LOUISVILLE, KY - The weather was certainly brisk out at Churchill Downs today but the racing on day 1 of the 2010 Breeders' Cup brought plenty of surprises and big payouts. Here are some thoughts from the first day:
Ladies' Classic (replay)
Unrivaled Belle was apparently sitting on a big race as she made a powerful move on the far turn to sweep to the lead and hold off Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in deep stretch.
What in the world happened to Life At Ten? DRF reports that Johnny V. stated that she didn't warm up well and trainer Todd Pletcher suggested she may have reacted poorly to the Lasix. Whatever it was, she just didn't feel like running at all.
Blind Luck ran as good of a race as a closer can when you're looking at 1:13+ for the first six. She ran the fastest fourth quarter of the field (23.04) and the fastest final eighth (12.00) but had just a bit too much to do after a leisurely early pace.
UPDATE: The Breeders' Cup has released a statement from Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call vet for the Breeders' Cup, on Life At Ten (Press Release Life At Ten). It reads as follows:
Life At Ten, along with all of the other horses that started in the Ladies' Classic, was observed on the track prior to entering the starting gate by three veterinarians. The vet team did not observe any physical problems. She was examined again after the race and again no physical problems were observed. A more in-depth examination will be conducted this evening and tomorrow.
Filly & Mare Turf (replay)
I could have handicapped this race for the next month...heck, year...and never come up with Shared Account as the winner. An "outside-the-box" pick is one thing but I would have had to have gone way outside the box to get to her. Sometimes you just gotta say, "that's racing."
If you picked Shared Account to win, enjoy your cash...cause you got paid!
Shared Account's upset of heavy favorite and defending champion Midday (GB) guaranteed that today's Pick Six would go un-hit, triggering a carryover of $817,642 for tomorrow.
The only favorite to win on the day was the undefeated Awesome Feather's triumph in the Juvenile Fillies, a race that is traditionally won by a horses at lower odds.
About 15 minutes prior to the race when every horse I liked in this race was at less than ideal odds I thought, "hey, I wonder what that undefeated Calder shippers is sitting at?" I then see 4/1 on the board and just shoke my head. I tried to find value in this race but it just wasn't happening.
Bob Baffert has got to be wondering what happened to A Z Warrior in this race. She look brilliant in her morning works training up to this race and I had her penciled in on the top of most of my wagers. But when she didn't break on top like has in her other wins she seemed to lose the will to fight it out.
Filly & Mare Sprint (replay)
Prior to the Breeders' Cup, Dubai Majesty was 0-for-7 in races run at today's distance of seven furlongs. Apparently this mare has little use for statistics because she was mighty impressive in winning . Sadly, I like to look at numbers like that and the first thing I said to myself when she crossed the line was "sure, the 0-for horse at the distance wins." You gotta love this game.
Second choice Sara Louise saw her Breeders' Cup end very quickly when she broke very slowly from the gate.
Juvenile Fillies Turf (replay)
Both Winter Memories and Kathmanblu had less than ideal trips in this race. The favorite was boxed in on the far turn, lacked room to move inside the final quarter mile and didn't have much in the tank in the final 1/16th. Kathmanblu did a bunch of steadying in the early stages of the race and also had to wait a bit in order to finally make a run towards the winner. By the time either of these fillies got clear, More Than Real had the field put away. The winner didn't have the easiest of trips and was forced wide heading into the first turn.
Who says the Marathon isn't an exciting addition to the Breeders' Cup? Okay, okay, it was the post-race fireworks between Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano that got all the attention but still, you can't say it was boring.
Eldaafer proved to the best stayer of the bunch today although I thought that Gabriel's Hill ran a huge race at 26/1 to finish in third.
-The two-turn races at Churchill today really perplexed me. The pace was generally pretty soft but none of the front runners had much, if anything, in deep stretch. Even the sprint races saw pretty pedestrian final fractions, leaving me to believe that we may be looking at a main track that is just a bit on the tiring side.
-Personally, it was a great day for ticket ripping, crumpling and tossing. The Marathon was a zero. My pick in the Juvenile Filly Turf finished 3rd. My pick in the F&M Sprint finished 2nd. The Juvenile Fillies offered no value to me and saw me toss good money after bad in a poorly conceived exacta box in the search for action. In the F&M Turf my pick finished 4th. And the Ladies' Classic topped off the day with Malibu Moon setting an easy lead and then spitting the bit and Havre de Grace grabbing the show spot. Regardless of that, it was still a great day at Churchill Downs.
A bad day at the track is better than a good day at the office.
-European horses didn't fare well on day one, topped by Midday's defeat to a 46/1 shot in the Filly & Mare Turf. Whether that will continue on Saturday remains to be seen but I'm probably going to be a bit bolder in trying to beat one of them tomorrow. I doubt Goldikova (IRE) will be the one to fall but I'm starting to think the Turf might be open to a North American upset. Perhaps Al Khali or Winchester make a bit more sense.
-I went on a distillery tour at the Jim Beam plant in Claremont this afternoon. On the tour they let you sample the "High Wine" which is the product that is placed into the barrels to create spirits (in this case, bourbon). It is essentially moonshine as it is clear like water. The first sip is...how should I put this...strong. But once the "bite" disappears I could actually taste the grain. Dennis, our tour guide, threw it back in one shot. Yours truly needed to take a bit more time.
You want to warm up quickly. Forget hot chocolate. Drink moonshine.
I also got to meet Fred Noe, the great grandson of Jim Beam. Talk about a guy that has some stories to tell; I could have listened to him talk for hours.
-I'll post my thoughts on tomorrow's card early Saturday morning. If today is any indication, write them all down and then "X" those names out on your Form...or pencil them all in to finish 2nd, 3rd or 4th.