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Reviewing the 2009 Breeders’ Cup (Friday Card)

Let's take a look at the results with a race-by-race look at each race, as well as any handicapping lessons we might have learned:


Marathon

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

Man of Iron

6/1

O'Brien

Murtagh

Post Favorite

Mastery (GB)

7/5

bin Suroor

Dettori

ML Favorite

Mastery (GB)

9/5

bin Suroor

Dettori

Lessons Learned: If you look at the past performances of Man of Iron, and compare them to last year's winner, Muhannak (IRE), you just can't help but notice the striking similarities. The same thing holds true for last year's favorite, Sixties Icon, and this year's favorite, Mastery (GB). What's the lesson learned? It doesn't pay to over look the lesser name European horses, especially if that horse got a few races under his belt on the correct surface. Class-wise, Muhannak and Man of Iron didn't measure up to their European competitors, but they both had prior success over synthetic surfaces. In the end, that was the key.


Juvenile Filly Turf

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

Tapitsfly

9/1

Romans

Albarado

Post Favorite

Lillie Langtry (IRE)

7/5

O'Brien

Murtagh

ML Favorite

Lillie Langtry (IRE)

3/1

O'Brien

Murtagh

Lessons Learned: These new juvenile turf races have become a great place to see some big priced winners and Tapitsfly was no exception. My pick, Juia Tepiza (IRE) was a complete no-show in the race, as were the other two Eruos, favorite Lillie Langtry and Elusive Galaxy. In the end the Juvenile Filly Turf turned into a very "American"-style turf race in that the front-end speed performed exceptionally well. The only true lesson that can be derived from this race is that these juvenile races on grass are a wide-open affair.

Quick Stats:

Year

Race

Winner

Payout

2007

Juvenile Turf

Nownownow

$27.20

2008

Juvenile Turf

Donativum (GB)

$13.60

2008

Juvenile Filly Turf

Maram

$24.20

2009

Juvenile Turf

Pounced

$6.80

2009

Juvenile Filly Turf

Tapitsfly

$21.60


Juvenile Fillies

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

She Be Wild

7/1

Catalano

Leparoux

Post Favorite

Blind Luck

7/2

Hollendorfer

T. Baze

ML Favorite

Blind Luck

3/1

Hollendorfer

T. Baze

Lessons Learned: For me, the Juvenile Fillies was the race of the weekend with my pick, She Be Wild, coming on top at 7/1 odds. This race presented an excellent opportunity for some value shopping. Prior to going to post the second favorite on the board was Negligee, winner of the G1-Alicibades at Keeneland on October 9th. Negligee hovered around odds of 4/1 to 5/1, while the runner-up in that race, She Be Wild, sat at 7/1. So essentially we had two horses that were very similar on paper but sitting at significantly different odds on the board. If you liked Negligee at 4/1 or 5/1, you had to love She Be Wild at 7/1. That was the case for me.


Filly & Mare Turf

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

Midday (GB)

2/1

Henry

Queally

Post Favorite

Forever Together

2/1

Sheppard

Leparoux

ML Favorite

Forever Together

5/2

Sheppard

Leparoux

Lessons Learned: Midday (GB), an accomplished Euro with a good amount of stalking speed, had the race set-up for her perfectly in order to deny Forever Together a repeat victory in the Filly & Mare Turf. Forever Together's biggest obstacle in trying to win this race back-to-back was always going to be the pace; as a stone-cold closer she needed the early speed to set strong fractions in order to take full advantage of her big, late kick. Unfortunately, :24 and :484 opening splits didn't do the job, and even though Forever Together ran the final ¼ in an awesome :22.13 seconds, it wasn't enough to catch Midday in deep stretch.

Quick Stat:

Midday and Forever Together's splits:

Horse

1/4

1/2

3/4

Mile

Finish

Midday (GB)

:24.74

:24.62

:23.93

:23.15

:22.70

Forever Together

:25.42

:24.45

:24.61

:22.91

:22.13


Filly & Mare Sprint

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

Informed Decision

7/2

Sheppard

Leparoux

Post Favorite

Ventura

4/5

Frankel

Gomez

ML Favorite

Ventura

9/5

Frankel

Gomez

Lessons Learned: Prior to the Breeders' Cup there were two horses that appeared, on paper, to be the most likely winners on the day: Goldikova (IRE) in the Mile and Ventura in the F&M Sprint. Goldikova got the job done but Ventura was upset by a filly that had defeated her earlier in the year at the Keeneland spring meet. I loved Informed Decision in this race, even if I didn't like taking only 7/2 odds on trying to upset Ventura. Informed Decision has been a monster on synthetic surfaces (now 9-for-9 in her career) and she's been particularly adept at the seven furlong specialty distance. She also is a horse that displays excellent tactical speed, an asset she was able to use in the Breeders' Cup to get a first run on Ventura. Looking at the chart, Ventura ran a faster second quarter, a faster third quarter AND a faster final furlong, but still was unable to win. Think about that for a second: in a seven furlong race, Ventura ran the final five furlongs faster than Informed Decision yet lost. This is an excellent example as to why speed is king in sprint races, even on a synthetic surface.

For comparisons sake, last year's F&M Sprint at the same track went 1:074 for the first six furlongs. This year went 1:093, a significant reduction if you are trying to win as a closer.



Ladies' Classic

Horse

Odds

Trainer

Jockey

Winner

Life is Sweet

8/1

Shirreffs

Gomez

Post Favorite

Careless Jewel

9/5

Carroll

Landry

ML Favorite

Music Note

2/1

bin Suroor

Maragh

Lessons Learned: Careless Jewel, a filly that looked like standout on paper, got loose on the lead and ran herself into the ground by running the second quarter mile in an absurd :221. It's probably not fair to pin the favorite's demise on the jockey but do you think that filly would have ran off like that with Garrett Gomez or Mike Smith in the irons? I certainly don't.

Those fast opening fractions set things up perfectly for Life is Sweet, a filly that had been running behind Zenyatta all year long in California. I didn't think that this race set up very well for a closer, especially considering the smallish field but I also didn't think that the early speed was going to get that out of control. And essentially when Careless Jewel got that far away from them (and since you can't label her as cheap speed) the stalkers had to move early going into the final turn, which contributed to them burning out in deep stretch.