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2013 WPT Team Handicapping

November 01, 2013 · By Erin Birkenhauer · Share

The West Point team joined together and took a crack at handicapping each of the Breeders’ Cup 2013 races. Some races are handicapped in more detail than others, but we thought you’d enjoyed the insight from each member of our team. You can view our bios by clicking here.


Friday, 11/1 Races


Marathon (Lindsey Heumann)


1. Indian Jones

2. Worldly

3. Suns Out Guns Out


Juvenile Turf (Debbie Finley)


1st: Bobby's Kitten: Hot barn/rider and crushed the field in the G3 @ Belmont and should love the firm turf at Santa Anita

2nd: Giovanni Boldini: Won this race in 2011 and 2012. Not sure he will catch Bobby's Kitten.

3rd: Bashart: Like the trainer/rider combo but do not like the post position.  


My $2 Win/Place/Show long shot: Aotearoa


Dirt Mile (Terry Finley)


1. Hymn Book

2. Fed Biz

3. Broadway Empire


Juvenile Fillies Turf (Shannon Castagnola)


My number one pick would be My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller). Everyone was buzzing about how unorthodox it was to send a first time starter, a FILLY no less, into a GII against the BOYS! My Conquestadory SPANKED that field and won the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she came right back in a race at Keeneland to put the GI Alcibiades field in TIME OUT by coming from absolutely out of the clouds to win. Tongues all over Lexington were wagging about that effort. I do have to admit, I’m concerned about the 14 hole for her. Her trainer, Mark Casse was too, as immediately after the Breeders’ Cup draw he mentioned scratching from the race. I know that feeling Mark, I can sympathize with that feeling wholeheartedly. She’ll need to be every bit special as she is to win from that post.


If I can put in a second pick, it will be for Jim Covello’s Testa Rossi (Fr) (Dr Fong). Jim ventured into horse ownership when he first invested with West Point Thoroughbreds and is a classic example of how good partnerships can be a springboard for educating and involving more people into the sport of horse racing. I like the chances of a European bred on the grass and she has four consecutive wins to her name. For sure, I’ll be rooting for the “home team”.


Distaff (Tom Bellhouse)


Top to bottom the most competitive field in this year’s Breeders Cup Championship weekend. Mott vs. Pletcher vs. Mandella and the defending champ Royal Delta takes on three G-1 winning fillies (one which already beat her- Princess of Sylmar) as well as one of the top older mares in training, Authenticity. Although she was beaten in her last start, Royal Delta remains the Queen of American Racing. Historically she's always rebounded from a defeat with a "lights out" performance, so it would be no surprise to see her drawing away down the Santa Anita stretch.


Each of the top 3-year old fillies have taken different routes to the 1st of November Distaff since their May meeting in the Kentucky Oaks.


Oaks Champion, Princess of Sylmar had a busy summer taking on all challengers on the NYRA circuit, winning the Coaching Club, Alabama, and Beldame. Her owner, Ed Stanco (a summertime regular at Larry's Barber Shop in Saratoga) and Trainer Todd Pletcher have managed this filly to perfection, reeling off a series of wins that make "The Princess" a serious Horse Of The Year candidate. Originally it was thought that The Beldame would conclude The Princess' 2013 campaign, but Stanco, being a true sportsman, put up the $$$ and said "Let's go for it!!!"


Oaks runner up and last years Breeders Cup Juvenile filly champ Beholder got a couple months of R&R after her trip to Churchill Downs before returning with a couple eye popping wins this fall. Beholder seems to love the Santa Anita surface, although her desire to go the 1 1/8 mile distance remains a slight question. I never thought a daughter of Henny Hughes would want two turns and I paid dearly for that miscalculation last year at the Santa Anita mutuel windows.


Close Hatches is the prototypical Bill Mott Grade One winner. Flies under the radar, looks like a really nice filly, spots her cautiously then takes a couple of swings for the fences.....and the result is, more often than not, a home run. This filliy's two summertime wins were spectacular. She ran off the screen at Belmont to win The Mother Goose and destroyed a talented field at PARX while dominating The Cotillion. When she's good, she's tremendous and most Mott horses tend to get good this time of year, when the $$$ is on the line.


Authenticity is another Pletcher filly whose resume leaves you drooling. This daughter of Quiet American is a two time graded stakes winner, as well as a three time runner up in grade one contests. Her presence in this year’s Distaff only muddies the water even further.  Her tactical speed may come in handy if things get hot on the front end


2013 Distaff

1. Royal Delta

As an old buddy of mine, The Senator, used to say, "to be the man, you gotta beat the man".......so here goes.


2. Beholder

Love Sylmar and her connections, but Mandella is the master at Santa Anita.  Would not suprise me if she takes it all.


3. Princess of Sylmar

To quote the old "Sportseye"........may better this rating.


Chalky...I know...but man what a horse race this will be!



Saturday, 11/2 Races


Juvenile Fillies (Jeff Lifson)


I like Untapable on top. My play is a pick 3 part wheel with Untapable and Artemis Agrotera on top. Second spot: Untapable, Artmeis Agrotera, Dancing House, Concave. Third spot: Untapable, Artemis Agrotera, Dancing House, Concave, Rosalind.


Filly & Mare Turf (Clif Hickok)


Welcome to a Classic “rider’s race!” Not much speed, 1 ¼ miles, rock hard turf. Very likely the best horse will not win. Of the 10 horse field expect eight of them to be within six to eight lengths of the eventual winner, at the wire! With that as backdrop,


The Best filly pre-entered was “The Fugue,” and she opted out for the Turf against the boys! Twilight Eclipse, beware of this one!


My picks:


# 1 Dank (GB) with Ryan Moore aboard. An unspectacular horse until the Beverly D where she ran lights out. Ryan Moore is easily among the top 10 riders in the world. Top pick!!


# 6 Marketing Mix. 16 out of 20 starts in the money. Gary Stevens aggressively will guide her to a second place finish.


#3 Tiz Flirtatious. Julien Leparoux has guided her to three wins in her last four starts. Twelve for twelve in the money. Third place.


# 8 Emollient. Has won from being on the lead and from last to first. Versatile horse for Mike Smith, big time in big races. Fourth place.


# 4 Alterite (Fr). Never leave out Johnny Velazquez in this type race. This horse seems to like racing in the USA. Fifth Place.


# 7 Laughing (Ire). Lezcano knows how to slow down the pace. Look for this one to be on the lead until the 1/8th pole then slowly drop back to Sixth.


Betting angle: A $1 Exacta Box of all six for $30.  

Here is a prayer: Race # 3 (non Breeders cup race) Pick 3 # 1, 7 with ALL (10)  with ALL (10). $1 bet = $200. If they offer $ .50c P 3’s then only $100. Good Luck!


Filly & Mare Sprint (Terry Finley)


1. Book Review

2. Dance to Bristol

3. Groupie Doll


Turf Sprint (Dawn Lenert)


All week I’ve had Bill Conti movie music playing in my head, (you know what movie I’m talking about), and I’ve been simultaneously scratching my head at the early odds. The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint field includes the first four finishers of the local prep, the Eddie D (G3). The winner is  5-1. The place horse is 8-1. The show horse is 8-1. The fourth place horse is 8-1. Only three quarters of a length separated those four competitors. The seventh place horse, despite major stretch trouble, finished only two and one half lengths behind the winner, yet Rocky is 30-1!  No black type yet, no respect? Just like Mr. Balboa, the underdog is gonna have his day.


1. Rock Me Baby

He had nowhere to go last, a superb “breezing” work :36 and 3, and we insiders know he breathes fire and has the eye of the tiger attitude stalking his prey. After a carefully managed career progression, it’s time to step up on the big stage. His trainer knows a thing or two about preparing to win a Breeders’ Cup race. I’ll take the giftwrapped odds.


2. Caracortado

4th place finisher of Eddie D. who also had trouble in his first race in over a year, looks like he will sit right off of the speed and make another run. Veteran Gary Stevens is riding red hot, and isn’t gonna let anyone steal this race up front.


3. Reneesgotzip

If she wants the lead, she’s gonna get it. She proved last year she can come from off the pace and grab a slice. I think she is the main threat and will come up just a tad short in a cavalry charge down the stretch. I am not feeling it this year for Mizdirection.


4. Unbridled’s Note

This is his distance. Just missed in this race last year. Should move up second race back from layoff, but don’t love the post.


Juvenile (Shannon Castagnola)


I have full faith in Bob Baffert’s ability to get a 2-year old colt ready for a big race. Add Mike Smith as your jockey, an excellent post position draw of the 6 hole, and I think Tap It Rich (Tapit) is going to be incredibly tough to beat. He won his debut over the same track and surface on October 12th, coming from off the pace to win by 4½ lengths. He’s been pretty full of himself since then, working a half-mile in :48 ⅕ on October 28th.


My second pick would be Bond Holder (Mineshaft). He’ll be walking out his own stall to travel over the same exact course, surface, AND distance of a mile and 1/16 as he won on in the Frontrunner Stakes. He’ll be coming from the 5 hole and has the Derby winning connections of owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill, and jockey Mario Gutierrez on his side. Will he be I’ll Have Another part 2? I sure hope so as I couldn’t get enough of all the painted purple toe pics on Facebook and Instagram the first time around!


Turf (Tom Bellhouse)


Asking me to handicap and grade this race objectively is like asking a parent which one of their kids they love most.  I have genuine affection for a few of the horses/connections in this race.


Let's get this out of the way, Twilight Eclipse is my favorite horse. Period. End of Story Everyone who comes to the Saratoga backside on early August mornings knows the reason I'm there at 5:30am on a daily basis is to see this awesome son of Purim go by. You can't help but smile as you watch assistant trainer Dave Wallace holding on for dear life when TE gallops by the second time. He loves to train and would go around the track again, if Dave let him.


Little Mike. How can you not love Little Mike?. Modest (to say the least) breeding, never gets any respect. Defending champ has won the Arlington Million, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Churchill Turf Classic and still won't be favored on Saturday. Our good friend, Eclipse Award winning trainer, Dale Romans, has worked his magic over and over on this courageous gelding.  Not to mention his owners, Carlo & Priscilla Vaccarezza have a phenomenal restaurant in South Florida called Frank & Dino's.  


Point of Entry is just a flat out stud. Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey is bringing this superstar back after his victorious performance in the G-1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day.  Unfortunately this regally bred son of Dynaformer was injured that day, so his return off the layoff, without a prep, in this star-studded competition is ambitious.


Ok...My lovefest is over...almost


The major questions I have regarding this year's BC Turf are simple: How good is The Fugue?  Can Point of Entry possibly be ready?  Do Ramsey's and Kittens Joy's dominance over American turf racing continue?  Does Little Mike win again without any Bellhouse wagering $$$ on him? And oh yeah....does the combo of Mandella/Stevens wreck all of us East Coast guys’ PK 4 tickets?


So my answers are: not sure, if anybody can do it- Shug can, NO, Maybe, god I hope not.


2014 Turf


1.  Twilight Eclipse.......It's my column....and he's my guy

Seeks to regain his world record form on firm turf around three turns.


2.  Little Mike

Performance in the G-1 Joe Hirsch was spectacular. Never, ever count Romans out.


3.  Big Blue Kitten

Should have won Joe Hirsch, except his owner put a rabbit in the race and the result was a tiring horse stopping his in the stretch.  BRILLIANT!!!!


4. Point of Entry

If he's ready....he wins.


If this superfecta comes in....We're all going to Sizzla'


Sprint (Erin Finley)


1. Justin Phillip

2. The Lumber Guy

3. Sum of the Parts


Mile (Lindsey Heumann)


1. Wise Dan

2. Obviously

3. Za Approval


Classic (Debbie Finley)


1st: Game on Dude: Going with the home field horse who loves Santa Anita.

2nd:  Mucho Macho Man: Loves Santa Anita too but won't catch Game On Dude.

3rd:  Fort Larned: Won this race last year but won't duplicate.


My $2 Win/Place/Show long shot: Will Take Charge