Breeders Cup Preview - The Race of a Lifetime



Personally, one of my problems with the film Secretariat was the way Hollywood  (Disney) treated the racing press as scumbag lowlife.

I saw the film in a virtually empty theater so I didn't have the luxury of crowd reaction. But I can imagine full theaters found the dopey press guys amusing, and laughed out loud at their pathetic antics.

That brings us to the 2010 running of the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic scheduled for a week from Saturday at 6:45 p.m. (race 11 at Churchill Downs). 

I have already seen many missives - and expect to see and hear a great deal more from the nation's press - some of whom were around for Secretariat -who predict with unabashed glee that Zenyatta is going to get her butt beat.

What bothers me is that folks writing that any horse will be beat. More often than not they are right. Fine. But, hey, what about telling the reader who's going to beat the horse?

As for me, I haven't made a call on the Classis or, for that matter, any of the 14 Breeders' Cup events - six on Friday (Nov.5), eight on Saturday (Nov. 6).

There's still plenty of other pre-BC business to get through  - the World Series, the BCS, Boardwalk Empire, Halloween, the elections and Charlie Sheen.

But when push comes to shove next weekend, I will have my BC selections up and running here online 24 hours in advance, and on the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283).

I say red-hot simply because it's true. In one recent stretch of four days this month on the JPHL, I nailed five winners in eight races...all at square prices.


Belmont R8

Belle of the Hall

WON $5.50


Belmont R4

Talk Therapy

WON $16.40


Belmont R7

Laureate Conductor

WON $6.50

Belmont R8

Inherit The Gold

WON $7.80

DD $35.40


Belmont R4

Sunrise Smarty

WON $7.40

So I, as much any of you, will be counting the days.

One thing I do know: If I do try to beat Zenyatta, I'll name names. There are certainly plenty of candidates to do so, starting with Blame, Haynesfield, Quality Road - and a half-dozen sharp  3-year-olds - from Lookin at Lucky down to First Dude, Fly Down, Morning Line, Pleasant Prince, and turf star Paddy O'Prado.

We won't know until entries are drawn Tuesday if Go Ponti, second to Zenyatta in the '09 BCC, will go to the Classic or Mile, where he would face the mighty Goldikova.

If trainer Clement picks the Classic for Gio Ponti, where will jockey Dominguez go? 

Gio or Haynesfield?

A nice problem for Ramon to have...but still a problem.

Let's see...

Gio Ponti is a multiple Eclipse Award-winner of nearly $5 million in graded stakes from coast to coast, but has never run on dirt.

Haynesfield clearly is the absolute speed of the BCC, and fresh from a career race --- a wire-to-wire romp in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

On the other hand, Haynesfield is a New York-bred, who cost a mere 20K, and will be making his first-ever start outside his native State.

Of course you can say Quality Road has the speed to run with Haynesfield, but I can't imagine trainer Pletcher instructing jockey Velazquez to try to engage Haynesfield early, thus setting the race up for  Zenyatta.

The race of the year for the Horse of a Lifetime.

Even trainer Baffert was quoted this week as saying one and all will be rooting for Zenyatta, even him. And, as luck would have it, Bob is running the likely second choice in 3-year-old champ Lookin at Lucky.

More on the second day of the Breeders' Cup in this space next Friday.

For now, let's take a look at Friday's six-pack of Breeders' Cup races - the Marathon, and five races for fillies/mares.

All times are Eastern Standard, and all will be aired nationally among ABC/ESPN/ESPN2.

MARATHON (Race 5, 4:10)

The most despised race in the Breeders' Cup is the 1 ¾-mile Marathon for 3 and up over the main track, and I have to believe the reason is that the  attention span of the average horseplayer is 30 seconds.

This particular running of the Marathon is so wide-open that DRF favorite Giant Oak is zero for his last 13 starts.

One option is to box the four female trainers -  Alvarado (Eldaafer, co-owned by the IBEAH boys); Nihel (Prince Will I Am); Mulhall (Romp), and Gaines (Temple City).

Alcomo, Gabriel's Hill and Eldaafer finished 1-2-3 back in June in the 12-furlong Brooklyn at Belmont Park.

Temple City is the California speed of the race.

Cot Campbell will be bringing half the population of Aiken, S.C., to cheer for Atoned, three times graded-stakes placed in his youth.


Trainer Toner will run the betting favorite (as well  as the sentimental favorite in the unbeaten Winter Memories (2-for-2) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile on the grass.

The gray will be closing fastest and widest under Jockey Lezcano.

Woodbine winner Wyomia has the best Beyer number (91).

The “T” Team from Europe -- Tale Untold, Together and Theyskens' Theory - obviously are runners.

Trainers Pletcher and McPeek send out dangerous closers More Than Real and Kathmanblue, respectively.

FILLY/MARE SPRINT (Race 7, 5:30)

Informed Decision upset the since-retired Ventura in this race last November, has won three stakes this year, and may be the strongest of jockey Leparoux's 13 Breeders' Cup mounts.

The gray currently is working lights-out at Keeneland for trainer Sheppard.

The New York-bred Rightly So exits two front-running stakes victories in New York at this seven-furlong distance, but she'll face much early heat from Gabby's Golden Gal, a Baffert filly unsighted since January; Evening Jewel, Snitch and Secret Gypsy.

Sara Louise, the first filly to beat Rachel Alexandra, is back in form for the sheiks.

FILLY/MARE TURF (Race 8, 6:10)

 Midday won this 11-furlong grass race for the Sheiks in '09, and is 3-1-0 from four starts in '10. No doubt, she'll be short price to repeat, especially since Pure Clan, runner-up in '09, has been retired.

Forever Together, third in this race in '09, tries again, but will have to improve off recent poor form, five losses at short prices.

Éclair de Lune and Hot Cha Cha, one-two in the Arlington Million, are dangerous, as is 3-year-old Harmonious, the Queen Elizabeth II winner from Zenyatta's trainer.


 JUVENILE FILLIES (Race 9, 6:50)

Awesome Feather, 5-for-5 at Calder (four of them stakes) may off lukewarm favorite in this wide-open 1 1/16 mile for 2-year-old fillies.

The top three from the Frizette - A Z Warrior, R Heat Lightning and Joyful Victory - are dangerous. As are Delightful Mary from Canada, and Tell A Kelly, who looks the best of the Californians.

Nothing in the field has hit a 90 on the Beyer scale.

LADIES' CLASSIC (Race 10, 7:30)

The Churchill lights will be at full blast for the 1 1/8 mile Classic, which lost a lot of juice when Rachel was suddenly retired last month.

Blind Luck, who won the Kentucky Oaks over the track back in April, will be favored under Rosario in her first race against older.

The Toddster will run an uncoupled entry of Life At Ten and Malibu Prayer, both multiple graded-stakes winners. The latter won a Grade 2 over the track, and may be the controlling speed in Rachel's absence.

Havre de Grace beat Blind Luck at Philly Park, but is on the wrong end of a 10-pound weight shift.

Acoma, the Spinster winner making the last start of her career, and Evening Jewel are dangerous longshots.

Thanks for tuning in. Good luck this week, keep an eyeball peeled for the JP Hot Line, and see you back here next week for a preview of Day Two of the Breeders' Cup.


Today’s Hot Plays