All of these fillies and mares are thankful of one thing above all else -- that super freak mare Beholder is sticking with the plan to run in the Classic and not going for another win in the Distaff to add to the one she got in 2013. If she was here she would win this race -- simple as that. With her gone it's a more wide-open and compelling race. Here's how the cream of this fairly deep crop sets up this year:
Wedding Toast (Jose Lezcano) 4/1: She has won three in a row against good fields. The concern is that those were around one turn at Belmont, and the race before those wins she faltered around two turns here at Keeneland. She keeps improving, though, and the talent is huge, I am concerned about her training -- it has been on a synthetic track, so we can't get a good sense of where she is at right now. She's going to be tough, but I suspect I'll look to beat her.
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Sheer Drama (Joe Bravo) 9/2: She would likely have been favored in this one with a post closer to the rail, and she deserves it. In her last two races she beat strong fields in Grade 1 races in Del Mar and Saratoga -- no regional bias here. She was given a break after the last race, so she's fresh -- though freshness hasn't been a particular benefit in this race over the years compared to other Breeders' Cup races. Her works have been strong. She's a late bloomer, but she hasn't been worse than second in seven stakes starts this year. She'll be ready, and she'll be a piece of the action. She had horrible luck in drawing the outside post, though.
Untapable (John Velazquez) 5/1: If you had asked me at this time last year I would have not only emphatically picked this horse to win last year, but this year, too. She seemed like a generational talent. Something isn't right with her this year. She won her second race of the year this year, and that's it is six starts. She has been far from embarrassing -- four seconds and a third -- but she has not looked nearly like she once did, and she has been beaten by four horses in this race. Her last effort was probably her best, but the public will bet her below where she should be. I want to pass on her. It remains to be seen if I can actually convince myself to, though -- I'm a sucker for previous Breeders' Cup winners, and at her best this is one incredible horse.
Stopchargingmaria (Javier Castellano) 5/1: Like Curalina and Got Lucky, this is a Todd Pletcher trainee. She was moving in the right direction, but her last race at the end of August was a complete dud. Pletcher knew it and gave her a break to recharge. She has come back strong and is training well at Keeneland. She has won five times in seven tries at this distance, too, so she'll be comfortable in that regard. That rest will really need to have helped her, but I like her chances best of the Pletcher trio.
Got Lucky (Irad Ortiz) 6/1: This filly, one of the last A.P. Indy daughters out there, has been dramatically better lately than she was as a three year old. She finally got her first Grade 1 win last time out in the Spinster here at Keeneland, and she looked good doing it. That win was only on Oct. 4, though, so I am concerned that she may have given too much and won't have enough here. I'm also concerned about the running style she won with. She came from way off the pace to win -- something she may not be able to pull off in this field.
I'm a Chatterbox (Florent Geroux) 8/1: Larry Jones won the Kentucky Oaks with one three-year-old filly already this year, and now he's trying to win the Distaff with another three year old. This filly broke her maiden here at Keeneland a year ago and has trained very well on the surface since returning here. She won the Cotillion last year -- the same race that Untapable won before her Distaff victory last year. I wish I liked her breeding better, but she's a factor.
Curalina (Joel Rosario) 12/1: This three year old daughter of Curlin had a big win in the Acorn on Belmont Stakes day and then was rested after that. She has run three times since, and though she lacks a win she has been competitive. I'm concerned that she may have been asked for a bit too much, and won't quite be at her best. She's already finished behind two horses in this field, so she needs to be at her absolute best to win this one. I love her breeding, but I'm skeptical.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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