ARCADIA, Ca. -- Greetings from sunny Southern California and Breeders' Cup (BC) Saturday from Santa Anita Park. I'll be with you all day to talk horses and share the sights and sounds through all nine championship races culminating in the BC Classic. The Classic will be shown live on NBC (Ch.2) in a prime time telecast starting at 8 p.m. ET. Post time for the classic is 8:30 p.m.
We've been racing since 10 a.m. PST this morning on the west coast and three races are already in the books. The weather is absolutely stunning and should approach 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. The beautiful backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains makes this site one of the most picturesque race tracks in the land. The track is fast and the turf is firm.
I wandered about a bit this morning and enjoyed seeing the brand new Zenyatta statue just outside the paddock area where they are hosting a "Taste of LA" food court of vendors from local Los Angeles restaurants. Below is a picture of the Zenyatta statue.
2:35 p.m. (all times ET): The first of the nine championship races is the $1M BC Juvenile Turf, where a full field of 14 two-year-olds will try and claim the top prize. I'm favoring a couple of Euros in here, both 3-George Vancouver and 6-Dundonnell, both of whom should enjoy the firm turf coming over the pond. I've included 9-Noble Tune (Chad Brown red-hot on the turf) 10-Joha and 14-Lines of Battle (Dettori in the irons) in an early Pick-3, so I'm fairly deep here. Good luck as we get this day rolling!
2:59 p.m.: Hello George! The Aidan O'Brien-trained 2-year-old George Vancouver ($20.60) by Henrythenavigator, who ran in the Classic here against Curlin in 2009 absolutely loved the firm turf here at Santa Anita cruising past Chad Brown's Noble Tune. That gets our Pick-3 off to a very good start at 9-1.
Coming up next is the BC Filly & Mare Sprint. Most tickets here will be singled to 9-Groupie Doll, who on paper looks to be much the best in this field. I've also included Padua Stables' 3-Dust and Diamonds in the middle leg so maybe she can pull an upset here. I also have another Pick-3 ticket starting here with Groupie Doll.
3:45 p.m. - Wow! Groupie Doll ($3.40) made it look easy, taking the lead just past the top of the stretch, which keeps me live on two tickets. Dust and Diamond rode a valiant second, but was beaten by 4 1/2-lengths. Rajiv Maragh picks up his second BC victory on the weekend after winning yesterday on Hightail.
The BC Dirt Mile is next and we're four horses deep in the last leg of the first ticket, with 3-Jersey Town (will pay of $55.90), 4-John Scott ($124.10), 5-Fed Biz ($66.15) and 7-Emcee ($35.45). We included 6-Shackleford in the second leg of the other ticket, so we're still in business going into this one. By the way, just had a tasty lunch made up of chicken quarters, red potatoes and a fruit salad. Yesterday I ventured out of the press area and found a nice carving station that was serving carved turkey and corned beef. Food grade for Santa Anita so far: A minus.
Ok, let's get it going with both of these tickets!
4:10 p.m.: Just returned from the paddock where a fractious 6-Shackleford was not enjoying his walk around the ring. He reared several times before finally calming down. Delegation and Fed Biz were the best two lookers in the paddock. I decided to put $2 saver win bets on 2-Delegation and 8-Tapizar to protect my Pick-3 wager.
4:20 p.m.: It's 8-Tapizar ($32.60) at 15-1 in the Dirt Mile who just wouldn't relinquish the lead after taking over just past the top of the stretch. It's why you have to back up your plays with saver win bets on the long-priced horses. Rail Trip finished second.
The BC Turf Sprint is next where they go downhill on the backside before joining the main track. We are 5 deep here with 1-California Flag (2009 winner here), 9-Bridgetown (Pletcher speedster), 10-Corporate Jungle (my top pick), 11-Mizdirection (Jim Rome's horse) and 13-Unbridled's Note. We're starting a new Pick-3 here into the BC Turf. I love the $0.50 fractional bet that let's you spread deep in the more competitive races.
4:55 p.m.: After visiting with some friends from Buffalo and running into Bill Tallon, the Daily Racing Form correspondent, I headed down to the paddock to get a glimpse of Mizdirection and Jim Rome. The talk show host is all decked out in his best duds today for his first Breeders' Cup try. He was swarmed by reporters several times in the paddock and seemed to be soaking up the limelight. Back here in the auxiliary press box (which is actually outside just before the clubhouse turn) I salvaged one of the last chocolate chip cookies, which was delicious, by the way.
5:05 p.m.: Now that is good for racing! Jim Rome's Jungle Racing Stables' Mizdirection ($15.80) wins the Turf Sprint over Unbridled's Note. He wins the $1 million dollar race and pockets the $600K first prize purse money. You can guess what is going to be talked about on his talk show next week. Back here at the ranch, it's a good start to our next Pick-3, let's see if we can bring this one home.
In keeping with our rolling Pick-3's for the afternoon, we get a first look at next year's Derby hopefuls in the BC Juvenile. We're going with the two Baffert horses (1-Title Contender and 9-Power Broker) along with Todd Pletcher-trained Hopeful winner 4-Shanghai Bobby. We have these three horses in the middle leg of one Pick-3 and we'll add 8-Fortify to start a second one.
Back to the Turf Sprint, that was Mike Smith's record 17th win in Breeders' Cup competition, he broke the record yesterday winning on Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic.
5:45 p.m.: Wowsa! What a finish! It's a photo in the BC Juvenile and Shanghai Bobby ($4.60) prevails for Todd Pletcher! I thought Rosie Napravnik moved way to soon and was ready to back up at the eighth pole, but that horse just kept on chugging and held off the grey, He's Had Enough and Mario Gutierrez (I'll Have Another's jockey) in deep stretch. The Harlan's Holiday colt won the Hopeful this year and Napravnik continues to move forward in big races, she won the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year. Is a Derby win in her future?
If you're keeping score at home we're live to 1-Point of Entry (favorite, $45 will pay) and 5-Shareta (Irish shipper, $75) in the BC Turf, the last leg of one P3, I have Point of Entry singled in the middle leg of our second P3 play. I wouldn't mind Point of Entry winning here as we're five deep in the BC Sprint (2,4,7,11,13).
6:08 p.m. In looking at Shanghai Bobby's pedigree and on his damside it's pretty untested. His dam sire, Orientate, was mostly a sprinter and Harlan's Holiday was halfway decent at the classic distance with seconds in the Hollywood Gold Cup and Dubai World Cup at age four and a third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at age three. Harlan's Holiday finished seventh in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, so there's some nuggets to chew on.
6:15 p.m.: Some quotes from the Mizdirection press conference from renowned talk show host Jim Rome. "I'm numb. Having a hard time believing that just happened and she came back and won the race. I talked to Bobby Flay on my show earlier in the week and I said you've been there before, you know what it's like. And he said outside of the birth of my daughter it was the most exhilirating feeling in his lefe. I would say the same, but I'm too numb to to know how it feels," said Rome.
7:10 p.m.: Trinniberg ($29.40), who set the early pace in this year's Kentucky Derby, was all about that six furlongs completing it in a lightning fast 1:07.98. He held off NY-bred The Lumber Guy at the wire. Those two horses completed a $203 exacta for $2. Trainer Shivananda Parbhoo put the blinkers on him for this race and it proved to be just the right equipment change.
We're down to two BC races left, next up is the BC Mile, featuring the talented 2-Wise Dan, and the return of last year's Derby winner, 5-Animal Kingdom. Wise Dan looks to be the class of the race, a couple others to ponder would be 3-Obviously and European shipper 6-Excelebration who has faced the mighty Frankel several times on the other side of the pond, finishing second to him three times and third once.
7:45 a.m.: Wise Dan ($5.60) was much the best in the Mile taking over at the eighth pole, setting a new record at 1:31.78 for the mile distance on the turf. Animal Kingdom finished second to complete a $27.30 exacta and looked good closing late in his comback attempt. A case could be made for Horse of the Year for Wise Dan, but Game on Dude might have something to say about that.
Animal Kingdom received a round of applause from the Santa Anita throng as he returned from his second place finish.
The $5 million BC Classic is next. I'm staying with my top pick, 5-Game On Dude. My advance on the race can be found here. I will be playing him on top of 11-Mucho Macho Man, 4-Fort Larned and 10-Ron the Greek in a trifecta.
I will be heading down to a jam packed paddock and will return here for a short recap after the race. Good luck in the Classic!
8:50 p.m.: It's Fort Larned in the $5M Classic in a thrilling stretch duel with Mucho Macho Man. If you boxed my top four in a $2 exacta (cost: $24) you would have cashed a pretty ticket ($120). I have to get to work on my commentary due to the tight deadline being on the West Coast so check tomorrow's morning editions for my thoughts.
Thanks for following along today and I hope you cashed a lot of tickets!