Samraat, 4) Mubtaahij, 5) Shaman Ghost, 6) Tale of Verve, 8) Catholic Cowboy, 9) Tapin Mojo

Looming Armageddon at Breeders’ Cup Classic

Unless Frosted dazzle’s us in the Woodward, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to be two horse show between California Chroma and Arrogate. One thing that I want to address is this willingness to discount Arrogate’s recent performance in the Travers Stakes. Sure, Arrogate could be a “flash in the pan,” never capable of replicating his awesome feat last Saturday where he set Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record with a time of 1:59.36 in a mile and a quarter race.

Don’t be so foolish enough to not believe Arrogate is a huge threat to California Chrome in the BCC. Arrogate drew the rail in the Travers. Yes, he had a near perfect trip. But remember that he had never raced further than 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile) and what I thought he would do, he didn’t. I thought he would have to get out into the lead early to avoid getting hemmed in along the rail and then he would tire and fade down the stretch in the final furlong.

Arrogate did exactly what I thought he would do early on (get off to a good start and take the lead early) but then he did something few horses can do. And that is run final quarter mile fraction that was almost as fast as the fast opening fraction he laid down. Arrogate’s opening quarter mile fraction was 23.61. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84!

Show me one horse still in active training that can run a final quarter-mile fraction that fast in a 10 furlong (1 1/4 mile) race. Guess what? You can’t. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. California Chrome’s best final fraction is 24.44 accomplished in the Pacific Classic a couple of weekends ago. Melatonin did a 24.27 in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita back in June. Beholder did a 24.65 in the 2015 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate may never be able to replicate his performance in the Travers Stakes, fair enough. But all he would have to do is be close and he may have the Breeders’ Classic field covered. I’m in the camp that it is easier to accomplish something you’ve accomplished before than to accomplish something you have never accomplished.