Applebee: Closer Look Santa Anita Sat 11.4.23/BC Classic and Turf
Happy Breeders’ Cup Day!
Christmas comes a touch early today for horse players as we have nine Breeders’ Cup races headlined by a very competitive Classic.
Race 8 – Breeders’ Cup Turf– Grade I
One Mile and One Half on the Turf for Three Year Olds and Upward
- Shahryar: Has only raced twice this year with a fifth in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan and a no show eleventh in Japan in the Sapporo Kinen. In the Sheema Classic he dwelled toward the rear and made sustained run for fifth – but was no threat. Passing.
- Onesto: Was a strong third in the Arc de Triomphe at 55-1 where he was at the back of the field and followed the move of the winner to just miss second. Earned a big time 128 Timeform fig for that effort. If he could have gotten clear running he might have won. Finished behind Auguste Rodin and Shahryar earlier this year. Doesn’t win a lot of races. Gets a piece.
- Gold Phoenix: Last out he was flat and failed to fire in the John Henry Turf Championship (88 Beyer). Won his two prior starts at DelMar in Grade II company (both were 97 Beyers). Will need significant improvement to compete here. Looking elsewhere.
- Bolshoi Ballet: Aiden O’Brien runner was much the best in the Sword Dancer (107 Beyer) where he skipped away from the field in the stretch over a yielding turf course. That was his first win in over two years and while that is a nice speed fig the balance of the field was not the strongest. Today he faces much tougher. Lean against.
- Auguste Rodin: Aiden O’Brien trained three year old comes off a win in the Group I Irish Champion Stakes (124 Timeform fig) where he stalked the pace and wore down the leader. He also won the Group I Irish Derby at the Curragh and the Group I Epsom Derby this summer. He has a high cruising speed but also can then show turn of foot when asked. But for all his success he has also caved in during two of his last five races – in both cases he was towards the rear and pretty much stopped running. Logical, but not without questions. Win candidate.
- Get Smokin: SCRATCHED
- Broome: Enters here after finishing sixth two weeks ago at Ascot going one mile in the British Champions Long Distance Cup where he was no threat. His recent form has been poor but American tracks suit him as he was a good fourth in this race last year and close second in 2021. Blinkers ON. Longshot exotics player.
- Up to the Mark: Pletcher trainee is a three race win streak and most recently he battled Master of the Sea to the wire in Turf Mile at Churchill and narrowly got the win (100 Beyer). His best performance was in the Manhattan (105 Beyer) at a mile and a quarter. But does he want ten furlongs? Now he gets the acid test from the European runners. Is he up to the challenge? Maybe, could pick up a piece.
- Mostahdaf: Offspring of Frankel is three for four this year for John Gosden and Shadwell and his only loss was in Dubai where he was left chasing Equinox who might be the best turf router out there. He runs here off of two Group I wins in the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot (129 Timeform fig) and the Juddmonte International (128 Timeform fig). In the Juddmonte he went to the lead and was very game in the final furlong to hold off two challengers. In the Prince of Wales he was at the rear then inhaled the field when asked. Has not won in four races at twelve furlongs, but that was race dependent. He is in great form while running against elite Group Is. The Pick.
- Adhamo: Has only two starts this year. He finished third while stalking in the Canadian International at Woodbine last month (88 Beyer) and that followed a third in the Arlington Million (95 Beyer), run at Colonial Downs, where he came from off the pace. Passing.
- King Of Steel: Finished fourth behind Mostahdaf in the Irish Champion Stakes two back. He came back three weeks ago to win the ten furlong Champion Stakes at Ascot with a rush to go from last to first over the final two furlongs. Visually impressive as he gobbled up ground. Possible at a price.
- Balladeer: Three year old took the field gate to wire in his first graded stakes attempt in the John Henry Turf Championship (97 Beyer). He should set the pace today – won at a mile and five sixteenths two back at Kentucky Downs so he should be able to get the distance. Passing.
- War Like Goddess: Finally hit her stride last out as she repeated in the Joe Hirsch Turf against the boys (105 Beyer). She’s not been in the best form this year prior to that Joe Hirsch. But if Mott has her right, she is dangerous. She loves the twelve furlongs and is seven for nine at today’s distance. Was a strong third last year in this race. Can she compete with the Euros? At her best, she can. How great would it be if she pulled it off?! Use underneath.
Race 9 – The Breeders’ Cup Classic – Grade I
One Mile and One Quarter On the Dirt, For Three Year Olds and Upward
- Arcangelo: SCRATCHED
- Zandon Broke through in the Woodward with an emphatic win over a so-so group (104 Beyer). Two back was a distant second in the Whitney behind White Abarrio (100 Beyer). He’s tactical and runs through the wire. Faces much tougher here today and will need a repeat of that Woodward effort. Exotics player.
- White Abarrio: Rick Dutrow has this one firing. Last out he dominated the Whitney earning a 110 Beyer as he drew off late. Ran well in the Met Mile prior to that but was stuck behind a wall of horses, did eventually get clear eventually to get third (106 Beyer). That Whitney win was his first win away from Gulfstream. Can he repeat that effort? That’s the question. The Pick.
- Missed the Cut: Came over from Europe this summer and made four starts which culminated with a win in the Tokyo City Cup going twelve furlongs over this track (98 Beyer). Only beat three foes in that Grade III event. Faces much tougher today. Would be a major surprise.
- Derma Sotogake: Japanese import hasn’t raced since the Kentucky Derby. That day was compromised at the start when he hit the gate and was shuffled back to fourteenth. Nonetheless he preserved and steadily moved up through the field finishing sixth (95 Beyer). Impressive win two back in the UAE Derby. A better break today puts him in a nice stalking spot. Can he win here off a six month layoff? Tough assignment. Questions abound, but dangerous.
- Saudi Crown: Took them all the way in the Pennsylvania Derby (105 Beyer) for his first graded stakes win on a sloppy sealed track. Two back he lost head bob to Forte in the Jim Dandy (105 Beyer). Should set the pace again. Can he get ten furlongs against this group? He’ll have company up front. Know him early.
- Clapton: Rebounded to win the Lukas Classic last out where he came from well out of it to get the win (99 Beyer). He’s a versatile runner who can stalk or close from deeper. That flexible running style will give him options and he’ll get pace today to run at, but he needs to be substantially faster to win today. Not likely.
- Ushba Tesoro: Japanese runner enters here off of six straight wins. Last out he won in Japan off a six month layoff after winning the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in Dubai. In the World Cup she was last down the backstretch, and to swing eight wide to get in the clear. He has won all six efforts at ten furlongs, but will need to prove it against this deep and salty field. Contender.
- Senor Buscador: Longshot runner should be running in the lane. In last two efforts he came running in the lane but didn’t have much of an impact. Three back he bested Grade II company in the San Diego Handicap (98 Beyer). Should get a sharp pace to close into. Bottom of Supers.
- Dreamlike: Longshot runner entered by Todd Pletcher off a strong second place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby (104 Beyer) behind Saudi Crown where he closed well but couldn’t catch the winner. Only has one win from six career starts. Passing.
- Bright Future: Winner in a photo with Proxy in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (103 Beyer). He pressed the pace and made first move at the quarter pole and was game late to hold off Proxy. That followed a similar performance against N2X company at Saratoga (100 Beyer). Looks like Pletcher has figured this one out – keep him up close up and on the outside. Minor award.
- Arabian Knight: Earned a 101 Beyer in winning the Pacific Classic with a rail skimming trip. Two back the late Geaux Rocket Ride bested him in the Haskell. Should be up front but he’ll have competition. But a Baffert horse on the lead…we’ve seen that before. Lean against.
- Proxy: Came running late in the Jockey Club Gold Cup to just miss against Bright Future (103 Beyer). Won the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup going to gate to wire as the 2/5 favorite (96 Beyer) two back. Consistent performer who always runs his race. Will need to move forward.