The chance for a life changing score starts on Saturday at 1:10pm EDT and concludes with the Breeders' Cup Classic featuring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at 5:34pm EDT. The Breeders' Cup has seeded the pool with a $3 million guarantee but because the minimum wager amount has been reduced to one dollar, it's reasonable to expect the pool size to exceed the $3 million.
To single or not, that is the question. Here's a quick take on the favorite in each of the Pick Six races:
Leg 1 – The Filly and Mare Turf: Legatissimo 8/5
With what I expect to be a common theme in the three grass races as part of a sequence, the US contenders look overmatched against the overseas invaders. The three top fillies in this affair look to be Euros and the best of them is Legatissimo. She was ultra-impressive in her last two Group 1 wins, doing much of the running on her own. She has an ability to stalk the pace, which should be ideal from the three hole. If you've got a minute, watch her stretch run in the Nassau Stakes from Goodwood
(GB), it's pretty awesome. She is LEGAT-issimo. PLAY.
Leg 2 – The Sprint: Private Zone 5/2
In the 2014 edition, long shot Work All Week got the jump on Private Zone and never looked back winning at 19/1. Private Zone looks in better shape coming off back-to-back wins, but he has yet to string together three wins in a row lifetime. He is one of only two six year-olds, and against a competitive and full field of 14 with a jock that is 0 for 8 lifetime on the big stage makes him tough to back. PASS.
Leg 3 – Turf Mile: Make Believe 3/1
In a race that looks to be dominated by the French, trainer Andre Fabre (45-3-6-6 in BC races), saddles the two top choices in Make Believe and Esoterique. Make Believe gets the resources of jockey Olivier Peslier who's won 4 of 25 Breeders' Cup races, while Esoterique gets newcomer Pierre Boudot. Although Make Believe is 4 for 6 lifetime, he has the looks (on paper at least) of a sprinter. Esoterique won a Group 1 at Newmarket (GB), which is a straight mile (and tougher than a one turn mile like Keeneland). Visually speaking, he put on a real show rallying in tight quarters between two leaders
showing the guts of an older horse (as compared to Make Believe who is three). PASS.
Leg 4 – Juvenile Sprint: Brody's Cause 7/2
14 two year-olds do battle in this wide open affair. The lukewarm favorite, Brody's Cause rallied from last to win in a Grade I at Keeneland in early October. Visually speaking, the race looked impressive, watching a young horse close down the stretch. His final Pace Figure was a significant lifetime top which means he is likely to regress. The other thing to know is at Keeneland since they went back to the dirt surface a few years ago, only one horse in a field of greater than 10 starters run at a distance of 8, 8.5 or 9 furlongs has rallied from more than 10 lengths off the pace. PASS.
Leg 5 – Longines Turf (12 furlongs): Golden Horn 4/5
Keeping in the theme of strength from the Euro's, Golden Horn looks like most like a shoe-in. He is 7 for 8 lifetime with earnings over $6mm. He won the Arc de Triomphe rather handily and comes into the Breeders' Cup as the shortest morning-line favorite breaking from the rail. The UK books are showing a price of closer to 1/2 and it is not dissuading money. Add to it just an average field of US competitors and one filly name Found also from UK/IRE, and the competition is not imposing. The only knock beyond form is that no Arc winner has ever won the Turf. From a sample of 11 starters, that is notable but not significant. PLAY.
Leg 6 – The Classic: American Pharoah 6/5
In what is shaping up to be a tremendous Classic, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah looks to put an exclamation point on a once-in-lifetime career as he tries to become the first horse ever to complete the “Grand Slam” by winning the Classic. To do that, he's got a monumental task.
To start, he takes on older horses for the first time. And not just any older horses but the top older runners in Honor Code and Tonalist. Next, he must take on and beat his two main three year-old rivals in Keen Ice and Frosted, the former who rallied late to hand AP his first loss since his maiden voyage in August 2014.
Then there is Gleneagles, the only Euro shipper who has never run on dirt, but does warrant respect. And, even though Beholder is a scratch making for an even softer early pace which benefits AP, rest assured they'll be a couple in here to put AP to the test early. Pharoah's Triple Crown win was a first in four decades, but winning the Classic in his final lifetime start would be the first ever and a record that could likely stand for decades more. PASS.
Dan Zucker is a co-founder of Predicteform.com (and PredictionMachine.com), a horse racing data and analytics company which produces proprietary Pace Figures at multiple calls throughout a race. The foundation of Predicteform are the Form Cycle Patterns, established and proven in over 150,000 races. Zucker is also a thoroughbred owner and partner and has campaigned stakes runners – Quiet Meadow, Street Life, Pianist and Catch My Drift.