One Week Out, Del Mar Pick 4 Analysis
We’re approximately one week out from the 2020 Breeders’ Cup. And that’s not much time. Especially when you consider the amount of preparation required to analyze 201 pre-entered worldwide runners sandwiched into 14 races. So, what’s the best way to dig into early BC data for insight into which horses might ultimately attract your wagering dollars?
There will be changes and defections to the list of pre-entered runners but, basically, we now have snapshots of what BC fields might look like—baring critical post position details. Accordingly, most data providers offer some type of pre-entry package. Daily Racing Form and Thoro-Graph are my top choices and their pre-entry products help to begin in-depth BC handicapping. DRF.com also offers detailed BC divisional analysis online, including news, comments and odds. Thoro-Graph Speed figures and additional stats are invaluable, especially as they relate to European invaders.
Video analysis often is touted as a way to familiarize yourself with BC runners, especially those you’ve never seen, like international imports. One issue with too much BC replay analysis is that after a while everyone looks invincible. After all, this is the Breeders’ Cup, most runners wouldn’t be here unless they’d been somewhat impressive on the track. Nearly all will look outstanding in a recent race or two. Still, while reviewing BC replays it is possible to find an extenuating circumstance or two along the way. For example, Improbable looked sensational winning both the Whitney and Awesome Again. Video shows that he benefitted from a serious stumble at the start by Whitney favorite Tom’s d’Etat in the former and from a perfect pace setup in the latter.
Still, it’s one thing to be offered an advantage and another to seize upon the moment and pounce on the opportunity. Improbable looked a beast in both races and may have won each without any help. Such is the challenge of handicapping deep fields occupied by talented horses; it’s difficult to throw anyone out. But exclude you must! BC exotics are juicy, but you can’t use ‘em all. You’ve got to break some eggs along the way. Draw lines through talented horses. Leave contenders off tickets. And be prepared to feel the burn when one of them jumps up and wins.
Another clever resource for BC pre-entry info is Xpressbet’s FREE Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide. Each race is analyzed in depth and is accompanied by expert selections and wagering strategies. Additionally, useful stats and trends for each race produce useful profiles of the types of horses you may want to use. The Wager Guide will have an updated version once races are drawn and experts like Eddie Olcyzk and Brent Musburger will add their contributions.
Unless you’re getting paid to follow racing, you probably don’t have the time to investigate this entire BC whodunit or, more accurately, whogonnadoit in depth. Our advice is to get some advice from an expert or two. People whose opinions you’ve learned to trust. Xpressbet’s Jeff Siegel is one we’ll whole-heartedly endorse. If you don’t follow his race analysis on a regular basis, you should. He knows the handicapping game inside and out and does the work. He’s not always correct, none of us are, but you can be certain that you’re getting the best analysis available.
Great luck with your BC journey. It’s a fabulous two days of racing and the long-term weather forecast for Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7 looks encouraging. In the meantime, let’s attempt to increase our pre-BC bankroll this Saturday with Del Mar’s late pick 4. It’s opening weekend of the fall season ‘Where the Turf Meets the Surf,’ so expect surprises. Remember, pay particular attention to runners that previously have performed well at Del Mar. Also, keep a keen eye out for apprentices Jessica Pyfer and Alexis Centeno, especially in one turn races and on speed horses stretching out on the main track. They’re going to win often in the next few weeks.
Below is one man’s opinion regarding a challenging pick 4 sequence. Great luck!
Saturday, Oct. 31–Del Mar
This is a state-bred maiden 2-year-old $50k claiming sprint at five and one-half furlongs on the main track. Races like this often unleash longshot surprises because those that have already started don’t look invincible. #10 Theluteismine is the best of that lot but he’s moving from turf to dirt and from one mile to a sprint. He gets top jock Flavien Prat for a barn that wins races, so there’s that. As you can see below, he’s the top pick in here.
#3 From the Get Go has some things in his favor. Trainer Luis Mendez is a sparkling 24% with second time out maiden 2-y-os, according to Thoro-Graph. First out for maiden $32k he wasn’t quick early, moved nicely mid-race and then was green in the lane to finish a well-beaten second but well-clear of the rest. He took some money. Apprentice Alexis Centeno moved to the saddle and is 1-for-3 with this barn at Del Mar, according to DRF stats. This colt is a reach in here but should improve off his first race.
#4 Runaway Wywy lost all chance at the start of his first race against open maidens at 67-1 odds. He just galloped around the track. Since then he has worked every seven days and has two nice gate moves—1:01 and 1:00 4/5. Blinkers go on today. Trainer Edwin Alvarez has won just 1 of 39 this season. He’s another reach in here but, like #3 From the Get Go, has some factors in his favor and may be a useful exotic inclusion at a price.
#8 Gate of Heaven showed some speed in his first two starts in state-bred maiden races—dirt and turf, respectively. The colt comes back relatively quickly (Oct. 16) off an improved effort and now goes for a tag. He also switches from turf back to dirt. He was bounced around at the start last out but ran okay before tiring. Trainer Shelby Ruis has had some success with jockey Assael Espinoza (2-for-8) and switches to him for this class drop.
#10 Theluteismine has top jock Flavien Prat and starts for trainer Peter Miller. They combine to win at 27% and Miller second-time starters hit at 23%. Strong stats. The turf to dirt Miller angle hits at 19%. Video review of his first start shows a wide trip from an outside post while in contention. Understandably, the first timer faded late and checked when the issue was already decided. The gelding drops from state-bred maidens into a claiming race for owner/breeder Gary Barber. He’s clearly the one to beat.
We have examined this race from a variety of angles, and suggest that the best plan of attack is to spread as wide a net as possible over this field. There is plenty of pace in here on paper and that’s tricky because jocks and trainers read the same past performances and adjust strategy to fit the circumstances. What should happen is that there ought to be a meltdown in the lane with this entire field bunching up in the final sixteenth—there’s not much between them at all. DRF’s Brad Free pointed out that this particular race—The Kathryn Crosby—often produces longshot winners.
1. Ellie Arroway has a pair of victories and both came in wire-to-wire fashion and with the rail she should use her speed again. She’s one of many with that commodity.
2. Never Be Enough has 6 wins—3 this year, all at Golden Gate. She sits just off the early pace and should save ground along the rail. The 5-year-old mare faded on this course going a mile and three-eighths in July.
3. Proud Emma has the Peter Miller/Flavien Pratt 26% combo in her corner. She’s got 5 wins, and graded stakes experience in her corner. She’s got the right style for this race, too. Her big question surrounds turf; she’s only tried it once—yielding in Grade 2 company. She’s a 4-year-old with 3-year-old graded stakes efforts on her resume and that’s often a sign that connections once saw something promising in her. Despite her lack of turf experience, she’s our top pick in here.
4. She’s Our Charm has 3 wins for Ron McAnally and they’ve all come in wire-to-wire fashion. She should add to the early pace. She’s also been first, second and third in 3 Del Mar turf tries.
5. Muchly gets Umberto Rispoli and he rode her to victory one race back here at Del Mar. She has the right style for this race sitting just off the early leaders. As we’ve said before in this space: Players could do a lot worse than automatically using Prat and Rispoli in all turf races. This 4-year-old filly will be on our tickets.
6. Cordiality loves Del Mar turf—3 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts and she loves winning in general—12 wins in 33 starts for the 7-year-old mare. Last out she went wire-to-wire in winning the restricted Swingtime at Santa Anita. In fact, all 3 of her most recent wins came in wire-to-wire fashion. Starting to see a pattern in here…there are several fillies and mares that like to go wire-to-wire. Obviously, they all can’t this time.
7. Qahira is stretching out beyond 7 furlongs for the first time in a long time and she’s trying turf for the first time for trainer Bob Baffert. As strong a trainer as Baffert is his horses haven’t had much success on turf. In this case, it appears this filly can only add to an already hot pace.
8. Colonial Creed starts for the successful Richard Baltas barn and she’s got the right style for this race in that she can sit just off the early pace. However, 2 of her 3 lifetime wins have come in wire-to-wire fashion. She went around there evenly last out in the Swingtime to finish third behind #6 Cordiality and #5 Muchly—so, like just about everyone in here, she fits.
Things don’t get much easier in this $50k optional claimer/starter allowance race for 2-year-olds. Five of these won last starts by at least 4 lengths. Trouble is, for handicapping purposes, it’s difficult to compare those efforts because they came at 4 different tracks—Del Mar, Santa Anita (2), Emerald Downs and Sweetwater Downs in Rock Springs, Wyoming (not sure I’ve ever handicapped a horse from Sweetwater Downs).
1. Mister Bold won a state-bred $50k maiden race by four and one-half lengths at Del Mar in September and looked good doing it. He was 7-2 in the 10-horse field, so someone thought he had a shot. The colt he easily beat #3 Wedding Groom returned to win by eighth and one-half lengths next out. Winning rider Abel Cedillo moves to #2 Uncle Boogie but is replaced by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Can’t dismiss this colt.
2. Uncle Boogie romped first out at Santa Anita against maiden $32 foes a few weeks ago. He was 4-1 and accomplished victory while earning a field-topping Beyer Speed Figure of 64. As mentioned, jockey Cedillo remains here instead of aboard #1 Mister Bold.
3. Wedding Groom lost to #1 Mister Bold first out by more than 4 lengths and then returned to romp by 8 next out. All 3 of the inside runners have speed, but this colt might be just a bit quicker than the other two. He’s been favored in both of his last two and was less than even money last out while stretching out from five and one-half furlongs to six panels.
4. Swift as I Am invades off a big score first out at Emerald Downs. He makes his local debut for trainer John Sadler and has the services of top jock Flavien Prat. The victory up north came at the maiden $25k level, so this ought to be a step up in class. He also was 17-1 in a field of just 8, which suggests he hadn’t shown much in the morning.
5. Pappy Boyington broke maiden first out in a state-bred maiden race at Golden Gate. He returned to finish a troubled, well-beaten fourth and last in the state-bred I’m Smokin Stakes at Del Mar in Sept. He’s now being offered for $50k, which seems an aggressive move off just two starts. Owner/breeder Nick Alexander may be showing his age by naming this colt after a character played by Robert Conrad in the ’76-’78 television series Baa Baa Black Sheep.
6. C’Mon Jenna tried grass and a route race last out to no avail in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. He returns to a main track sprint ‘where the turf meets the surf’ and he met success at the state-bred maiden $50k claiming level. He’ll need to go a bit faster than he has in any of his previous races but he’s improved with each start and jockey JJ Hernandez has proven he belongs near the top of the SoCal riding colony.
7. Lucky Rocket invades from Sweetwater Downs and starts for new trainer Kenny Black. Don’t know what kind of stock Lucky Rocket was beating in Wyoming but he did it easily by 7 lengths going just three and one-half furlongs. He has a pair of unimpressive local drills to his credit.
Opening day Del Mar festivities conclude with a one-mile maiden special weight on grass for 2-year-olds. #3 Petruchio will attract plenty of support and with good reason. He’s the most likely winner. However, sometimes 2-year-olds surprise us. That’s mostly because they’re just learning, and some comprehend lessons quicker than others. We’ll suggest a few possibly advanced students in here. If you need a single in this difficult sequence, you could go with #3 Petruchio. If not, check out some other suggested options below.
1. The Great One (no doubt honoring Wayne Gretzky and out of Nyquist) made his first start in a stakes race going five and one-half furlongs on turf. He didn’t run badly at all and this stretch out makes sense. The rail draw should help, too. He’s got to improve to threaten in here but he’s also got license to do so.
3. Petruchio is an obvious choice. Trainer Richard Mandella combines with top jock Flavien Prat on a horse that just finished second by a neck going this distance at this level. Blinkers were added that afternoon and they seemed to have help as did a move to the turf and a stretch out to a mile. Lots to like and a short price to go along with it.
4. Mount Pelliar adds blinkers off two field-splitting efforts at a mile on turf. Jockey Aaron Gryder, who just announced his planned retirement following this Del Mar meeting, takes over for Mike Smith, who moves to #12 Du Jour for Bob Baffert. This guy closed ground in both starts and stumbled badly at the start of his last effort. If you’re looking for a possible upsetter or an exotics use, this could be your guy.
7. K P Aim High made one start and it was a decent effort at one mile on turf. He was beaten four and one-half lengths by winner Harlan Estates and runner-up #3 Petruchio and was just three-quarters of a length behind #9 Heliochrome. Both of those foes he faces again in here were making third starts while it was K P Aim High’s maiden voyage. He could improve.
9. Heliochrome has speed and will go from this outside post. His Beyer Speed Figures have improved with each start but he’s also lost ground in the stretch all three times he’s raced. That’s not a particularly good sign. He does have a bullet best of 43 half mile work in :47 3/5 but speed was never his weakness. He’ll be around a while before he probably again fades in the lane.
12. Du Jour makes his first start for the powerful Bob Baffert outfit but turf routes are not that stable’s best game. As awesome as Baffert’s numbers are he’s just 13% with grass runners. That number wouldn’t be too shabby for most but the Hall of Famer is at another level. Sire Temple City is just 8% with first-time starters, too. Post is no help either. There is a blazing :59 gate work to consider but all in he seems up against it.
$.50 Pick 4 ($56 Total)
3, 5, 6, 8
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
1, 3, 4, 7