2017 Breeders' Cup Mile Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
We've been so spoiled by the Breeders' Cup Mile in recent years. Goldikova, Wise Dan, Tepin - it's been a ridiculous stretch of legends here. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of field we have become used to. There are some nice horses here and all, but none are even approaching the legend status of those that I mentioned. This could still be one of the best races of the weekend, but the last few years we knew it would be, and now we just have to wait and see. Here's how the top of this field sets up this year:
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Ribchester, 7/2: This horse has three Group 1 wins at a mile in Europe this year, making him the continent's top miler. He's a talented runner, and if he's at his best here he'll make a mess of the race. It's an uncertainty that he will be at his best, though - he is coming off a second-place finish just two weeks ago at Ascot. I'd feel a lot better if the race was on the East Coast because of distance and the issues British horses often have in California. Still, as low as the price will be, and as hard as you might have to squint to see value, you just can't leave this horse off of any ticket you are building.
World Approval, 9/2: This Mark Casse runner is the top American hope here. This five-year-old has been a graded stakes warrior for two and a half years and has claimed three Grade 1 victories. The connections kept trying to make him a distance horse, though, and he has looked the best he ever has in his last two after they have cut him back to a mile. A lot of turf horses need more distance, but he doesn't seem to. I like the versatility of his last two wins a lot - both Grade 1s at a mile. The first at Saratoga was on a very soft track, and the times were sluggish. He settled just off the pace and pulled away late. The next time, in the Woodbine Mile, the turf was firm and the fractions were blazing. He didn't care - he just set off the pace again before pulling away late. He's a good horse in strong form, and there is a decent chance the price will be right. Worth a close look.
Suedois, 6/1: Here's a very interesting horse. The winner of the Mile the last four years has made their last start in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland the first week of October. Suedois came over from Europe to make his North American debut in that spot, and he won it. It was the 32nd start of a long career for this six-year-old and his second straight win after what had been a disappointing year up to that point. It was a nice win, but he has been a step behind the best of Europe this year, so he will be very price dependent.
Heart to Heart, 6/1: This son of Breeders' Cup Turf winner English Channel has been racing in the U.S. for 31 starts - many in graded stakes. He's ever-present, but he has not won a Grade 1, and it's hard to imagine him doing so in this spot. He's a gamer, but he just doesn't have the talent here unless a lot of horses around him have bad days.
Roly Poly, 6/1: The good news is that this horse has three G1 wins in her last four races, and she comes from the stable of Aidan O'Brien, arguably the world's top trainer right now. The challenge, though, is that she is a three-year-old filly, and this is a tough spot for her because of that. The Filly and Mare Turf seems like a more logical spot, but you have to admire the fearlessness of the connections, and they have certainly won enough to warrant respect.
Lancaster Bomber, 20/1: This three-year-old colt was a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last year and was under consideration for a Triple Crown race this year - though that always seemed like a crazy idea. He came over and looked pretty decent finishing second in the Woodbine Mile behind World Approval - though he was very solidly beaten. But then he went back to Ascot and had a truly disastrous outing, finishing 14th without a real excuse in the race Ribchester was second in. It seems like a real stretch for him to be here. Generously, this is a year too soon for him in this spot - though it's very possible he's never ready for this level.
Zelzal, 20/1: This is an interesting horse. He was really good last year as a three-year-old, and his breeding is brilliant for this task. He hasn't won since July of 2016, though, and has run only four times since. He is in big races every time, and he has been solid, but hasn't yet had the spark that he showed last year in winning four of five. He's making his North American debut, too, which can be tough to do in California. The talent is there, though, and the breeding is good, so he's one to look closely at if the price stays this high or higher. He could at least be useful in exotics.
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