Part 4 Breeders' Cup Thoughts: The Post Draw
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West Point Thoroughbreds President Terry Finley will share his thoughts leading up to the Breeders' Cup. This is the fourth installment.
Today was Breeders' Cup post position draw day. After all the slips were pulled, I have to say that we could not have scripted it any better. All five of our horses drew from post position three to seven. I hope that the next four days are as lucky as today.
I came to Monmouth early this morning. I saw Street Sense work, and he looked great. The weather was warm. I almost flashed back to my teens working warm summer mornings on the backstretch.
The track itself looked spectacular. Today was the first time I had a chance to walk around since all the renovations were complete, and they did a wonderful job preparing for the races. I am confident that everything will go off without a hitch.
You can tell that race day is nearly upon us because the media has begun to assemble. The ESPN team has begun to setup their encampment, and they're starting to shoot footage for their broadcasts.
This will be the third Breeders' Cup that West Point Thoroughbreds has had a runner in. However, this year it's different. Four of our five runners are 8/1 or lower on the morning line. We have brought an impressive fleet (sorry West Point alums for the navy terminology) to Monmouth. Before, we were simply happy to be in the Breeders' Cup. We remain humbled by this year's opportunity, but we have a greater sense of purpose heading into this weekend.
I have had several people ask me to handicap the races or share who I think are the main contenders. I tend to tread lightly in this area. Every one of these races is stocked from top to bottom. You have favorites, but outside of Dylan Thomas the biggest favorite in the eleven races is Dream Rush at 2/1. That's why diehard handicappers find these races so appealing. Fortunately for you all, I am not a diehard handicapper, so I will focus more on what I expect to see in our horse's races.
Awesome Gem (Post #6 Classic) 30/1 - Probably the biggest surprise of my morning was seeing Awesome Gem listed at 30/1 on the morning line. Tiago, who beat us by about an eighth of an inch last time, was listed at 12/1. Fortunately, horses don't know their odds. I will say that I am confident that Awesome Gem will run well. This year's three-year-olds are some of the deepest in recent memory, and on paper how can you not like them. Add Lawyer Ron, who freaked over the summer, and this is probably the deepest Classic since Awesome Again won in 1998. If you believe in omens, Awesome Gem is a son of Awesome Again. One factor for people to consider is that most of the three-year-olds have not yet faced older horses. I know that we spot them a few pounds, but running against older horses for the first time is a big deal.
Dream Rush (Post #3 Filly and Mare Sprint) 2/1 - Her race was the first one drawn, and we were all holding our breath a little bit. We didn't want to be on the rail, and we didn't want to be too far outside. It was a Goldie Locks moment, and we found the post that was "just right." The decision by the connections of La Traviata to run in this race really spiced things up. She could be uncannily good, but so could Dream Rush. You don't win multiple Grade I races by accident. I believe we are the deserving favorite. There's not too much to say about this race. They're going to go fast, and the fastest filly will capture the trophy. I think we are the fastest.
High Finance (Post #5 Dirt Mile) 5/1 - He's a horse that on his best day can beat any horse at a middle distance. Another horse with similar brilliance is Discreet Cat. Discreet Cat worked very fast the other day, and he probably has no choice but to go early from his rail position. He looked every bit like a superstar last year. If he returns to that form on Friday, then he will be very tough to beat. There looks to be plenty of speed in the race, including High Finance. High Finance has set some wicked fractions and kept going in his best races. That's why Rick Violette calls High Finance "a miler with gas" and it is one of the main reasons we entered the Dirt Mile. Wanderin Boy and Gotcha Gold also have speed. We'll be sensible, but we'll be close early.
Irish Smoke (Post #5 Juvenile Fillies) 8/1 - I will not dare to handicap this race. I know who I am rooting for, and that's enough for me. Two-year-olds can be so temperamental, and you might see one run great one day and poorly the next. Our filly is a case in point. We drew a great post position. A To The Croft, Grace Anatomy, and Cry And Catch Me might have suffered some with their draw. We drew just outside the favorite, Indian Blessing, and that filly has done nothing wrong. She'll be tough with her tactical speed.
Lear's Princess (Post #7 Distaff) 6/1 - Outside the Classic, this might be the deepest race on the Breeders' Cup card. The favorite, Indian Vale, is a tepid choice at 3/1. Eight of the twelve fillies in the race have already won a Grade 1. Ironically, Indian Vale is not one of them. I certainly hope that Saturday is not her first. Three-year-olds have done very well in this race. Lear's Princess has only had six career starts, and she has improved with every one of them. If she continues that trend on Saturday, then we might just walk away with a win. I like the fact that we enter the race off of a six week break. Several of the horses had to run extremely tough races three weeks ago. If any of them regress, then it will be tough for them to win. Ginger Punch regressed in her last race when she ran off of a three week break. If she can find her form from this summer then she will be tough, but she is coming back again in three weeks. That might be a lot to ask.
Finally, on a more serious note our thoughts go out to the people of southern California who have been displaced by the terrible wildfires. We hope for speedy relief.
It's game time. I will be back with my thoughts after the races on Sunday.