by Jeremy Plonk
October 28, 2019
As we await post position assignments later today, Breeders’ Cup Monday pivots into race-week mode. The important workouts are done, the divisional decisions made and we’ve had some seismic shifts since the pre-entries were announced a week ago.
Magical being out of the Breeders’ Cup Turf (or Filly & Mare Turf) due to a fever absolutely solidifies Chad Brown’s hand with the likes of Bricks and Mortar and Sistercharlie in those divisions. Pick six players now have 2 prohibitive American favorites in which to back in the sequence, whereas Races 7 and 11 are now decidedly clearer.
Magical’s defection also weakens the Aidan O’Brien stack that already looked a bit softer than usual for the Breeders’ Cup. O’Brien also will be without Turf Sprint pre-entrants Fairyland and So Perfect, which means more to the Americans in that dash than you might think. Blazing speedster Shekky Shebaz adds much pace where the Europeans likely would not have. If you were handicapping for a front-running speed horse, things have gotten tougher.
American Theorem has been declared from the Juvenile. While that doesn’t impact the big three favorites – Eight Rings, Dennis’ Moment and Maxfield – it’s a blow to the exotics. This field had no alternates and will go short of maximum, reducing the potential trifecta and superfecta payouts. In a race where it appears the big 3 almost have to have a 1-2 presence, landing value on the Juvenile has gotten tougher. The value here will come in multi-race bets if you can define your opinion on 1 of the big 3 and allow others to over-spend on triple-cost tickets. And with the Juvenile Fillies already well under max in its lineup, intra-race exotics players are low on Friday options and may be best-served to wait for Saturday in those pools.
The unfortunate catastrophic breakdown in England of Line of Duty has caused a void in the Mile that also includes the fact that cross-entered Bricks and Mortar won’t be here, but rather the Turf as expected. Without an A-list European or American male in the lineup, Uni and Get Stormy likely will be favorites in their battle vs. the boys. But history says don’t dismiss the ladies; 9 females have won the Mile, most of any open division, most recently Tepin in 2015. And it could mean O’Brien finally gets his first Mile win with Circus Maximus. He’s 0-23 here with 4 runner-ups in an unfathomable figure.