Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile – Race 5 at Churchill Downs- Post Time 1:16 PM Eastern Time
The problem with horses which are undefeated, such as Catalina Cruiser, is must of the public bets them as much based on hype as on form, which pushes down their odds. That situation makes it difficult to bet them to win unless they are standouts, which Catalina Cruiser is NOT in this field, but he is definitely one of four that can win. The good part of undefeated horses being bet down is other horses, who normally would go to post at low odds, will offer value for the risk.
Firenze Fire is such a horse, opening at ridiculous 6 to 1 odds in my opinion where he was 5 to 2 winning the Dwyer Stakes by nine lengths in July and was 7 to 5 winning the Gallant Bob Stakes near the end of September. He had some traffic trouble and got a less than optimal ride when third in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes between the two wins but redeemed himself in the Gallant Bob not only with a career best 109 figure but battling head-and-head for the ENTIRE last four furlongs and when his foe to the right tries to bite him in the stretch. Firenze Fire loves this mile trip, as his Dwyer win came at the distance, as did his win in the Jerome Stakes in January and last year in the Champagne as a two year old. Recalling how three year olds have fared in Breeders’ Cup races against their elders, specifically how Goldencents destroyed the field in this race a few years back, Firenze Fire gets top billing in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Seeking the Soul is the other potential overlay in the field, because although he may have the same probability to win as the other three contenders, he’s likely to go to post at the highest odds of the quartet, opening at 5 to 1. Having won at distances ranging from seven to nine furlongs, this mile trip is not an issue particularly as he prepped for this race by winning the Ack Ack Stakes at the distance over the track in September. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November with a career best 117 figure and this being his third race off a layoff a similar effort could be forthcoming.
City of Light was good enough to win this kind of race last December and through the spring but there’s a slight question of whether he is this good now. Only worse than second one time in nine career races, he won the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 1 Triple Bend in December and March at 7 furlongs then stretched out to win the nine furlong Oaklawn Handicap in April with a career best 117 figure. Third behind Classic bound Accelerate in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, he took three months off then finished 2nd to Whitmore in the shorter Forego Stakes with a 105 figure and as he’s been working up a storm in the morning he could be back to his early 2018 form which might make him a formidable foe in this race.
Catalina Cruiser is undefeated in four starts, each better than the rest, starting with his debut last October then his comeback after seven months off in May. His last two efforts were his best yet, with 118 then 125 figures which, if repeated, would make it very difficult to beat him. However, the quality of those fields wasn’t that great and it could be he is a need-the-lead type as he was just a head from the lead at the start in his most recent race, as well as the only reason he closed from sixth to win his debut was he broke slowly. However, he’s got a great attitude and he’s not the type of favorite I could label suspect so he will be used as a win contender on any exotic bets I make involving this race. However, I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say I would much rather any of the other three emerge the winner for a better profit.
Win Bets: Firenze Fire to win at 2 to 1 or more.
For a smaller amount, Seeking the Soul to win at 3 to 1 or higher.
Exactas: Firenze Fire and Seeking the Soul over ALL
Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser
Trifecta: Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser
Senator Ken Maddy Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita- Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern, 3:30 Pacific
Miss Southern Miss, who opens at 15/1, has the same credentials as lower odds horses like Storm the Hill (7/2 opening odds) and Painting Corners (4/1 opening odds) but has to the first of the trio of win contenders to be considered for wagers in this race. As a two year old in the summer of 2016, Miss Southern Miss finished 2nd in the Landaluce Stakes in her second career start, then second in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes before a poor effort in the Del Mar Debutante. Showing an affinity for turf in her grass debut, she won the Surfer Girl Stakes in her final start at two before taking a break. After a poor effort trying to get on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks in the Las Virgenes stakes to start her three year old campaign, Miss Southern Miss went back to turf and hasn’t been of the stuff since. She ran poorly in her three starts last fall and winter but when returning as a four year old in January she won down this sometimes tricky downhill turf course with a career best effort and career best 108 Equibase figure to boot. She ran fourth in a stakes one month later but something went amiss and she was on the sidelines for seven months. Returning in a tough classified allowance race last month, won by Painting Corners (who was 13/1 that day), Miss Southern Miss finished with interest from ninth of 10 to get sixth late and in her second start off the rest she has potential to return to the form shown this past January, an effort good enough to win here. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has a sneaky good record down the hill at Santa Anita – 6 for 26 in the past two years, so I’ll give this gal a long look to help make a big profit in this race at double digit odds.
Storm the Hill is a grade 3 winner in a grade 3 race so there are no issues there. She won the Wilshire Stakes at a mile in June on this course with Bejarano up and with a strong 111 figure. Bejarano gets back on after Leparoux rode her for her trip to Kentucky in September when a decent fourth of eight in a tough stakes at Kentucky Downs. She was overmatched in between those two races when fifth to Cambodia in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon but in this grade three race and having won two of three career starts at this trip at Santa Anita, as well as reunited with Bejarano, this filly has every right to return to stakes winning form.
As stated previously, Painting Corners was 13/1 when winning the classified allowance last month down the hill, bringing her record to 3 for 6 at the trip. That was her 2nd win in a row since adding blinkers, both turf sprints, and the jockey change to Roman (with Van Dyke out of town) is no issue as Roman rode her to a victory one year ago in a turf sprint at Del Mar. The 109 figure earned last out matches well with the 111 Storm the Hill earned in her best recent effort and the 108 Miss Southern Miss earned at the trip in January and her 4/1 starting odds, as well as the 7/2 starting odds on Storm The Hill, are well above what I think is reasonable given her 25% probability to win.
Win Bets: Miss Southern Miss to win at odds of 3/1 or more, adding a place bet to be sure at 6/1 or more.
Bet either Storm the Hill or Painting Corners, whichever is the higher odds of the pair, at 3 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Box Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners.
Exacta: Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners over ALL.
You can get my detailed Breeders’ Cup Classic analysis free at this link to Equibase and you can get my full card detailed analysis for both days of Breeders’ Cup in the selections section on Equibase web site as well.