Here are the Breeders’ Cup picks you need to know – Press Enterprise
It’s going to be a big weekend for jockey Luis Saez and trainer Bob Baffert during this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland Race Course.
Trust me, my crystal ball is as clear as can be today, unlike other years when it looked like fog was rolling in.
You read it here first – Saez is going to win three races and take home the Bill Shoemaker Award as top rider of the weekend, and Baffert will score a trifecta to add to his Breeders’ Cup total of 15 victories.
Never mind that Saez is winless in Breeders’ Cup races. He’s on three of the top horses this weekend: Mutasaabeq (5-1 on the morning line) for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Juvenile Turf, C Z Rocket (7-2) for Peter Miller in the Sprint, and Maximum Security (7-2) for Baffert in the $6 million Classic.
Mutasaabeq just won the Grade II Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland Race Course, the same turf layout he’ll be running over in the Juvenile Turf, and the Into Mischief colt took to the grass like I take to chocolate cake. He loved it.
C Z Rocket will give Miller his third victory in the Sprint, after Roy H won the 6-furlong dash in 2017 and ’18. Miller’s got a knack for winning these short races, and nothing is going to change here. C Z Rocket has won five consecutive and the sixth is on its way.
Finally, Saez will cap his hat trick with Maximum Security, the best older horse in training today. He wasn’t best in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 26, losing to the rapidly maturing Improbable that day.
But Baffert said Maximum Security didn’t like the track that afternoon, and he still ran a bang-up second behind the Classic favorite. Look, I had this guy first atop my Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings all year until he lost to Improbable, and anyone’s entitled to an off day.
Baffert will start his parade to the winner’s circle in the Juvenile Fillies with Princess Noor, who’s won all three of her races by a combined 17 1/4 lengths and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
On paper, if you go by Beyer Speed Figures, it appears she can’t match up against Simply Ravishing, Vequist and Dayoutoftheoffice, but let’s face it, her jockey, Victor Espinoza, just went along for the ride in her races. She could have run faster if needed, but she outclassed her opposition by such a wide margin that Espinoza didn’t need his stick.
Princess Noor won’t win by seven or eight lengths again – at least we don’t think so – but she’ll have enough in the tank to get the job done against a field of six other talented juvenile fillies.
Baffert is also going to win Saturday’s Filly and Mare Sprint with Gamine (7-5), a lightning-quick 3-year-old filly who’s going to love the cutback in distance from 1 1/8 miles in the Kentucky Oaks to 7 furlongs.
Until she matures with more experience, this daughter of Into Mischief is strictly a one-turn filly, and the connections for the other eight horses in the race will learn that quickly.
The Classic is a gem of a race.
You’ve got Baffert’s trio of Maximum Security, Improbable and Authentic, and toss in Tiz the Law, Tom’s d’Etat, and By My Standards, and those are six mighty talented race horses.
I was tempted to give Baffert a clean sweep, with Improbable running second and pacesetter Authentic fading to third in the stretch, but I wound up going with Tiz the Law as my third horse.
I expect Maximum Security, from the outside No. 10 post, to lay second behind Authentic into the first turn and up the backside, but he’ll take the lead in early stretch and show he’s the best older horse in America.Improbable will close for second, and Tiz the Law – winner of the Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers – will show his class and get up for third.
My best bet of the weekend is Rushing Fall in the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf on Saturday.
This Chad Brown-trained mare loves Keeneland, having won five of six starts over the course, and has won two consecutive Grade I stakes. She’s primed for a huge effort under Javier Castellano.
Oh yeah, and Florent Geroux will cap a riding double this weekend when he wins the $2 million Distaff aboard the brilliant mare Monomoy Girl for trainer Brad Cox.
There you have it, my view of the 37th Breeders’ Cup.
Just remember, these selections are for entertainment purposes only.
Follow Art Wilson on Twitter at @Sham73