Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BC Analysis: Friday

--Brian DiDonato

LADIES' CLASSIC - This race lost a lot of its intrigue with the defections of Blind Luck, Havre de Grace and, to a lesser extent, Aruna, but should serve as a definitive showdown between the top of this year's crop of sophomore fillies. While Plum Pretty is proven over the strip and It's Tricky has been very good at times, Royal Delta is the best of this bunch and will leave little doubt of that on Friday. The argument can certainly be made that Royal Delta's romp over the aforementioned pair in the Alabama was due mostly to the added eighth and that the CCA Oaks in which Royal Delta was a distant third behind It's Tricky and Plum Pretty at this distance was a better indicator of their relative abilities. But Royal Delta clearly needed the CCA Oaks off the bench after missing some training time, and it's hard to imagine that an extra furlong made that much of a difference for three fillies extremely well-bred to handle any distance of ground. And while Royal Delta regressed from a 97 Beyer to 91 when finishing second to Havre de Grace in the Beldame, she was forced to lay much closer than optimal because of the strange go-stop-go ride Life At Ten received and the ominous presence of the heavy favorite. She figures to have the pace in front of her to allow her to relax and has been working very well for this, so look for Royal Delta to sweep by in the lane and earn champion 3-year-old filly honors.

F/M TURF - This feels like a race you just want to survive in the pick 3s/4s. There are a number of logical contenders, but no huge secrets. I'd probably go with Nahrain on top, as she overcame some trouble to beat Announce in the G1 Prix de L'Opera last time. Announce's running lines (which include Cirrus des Aigles, Sarafina and Stacelita) make her a contender as well, while also flattering the lightly raced Nahrain.

JUVENILE FILLIES - My Miss Aurelia has displayed by far the most ability of this group so far, but she's no lock to get this two-turn route--especially with what looks like a ton of company up front. Her dam My Miss Storm Cat (Sea of Secrets) was a super speedy sprinter. Of the logical closers, Northern Passion should be the best price. The only question is whether she can handle the dirt, as her impressive and subsequently validated GIII Natalma win came on the Woodbine sod and her two previous good efforts were on the Polytrack. Northern Passion's first dam was all turf, but she's a full-sister to Canadian champion 2-year-old filly Ginger Gold (Golden Gear), a MSW on dirt and second in the GI Selene S. at this distance. Trainer Mark Casse has been dominant with his 2-year-olds up at Woodbine this season, and he upset the GI Stephen Foster H. in June here with turf-to-dirter Pool Play.

F/M SPRINT - I just don't buy the Turbulent Descent hype. Only her win in the GI Test last time against 3-year-olds broke the 100 Beyer mark, and now she's been off since early August. I understand that they decided early to keep her sprinting, but the way she has been managed screams vulnerability. There's no way she should be a shorter price than Switch, and there are quite a few longshots worth taking a look at. Tanda is the most intriguing of those longshots, as she has very serious back form that makes her plenty competitive here. The bay enjoyed a nice streak last year at three with a trio of wins, capped of by a defeat of Switch in the GIII Railbird at this distance at Hollywood with a 98 Beyer. She then shipped east for the GI Acorn at Belmont, and overcame a tardy start to be third behind Champagne d'Oro after making a crazy sweeping six-wide move turning for home. Tanda has been somewhat oddly handled since then, trying some turf and longer distances with mild success. She was switched from Dan Hendricks to Mike Mitchell two back, and has since annexed a weak renewal of the GIII Rancho Bernando H. on Del Mar's main track and finished third in the GIII Senator Ken Maddy down the hill at Santa Anita with a wide journey. She might find her old form for a conditioner who is 1-for-4 with 100% ITM going turf to dirt in stakes over the past five years, according to DRF Formulator.

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF - This event is as inscrutable as you'll find all weekend, and has the look of a chaos race written all over it. I'm very much against the two favorites. Somali Lemonade's 14 post is a serious concern for her, and her deep closing style already makes her susceptible to traffic problems. It's hard to fault Elusive Kate's European form, but history shows that you are never supposed to take a short-priced European in a Breeders' Cup race. There are too many other higher priced options to concede that a Euro invader will win this race for the first time. On the morning line, Stephanie's Kitten is the value. Her third-place finish in the GIII Natalma was excellent considering how wide she was, and there was plently to like about her GI Alcibiades victory. A hot pace helped her, but the track was playing to inside speed and she rallied wide. Also-rans from that race ran one-two in last weekend's GII Pocahontas. It's very likely that Stephanie's Kitten will go off much lower than her morning line quote, however, and anything under 8-1 or so might not be value. While Stephanie's Kitten is probably coming down in odds from 12-1, the movement on Pure Gossip will probably be the opposite. She was let go at 23-1 when absolutely exploding in the GIII Miss Grillo at Belmont over soft sod, and perhaps the turf condition that day coupled with her connections, who are very well-known in New York, but not nationally, will let her get lost on the board. She's not without question marks--she enjoyed a dream trip in the Miss Grillo and that soft turf may very well have been to her liking (she hails from the family of yielding turf freak Street Game)--but the potential for her to actually be as good as she looked last time makes her interesting.

JUVENILE SPRINT - In all the Breeders' Cup races, Secret Circle might be the most likely winner. He has superior speed figures, and displayed the ability to rate last time in the Jack Goodman S. behind a hot pace. He can lay wherever he needs to, and should handle this field at a short number. If anyone's going to beat the chalk, it'll probably be Shumoos--mostly because she hasn't been proven inferior to Secret Circle on dirt yet. She has some interesting Euro form and a very nice American pedigree for sprinting on the dirt--her second dam was a MGISW going short and Distorted Humor can throw any type of runner.

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