Yet another twisted, detour in this year of COVID will conclude this weekend. The Breeders' Cup Challenge Series of win and you're in races wrap up at Belmont Park this weekend. Saturday's card hosts four Challenge races:
- Race 4 - $250,000 Champagne Stakes to the Breeders' Cup TVG Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
- Race 5 - $250,000 Frizette Stakes to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
- Race 8 - $250,000 Flower Bowl Stakes to the Breeders' Cup Maker's Mark Filly & Mare Turf
- Race 9 - $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup to the Breeders' Cup Classic
Since the $6 Million Classic is the marquee Breeders' Cup race, let's take a deeper look at the five horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
TACITUS (PP: 4 ML 1-1) is the oddsmaker's top choice. He ran third in this spot last year behind eventual Breeders' Cup Classic champ VINO ROSSO and CODE OF HONOR (who won via a Vino Rosso DQ). This year's field doesn't appear to have the caliber of a VINO ROSSO or CODE OF HONOR.
Despite the even-money odds, TACITUS appears to be a vulnerable favorite and isn't getting a lot of love on Twitter.
If he does finish second, HAPPY SAVER (PP: 1 ML 2-1) is the one most likely to get him. The son of SUPER SAVER has raced three times and won them all, running away from the pack late. He'll be stepping up in class big time. His last race, a $100,000 non-graded stakes, is the highest level of competition he's faced.
Despite the class jump, he should have the race right in front of him and he's likely to pilot or co-pilot the race all the way around the track. However, The Jockey Club Gold Cup is 1 ¼ miles on the main track and starts about a third of the way into the first turn and seems to negatively impact the inside horses. Winning percentages rise from the inside out with outside horses owning the highest win rates.
PRIORITIZE (PP: 2 ML 4-1) is running his best right now, putting two straight triple-digit speed figures in the books. The only two he's recorded. Despite flashing his highest number on the speed gun in his last, it wasn't good enough as he finished third in the Woodward behind GLOBAL CAMPAIGN and... TACITUS.
PRIORITIZE was gaining some ground late on TACITUS but could not catch him at a 1 ¼ miles, just like today and we see no reason why he should find the extra 1 ¼ lengths today.
MYSTIC GUIDE (PP: 5 ML 4-1) might be the one that has the best chance to hit the finish line in front of TACITUS or HAPPY SAVER. After nearly two-months in the barn, MYSTIC GUIDE came off the sidelines to win the Grade II, Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. His history suggests his second start could be the same or better in the Jockey Club Gold Cup stakes. Better or not, he'll be coming on late as he has some of the strongest, late pace figures in the group. It's probably why he's gained ground in each of his five starts, all ending in-the-money.
NAME CHANGER (PP: 3 ML 20-1) will be making his second start after a layoff. Trainer, Jorge Duarte, Jr. wins second starts at 23%, by far his top angle; however, he looks overmatched compared to the other four.
While TACITUS or HAPPY SAVER are the most likely to punch a ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic by way of a Jockey Club Gold Cup win, MYSTIC GUIDE is probably the value play in terms of wagers. Horseplayers might consider wheeling MYSTIC GUIDE with TACITUS and HAPPY SAVER in exactas and trifectas.
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