2008 Breeders Cup Pick Six Results and Analysis
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
We loved the Breeders Cup Ultra Pick 6 this year. We actually thought it was gettable. Alas, we spent $400 and got back about $775 when we hit 5/6. We played two tickets, taking multiple horses in the first and last legs on one ticket and bookending Goldikova and Curlin as keys in the first and last legs on the main ticket. Heres the rub.
We generally were of the opinion that the Pro-Ride surface would favor closers who could dig in late, those with experience over Pro-Ride, and fit horses especially the Europeans. Horses in Europe dont spend 23 hours a day in their stalls. The take long walks to their gallops, train much longer than their American counterparts and then take long walks back to the stable area or yard, where they are then walked again to cool out. They also race over often rain-soaked heavy turf courses, which require an extreme level of fitness. Based on fitness, we thought racing over Pro-Ride would be a walk in the park for the Europeans if they were anywhere close on class.
Breeders Cup Mile Pick 6 Leg 1
Our best bet of the day was Irish-Bred Goldikova. She just looked to classy for her rivals in the 2008 Breeders Cup Mile. She had won three in a row including two Group One races in France and hadnt lost since being defeated twice in row by the mighty Zarkava, the best turf horse on the planet in 2008. The only other horse we thought had a real shot was Kip Deville, who we thought might have used a dull Woodbine Mile prep to set him up for a big run in the Breeders Cup Mile. Problem was he wasnt good enough even with his best race.
Goldikova sat just back and inside of leader Thorn Song to the stretch. Kip Deville was inside early and gradually moved into striking position outside after a half mile. In late turn, presser Daytona moved to challenge outside Thorn Song while Kip Deville was gearing up to the outside. Goldikova had nowhere to go and had to wait from late turn to mid stretch to get out, while Kip Deville had a clear run at the leaders from the outside. When a hole opened in mid stretch Goldikova exploded through it, leaving Kip Deville in her wake. At the wire it was Goldikova by 1 -lengths over Kip Deville. Whatsthescript rallied from eleventh to take the show, 2 -lengths behind Kip Deville and a head in front of Precious Kitten, who had made an outside bid in the stretch but turned out to be no match for the top two when the running started. Goldikova paid $5.60 to win as the favorite and we had our key home in the first leg of the Breeders Cup Pick 6!
Breeders Cup Juvenile Pick 6 Leg 2
In the second leg of the Pick 6, the Breeders Cup Juvenile, we liked Square Eddie based on his stellar acceleration in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in his previous start his first start in North America after finishing second beaten a head in a Group Three in England. We knew he might bounce off his Futurity effort but still thought he was very close to being a key. We were worried about two other horses, Midhipman on the rider switch to Gomez, and Bushranger, a double Group One sprint winner in England.
Square Eddie from the inside and Midshipman from the outside vied for the lead early, with Street Hero stalking the top pair from the outside. In what looked like a smart move at the time, Bejarano aboard Square Eddie took back off the leader after a half in 47 seconds and waited for Street Hero with Solis to make his run at Gomez and Midshipman. Everything appeared to be going as planned for Square Eddie. Street Hero made his run at Midshipman in late turn and stayed close to mid stretch while Square Eddie waited for his chance. He got it. Square Eddie gave everything he had along the rail trying to get to Midshipman and appeared to be getting to him twice, but in the end he came up 1 -lengths second best. The best horse won.
Street Hero finished third, a – length behind Square Eddie and a -length in front of a rallying Terrain. Bushranger with John Murtagh was 7-wide on the first turn, remained wide to the final turn and faded. He had never been beyond six furlongs in Europe, so it was difficult to tell whether the trip got him or whether he has distance limitations. Either way, he was never going to win this race. Midshipman paid $9.20 to win and we were still alive on both our Pick 6 tickets.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Pick 6 Leg 3
We thought the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, the third leg of the Pick 6, was relatively wide open. The horses we really liked, Bittel Road and Grand Adventure, had poor outside posts, and two of the Europeans we liked, Westphalia and Donativum had inside posts. We had multiple horses on one ticket and keyed Westphalia on the other (the one that had multiple horses in the last leg of the Pick 6, the Breeders Cup Classic.) Westphalia had won a seven-furlong Group Two in England in his previous start, and we gave him the edge over Donativum, who had defeated 23 rivals in his prep, a $1.7 million restricted stake at Newmarket. It turned out that we should have went with rider Frankie Dettori and Donativum over Johnny Murtagh on Westphalia.
Westphalia was bumped at the start, stopped and started a few times while stalking inside, had to wait a little on the final turn and finally altered course in early stretch before accelerating to take over the lead late from Coronet of Baron to the inside, but it was too late. Donativum, who had a relatively clean trip outside with Dettori, was flying between horses in early stretch and in full gear by the time he caught Westphalia in deep stretch. At the finish it was Donativum by a -length over Westphalia. Coronet of a Baron gave his best in the drive, giving way late to finish third, 1 -lengths back of Westphalia and a head in front of longshot City Style. Donativum paid $13.60 to win.
While the pace was reasonably fast, what really came through in this race was the class of the Europeans. They ran by their American counterparts like they were standing still. Bittel Road, who we liked because of his previously displayed will to win, was well placed outside to the stretch, and had no excuse. He made a bid in early stretch but was no match when the running started. The same was true of Grand Adventure, who stalked outside, made a mild bid and folded. The latter two were not victims of wide trips as expected. They were outclassed. Our Pick 6 saver ticket bit the dust with Westphalias loss. Not to worry, we still had a chance to win the Pick 6 with Curlin in the last if we could catch the winners of the Breeders Cup Sprint and Breeders Cup Turf.
Breeders Cup Sprint Pick 6 Leg 4
In the Breeders Cup Sprint we took two horses, Street Boss and Midnight Lute. We actually liked Street Boss better off his -length loss to late Breeders Cup scratch Cost of Freedom in the Grade One Ancient Title a month earlier. It was a good solid performance by Street Boss, while defending Breeders Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute was coming into the race with foot problems and a off a dull effort in the Grade Two Pat OBrien at Del Mar two months earlier. Street Boss looked to be on top of his game, although we knew that if Midnight Lute brought his A game he would be very tough to beat. We had both horses on our ticket.
In the early going our horses were last and second last as First Defence, Fatal Bullet and Fabulous Strike battled up front. Fatal Bullet won the early battle from the outside and opened up after passing mid turn, taking a clear lead into the stretch. In the meantime it looked like Street Boss, who was advancing inside on the turn, was getting the jump on Midnight Lute. But Midnight Lute was just getting into gear. Street Boss came 5-wide into the stretch while Midnight Lute advanced widest and quickly caught his rival. Fatal Bullet was running a huge race on the lead but it was clear who the winner was passing the eighth pole. Midnight Lute impressively outkicked Street Boss to catch Fatal Bullet in mid stretch and drew out late to win by 1 -lengths over a game Fatal Bullet. Street Boss gave his best but finished 1 -lengths behind Fatal Bullet in third. It was another length back to In Summation in fourth. The winner, ridden by Garrett Gomez, paid $7.40 as the second choice. We were still alive!
Breeders Cup Turf Pick 6 Leg 5
In the fifth leg of the Pick 6 our group couldnt decide between Conduit and Soldier of Fortune. Conduit had won the Group One St. Leger Stakes going 1 13/16-miles in England in his last, so he was the stamina play. But Soldier of Fortune was coming into the race with both stamina and class, having finished third beaten only 2 -lengths by Zarkava in Europes classiest race, the Group One Arc de Triomphe at 1 -miles in France. Additionally, we thought, what if the Europeans dont fire? That makes the race wide open. We bet Conduit to win but used six horses on our Pick 6 ticket.
Longshot Red Rock Canyon opened up early and set a decent pace early before being pressured inside and out on the backstretch by Out of Control and strangely, entry mate and favorite Soldier of Fortune, ridden by Johnny Murtagh. Why Soldier of Fortune was forcing the pace of his own rabbit is beyond comprehension, but nonetheless, the favorite forced the issue from the inside, took the lead into the final turn, dueled and took a short lead into the stretch after 1 -miles had been run, but was spent late he had nothing left for the ralliers. While Soldier of Fortune was battling through the turn and into the stretch, Eagle Mountain was sitting just back and outside ready to pounce. And pounce he did.
Eagle Mountain rallied outside to take over in midstretch, but it was clear that he was not going to win once Conduit got rolling. Back and off the rail early, Conduit advanced between horses late on the final turn, swung outside for the drive and finished like a freight train to take over late, drawing out to win by 1 -lengths over Eagle Mountain. Dancing forever rallied for third, 2 -lengths behind Eagle Mountain and a head in front of Soldier of Fortune. The winner, ridden by Ryan Moore, paid $13.60. An excellent overlay we thought, but now we were alive to only one horse going into the last leg of the Pick 6 Curlin – and we were not confident.
Breeders Cup Classic Pick 6 Leg 6
In our pre-race analysis of the Breeders Cup Classic, we thought Curlin would move early, make a bid in the stretch and tire late. He just hadnt seemed the same in his past few races, and he had never raced over Pro-Ride. Horses that move early on Pro-Ride are often spent before they get to the wire, and we though the fitter Europeans might have an edge in this race. On our saver ticket we had used six horses , Curlin, Henrythenavigator, Go Between, Duke of Marmalade, Colonel John and Ravens Pass, who we through in as a longshot based on fitness, class, and the fact that he had defeated Henrythenavigator in his previous start, Englands Group One Queen Elizabeth II. But we were already out on that ticket. Everything was riding on Curlin.
Casino Drive took the early lead inside and had gradually had increasing outside pressure from longshot Fairbanks. As expected, Casino Drives lack of seasoning showed up and he gave way late on the final turn when the running started. Duke of Marmalade, who had been beaten only 3 -lengths in the Arc de Triomphe, was in perfect striking position stalking the pacesetters from the outside, and was the first to make a bid in late turn, but he couldnt sustain it. He looked like a tired horse in the drive.
Go Between, the horse we thought had the best shot at an upset from the American side, had been stalking the pacesetters from the inside, but lacked room in late turn when ready to make his run. By the time he got clear room it was too late. He did finish decently and probably should have finished in the money. Colonel John stalked wide and made a good move in late turn to make a bid into the stretch, but he couldnt stay with Curlin, who was in the midst of accomplishing our worst nightmare.
Climbing early, Curlin settled in early back and outside but did not appear to be comfortable handling the surface. After five furlongs had been run it looked like he was being asked to pick it up and doing so reluctantly. Jockey Robby Albarado finally got him into full gear while wide on the final turn and he made what looked like a winning move (if it were dirt) outside Colonel John in late turn to take over the lead into the stretch. We immediately though he had moved too early and sadly, we were right. Curlin dug in to hold on as long as he could, but when the fitter Europeans finally got rolling they left him in their wake.
Ravens Pass benefitted from a stellar ride from Frankie Dettori. He stalked Curlin from the outside, waited for that one to make his move on the final turn, followed him into the stretch and then simply ran him down when he tired. Ravens Pass looked like a good horse in the drive. This was his day and once he got rolling in the drive it was clear no one was beating him. He took over with a furlong to go and drew out to win by 1 -lengths over his rallying European rival Henrythenavigator. The latter had saved ground to the final turn, advanced five wide and split horses in the drive to make a good bid, but he was no match for the winner on this day. Henrythenavigator finished of a length in front of Tiago, who had been back early after breaking slowly. Tiago finished decently to best Curlin by a neck for the show. The winner paid $29 as a huge overlay, and we lost the Pick 6.
Nobody in our group cared that we had 5/6 in the Pick 6, which paid $775.60 and left us with a profit for the day. The Pick 6 paid $55,920.80 for a $2 ticket with all six winners. The difficult part to digest was the fact that we had done a great job of handicapping the Pick 6. We knew Curlin was beatable, we loved the Europeans and yet didnt get the job done.
So what did we learn?
Well, we will definitely be playing the Pick 6 next year over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride. We found it totally playable. Its tougher for a lone speed horse to go all the way on Pro-Ride, but a fit horse with enough class can do it. We also know that horses who move too early on Pro-Ride are generally gasping for air late unless they are super fit as the Europeans were. Basically , a sound, fit, class horse that can physically dig in late has an edge on Pro-Ride. The latter attribute is very important to the handicapping process, and you wont find in publications. You have to watch the races and the individual horses to spot it. We found numerous horses who we thought could dig in late to win over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita this year. The final key was the rider. Some of the riders at Santa Anita never did get the surface figured out. The ones that did, like Bejarano and Gomez, dominated.
And we plan to do that at the mutual windows next year especially in the Breeders Cup Pick 6!
2008 Breeders Cup Pick 6 Results – 2008 Breeders Cup Classic Results and Payoffs
Oak Tree at Santa Anita, Race 9, October 25, 2008
8 Ravens Pass $29.00 $15.80 $8.00
5 Henrythenavigator $22.00 $11.20
3 Tiago $7.00
1 Go Between
$1 Exacta 8-5 paid $159.50
$1 Trifecta 8-5-3 paid $2395.00
$1 Superfecta 8-5-3-9 paid $10,236.00
$1 Super High 5 8-5-3-9-1 paid $97,255.00
$1 Pick 3 4-9-8 paid $493.80
$2 Daily Double 9-8 $212.00
$1 Pick 4 4-4-9-8 paid $2,746.70
$2 Pick 6 4-11-4-4-9-8 paid $55,920.80
$2 Pick 6 (5 Correct) paid $775.60