Who do you like in the Breeders' Cup?
America's Best Racing asked regular contributors Tom Pedulla and Bob Ehalt to provide their varied thoughts on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Ladies' Classic (G1) and Classic (G1). Tom and Bob have been friends for more than 40 years and racetrack buddies for more than 35 years, but have different handicapping philosophies that have led to some lengthy debates over the years. Here they'll offer their opinions in the same back-and-forth, no-holds-barred manner as they did back in the "old" days at New York tracks before anyone ever thought of building a casino at Aqueduct.
Feel free to join the conversation with your comments on their selections.
PEDULLA: Big E, you know who I’m picking before I tell you. For decades now, you have insisted on overlooking the obvious. I don’t. The pick here is Shanghai Bobby. He comes to Santa Anita undefeated, having won his four starts by a combined 13 ¾ lengths. He will return to the East Coast with the same unblemished record. He’s already won at three different tracks, Aqueduct, Belmont and our beloved Saratoga. Quality travels.
EHALT: Now, Thomas, years ago, when I first extolled to you the virtue of wagering value, I could never understand why it didn’t sink in. Then I realized why. Whenever you would hit a couple of your $4.40 winners, all I would get out of the deal was a hot dog – a small dog, mind you – and maybe a Coke. Maybe. But whenever I would hit one of my $20 winners, dinner at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx would be on me, regardless of whether I pulled an A-Rod the rest of the card.
So I understand our skewed views on value, and why Fordham Prep’s own Mr. Laraque always said you were the smart one. But Shanghai Bobby? C’mon. Yeah, he can win. Yeah, on paper there’s plenty to like. But there are also plenty of reasons to look elsewhere. He’s trying to win three Grade 1-caliber races in two months, which doesn’t happen these days. He’s traveling across the country, running on a new racetrack, trying two turns for the first time and running without his usual medications.
And that’s worth 8-5 or 2-1 for your two bucks? Don’t think so. Trust me, I can find you better 8-5 shots on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct than Shanghai Bobby.
PEDULLA: Let me stop you there. You absolutely cannot find 8-5 shots at Aqueduct or anywhere else that are of Shanghai Bobby’s quality. Just look at what he’s done. He showed precocity by winning his career debut by four lengths in April. When asked to step up to graded stakes company, he did so with ease. He showed he could come from off the pace in taking the Hopeful Stakes (G2) by 3 ¾ lengths. What happened when they stepped up the distance to one mile in the Champagne Stakes (G1) in his most recent start? He responded with his most convincing victory yet, dominating by five lengths. He is ready to roll again. Power Broker is good enough for second. Fortify, third in the Champagne, settles for third again.
If you are in the market for penny stocks, fine. I’m in the market for blue-chip companies. So is Coolmore Stud. That is why they made sure to buy a 50 percent interest in Shanghai Bobby before he wins the Juvenile and establishes himself as the early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite. They are already smelling the roses, Bob!
SHANGHAI BOBBY WINNING HOPEFUL
Courtesy of Horsephotos.com
EHALT: Smelling the roses? Tom, even Secretariat lost at two. Shanghai Bobby is not even faster than Power Broker, the second choice. They ran nearly identical races last time in terms of speed figures, and Power Broker did it at Santa Anita, so we know he can handle the track. Of the two favorites, he’s the one to like, but you know me, I’d like a little more in the odds department than 5-2. That’s why I’m going with Capo Bastone. He was a distant third last time out to Power Broker in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1), but got off to an awkward start and should benefit from a quicker pace to chase in the Juvenile.
At 5-2, I wouldn’t touch him. But at 15-1, look at it this way: Capo Bastone can finish third and I’ll collect more on a show bet than you will with a win bet on “Bobby,” which is a rather cool name. I’ll even come out rather well if it’s an exacta of either Shanghai Bobby or Power Broker over Capo Bastone.
And, yeah, if I hit, dinner’s on me.
EHALT: In terms of stars, the Ladies’ Classic is the unrivaled gem of this year’s Breeders’ Cup. It features three Eclipse Award champions, two undefeated runners who are a combined 16-0, and the winners of eight Grade 1 stakes and seven Grade 2s in 2012 alone.
In the search for a winner, if you land on Royal Delta, Awesome Feather, Love and Pride, My Miss Aurelia or Questing, no one could scold you for it. But if you want to cash a ticket – and a big ticket at that – then Include Me Out is the one to back. For the galaxy of star power in the Ladies’ Classic, Include Me Out offers a rather intriguing blend of a horse who is nearly as good as any of the others, loves Santa Anita and comes with a 15-1 price tag that should be higher than that at post time.
INCLUDE ME OUT
Photo Courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Earlier in the year, she won the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) and La Canada Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. In her last start, the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, she was third behind the front-running Love and Pride. A closer, Include Me Out had no chance to collar Love and Pride, who got away with a 48 2/5 seconds opening half-mile. With Questing, My Miss Aurelia, Awesome Feather and Class Included on hand to push Love and Pride, the fractions will be significantly faster than that and Include Me Out could grab a very big chunk of the $2 million purse.
PEDULLA: Well, we definitely agree on the pace scenario. But don’t include me when it comes to Include Me Out. This is a reach – the kind of reach you are infamous for – and you know it. There is absolutely no reason to think that defending champion Royal Delta cannot sit fairly comfortably off what we agree will be blazing fractions and all but inhale the first flight of runners when asked. I see 10-for-10 Awesome Feather staying on well enough for second and – you will like this – 10-1 Grace Hall filling out the triple. That will be a much sweeter payoff than those $27 trifectas we have divided three ways with our good friend Doug Taylor as you call for security.
ROYAL DELTA WINNING FLEUR DE LIS STAKES IN JUNE
Photo Courtesy of Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs
EHALT: Tom, I will give Royal Delta the nod for second. On her best day, like the Beldame Stakes (G1) at Belmont, she could handle this field with ease. But with a record of three wins in six starts, that type of effort is not a guarantee. Still, with a strong pace in front of her, it’s hard to imagine her not being in the exacta. For third, prior to her win in the Zenyatta, Love and Pride defeated Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga. She’ll be tested severely on the front end, but could hang on for a share – and the odds are right at 8-1.
Put it all together and it’s a triple of 15-1 over 9-5 over 8-1, which is a five-star payoff for a race with a glittering array of stars.
PEDULLA: As Matt, your oldest son and my Godson, might say, “Dude, it’s going to be Game On Dude.” He will be on the lead or no more than one length off it early, he will still be coasting halfway through the 1 ¼-mile race, and he will be in control at the end. He ran so powerfully in this race last year, coming in second to Drosselmeyer at Churchill Downs, that he got my vote for Horse of the Year to end a season that lacked an obvious champion. Long ago, you taught me about horses for courses. Don’t forget your own lesson. Dude is 5-for-5 at Santa Anita. When he made his most recent start, he was much the best by 3 ¼ lengths there.
EHALT: Got to admit, Tom, I can’t knock your siding with “The Dude.” He’s a quality horse who nearly won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs and now gets a chance to atone at Santa Anita, a track he loves. But, you know, that final furlong worries me.
And I did learn a lesson last year that will be applied to this year’s renewal of the Classic. Never underestimate Bill Mott. He is a Yankees fan after all. I’m going with one of his three horses in the Classic. It’s not Flat Out. He has to prove to me that he can win at the Grade 1 level at somewhere other than Belmont or Saratoga. It’s not To Honor and Serve, who needs a lot of things to go his way to win a race like this, and that’s very unlikely to happen.
It’s Ron the Greek. Back in March, Ron the Greek won the Santa Anita Handicap by 3 ½ lengths at the same 1 ¼-mile distance as the Classic, and I’m betting Mott can have him on edge for an encore. He flopped in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1), but my hunch is that he didn’t handle a drying-out Big Sandy. Ignore that one, and he’s been no worse than second in three Grade 1s and a Grade 2, which is more reflective of his abilities.
I’m hoping to get more than 6-1, but he’s still a more attractive proposition than Game On Dude, my second choice, who is 9-5. For third, in respect to my legendary finesse and flair on the disco floor, how could I pass up Mucho Macho Man? You know me, in some way shape or form, I’ve got to be a Macho Man, and I’ll be mucho happy if Ron the Greek can provide Mr. Mott with another Breeders’ Cup Classic victory.
PEDULLA: As you know, we share an admiration for Mott and his ability to keep older horses going and going. And, I am impressed by Ron the Greek and that big win in the Santa Anita Handicap. I am not as quick as you, though, to forgive his dismal sixth-place showing in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I do see him being good enough for second with super-consistent Mucho Macho Man third. At least we can agree on something.