TVG Analyst: Rich Perloff
The first of 14 Breeders’ Cup races is a wildly challenging event. Trainer Wesley Ward holds a very strong hand here with three entrants, all of whom look like contenders. I’ll give him two of the top three slots, but I’m reaching for a price on top.
#5 ENCODER, for trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing, looked brilliant on debut, beating a MSW field going away in his only turf sprint start. With his pedigree (English Channel out of a Hard Spun mare), it’s little wonder that Sadler stretched him out for his next two starts, and he managed a win going a mile in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf S. before finishing 4th as the odds-on favorite in the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita. He has shown ability in all three starts, but his debut may have been his best, and, with a ton of speed signed on in here, he figures to be finishing powerfully on the turnback in distance.
#12 CAMBRIA had a less than optimum trip at Kentucky Downs in her last, when she beat the boys in the KD Juvenile Turf Sprint. She was a bit rank early, and steadied into the turn while Tyler Gaffalione tried to settle her down. She came with a big run at the top of the stretch, and, when it looked as though CHIMNEY ROCK was going to blow right by her, she dug in and prevailed in a close photo. That was her first start on grass after two tries on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs. She’s still a bit green - she jumped back onto her left lead in mid stretch at KD - but she’s another horse that should benefit from a hot pace in here.
#9 FOUR WHEEL DRIVE will probably vie for favoritism with the third of the Ward horses, KIMARI. This $525K son of AMERICAN PHAROAH is a perfect 2-for-2, and looked tremendous winning clear in the Futurity (G3) on the turf at Belmont last time. He’ll get first run on the deeper closers.
I’ll play #5 ENCODER to win at a price, and use him underneath the Ward horses - and perhaps a few others - in the verticals.
# 5 ENCODER
#9 FOUR WHEEL DRIVE
Money Back Special Pick -- #5 ENCODER
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