The Breeders’ Cup — Horse Racing’s Biggest Day
By MICHAEL GARETH JOHNSON
When it comes to horse racing in the United States, the Kentucky Derby is the race everyone knows. Here in New York, the Belmont Stakes in June is the biggest day of racing in our neighborhood. But this weekend is the annual collection of the best racing North America will see each year: the Breeders’ Cup. This year it will take place on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs in Kentucky (home of the Kentucky Derby). And among the horses racing are many who call New York their home base for training and racing throughout the year.
The Breeders’ Cup is trying something new this year. On Friday it will be running all its Juvenile races — races for 2-year-old thoroughbreds, who are the equivalent of young teenagers, full of energy and often not sure what they are doing on the track. If you are a bettor, these races can provide a lot of value since the developing colts and fillies with large odds can often improve dramatically over their previous races and bring home a big price. On Saturday, the card will include all the traditional races on both dirt and turf, at varying distances, and featuring North America’s top horses, as well as some European-bred stars shipping in for the massive purses. The whole thing culminates in the Classic — a 1 ¼-mile test on dirt that often crowns the horse who will go on to be named Horse of the Year. This year, Triple Crown-winner Justify will not be racing in the Classic, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the field.
One horse making up the deep field is Mind Your Biscuits. The New York-bred colt is one of the most accomplished horses ever bred in the Empire State, with impressive wins all over the country. His success has mostly been as a sprinter (racing at distances of less than one mile), but he’s going to try to stretch out and make the longer Classic this year. So, if you are a casual fan looking for someone to root for this weekend, Biscuits might be your horse.
Most of you probably can’t make it to Kentucky, but you can watch the races on NBC or NBC Sports. Or, you could catch the races from Aqueduct Racetrack. It will be open with simulcast action and will be hosting live racing as well, on both Friday and Saturday, as it settles in for the next six months.
Featuring five Breeders’ Cup races, Friday’s card is a difficult one for a bettor. But it’s an exciting one if you like the sport. These 2-year-olds are filled with potential and are always improving. You never know when one will make a huge leap forward, win by several lengths and leave the crowd abuzz.
A couple of New York stories to look for include the following: In the Juvenile, Knicks Go is a longshot coming off a win. In the Juvenile Turf, former NY Giants head coach Bill Parcells has a horse named Forty Under, who is one of the favorites.
Here are my top three picks in each race, with post position, and a longshot to consider:
Sentient Jet Juvenile:
Game Winner, 9 — Complexity, 6 — Dueling, 1
LONGSHOT: Knicks Go, 10
Anthony Van Dyke, 14 — Somelikeithotbrown, 7 — War of Will, 10
LONGSHOT: Arthur Kitt, 1
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies:
Bellafina, 10 — Jaywalk, 7 — Serengeti Empress, 2
LONGSHOT: Reflect, 1
Juvenile Fillies Turf:
Newspaperofrecord, 6 — La Pelosa, 5 — East, 14
LONGSHOT: Varenka, 9
Juvenile Turf Sprint:
Bulletin, 5 — Shang Shang Shang, 7 — Soldier’s Call, 2
LONGSHOT: Pocket Dynamo, 12
The nine Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday will be a treat for horse-racing fans. While the Classic is the headliner, the star of the day may be in the race before. The Longines Turf will feature one of the greatest fillies in a decade, Enable. Undefeated in her last eight starts, this 4-year-old bay filly has beaten the best horses in Europe — boys and girls — and is looking to become the first horse ever to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (the biggest race in France each year) and then go on to win the Breeders’ Cup. Betting against her could score you some big bucks on Saturday, but chances are most of the horse-racing world will just be hoping to see this brilliant animal run.
If you are looking for New York angles you can obviously cheer for Mind Your Biscuits in the Classic, but you can also root for Disco Partner in the Turf Sprint. The NY-bred actually holds the world record for the fastest time for six furlongs on the turf, set in June of 2017 at Belmont Park. Other NY-breds competing include Fourstar Crook in the Filly & Mare Turf and Highway Star in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
McKinzie, 6 — Mind Your Biscuits, 11 — Accelerate, 14
LONGSHOT: Thunder Snow, 1
Enable, 2 — Robert Bruce, 4 — Magical, 5
LONGSHOT: Channel Maker, 3
Monomoy Girl, 11 — Wow Cat, 9 — Abel Tasman, 2
LONGSHOT: Wonder Gadot, 5
Gustav Klimt, 13 — Oscar Performance, 5 — Analyze It, 12
LONGSHOT: Happily, 3
Promises Fulfilled, 2 — Imperial Hint, 5 — Roy H, 9
LONGSHOT: Distinctive B, 7
Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf:
Wild Illusion, 3 — Sistercharlie, 6 — Santa Monica, 12
LONGSHOT: Paved, 4
Catalina Cruiser, 10 — Seeking the Soul, 6 — City of Light, 1
LONGSHOT: Giant Expectations, 9
World of Trouble, 11 — Disco Partner, 5 — Conquest Tsunami, 14
LONGSHOT: Chanteline, 8
Filly & Mare Sprint:
Selcourt, 1 — Marley’s Freedom, 13 — Shamrock Rose, 14
LONGSHOT: Highway Star, 10