In 2020, when almost none of the major races has been run in their normal calendar positions but have at least all been run, the Breeders' Cup will go Friday and Saturday when and where it was supposed to be all along.
There will be no spectators beyond some owners, trainers and media at Keeneland, but the promise of the 14 races over two days has everyone who loves the sport ready for the non-stop action.
Here are my picks:
Juvenile Turf Sprint
1. Golden Pal; 2. Dirty Dangle; 3. Cowan
Golden Pal is all speed and all talent. Love the outside post and the possibility of a clean trip. Dirty Dangle overcame major traffic problems in her last race but won anyway.
1. Abarta; 2. New Mandate; 3. Outadore
Abarta was really unlucky when second in the Bourbon Stakes. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong. The colt will be a great price with a real chance.
1. Vequist; 2. Girl Daddy; 3. Dayoutoftheoffice
Four fillies in this race are a combined 11-for-11, Naturally, I am picking none of them, although any of them could win. Parx-based horses have won a BC race each of the last two years. Vequist, trained by Butch Reid, can make it three. She was compromised by a difficult, uncomfortable trip when second in the Frizette. Princess Noor is likely going to be favored. Her last workout was incredible, but she has not yet run fast enough to beat any of the other contenders.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
1. Campanelle; 2. Miss Amulet; 3. Aunt Pearl
Campanelle has won in Florida, England and France. Her trainer, Wesley Ward, regularly wins major races in the US and Europe. Has the great jockey, Frankie Dettori, speed, and is unbeaten.
1. Jackie’s Warrior; 2. Keepmeinmind; 3. Reinvestment Risk
Jackie’s Warrior has dominated all four of his starts, winning by a combined 13¼ lengths and never looking like a loser at any point in any race. Keepmeinmind is a live closing longshot.
Filly and Mare Sprint
1. Sally’s Curlin; 2. Serengeti Empress; 3. Gamine
If several of the contenders engage in a wild speed duel, this could set up for a late rally by a longshot like Sally’s Curlin, a horse that could not beat the major contenders under any other scenario.
1. Imprimis; 2. Leinster; 3. Extravagant Kid
Imprimis ran like he hated the ground at Kentucky Downs but managed to win anyway. This race is always wild, so almost no result would be a major surprise.
1. Knicks Go; 2. Complexity; 3. Mr Freeze
I can see Knicks Go hitting the front at the start, with Complexity a few lengths back. By the time they hit the stretch, I could see them lengths ahead of the field in a two-horse race to the wire.
Filly and Mare Turf
1. Rushing Fall; 2. Mean Mary; 3. Sistercharlie
Rushing Fall was fairly crying to run in his final workout. She is 11-for-14 lifetime, 5-for-6 at Keeneland. Mean Mary is going to the front and will not be easy to pass.
1. Yaupon; 2. Manny Wah; 3. Bon Raison
This is the weakest group of sprinters in years. And there is very little early speed except Yaupon. I see Yaupon clearing the field early, never being caught and improving his record to 5-for-5.
1. Kameko; 2. March to the Arch; 3. Ivar
Kameko’s very best races are good enough to capture one of the world’s hardest races to win. March to the Arch kept trying in the Woodbine Mile despite a very uncomfortable trip.
1. Swiss Skydiver; 2. Monomoy Girl; 3. Ollie’s Candy
So we have Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver against Monomoy Girl, who has run against 101 horses and finished in front of 100 of them. If you are playing any kind of a multiple-race wager, use them both.
1. Magical; 2. Tarnawa; 3. Mogul
Last year’s Turf had one of the weakest bunch of Euros ever. American grass horses ran one-two. The real Euros are here this time, led by the great 5-year-old mare Magical. She has won seven Group I races and was second to the great Enable in this race two years ago.
1. Authentic; 2 Improbable; 3. By My Standards
So this race has the 2020 winners of the Kentucky Derby (Authentic) and Belmont Stakes (Tiz the Law) as well as last year’s Derby winner for 20 minutes (Maximum Security), and last year’s Derby and Preakness favorite Improbable, who has won three straight major Grade I races and just had a workout last weekend that is among the best I have ever seen. Horse of the Year is on the line, and any of five horses could win. Anybody who knows me knows I love early speed. I think Authentic is going to clear this field and duplicate his great Derby performance. That might be enough, but it won’t be easy. These 10 horses have won a combined $28,892,030.