All posts by Matthew Dixon

2013 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

2013 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – 7 Furlongs Dirt (Race 6, Post Time: 1:21 Pacific Time)

1. Renee’s Titan (30-1) – It is very surprising to see her in this spot. She is making her 2nd start off a 5 month layoff and her last start was down the hill on the Santa Anita turf course in an Optional Claiming race. She looks completely overmatched in this spot and I cannot endorse under any circumstances.

2. Book Review (6-1) – This filly ran a very nice 2nd in her last outing in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga. She ran behind Dance To Bristol who is also in this race. She hasn’t raced since August 23, but she has done well off the layoff in the past. Expect her to be rolling late and try to nab them at the wire. Strong chance.

3. Starship Truffles (15-1) – She was an upset winner of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder back in early July. In her 2 starts since that race she has not run very well, with a 6th place finish in the Grade 1 Ballerina and then a 3rd place finish in an overnight stake at Gulfstream. I’ll pass on her in this spot.

4. Dance Card (8-1) – Her last race was her 1st start in 10 months and she ran an good 3rd in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom behind Cluster of Stars and Dance To Bristol, the latter is in this race. She should be much fitter in this race, but I think she likes route races better than sprints. I will side against her chances in this race.

5. Teddy’s Promise (6-1) – She took part in last year’s running of this race finishing a well beaten 8th of 10. She follows a similar path as last year where she will be making her 2nd start off a nearly 3 month layoff. She won her last race with ease in an Overnight Stake here at Santa Anita. I’m not sold on her sticking around at the end of this race.

6. Ismene (20-1) – This filly has never raced in graded stakes competition, but she has done very well in Cal-Bred races and an overnight stakes race. She will probably be on the lead along with the horse to her inside. This is a huge step up in class and I am going to pass on her winning this race.

7.  Summer Applause (12-1) – She has been running in Graded Stakes races going a route of ground, but is now shortening up to 7 furlongs. She will be off the pace in this race and that might not be a bad thing if the track is playing fair and if the pace is robust. I don’t like her chances to win this race, but I can see her finishing in one of the underneath spots for the exotics.

8. Dance To Bristol (5-1) – This ultra-consistent filly is one of the favorites to win this race. She won 7 races in a row before her last race in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom where she was 2nd by 5 lengths. She has the perfect running style to win races like this and 5 for 5 in the exacta at this distance of 7 furlongs. She is my pick to win this race.

9. Judy The Beauty (6-1) – She has been a very nice filly so far in her career. She has won in the U.S., France, and Canada and won on both turf and synthetic racing surfaces. She is winless from 5 starts on dirt, but she has finished 2nd all five times. She should be coming off the pace and has been working lights out for this race. I think she is a legitimate contender, but I am concerned she will not have the same late kick on a conventional dirt track that she does on synthetic.

10. Great Hot (BRZ) (20-1) – She ran 2nd behind fellow rival Teddy’s Promise in her last race and previously finished 8th when racing against males in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar. Given her recent races, she is not on the same level as these horses. I will pass on her.

11. Groupie Doll (5-2) – She won the 2012 version of this race and did so in style by 4 1/2 lengths. She has only run 3 times this year with 1 win and 2 third place finishes. She has not been the same horse this year as she was in 2012, but she has been heavily supported at the windows (Odd on favorite in all 3 races). I am concerned about her form this year and she will be one of the favorites, if not the outright favorite. I will try and beat her in the win angle, but she is a must use underneath.

12. Sweet Lulu (8-1) – She is the most inexperienced horse in the field with only 5 career starts. She has won 4 of those races and finished 2nd in the other. 2 starts ago she won the 7 Furlong, Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga and then finished 2nd in the 8.5 furlong, Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx. She has drawn the furthest post and she will be forwardly placed which hurts her. I think she is very talented, but I will take a stand against her to win.

Bets

I really like #8 Dance To Bristol here and I will bet her in this race to Win-Place-Show here. I will single her in several multi-race tickets, but I will use the 2-9-11 on some saver tickets.

2013 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf

2013 Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf – 1 1/4 Miles Turf (Race 5, Post Time: 12:43 Pacific Time)

1. Dank (GB) (5-2) – Her last race in the Grade 1 Beverly D was spectacular and that is why she is the morning line favorite for this race. She absolutely flew by leaders in the stretch to win by an impressive 4 1/4 lengths. She should get another fantastic trip in this race and is the one to beat.

2. Romantica (GB) (6-1) – She has spent her entire career in France and has 4 wins from 10 starts. She is a Group 1 winner in France as 2 races back she beat 5 others to win the Darley Prix Jean Romanet. She loves this distance of 10 Furlongs as she has 3 wins and a second from 4 starts. She also sports a couple of wins over firm turf. She has the looks of a strong upset possibility in this race.

3. Tiz Flirtatious (7-2) – Of the North American based horses, I think she has the best chance at winning. She is spectacular form having won 4 of her 5 starts this year and she absolutely loves the Santa Anita turf course, also having 4 wins from 5 starts. She is working lights out in the morning and will have a big say in this race. Must use on top.

4. Alterite (FR) (10-1) – Since her arrival in the U.S. she has been very impressive. She won her 1st start in the Grade 1 Garden City, then followed that up with a 2nd place finish by a neck in the Grade 1 QE II at Keeneland. She has only 1 start at this distance, a 2nd place finish by a nose in a Group 1 race in France. She’s an interesting long shot in this race who can definitely add value to the exotics.

5. Lady of Shamrock (20-1) – She participated in this race last year where she finished 5th beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Since then she has raced 6 six times this year and won 1 time via disqualification. She has run well in defeat this year, but I she needs to step up her game if she wants to compete with this field.

6. Marketing Mix (7-2) – She ran against Dank in the Beverly D where she finished 4th by 5 3/4 lengths. She followed that race up with a 2nd place finish in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive in which she lost by a head to Tiz Flirtatious. She should get a good trip in this race and she has been in the exacta 5 times in 6 starts at this distance. After watching her Beverly D again, I was disappointed that she did not finish better in that race. I do not like her value on Saturday against these horses. I will limit her to underneath in the exotics.

7. Laughing (IRE) (8-1) – She has been on a roll this year with her 4 for 4 record, all of those in Graded Stakes company (2 Grade 1’s, a Grade 2, and a Grade 3). We know what she is going to do and that is go to lead and try to slow them down. And to be honest, it just might work as I do not see any other horse that will go to lead. She might just be able to steal this race on the front end. Don’t sell short from the win angle.

8. Emollient (12-1) – This gal has had an interesting year. She won on dirt, Polytrack, and Turf along with 3 Grade 1 races. Her last race was in the Grade 1 Spinster over Polytrack where she came from well off the pace to run by all her rivals. She does have a win at this distance, but I am not sure where she is going to be placed. She has tactical speed, but will it be used properly? I’m not sold on her chances against this salty group.

9. Qushchi (GB) (20-1) – She ran 4th behind last time out in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational. The horse she was following that day? Laughing who is also in this race. I think she wants more distance than the 10 furlongs she is getting today and I do not think she will do enough to contend. Pass.

10. Kitten’s Dumplings (10-1) – Last time out she beat fellow rival Alterite in the Grade 1 QE II at Keeneland. This will be her 1st start against older horses and her 1st start at a mile and a quarter. I do not like her chances in this race.

Bets

Depending on which horse has the better odds, I will play either #2 Romantica or #7 Laughing. I will also use both of those horses and wheel them up and down in exactas with the 1-3-4-6.

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies – 1 1/16 Miles Dirt (Race 4, Post Time: 12:05 Pacific Time)

1. Artemis Agrotera (3-1) – She has been very impressive in both of her starts, winning her debut by 11 3/4 lengths and then winning the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont by a 1 1/4 lengths. With her post, she will get a great trip in behind the leaders if she so chooses. She will have plenty of company if she ends up going to the lead.

2. Rosalind (8-1) – She ran a good 2nd in the Grade 1 Alcibiades last out at Keeneland as she came from off the pace. She also ran a solid 3rd in the Grade 3 Pocahontas where she finished behind Untapable. Despite those positives, she will need to show more talent to be competitive here. I will pass on her.

3. Designer Legs (30-1) – She ran huge in the Grade 2 Adirondack where she was placed 1st via disqualification, but her form has tailed off since then. She obviously did not care for the slop 2 races back, but in her last race she had great position, but nothing in the stretch. I will pass on her.

4. Secret Compass (6-1) – She ran a good race last out as she wore down She’s A Tiger in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes here at Santa Anita. I really like that she stalked the leaders and then ground her way to a victory. She deserves a long look to win this race.

5. Ria Antonia (30-1) – She started her career in Canada at Woodbine where she had 1 win from 3 starts. In her last start in the Grade 1 Frizette, she saved ground throughout and then failed to rally in the stretch. She will have to make a massive improvement to be considered. Pass.

6. Concave (15-1) – She started her career 2 for 2 with those wins coming on turf and then in the Grade 3 Sorrento over Polytrack. She ran a good 3rd when she was blocked until the stretch. The worry with here is that she has not gone 2 turns yet, but her pedigree suggests it should be no problem. She has some really good works coming into this race as well. I am going to pick her to upset this field.

7. Untapable (5-1) – She is 2 for 2 to start her career including the Grade 2 Pocahontas. She won that coming off the pace after being a bit unruly early on. She should have a good pace ahead of her and that makes her a must use on top.

8. Scandalous Act (8-1) – I am surprised this gal is 8-1 on the morning line. She is 4 for 5 in her career, but 3 of those wins were against Florida-bred competition. Yes, she did win each of those by at least 5 3/4 lengths but in her only stakes race against open competition, she was nowhere to be found. She also has to contend with other speed in here. I will pass on her, especially if she is under double digit odds.

9. Sweet Reason (5-2) – She is the morning line favorite for this race for multiple reasons. She crushed in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga two races back by 5 3/4 lengths and then ran a really good 2nd in the Frizette coming off the pace. That come from behind style will really help her in a race full of speed. I certainly like her chances, but I cannot take her at 5/2.

10. She’s A Tiger (6-1) – In her 5 career races, she has 3 wins and 2 seconds. 2 races back she won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and then followed that up with a 2nd place finish in the Grade 1 Chandelier. She draws outside which is not a bad place to be considering all the speed in the race. If she can find a spot before the first turn, she will have a big say in this race.

Bets

I will play Win-Place-Show on #6 Concave as well as wheel her up and down in some exactas. In multi-race exotics I will use 4-6-7-9-10.

2013 Breeders Cup Distaff

2013 Breeders Cup Distaff – 1 1/8 Miles Dirt (Race 10, Post Time: 4:35 Pacific Time)

1. Street Girl (30-1) – She is far and away the longest shot in this field of six and there are a few reasons for that. She has been competitive in her last 3 races (2 Grade 1’s and a Grade 3), but she has not won and she is not on the same level as these horses. Her only chance is to make one run and hope the other 5 horses falter. The longest of longshots in this race.

2. Authenticity (8-1) – She has really turned into a good mare this year; She has 8 starts, 3 wins, 4 seconds, and a third. She ran her best career race last out here at Santa Anita in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes behind Beholder. I don’t think she will win this, but she does offer the best value of the race from a win wager standpoint.

3. Close Hatches (6-1) – She is a 3 year old filly taking on elders for the first time and what a time to do so against Royal Delta and Authenticity. Her only bad race was in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks when she was wide and then had nothing in the stretch. She is working brilliantly for this race, but I do not like her chances against Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar.

4. Royal Delta (8-5) – She is the 2-time defending champion of this race and her career has been spectacular. She should be right on the lead or at least pressing it which would give her first run on the leader(s). She did finish 2nd to Princess of Sylmar last out when she failed to outkick her. She deserves to vie for favoritism and is a must use on top.

5. Beholder (5-2) – She went gate-to-wire last out in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes here at Santa Anita. That was also her first race against older horses. She will be on the lead again, but she will have pace pressure at the very least. She sure does love Santa Anita as she has 5 Wins and a second from 6 starts. I respect her chances, but I think she settles for minor awards.

6. Princess of Sylmar (9-5) – Since her 4th place finish in her debut in October 2012, she has done nothing wrong. She is 8 for 9 since that defeat and her only other race was a 2nd place finish. Last time out, she sat off the pace and let Royal Delta challenge the leader before she swooped by and won by 2 lengths. I think the same thing happens today as she is my top pick.

Bets

I will not be making any bets for this race. This is one of those races you just sit back and watch a great field duke it out. In multi-race wagers I will use the 2-4-6.

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf – 1 Mile Turf (Race 9, Post Time: 3:50 Pacific Time)

1. Nesso (20-1) – She has 3 career starts and has improved drastically every time. Her last 2 starts on turf have been solid and she should be in the perfect spot throughout this race. I don’t like her chances to win, but I think she could add value to the exotics.

2. Al Thakhira (GB) (6-1) – She has ran twice over in Europe and has ran 2 really good races. The last race in the Group 2 at Newmarket was smashing over a good-to-soft ground and a 3 1/2 length win. She is a top contender in this race.

3. Colonel Joan (20-1) – She is still winless in her career, but she has run well in defeat including a 3rd place effort in the Surfer Girl Stakes here at Santa Anita. Given the depth of this field, I think she has an outside chance of even getting a slice of the purse money.

4. Kitten Kaboodle (12-1) – She won her first race last time out, in the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland. I think she is a bit light on speed figures from a win standpoint, but if she can work out a good trip, she has a chance in the trifecta and superfecta spot.

5. Granny Mc’s Kitten (20-1) – She broke her maiden the P.G. Johnson stakes at Saratoga in her 2nd career start, but followed up with a ho-hum effort last out in the Grade 3 Ms. Grillo. She did run wide that day, but I think she is a cut below most of these. Pass on her chances from the top 2 or 3 spots.

6. Vorda (FR) (4-1) – She has ran 5 career races and won 4 of those, with the other race being a 2nd place finish. She has already won a Group 1 and a Group 2 race and finished 2nd in another Group 1. She has not raced past 6 furlongs, but if she handles the stretch out, they could all be running for 2nd place.

7. Street Sailing (15-1) – Her last race was a winning effort when she was going 2 turns and stepping onto the grass for the first, but that was in a Non-Winners of 2 Lifetime event. The waters get a lot deeper here, but if she can get an easy lead and set soft fractions, she might be able to hold for a piece.

8. Chriselliam (IRE) (6-1) – She won the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies Mile in her last race at Newmarket and did so at 28-1 odds. The ground was good-to-firm which should suit her on Friday. She certainly loves the mile distance as she has a win and a second place finish. Expect her to make a late rally and hope to run by them all in the stretch. I like her chances if she gets clear sailing.

9. Dancing House (20-1) – She started her career with 2 good dirt races and then moved over to the turf course last race. She finished a decent 3rd in the Grade 3 Ms. Grillo, but I think she is overmatched in here. Pass on her chances.

10. Clenor (IRE) (8-1) – Since arriving in the U.S. this filly has done nothing wrong. She is 3 for 3 in the U.S. and has improved in every start. The latest workouts show she is ready for another big effort. Will that effort be enough to top the Euros? Maybe, but I will use her underneath in the exotics.

11. Ready To Act (8-1) – She is truly the question mark of this field. In her last race, she appeared as if she was going to win when about a furlong out she dumped her rider. We don’t know how good she is and this is a tough field to answer that question. I also think she will have some company on the lead from Street Sailing. I will pass on her win chances here, but I will use her underneath.

12. Testa Rossi (FR) (8-1) – She is 4 for 6 in her career and her last race was mighty impressive in the Ms. Grillo at Belmont. She sat at the rear of the field into the stretch where she blew past the field and then held on to beat Sky Painter by a nose. Another horse that I believe is a must use on the win end.

13. Sky Painter (15-1) – As mentioned in the write up above, she just missed last out by a nose. That was an impressive effort as she was making her first start going a route of ground. She should be mid-pack and could definitely grab a piece late.

14. My Conquestadory (9-2) – One of the favorites when the pre-entries were taken, she has been done in by the widest draw. She beat males in her debut in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine, then won the Grade 1 Alcibiades in her next start. She is a very tactical horse which is why I will not discount her, even from the wide post.

Bets

This is a very deep field and there are many ways to go. In multi-race wagers I will use 2-6-8-10-12-13-14 and keying in on the 6-8-12 combinations. I will use the 6-8-12 on top in exactas and trifectas as well.

2013 Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

2013 Breeders Cup Dirt Mile – 1 Mile Dirt (Race 8, Post Time: 3:05 Pacific Time)

1. Taptowne (15-1) – He has run very well this year, but those races were against weaker. He will be forwardly placed throughout and that might hurt his chances from a pace scenario. I give him a shot at finishing 3rd or 4th.

2. Golden Ticket (12-1) – His last race was tough one up against the likes of Mucho Macho Man and Paynter where he finished 4th. Both of those horses will run in the Breeders Cup Classic. He does get Joel Rosario aboard who has a win and a second while riding him, but I feel he is best suited to longer races. He can hit the ticket for 3rd or 4th as well.

3. Hymn Book (15-1) – I think he is an interesting long shot possibility. In his last race he finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Kelso while wearing blinkers for the first time. If you watch the replay, he made a nice move and was finishing at the end. I like his chances, especially if the track is playing fair.

4. Brujo de Olleros (BRZ) (8-1) – He too raced in the Grade 2 Kelso, where he finished 2nd, a neck ahead of Hymn Book. Jockey Alan Garcia has clearly gotten him figured out and just like the horse to his inside, if the track is playing fair, watch out. Must use on top.

5. Fed Biz (6-1) – He was 8th of 9 in this race last as a 3 Year old and he comes into this race off a good win in the 7 Furlong, Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar. He likes Santa Anita (3 wins from 6 starts) and likes this distance (3 wins from 5 starts). My gut feeling is he will be flying late, but if the track isn’t playing to his style, he might be spinning his wheels. I will use him underneath.

6. Broadway Empire (12-1) – This guy is 3 for 3 since taking the blinkers off and those 3 wins have been impressive. His latest was in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park when he won by 4 lengths. He is working well, but I think the step up in competition will be too much for him.

7. Alpha (8-1) – He raced over the Santa Anita track last when he was last of 12 in the Breeders Cup Classic. Other than the Grade 1 Woodward, he has not shown much this year. I think he was aided by the slop in that win (which he won’t get on Friday) and I don’t think 8-1 is enough for me to place a bet on him.

8. Holy Lute (20-1) – Lightly raced 3 year old has only 4 starts. He has 2 wins and 2 thirds to his credit and his workouts have been good in the mornings. He gets Mike Smith aboard and I like his chances to add value to the Trifecta and Superfecta here.

9. Centralinteligence (15-1) – He is making his 2nd start off a 4 month layoff after using the Santa Anita Sprint Championship as a prep race for this. He is a Grade 1 winner, but he appears to be more of a sprinter than a miler. I think he is up against it in this field.

10. Verrazano (3-1) – One of the top 3 Year olds opts for this race instead of the Classic. His only 2 poor efforts were going 10 Furlongs and they were against top competition. Was it the distance or the competition? There is no doubt he can win this race, but I am going to bet that he won’t.

11. Pants On Fire (6-1) – His last race in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap was impressive. He beat the rail horse Taptowne by 2 3/4 lengths and beat Hymn Book two races back by 1 3/4 lengths. If he does not get suckered into a battle for the lead, he will have a big say in this race.

12. Goldencents (4-1) – His last 3 races have all been very good at the sprint distances and now he stretches out for this effort. Unfortunately for him, he is in the outside post which will require him to use extra effort to get a spot in this race. He has been working lights out for this, but I will use him in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th positions on the tickets.

Also Eligible:

13. Easter Gift (15-1) – He will need a fellow competitor to be scratched from this race to make it into the race. Even if that happens, he will be the outermost horse in the field. His last few races have been very good with figures in the mid 90’s and higher. I think he will find this field too much for him if he draws into the race.

Bets

I will do some Win-Place-Show on the #3 Hymn Book and use the 3-4-11 on top in exactas over 3-4-5-8-11-12.

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf – 1 Mile Turf (Race 7, Post Time: 2:25 Pacific Time)

1. All Cash (30-1) – He comes into this race winless in 4 starts. He did run a decent 4th place effort last out in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland, a race that was moved to the Polytrack. Despite the strong Turf pedigree, it is tough to endorse him in this spot.

2. Giovanni Boldini (7-2) – He sports a strong Turf pedigree, has run in Ireland, and is from the barn of Aidan O’Brien. Surprisingly, he has only run on turf once in his 3 career starts, a Group 1 race in which he finished 3rd. He also attracts the services of Ryan Moore, who was riding Wilshire Boulevard prior to this race. Lots to like here.

3. Got Shades (30-1) – He ran 3rd here at Santa Anita on October 6 in the Zuma Beach Stakes. He failed to finish better despite having a good pace ahead of him. He does get Gary Stevens aboard. If you are looking for good value in the 3rd and 4th spots of your exotics, this is a good horse to consider.

4. Outstrip (GB) (4-1) – Another European invader, this one from Great Britain. He has run very well in all 4 of his career starts, never finishing worse than 3rd. Also note the Group 1 and two Group 2 races he has ran in the past 3 races. I really like his chances in this race.

5. Bobby’s Kitten (5-2) – The top American horse in this event, he ran a huge race last out in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. It also doesn’t hurt that he is out of the World’s hottest turf sire, Kitten’s Joy. I respect his chances a lot, but the short price of 5/2 isn’t going to help get any value in single race wagers. He is a must use on top in multi-race wagers.

6. Home School (IRE) (30-1) – He has run 2 OK races in his first two starts in North America, but he will need to show a lot more to get a piece of this race. He did have a sharp workout on 10/25 over the Santa Anita turf course.

7. Aotearoa (12-1) – He won the Zuma Beach Stakes last time out here at Santa Anita. That was his first start on turf and first start going two turns. He has worked decently since that race, but he will need to continue to improve to have a chance. I will play him in the 3rd and 4th slots.

8. Bon Accord (20-1) – Last time out he finished 3rd in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland, a race that was his first going two turns. He ran nicely that day, but he will need to show more improvement if he wants a slice of the purse.

9. Wilshire Boulevard (IRE) (8-1) – His 7 career starts are tied for most in the field with Home School and this horse has improved every start. His last race at Longchamp in France was a Group 1 and he finished 4th beaten only 2 1/2 lengths. He is trained by Aidan O’Brien and he looks to offer the best value of the European horses.

10. Ontology (30-1) –  Another horse who comes in here winless in his career. In five starts, he has finished 2nd three times, including in the Oak Tree Juvenile Stakes at Del Mar on turf. Still, his speed figures are low and he will have to make a substantial improvement. Pass on his chances.

11. Poker Player (12-1) – He is 2 for 3 to start his career and has made a nice improvement each time. He won the aforementioned Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, a race in which he beat Bashart, Bon Accord, and All Cash. I think he is a cut below the top horses, but a must use underneath.

12. Shamshon (IRE) (12-1) – The 4th and final European import, he appears to be the least likely of those four to win. He was 5th in a Group 2 at Newbury in Great Britain last out, a race that was run over a soft turf course. He is 2 for 2 on good-to-firm and a firm turf course. Offers good value, especially underneath.

13. Bashart (6-1) – He drew the dreaded outside post for this and I think that will ultimately hurt his chances of winning. His last 2 races in the Bourbon and With Anticipation were impressive and if he can get good position he has a chance. I respect his chances, but I am going to play against him from the Win angle.

Bets

My top pick is #4 Outstrip (GB) and I will do a Win-Place-Show bet on him. I will also play a 4-9 with 2-4-5-7-9-11-12-13 exacta, as well as the reverse of that bet.

2013 Breeders Cup Marathon

2013 Breeders Cup Marathon – 1 3/4 Miles Dirt (Race 6, Post Time: 1:45 Pacific Time)

1. Old Time Hockey (8-1) – This is an interesting spot for him. He has raced 17 times in his career and 14 of those races were on turf. However, this race is on dirt, a surface he is 0 for 3 in his career. He is bred to love dirt (by Smarty Jones and out of an A.P. Indy Mare) and he will have a good position just off the leaders. I see this fella getting 2nd or 3rd at best in this race.

2. Cease (8-1) – This guy is moving up in class from an Optional Claimer and is stretching out from 7 furlongs to 14. He ran in this race in 2011 at Churchill Downs where he finished 5th. He does have some back class (finished 3rd in the 2012 Grade 1 Woodward), but I think it is a lot to ask of this guy to double the distance, especially if he is anywhere near his morning line of 8-1.

3. Commander (6-1) – Expect this guy to be on the lead for the 14 Furlong journey. He has been racing in Canada, where he has been doing well in his last five races, winning four and finishing 2nd in the other race. He ran in the 2012 BC Marathon, where he finished 9th of 13. I do not feel good about his chances this year as he will have some company on the lead.

4. Ever Rider (ARG) (7-2) – Not much is known about this Argentinian import who has not yet raced in North America. There is little doubt that he can get the distance of 1 3/4 Miles, but he has not faced competition as stiff as this field is. Ever Rider has worked well at Santa Anita since the beginning of September. He also attracts the services of Gary Stevens.

5. Suns Out Guns Out (10-1) – Comes in off a good win at Parx, but that was at a mile and against much weaker company. He did run in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup Stakes at 1 1/2 Miles, but finished 4th that day. I am not sold on his chances as he goes back to a longer distance.

6. Indian Jones (5-1) – This guy also ran in the Greenwood Cup, a race he finished 2nd in by a nose. He will be coming from the back of the pack and should have no problems going this distance. Definitely a contender in here.

7. London Bridge (8-1) – He is the only 3 year old in this race and he is coming from Europe to compete in this event. He has not raced on dirt in his career, but he has more than enough stamina to last this distance of 14 furlongs. Expect him to be close to the pace, and if he is near 8-1 on the tote board, he will offer nice value.

8. Blueskiesnrainbows (6-1) –  It is hard to fault his form at Santa Anita; 7 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds. I am not sold on his ability to beat top competition as noted by his 12th place finish in the 2013 Grade 1 Pacific Classic. Also, he will have company near the lead, which hurt him in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, earlier this year. I would need to see double digits to even consider betting him.

9. Pool Play (8-1) – He is the third horse that is coming out of the Greenwood Cup Stakes at Parx and he finished 3rd in that race. Distance is not a problem for this guy as he has a win at this distance. The main issue with him is his form. He has not been very good this year as he has 7 starts and only 1 second and 1 third place finish to his credit.

10. Worldly (6-1) – He is coming into this race off his best career performance which is good and bad. The good: it was a 3rd place finish to the reigning Breeders Cup Classic Winner Fort Larned. The bad: He is eligible for a bounce off that race. I’m not sold he has the staying power needed for the long race.

Bets

After consulting with my past results on the Breeders Cup Marathon, I will be sitting this race out. I do not have a good feeling about this race on paper and I am better served saving my money for a race in which I do have a stronger opinion. Good luck if you are betting this race, I hope you have better luck than I had in past years.

NFC Midseason Report Card

After 8 Weeks in the NFL, here are my grades for each team in the NFC. Enjoy and feel free to comment!

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) – C. The Cowboys have been average at best this season and the reason is because of their defense. They have the worst pass defense in the NFL and an average run defense (17th). Offensively, Tony Romo is doing well with the passing attack, but the running game is decimated by injuries and little production. The saving grace for Dallas is they are in the NFC East, arguably the worst division in the NFL.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – C-. It was difficult to grade the Eagles because their offense has disappeared, but the defense has emerged. Vick is injured and out, Foles has concussion symptoms, and that leaves Matt Barkley as the current QB. Barkley is far from the QB you want running Chip Kelly’s offense. Still, the defense is starting to play well and the Eagles are only a game out of first in the NFC East. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to stop the slide in Philadelphia.

3. Washington Redskins (2-5) – D. We knew it would take time for Robert Griffin III to get used to playing, but the defense for the Redskins is what is truly ailing them. They rank 28th in pass defense and 29th in rush defense. In addition, they have given up at least 27 points in six of the seven games. A long way to go for the Redskins, but they are only a game and a half out of first.

4. New York Giants (2-6) – F. This season has been a disaster for the Giants. Eli Manning has turned the ball over constantly, the offensive line is not protecting him, and there is no running game. The defense has looked lost and gave up at least 27 points in the first six games. The last two games have been better as they Giants have won, but they were facing Minnesota and the Eagles. I am not sold on the Giants recent winning trend, but they are only two games out of first place.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (5-2) – B+. The Packers have shown a lot in the first half of the season. For starters, the Packers have found a running game that has been missing for the last several seasons. In addition, the Packers continue to click on offense and defense in the last two plus games without James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and Clay Matthews. Watch out for this team in the 2nd half.

2. Detroit Lions (5-3) – B. The Lions are becoming a dangerous team in the NFC. The last second win at home against Dallas coupled with two away wins shows that the Lions can win late and take their show on the road. My only concern is they have not beaten a really good team yet (losses at Green Bay and home to Cincinnati) and when Calvin Johnson is out, they are too predictable.

3. Chicago Bears (4-3) – C. In a reversal of the norm for Chicago, the Bears have been really good on offense and poor on defense. The loss of Jay Cutler will hurt the Bears on offense, but they have the pieces in place to help Josh McCown in Cutler’s absence. The main concern is the defense that ranks near the bottom of the NFL (27th in pass defense and 24th in rush defense). The next three games for the Bears will decide which way their season goes.

4. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) – F. For a team that made the playoffs in 2012, this kind of start is unacceptable. They have not won a game in the U.S. (their win against the Steelers was in London) and their defense is porous. Then there is the quarterback situation. Christian Ponder was not getting it done, so they threw Matt Cassel into the fire and he did not fare any better. Then the Vikings decide to pick up Josh Freeman who looked like a deer in the headlights on Monday Night Football against the Giants. How can a team with Adrian Peterson at running back look so inept on offense?

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (6-1) – A. This Saints team looks different from previous Saints teams. Yes, Sean Payton is back and that cannot be underscored, but the difference is the Saints have a good defense. The defense is not giving up lots of yards and points and is actually tackling. The only chink in the armor is that game at New England when they gave up a TD in the final minute. Look out for them down the stretch.

2. Carolina Panthers (4-3) – C+. Is Carolina for real? I believe they are for real when you look at their games played. The have only played one awful game (at Arizona in Week 5), but played Seattle and Buffalo tough in the first two weeks of the season. Their last three games have been impressive, albeit against Minnesota, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay, but I see a team that is building confidence, especially on offense. I am not saying they will make the playoffs, but they will be close.

3. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) – D. Yes the Falcons have been decimated by injuries, but this team has looked horrendous on defense and where is the running game? Outside of Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez, this team does not look good at all. The losses of Julio Jones and Roddy White have led to predictability on offense which has hurt the Falcons. This season has been a disappointment after making the NFC Championship game last year.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) – F. I am not sure where to start with the Buccaneers. Greg Schiano appears to have lost the team, got into a public spat with his former QB Josh Freeman, and the offense is nowhere to be found. Injuries to Doug Martin and Mike Williams have not helped, but the offense did not look good when they weren’t injured. They are slowly sliding into Jacksonville Jaguars territory with their ineptness. Which week does Greg Schiano get fired?

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks (7-1) – A. We knew the Seahawks would be good, but what really makes them special is they have taken their game with them on the road. Seattle really struggled the past few seasons on the road. Even their lone loss at Indianapolis was still an impressive game. Another thing that impressed me was their ability to play well with the suspensions to their defensive secondary to start the year. Look out if they get homefield.

2. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – B+. The 49ers struggled to start the year and Colin Kaepernick did not look comfortable. The 49ers went back to their bread and butter of the power run game and have won five in a row. With Crabtree coming back in a few weeks, this offense will get better. Yet another NFC team to watch out for.

3. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – C. Arizona is a tough team for me to figure out. They are great at home (3-1) but struggle to take their game on the road (1-3, only win is at Tampa Bay). The defense is strong, but I feel the Cardinals need a little more on offense. Unfortunately for the Cardinals is they are in the tough NFC West.

4. St. Louis Rams (3-5) – C-. The Rams have been a bit disappointing this year after finishing 7-8-1 in 2012. Offensively, they have not had a running game and their top pick Tavon Austin has not shown the explosiveness that we saw in College. Now, Sam Bradford is out for the year and it looks like things will be getting worse on offense. The defense has been good at times this year, but they have not been consistent enough. Tough times ahead for the Rams.

Grade Letters Distribution

Below is the distribution of each letter grade given out to NFC teams.

A – 2 (New Orleans, Seattle)

B – 3 (Detroit, Green Bay, San Francisco)

C – 6 (Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, St. Louis)

D – 2 (Atlanta, Washington)

F – 3 (Minnesota, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)

AFC Midseason Report Card

After 8 Weeks in the NFL, here are my grades for each team in the AFC. Enjoy and feel free to comment!

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (6-2) – B+. The Patriots have been successful despite the offense struggling through the first half of the season. The defense has played well, but injuries to Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib might hurt them in the 2nd half. I expect the Offense to get better and the defense to continue playing at the same level.

2. New York Jets (4-4) – C+. The Jets have exceeded my expectations from the start of the season, but they are lacking consistency. They have alternated wins and losses to start the season and only have one good win (vs. New England). Geno Smith has played well for a rookie and if the Jets can find some consistency they will be tough going forward.

3. Miami Dolphins (3-4) – C. The Dolphins started out 3-0 after some hype in the offseason but have now lost four games in a row and are sputtering. Ryan Tannehill has played well at times this season, but he has 9 interceptions and 32 sacks already. They need more offensive consistency to push for a possible wild card spot.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-5) – C. I think the Bills have played respectably on defense to start the year, but need to find more on offense. The injury to E.J. Manuel hurts them, but Thad Lewis has done well in replace of Manuel. They need more output from their running backs if they want to finish above .500.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) – B+. The Bengals are really starting to become a top team with how both the offense and defense are playing. They have beaten some good teams (New England and Green Bay), but also lost a head-scratcher at Cleveland. Overall, there is a lot to like about this team going forward and they are a deep team.

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) – C-. The Ravens’ start was not unexpected to me, but as defending Super Bowl Champions they need to show a lot more. They are not doing enough offensively and the pass protection needs to get better. The bye week should help Ray Rice and the run game, which in turn will help the passing offense. Still a lot left to do in the 2nd half of the year if they want to make the playoffs.

3. Cleveland Browns (3-5) – C. I give the Browns a C because they have played well despite several issues. For one, there has been a QB carousel between Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, and now Jason Campbell. Campbell appears to be the starter going forward and that should help solidify the offense as the season wares on. Secondly, the Browns traded their 1st Round pick from 2012 in Trent Richardson which does not appear to have had any effect (good or bad) on the offense. The defense has played well this year and will continue to keep them in games.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) – D. The Steelers have played horrendously on offense and have virtually no running game. For a proud franchise like the Steelers, this is completely unacceptable. The defense has played well for the most part, but how long can they keep that up in a season considering they are an older group?

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – B+. Andrew Luck continues to shine as the Colts won some big games at San Francisco and beat Denver and Seattle in Indy. The trade for Richardson has not worked out well thus far from a production standpoint, but there is still time to fix that. The defense has played well, but needs to work on stopping the run. Some big games in December at Cincinnati (Week 14) and at Kansas City (Week 16) should determine how many home games Indianapolis plays in the postseason.

2. Tennessee Titans (3-4) – C+. This was a tough team for me to grade because they have lost to three really good teams (Kansas City, Seattle, and San Francisco), but have beaten decent teams (San Diego and New York Jets). For the most part, the Titans are playing good defense and Jake Locker is coming back from the injury to his hip. The Titans are a decent team and a little more offensive consistency will help them in the 2nd half.

3. Houston Texans (2-5) – F. Given the expectations and the lackluster start, the first half of the season has been a failure for the Texans. They barely beat San Diego and Tennessee to start the season and then Matt Schaub started playing poorly and the Texans lost five in a row to go into their bye week. The loss of Brian Cushing will hurt the defense and the injury to Foster will slow the offense down. Things are not looking good for the Texans after some high hopes at the start of the campaign.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) – F. The grade might be harsh as everyone expected the Jaguars to play poorly, but the Jagaurs have been completely inept. The offensive line has blocked poorly, Blaine Gabbert looked completely lost when he was playing, and the defense is on the field way too long due to the offense. There is a long way to go for this team to be competitive this season.

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) – A+. This was probably the easiest grade to give. A team that goes from 2-14 to 8-0 the next season is a shoo-in for an A+. The defense is playing great and the players are adapting well to the offensive system. The only caveat with this team is they play some close games against opponents that are clearly inferior (Tennessee and Cleveland come to mind). Nevertheless, look out for this team in December and January.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1) – B. What? Only a “B”? Yes because everyone expected the Broncos to be good, and they have been, but their defense is not very good. The have had suspension and injuries to start the year, but that is no excuse for giving up 48 points to the Cowboys or 190 yards to Justin Blackmon (who is Jacksonville’s only receiving threat). You cannot keep falling behind and expect to win every game, especially when it is to a good team (see Indianapolis).

3. San Diego Chargers (4-3) – C+. Let’s start with the fact that Philip Rivers is playing excellent this year and the offense is clicking even with some injuries. My main issue with the Chargers is they have lost games late to Houston and Tennessee and they threw that clunker in against Oakland. Overall, they have done a decent job in the first half of the season.

4. Oakland Raiders (3-4) – C. The Raiders have looked good on defense this season, but have struggled a bit on offense. Terrelle Pryor is the best fit at QB for the Raiders and as he gets more experience, the offense will find it’s groove. They have lost to top teams (Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis), but have do have a win against San Diego. The Raiders will be a very tough out in the 2nd half.

Grade Letters Distribution

Below is the distribution of each letter grade given out to AFC teams.

A – 1 (Kansas City)

B – 4 (Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, New England)

C – 8 (Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, New York Jets, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee)

D – 1 (Pittsburgh)

F – 2 (Houston, Jacksonville)