Friday is juvenile evening at Santa Anita and while a lot of eyes will be pinned on the welfare of the horses, such has been the furore over equine injuries/fatalities recently, the work done on track should hopefully have put that side of the meeting to bed.
GB and Ireland have a strong presence in the fifth on the card and indeed the real start of the Breeders Festival in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at 8:12pm.
The experience of Norfolk Stakes, Robert Papin and Flying Childers winner A’Ali will obviously stand him in good stead, but he has a horrendous double-figure draw in box 10.
The first time blinkers on Alligator Alley make sense as he has long looked in need of some help to make him concentrate better through the first half of a race, while Band Practice is going from strength to strength, but will need a career best and by some way to make his mark here.
This looks set for the home contingent and although Queen Mary runner-up Kimari will be favoured by many, a well balanced filly who should be suited to the tight turn here, it is the imposing FOUR WHEEL DRIVE that looks best.
His debut win at Colonial Downs was expected as he was punted heavily on the morning line, but it was his step up to Grade One company and the Futurity which marked him down as out of the ordinary.
A long striding, yet well balanced colt, he let his rivals bash each other up at the sharp end and then effortlessly eased into that big stride and cut them down very readily. Now of course Belmont is a very different set-up to Santa Anita, but it is amazing how many races over this course and distance are won by pick up horses as they say in the USA or hold-up horses as we know them as and there will be some long faces in the Wesley Ward yard if this son of great American Pharoah doesn’t make his mark here.
But of all the races on day one the betting highlight for me has to be the Juvenile Fillies (9:32pm) and the once-raced DONNA VELOCE.
Trained by ‘Brit’ Simon Callaghan, her work in the past week at the track has reportedly been outstanding and to be fair it will have to be to set her up with a match up with British Idion and Bast who have both posted very smart time figures in winning four races between them. The pick of their successes belongs to the latter when she won the Debutante Stakes on her second start by no less than eight and three quarter lengths. However, she had to fight for her life to see off Comical here in the Chandelier and that race could have left its mark and she could well be better over 7f.
— Mark Milligan (@mark_milligan73) October 31, 2019
The selection comes here with just the one outing under her belt in a maiden special weight over six and a half furlongs here, but that day she oozed class when recording a nine and a quarter length success.
She beat up two quite well-regarded fillies that day with ease and this step up in distance looks a massive plus from the one box, which means that Flavien Prat can put his partner wherever he wants to in the race.
Wicked Whisper has also reportedly been working well here since coming over from the East Coast, but in the Frizette Stakes she was untouched on the lead that day and may have been flattered by that victory.
— Tim Wilkin (@tjwilkin) October 30, 2019
It is unusual to note that both Dennis’ Moment and Eight Rings, who dominate the betting for the Juvenile (11:03pm), have won two races apiece and come home without their jockeys once as well.
Talking of Bast in the Juvenile Fillies, on the same night she won at Santa Anita, Eight Rings made all the running at an incredibly fast clip to land the American Pharoah and that was a full 0.72 seconds faster than Bast’s in the Chandelier.
He is sure to be sent into the lead by Velasquez and try and run the finish out of his market rival but at top prices of 7/4 and 13/8 respectively I think you can ignore both of them and look at the value each-way call on SCABBARD.
🏇❌ Maxfield ruled out of Friday's @BreedersCup Juvenile.
— Sporting Life (@SportingLife) October 29, 2019
The selection was readily beaten by Dennis’ Moment in the Iroquois at Churchill Downs and there is every reason to believe that they will come home in that same order again. However, this will be a very different set-up of a race with Eight Rings firing off and Irad Oriz likely to have to make more use of his partner earlier than he wants.
With nine set to line up here that makes Mike Smith’s charge a fascinating each-way contender as the mighty MS won’t be drawn into an early paced battle and his long striding pal will be given time to arrange himself before making his effort turning for home. Eight times out of 10, purely on form and pace figures, you would expect the first two in the betting to win this, but they could cut each others throats and nobody but nobody rides this track on a finisher as well at Smith and he, aboard Scabbard, looks the most likely closer as they say in the States to perhaps shock the two big boys.
- Four Wheel Drive – Juvenile Turf Sprint, 8:12pm Friday
- Donna Veloce – Juvenile Fillies, (9:32pm Friday)
- Scabbard – Juvenile (11:03pm Friday)