On Track with Johnny D: Christmas in November

Christmas in November

Friday and Saturday I’m looking for a slice of Christmas in November. Specifically, the gift-giving and getting aspect of the holiday. You know, presents under the tree. Bulging stockings. Envelopes from relatives stuffed with cash. That sliver of Christmas.

For a moment, forget the Nativity. This November version embraces the heathen angle. In fact, we should call it Cashmas. It’s all about the Benjamins. Although, I suppose, there still will be plenty of praying involved. Maybe more than there is on Christmas.

During this two-day faux holiday you can forget about Johnny Mathis and his chestnuts roasting by an open fire. If he were alive, Bing would get it. As Del Mar co-founder, he’d probably agree to substitute White Christmas—the world’s all-time number-one selling single–with something more along the lines of a ‘Green’ one.

Forget Rudolph’s red nose, too. The November version relies more on the length, not color, of a horse’s shnoz. A slim margin of victory in a tight photo finish will banish the Grinch and welcome Santa and his sack of cash into the house through the front door instead of down the chimney like a common crook.

Of course, we’re going to retain the best aspect of an actual Christmas: Giving. You’ve already accessed Xpressbet’s FREE Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide, right? And you’ve checked the daily FREE updates, too? If not, you’re missing out on valuable presents.

Below is another gift for you from under the tree. It’s one man’s humble opinion of how the 35th Breeders’ Cup might unfold. Like most Christmas gifts it may be the incorrect size, color, model or…come to think of it…just plain incorrect—for two consecutive days.

If that’s the case, in the spirit of Christmas, just remember: It’s the thought that counts! Merry Cashmas!

Friday Nov. 2nd Churchill Downs

Race 5 Juvenile Turf Sprint

2 Soldier’s Call – ran against older as a 2-year-old last out in France and nearly won. That’s pretty good.

5 Bulletin – won by a block in his only Gulfstream start.

10 So Perfect – a 10-1 shot with solid Euro form. Poor post though.

4 Stillwater Cove – a 20-1 filly with things to like.

3 Well Done – may be a bit ‘overcooked’ in his 10th start this year, but is an exotic consideration at 12-1.


Race 6 Juvenile Fillies Turf

Most Likely Breeders’ Cup Winner

#6 Newspaperofrecord

Exotic Considerations

14 East – Horrible post. Nice price 20-1

3 Lilly’s Candle – Improving at 8-1.

2 The Mackem Bullet – stretching out here 15-1.


Race 7 Juvenile Fillies

Things could get very contentious up front early. Bombs Away!

1 Reflect – Might set up for her @ 15-1.

The early pace brigade:

10 Bellafina – One to beat. Must go from outside.

2 Serengetti Empress – Won last 2 by over 33 lengths! Wants to lead.

7 Jaywalk – Also could get a speeding ticket.

8 Sippican Harbor – Stretches out here at 12-1 off solid Spinaway score.


Race 8 Juvenile Turf

Usually a Euro affair, so we’ll lean in that direction.

5 Line of Duty – Improving with each start. First Lasix. 10-1

9 The Black Album – Worth attention at 30-1 off improving French form.

4 Forty Under – Solid US form.

14 Anthony Van Dyck – Stuck way outside, 6 starts since July, short price, no thanks.


Race 9 Juvenile

Like with the girls, there’s plenty of early pace in the boys’ version, too.

8 Standard Deviation – Interesting 12-1 shot, had 13-hole routing in last, wide and rallied. More to give. Blinks on for Chad Brown? Check changes.

9 Game Winner – Baffert, 2-year-old, short price. Sound familiar?

6 Complexity – Speed to lead for a long time.

11 Code of Honor – Should be running late.

12 Gunmetal Grey – Talented, post no help.


Saturday, Nov. 3 Churchill Downs

Race 3 Filly & Mare Sprint

Plenty of speed in here, so winner from just off pace.

13 Marley’s Freedom – Should sit the trip from the outside and kick home.

5 Golden Mischief – Worked well at CD and won last. Right style for this.

11 Finley’sluckycharm – Has won 6 of 7 at CD – has to count for something. Distance not best.


Race 4 Turf Sprint

This race is a buffet of sorts. Choose a Jason Servis or two and add a Peter Miller or two. Please note: 7/2 Favorite Disco Partner does not like a soft turf. It’s Thursday and currently raining in Louisville. So, there’s that.

Servis Speed

4 Vision Perfect

11 World of Trouble

Miller Speed

12 Richard’s Boy

14 Conquest Tsunami

Servis Closer

6 Rainbow Heir

Miller Closer

9 Stormy Liberal


Race 5 Dirt Mile

Longshot Alert!!

1 City of Light (5-2) and 10 Catalina Cruiser (8/5) are the ones to beat in here.

The Dirt Mile, however, has produced some decent upsets. My colleague Jeremy Plonk suggested I investigate 3 Isotherm as a possible shocker. He’s right! 3 Isotherm is a great exotics chance at 20-1. If things get silly, he’s got a chance to win at a huge price. Last out he was in contention with BC Classic favorite Accelerate and West Coast in the Awesome Again. Before that he was widest of all throughout going a mile at Del Mar. At 5, he’s run on dirt just five times in his career—a maiden, a stakes race and 3 Grade 1 races. He’s cutting back in distance – an historic winning formula in this race. Long story short, there’s a lot to like, especially at 20-1!


Race 6 Filly & Mare Turf

Trainer Chad Brown has five starters in this race. They are not created equal. 1 Fourstar Crook and 6 Sistercharlie are his best hopes and either of them wouldn’t be a surprise. 3 Wild Illusion, from the Charlie Appleby yard for Godolphin, is my top pick. She’s just 7-2 odds, so there’s really no scoop involved.


Race 7 Sprint

For a matchup between the best sprinters in the world this race really doesn’t have that much early speed. What’s there is quick, make no mistake, but there’s just not a lot of it. 2 Promises Fulfilled is a very quick 3-year-old. He will make the pace and dare them to come catch him. 5 Imperial Hint is the favorite and an outstanding sprinter, but he’s not as quick as the former runner. 7 Distinctive B will be sent by trainer Peter Miller in an attempt to soften the pace up for stalking defending champ 9 Roy H.


Race 8 Mile

5 Oscar Performance is the only speed…BUT…he hates soft turf and the Churchill weeds should be the consistency of Charmin. Euros haven’t done well in this race, so we’ll go with 2 Next Shares off a nice win at Keeneland and Kentucky Downs before that. 12 Analyze It likes firm and 10 Catapult has solid Del Mar form over firm. 6 Almanaar also likes it firm. But it won’t be firm!!!! That’s it for the home team. 7 Expert Eye is a Euro with an ‘eye’ toward winning this and has looked good training at CD. 8 I Can Fly, a 3-year-old filly, finished second to Roaring Lion last out. 11 Lightning Spear is just 2 for his last 13 but has faced the best for a few years. 14 Mustashry has good paper but is stuck in a terrible post. 4 Polydream is a 5-1 Euro invader with lots of backing.


Race 9 Distaff

If the real 2 Abel Tasman shows up, it’s over. But there’s serious doubt about that happening. Her last race was too ugly to be believed. She’ll really have to bounce back in a hurry. 11 Monomoy Girl has speed and will use it from the far outside post. She’s had a long year and has a few quirks. 10 Blue Prize is a warrior that always shows up. She’s a nice key. 7 Midnight Bisou, another 3-year-old, seems to be coming up to a big one. She got closer to 11 Monomoy Girl at Parx last out.


Race 10 Turf

2 Enable attempts to become the first Arc winner to capture the Turf in the same year. She’s different than the rest, though, because she’s only had 2 races this year and is fresh. Former Arc winners ventured to Breeders’ Cup as an afterthought. 2 Enable is a special racehorse and should not lose. 3 Channel Maker has a pace advantage over a soft course. Contender 4 Robert Bruce does not like soft turf. 12 Waldgeist is serious threat from a terrible post position.

Race 11 Classic

Horse by Horse Analysis followed by Suggested $100 Wager Strategy


1 Thunder Snow – Blew out for this race and was asked a bit. He fell into a perfect trip last out and couldn’t hold off Discreet Lover. These are tougher.


2 Roaring Lion – Don’t think the trainer wanted to come to BC with this one. First time dirt. Not for me.


3 Catholic Boy – Travers winner looks sensational. Top 3-year-old versus older. Should run well.


4 Gunnevera – He’s had chances before and seems just a cut below the top.


5 Lone Sailor – No early speed and will need something crazy to happen up front.


6 McKinzie – Like Catholic Boy, at the top of the 3yo division. Trained by Baffert, should run well.


7 West Coast – Baffert’s other runner at 4 has faced the best competition of anyone in the field. He needed his most recent race and Baffert’s leaned on him in the mornings since. Expect his best Saturday and that might be good enough.


8 Pavel – Tough to figure. Biggest race of his career came at Churchill, but that’s about his only real highlight.


9 Mendelssohn – 3yo has plenty of speed but rarely finishes what he starts. Except for that one night in Dubai when he freaked.


10 Yoshida – Like Catholic Boy he switched from turf to dirt and exploded! He’s a gorgeous animal that will be running from behind in a race with some decent pace. However, going off just one dirt win is difficult for this horseplayer.


11 Mind Your Biscuits – He’s a throwback. Has won a Grade 1 sprinting and routing. A real achievement. He’s going to be in a great spot in this race, just behind several frontrunners. He’s also got a nice win over the track. Count him in the mix.


12 Axelrod – Another 3-year-old, he’s not quite as good as some of his classmates. However, jot his name down. He’s improving and will make some noise down the road.


13 Discreet Lover – Every dog has his day and that’s apparently true of horses, too. He got a great pace setup last out to capture a Grade 1 and complete a Cinderella story.


14 Accelerate – He’s favored and the most accomplished runner in the field. However, there are reasons not to rush to wager on him. Post 14 is not ideal. His last race was less than exciting. At this writing his trainer is 0-43 with Breeders’ Cup starters and 2-29 the last 5 years in graded stakes races outside of California. That’s a lot to swallow at 5-2 odds.


$100 Suggested Wager

Key Horse: 7 West Coast

Should Run Well: 3 Catholic Boy, 6 McKinzie, 11 Mind Your Biscuits, 14 Accelerate


$.50 Superfecta ($50)


3, 6, 11, 14

3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14

3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11


$.50 Superfecta ($50)

3, 6, 11, 14


3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14

3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Race On!

On Track with Johnny D: Christmas in November

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