The Europeans were shut out yesterday, which makes me wonder if horses like Manatoba and Master of Hounds will follow suit by under preforming? Of these two I like Master of Hounds better for a least a piece of the action. Deciphering Dreams is interesting in the fact that he refused to go through an opening and had to alter course in his first stakes try - finishing third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim. Pluck will have a lot of ground to make up, if he wants a top four finish. But the one I like the best is Soldat, who regressed off a big stakes win at Saratoga on a yielding Belmont course. He should rebound here for the win.
As noted yesterday, the best part of the Churchill's dirt track was towards the middle. The F&M Sprint also showed the value of previously winning at Churchill as Dubai Majesty was an easy winner. Cash Refund, Riley Tucker, Atta Boy Royand Warrior's Reward have all won under the Twin Spires and will come from the middle of the track with Cash Refund probably going off at the highest price of all. All this being said Smiling Tiger gets my nod for the win coming for the east to the dirt. Contrarian, I know.
What a great way to kick off a Pick 6...yikes. As it should be, there is lots of speed to contend with over the 5 furlongs. Can any one horse hold through a 22 second quarter and 45 second half? Most likely not. The two most likely beneficiaries of a red, hot pace are Chamberlain Bridge and Silver Timber. Chamberlain Bridge likes to win and likes to win at Churchill. If he can get first run off the rail, he'll be tough. Since being claimed by Chad Brown, Silver Timber hasn't done much wrong winning 6 of his last 8 races. I like them both with Central City who will throw down a sub 22 second quarter and then go as long as he can.
The Breeders' Cup was not kind to chalky runners yesterday, so why should it be so on Saturday - take a stand against Uncle Mo on this stance alone. In the Filly Juvenile, Awesome Feather and R Heat Lightning basically ran around the track together off the rail while finishing one, two. The three most likely candidates - besides the chalk - are Boys At Tosconova, J. B.'s Thunder and Stay Thirsty. Box them all and cheer for something.
For my full take on The Mile follow this link to Goldikova's Three-Peat: Are Your a Skeptic or True Believer. In short it comes down to Goldikova and Proviso. Something tells me Bill Mott is going to have a big day on Saturday.
The only way I can figure this race is like this: Mad Flatter takes to the front in the three-path, keeping Tizway to his inside or forcing him to go out and around him. Here Comes Ben and Thisskyhasnolimit bide their sweet time in mid-pack waiting to make a move. Toss at his post and cross your fingers last year's Vineyard Haven and Gayego doen't show up.
Europeans may finally turn the tide, maybe not. No Arc winner has doubled his/her win into a Breeders' Cup victory. Workforce may be special, but I think he is up against too much history, no matter how special he may be. If this race falls together for one horse, it's Al Khali. There really is no pace horse here and Al Khali may dictate soft easy fractions of 25, 51, 1:16, etc. and prove hard to catch. He and Winchester may just trade punches one more time heading to the wire together - damn the Euros.
Zenyatta's final run into history, right? If not her, then who? Haynesfield is on the muscle and appears ready to carry his speed a classic distance one more time - drawing outside Quality Road helps his chances greatly. Blame sits right in the middle of the track and owns three wins from four Churchill starts and will be Zenyatta's main challenge from off the pace.