Picks for Day 1 of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup – Friday, November 6
Ten stakes races start off the two-day 2020 Breeders’ Cup Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
Day 1’s racing fare is called Future Stars Friday, and concentrates on juvenile stakes races with fields comprised of two- and three-year-olds, but don’t let their youth fool you — these races are filled with the thoroughbred racing industry’s best competitors.
Keeneland starts the race day with four ungraded and one Grade II stakes races, and then the competition gets tougher — and the purses get bigger — as the rest of the card gives way to The Breeders’ Cup juvenile matches.
Remember that while I predict the winners and surprise moneymakers in all ten of the stakes races at Keeneland for Thursday, you can also find the entire slate of races — along with the entries, jockeys, and wagering options — with a visit to one of our best online horse racing betting sites.
Incidentally, Saturday brings us Day 2 of the Breeders’ Cup series, including the all-important Breeders’ Cup Classic, and I’ll be reviewing all 12 of those stakes races in upcoming blogs.
For now, read on for my picks and predictions for all ten of Friday stakes races at Keeneland Race Course.
Picks for the Nyquist Stakes (Race 1)
This is an ungraded stakes race for two-year-olds running a distance of 6-1/2 furlongs for a purse of $125,000.
I like one of the morning line’s fourth-favored (6/1) entries: Awesome Gerry, with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. This colt won both of his career starts.
At 20/1, I can’t resist buying a show ticket for Sir Wellington, with Jose Lezcano aboard. This colt moneyed both of his career starts, one of them a win.
- Win: Awesome Gerry 6/1
- Show: Sir Wellington 20/1
Picks for the Songbird Stakes (Race 2)
This is an ungraded stakes race for two-year-old fillies running a distance of 6-1/2 furlongs for a purse of $125,000.
I’m sticking with the 4/1 morning line favorite here — The Grass Is Blue, piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. This filly won both her career starts.
At 15/1, I like Taylor’s Tourist, with Mitchell Murrill aboard, for a value show wager. This filly moneyed two of her three career starts, winning one. While she doesn’t appear to have the motivation for longer runs, she seems a likely moneymaker at 6-1/2 furlongs.
- Win: The Grass Is Blue 4/1
- Show: Taylor’s Tourist 15/1
Picks for the Bryan Station Stakes (Race 3)
This is an ungraded stakes race for three-year-olds running a distance of 1-1/8 miles on turf for a purse of $150,000.
My money is on the 4/1 morning line favorite in this race — Fancy Liquor, with Florent Geroux in the irons. This colt moneyed all six of his career starts, winning three of them.
At 15/1, Angelus Warrior, ridden by Manny Franco, looks promising for a show bet. This colt moneyed six of his eight career starts, winning two. Incidentally, all the 20/1 longshots are also-eligibles and I don’t see any that could see a payday in this field.
- Win: Fancy Liquor 4/1
- Show: Angelus Warrior 15/1
Picks for the McConnell Springs Stakes (Race 4)
This is an ungraded stakes race for fillies and mares three years old and upward running a distance of six furlongs for a purse of $150,000.
I’m going with the 7/2 morning line favorite here — Bye Bye J, with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard. This four-year-old filly finished in the money ten of her 13 career starts, winning six of them. Most of her races have not been simple claiming or allowance races — they’ve been stakes races, and she’s performed consistently well throughout her career.
There’s only one real longshot in this match, and that’s Harmless at 30/1. This four-year-old filly had money finishes in eight of her 17 starts, winning three of them. With Luis Saez aboard for this run, I think she can make us happy. Show bet only.
- Win: Bye Bye J 7/2
- Show: Harmless 30/1
Picks for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (Race 5)
This is a Grade II stakes race for three-year-olds and upward running a distance of 1-5/8 miles for a purse of $200,000.
I like one of the second-favored entries (there are three at 5/1) in this race — Tenfold, with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. The morning line favorite has a better record, but his 2020 starts stand at seven with a single money finish. Additionally, Tenfold has performed better in graded stakes races.
For the record, Tenfold moneyed seven of his 20 career starts. In 2020, he finished in the money twice in five starts.
If you’re looking at long-odds value bets, ignore that 50/1 longshot — he’ll only break your heart. Instead, bet on a perfectly respectable 30/1 longshot, Muralist, ridden by Juan J. Hernandez. This four-year-old gelding moneyed five of his nine career starts, winning two. Show bet only.
- Win: Tenfold 5/1
- Show: Muralist 30/1
Picks for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Race 6)
This is a Grade II stakes race for two-year-olds running a distance of 5-1/2 furlongs on turf for a purse of $1,000,000.
I like one of the third-favored (there are three at 8/1) entries in this race: Second of July, ridden by Dylan Davis. This gelding won both of his career starts, his most recent was the Futurity Stakes (Grade II) at Belmont Park in October. For those who feel Davis lacks the experience to ride Second of July to victory, I should point out that Davis has been at the reins for both of Second of July’s wins.
At 30/1, I have to go with a show wager on Windy City Red, with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard. This colt moneyed both of his career starts, winning one.
- Win: Second of July 8/1
- Show: Windy City Red 30/1
Picks for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Race 7)
This is a Grade I stakes race for two-year-old colts and geldings running a distance of one mile on turf for a purse of $1,000,000.
When Irad Ortiz, Jr. his brother Jose, and Tyler Gaffalione are all riding 8/1 underdogs, this must be one of those high-stakes Breeders’ Cup juvie matches — and that’s exactly what it is. I’m going with Tyler Gaffalione and his mount, Gretzky the Great. This colt moneyed all four of his career starts and won three of them.
With the horsepower at the top-end of this race-card, I don’t see any of the longshots — or even longish-odds for that matter — finishing anywhere near a paycheck. However, if the 30/1 also-eligible Barrister Tom, ridden by Florent Geroux, makes it into the race, bet him to show. This gelding moneyed two of his four career starts, both wins.
- Win: Gretzky the Great 8/1:
- Show: Barrister Tom 30/1 (if starts)
Picks for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Race 8)
This is a Grade I stakes race for two-year-old fillies running a distance of 1-1/16 miles for a purse of $2,000,000.
The top three morning line choices in this race have each won all three of their career starts, so you know this will be a tight race. My win ticket will be for one of the second-favored (there are two at 5/2) entries: Dayoutoftheoffice, with Junior Alvarado in the irons. As noted, this filly won her three career starts, and I’m just a skosh more impressed with her performance in the graded stakes races she’s won.
I think any longshot value bet would be especially risky in this race, but if you must, have a look at the 20/1 Crazy Beautiful, with Brian J. Hernandez, Jr. aboard. This filly moneyed all four of her career starts, winning two. Show bet only.
- Win: Dayoutoftheoffice 5/2
- Show: Crazy Beautiful 20/1
Pick for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Race 9)
This is a Grade I stakes race for two-year-old fillies running a distance of one mile on turf for a purse of $1,000,000.
I like the 4/1 underdog Plum Ali, ridden by Joel Rosario. This filly finished with wins in all three of her career starts.
With so many entries with winning records in this field, I don’t see any odds long enough to justify betting on anything beyond the top three favorites.
- Win: Plum Ali 4/1
Picks for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Race 10)
This is a Grade I stakes race for two-year-old colts and geldings running a distance of 1-1/16 miles for a purse of $2,000,000.
I’m pretty sure no one expects any horse but the 7/5 morning line favorite, Jackie’s Warrior, with Joel Rosario aboard, to cross the finish line first. I certainly don’t. My money’s on Jackie’s Warrior, mostly because he has won all four of his career starts — and except for his maiden, these were all Grade I and Grade II stakes races. This is what I like to call a professional horse.
There are enough holes in the stats in this race to make room for a 30/1 longshot as a value show wager, and that bet is on Keepmeinmind, with Jose L. Ortiz in the irons. This colt moneyed both of his career starts — his maiden in September at Churchill Downs and the Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland.
- Win: Jackie’s Warrior 7/5
- Show: Keepmeinmind 30/1