Breeders' Cup Preview: Juvenile Fillies
by Trevor Whenham - 11/4/2009
There are 14 Breeders' Cup races now. Call me old fashioned, but there are seven that I consider to be clearly superior to the rest. We'll preview each, starting here with the Juvenile Fillies.
This race can either be formful and easy to pick, or it can be a place for longshots to score. The difference between those two situations is the quality of the field - if there is a standout filly then it usually seems to come out on top. The problem we have this year is that no filly stands out above the rest. Blind Luck is the favorite in the field, but at 3/1 she's lukewarm in the 12-horse field.
There's one stat that jumps out more than any other here - every time the Breeders' Cup has been at Santa Anita the first- and second-place finishers have been based in Southern California. That doesn't mean that an outsider can't win, but it certainly tightens our focus.
Blind Luck might only be a lukewarm favorite, but there is a lot to like about her - including the fact that she is from Southern California. Her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, is a wildly successful trainer who has dominated Northern California, and he deserves a Breeders' Cup win at some point. She has won twice on synthetics, including last time out here at Santa Anita, so the surface will suit her. If there is a concern it's that she has only topped out with a Beyer rating of 88. Typically I look for horses with a Beyer of 95 or higher in this race, but those are in short supply this time around.
Bob Baffert has won this race twice before, he is red hot at Santa Anita this fall, and he brings an absolutely loaded stable to the Breeders' Cup, so he can't be counted out. Always a Princess is a horse that you would have to consider even if Baffert didn't train her. Last time out she led Blind Luck around the track at Santa Anita before giving way and finishing second. She came out of the No. 1 spot that time out and really got forced to the lead before she looked comfortable as a result. That certainly won't happen this time because she is outside in the No. 11 hole. She has the huge advantage of having Garrett Gomez, the best active rider there is for my money, on board. Given that, if she stays near her opening price of 6/1 she'll warrant a real look.
Connie and Michael is the second choice in the field at 4/1, and frankly that surprises me. She was impressive in her last start, winning by almost eight lengths and earning a 95 Beyer, the highest in the field. The problem, though, is that that was her first and only start, and it happened in Kentucky in a Maiden Special Weight race. This is a change of scenery and a massive step up in class, and I'm not at all confident that she will be up for the challenge. There's also a good chance that this horse could get stuck alone on the lead in the race, and I really don't prefer that on the Santa Anita ProRide surface.
Todd Pletcher is a hard trainer to ignore because of all his success, but I am willing to look past his 8/1-shot Devil May Care here. At first glance she's attractive because she hasn't lost in two outings, but when you look deeper the shine falls off her rose. She's only run in New York, so this will be both her first time on a synthetic surface, and her first time going around two turns. I don't believe that she is seasoned enough to overcome the two obstacles.
Beautician, at 6/1, is another horse that has a lot to overcome. She has made four starts, but the first three were on dirt. The last was on the synthetic at Keeneland, but it was also her worst outing - she finished fifth. Negligee is the other horse at 6/1, and she's an interesting one. Though she is from the east she has run all three of her races on synthetic surfaces, and she was the solid winner of the race at Keeneland in which Beautician looked so unimpressive. I like the filly, but I'm nervous about the fact that she experienced a trainer change after her second race. Consistency is so important with young horses.
There always need to be an attractive longshot, and in my mind that role is filled here by Bickersons. She opens at 20/1. Her last race was her debut at Santa Anita and on a synthetic track. She was third behind Blind Luck and Always a Princess, and she was losing ground at the wire. I like that she had that exposure to the track after starting her career in New York and New Jersey, though, and she has trained extremely well since her last race. If she stays at or near 20/1 then she's an attractive because she has a chance to get a piece of the action.
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