That’s what today is all about as the second day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship takes place at Santa Anita.
Post time for the first BC race today is 11:30 a.m. with the last of the races going at 5 p.m. The big race of the day – the Classic – starts at 3:40 p.m.
Here is a look at the nine BC races:
Dirt Mile (11:30 a.m.): The BC races kick off for the day with one of my favorite races to watch every year. There is a sad tint to this day as Practical Move, one of the top horses in the race, passed away at Santa Anita the other day.
The emotion of the race will not be diminished as far as Cody’s Wish (Bill Mott trainer, Junior Alvarado jockey, 9-5) is concerned. The defending champ, named after a 13-year-old with a genetic condition that was not expected to live past two.
Last year at Keeneland after the race it was an emotional scene without a dry eye in the winner’s circle. He is 3-for-4 this year, running third in the Grade I Whitney after having footing issues. He returned to win the Grade II Vosburgh in early October. He is a perfect seven-for-seven at the one-mile distance and is the deserving favorite here.
Zoros(Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 6-1) is a scary one as he may get an easy lead here and hard to run down.
National Treasure(Bob Baffert, Flavian Prat, 8-1) was your Preakness winner this year – the shortest of the three Triple Crown races – but has not run this short of a race since January when he was third in the Sham at Santa Anita.
My play: Will not go against Cody’s Wish. I cashed last year and plan on cashing again this year. I think I will add an exacta play with Cody’s Wish over Zoros and National Treasure.
Filly and Mare Turf (12:10 p.m.): This is one of those races with the European horses who are very tough to beat.
Warm Heart(Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore, 3-1) is one of the favorites and with good reason. She has won her last two starts and did so by battling in both. In her last start she stumbled badly at the start, took the lead with 150 yards to go, then held on to win by a neck. Two back she rallied with three furlongs left and held on to win by a head.
Inspiral(John Gosdon, Frankie Dettori, 5-2): The horse has won 8-of-12 starts on the turf and has a legend in the irons. He has won two in a row, with both coming from off the race with rallies from three furlongs out. The last was a 3-plus length win where the horse eased towards the finish in a convincing showing.
Fev Rover(Mark Casse, Javier Castellano, 8-1): Might be the best horse that has been running in North America for the last two years since coming over from England. Running at Woodbine for the most part, she has won three of five starts this year. Did win a Grade I last time out, beating a pair of runners also entered here.
My play: As much as I try to beat the Europeans runners, I can’t do it here. Warm Heart has shown big heart in winning her last two so that is going to be my choice here.
Filly and Mare Sprint (12:50 p.m.): Is on the main track with the ladies going seven furlongs.
Goodnight Olive(Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-5) is the heavy favorite as she ships across the country for the race. She has won two of four starts this year. Ran second last time to Echo Zulu at Saratoga but got a monster 108 Beyer figure. An impressive figure but I think she’s a beatable favorite. Eda(Bob Baffert, Juan Hernandez, 10-1) had won six straight until getting beat last start, showing no late kick. That was September 29 and the horse had some nice works for the return. Has won 4-of-5 at Santa Anita.
Matareya (Brad Cox, Flavian Prat, 6-1) is an interesting horse in that Prat chooses to ride here instead of Yuugirl, a horse he had won two in a row. The horse has only won once in four starts this year but has weakened in the last two starts, which should be a cause for concern.
Society (Steve Asmussen, Tyler Gaffalione, 5-2) has romped in her last two starts winning by 10, then 5-plus lengths, earning Beyers of 105 and 106. There is no secret style here – she is going to the front and playing come catch me.
My play: It’s going to be interesting as Society will go for the lead and Goodnight Olive will look to run them down late. I think Eda will get first run at the early speed and in the final 100 yards will be the one to run down. Eda for the win and in an exacta box with Society and Goodnight Olive.
Mile-Turf (1:30 p.m.): Another where the Europeans are the horses to beat, but there is a Japanese horse that could be a major player.
Mawj(Saaed bin Suroor, Oisin Murphy, 4-1) is coming off four wins in a row, the last two in England, with the other two in the UAE. It seems like he can run on the lead or sit right off and turn it on late. One to watch here.
Songline(Toru Hayashi, Keita Tosaki, 5/2) crashes the party from Japan. He had won two straight but then second by a nose. Has won five of nine at the distance and figures to get a lot of support at the window.
Exaulted (Peter Eurton, Juan Hernandez, 20-1) is an American runner that caught my eye. The horse is 4-for-4 on the turf at Santa Anita. His last start was second in his last start – the Grade II Dream Mile at Del Mar. He likes to stalk the pace and pounce late, possibly giving him first run on the closers, provided he gets a good pace to run at.
Master of the Seas(Charles Appleby, William Buick, 7/2) is an Irish horse that shipped over to North America in September from Great Britian. After winning a Grade I at Woodbine in September, he was second in the Grade I Turf Mile at Keeneland in early October.
My play: Hard to overlook Mawj and that must be a win play and a key in exotics, but I am thinking of playing some on Exaulted at some big odds. I am also thinking Mawj would be the play as the horse to play others rather than a box.
Distaff (2:10 p.m.): I think this comes down to two horses and it is an East vs. West showdown.
Idiomatic(Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 5-2) carries the flag of the East Coast. The winner of four in a row and earning 100-plus Beyer marks in all four certainly is worthy of the favorite role. Three of the races she wired the field, with the fourth being an impressive recovery after stumbling at the start.
Then there is home track runner Adare Manor(Bob Baffert, Juan Hernandez, 4-1). Nine career starts at Santa Anita have yielded six wins and three seconds. Prefers to be in the lead but can also run just off. Hasn’t racked up as impressive Beyers but if history has proved anything over the years in the BC, home track does matter.
Randomized (Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz, 5-1) also comes from back east and deserves mention here for winning four-of-five starts this year. Winner of three straight, the last two efforts have been impressive, winning by over three lengths in both races.
My play: I honestly believe the winner comes from the three horses I mentioned. I am going to be a West Coast homer and go with Adare Manor on the win end, with a place backup.
Turf (2:50 p.m.): The premier race of the day for the European horses, I will not be spending a ton of time on this race and realistically will not play a ticket.
Auguste Rodin(Aiden O’Brien, Ryan Moore, 3-1) brings together yet again the dynamic duo of O’Brien and Moore – think locally of Hollendorfer and Baze. Three wins in the last four races, with the lone loss coming when the horse was eased two back. Moore has been up in the last seven starts.
Mostahdaf (John Gosdin, Jim Crowley, 5-2) is your favorite and the last two starts have earned the horse that. He won the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot in June with Crowley up, then came back to win the Juddmonte International at York in late August under the guidance of Frankie Dettori. The horse seems to find another gear in the final two furlongs.
Up to the Mark (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1) gives the American runners a better chance than usual. It is almost always a given to concede the race to a European horse, but this one does give cause for pause. The winner of 5-of-6 starts this year has three straight 100-plus Beyer marks. I might feel better if the race was at Keeneland, but the chance of a win is exciting.
My play: Traditionally this is not a race I wager on but that may change this year. I won’t get carried away but Up to the Mark may warrant a few ducks.
The Classic (3:40 p.m.): This is the big race of the weekend, carrying a purse of $6 million.
The 7-2 favorite Arcangelo scratched out of the race, but it was already a wide-open race with what I considered a lukewarm favorite.
White Abarrio(Richard Dutrow, Irad Ortiz Jr., 4-1) might be your defacto-favorite. A winner of two of his four starts this year, he is hardly a heavy favorite. The last start – a 6-length win in the Whitney in August was impressive, but it followed a three-length third in the Metropolitan Mile, and it was at 10-1, so he was nowhere near the favorite.
Arabian Knight(Bob Baffert, Flavian Prat, 3-1) is the horse to beat in my mind, winner of two of three starts this year. Was in the Kentucky Derby talk earlier this year after easily winning the Southwest in January.
Had a setback and went to the shelf until July. Has comeback well, winning the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in early September. Has been working well and should be a factor at the end.
Derma Sotogake(Hidetaka Otonashi, Christophe Lemaire, 20-1) I have this horse on my list as when we last saw him, he was finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He had become the wise guy horse of the Derby, and he didn’t run a bad race.
We haven’t seen him since that race but if comes in ready, should get some love at the betting windows.
Bright Future(Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 10-1) warrants a serious look after his last two races. Two back was an optional claimer at Saratoga, but he won by four-lengths and earned a Beyer of 100.
He came back with a Grade I win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, winning by a nose and earning a 103 Beyer. Impossible not to have this one in the mix.
Zandon(Chad Brown, Frankie Dettori, 12-1) is a horse that will not go off in double digits. Has only won once in the last four starts but has run off four 100-plus Beyer numbers in those starts. Comes from off the pace and will be flying late.
My play: While I said Arabian Knight is the horse to beat, he is by no means a gimme. This is probably going to be a close to post time bet as I will watch the tote and consult with some friends I trust before making a bet.
Turf Sprint (4:25 p.m.): This a race where the American horses can and do win.
Caravel(Brad Cox, Tyler Gaffalione, 5-1) is a sprint specialist, having won 10 of 16 starts at the distance. He has lost his last two starts, one of which he bumped at the start and at 5 furlongs, that’s a death knell.
Live In The Dream(Adam West, Sean Kirrane, 9-2) appears to be the best from Europe but has only won three of seven starts this year, including the last start at Keeneland where he turned for home in the lead by two lengths and finished fourth. The running line says, “faltered).
Motorious(Phil D’Amato, Flavian Prat, 5-1) is from Great Britian but has been running on this side of the pond since March of 2022. He has won three and ran second twice in his five starts this year. He comes from off the pace and will have a good pace to run at here.
My play: I am going with Motorious on the win end. Friday, I saw some furious closes on the turf, and I think this might set up for another.
Sprint (5 p.m.): The 2023 BC ends with my other favorite race of the weekend. This might be the most wide-open race of the day.
Elite Power(Bill Mott, Irad Ortiz, 9-5) is the defending champ and the favorite here. But this isn’t the East Coast as he has no starts over the track. Has won three of four and the three wins were impressive, but he was beaten in his last start as the prohibitive favorite.
Gunite(Steve Asmussen, Tyler Gaffalione, 4-1) is the horse that beat Elite Power in the last start. He has three wins and three seconds in seven starts this year. Prefers a front-end trip and will be a pace factor.
The Chosen Vron(Eric Kruljac, Hector Berrios, 5-1) has won eight starts in a row but most have been Cal-bred races. He did serve notice in winning the Bing Crosby at Del Mar coming from off the pace to win at 5-1. His toughest company yet but the horse just knows how to win.
Speed Boat Beach(Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, 3-1) has only one start this year and it was second over the track in late September. Has some good works over the track in his back pocket.
Dr. Schivel(Mark Glatt, Juan Hernandez, 5-1) was the runner up in this race in 2021 but only had one start all last year. That was third in the UAE.
Has come back slowly this year but may be hitting his stride with a win in the Santa Anita Sprint Challenge in late September. He received a 103 Beyer for the effort and has won 6-of-9 at the distance over the Santa Anita track, so if there is a horse for the course – this might be the one.
My play: Sorry to do this for the second straight race but this one that is going to take some conversation with my confidants. At this point I would be leaning towards the Chosen Vron or Dr. Schivel.