• 2012 Breeders' Cup: What We Learned

    POSTED Nov 9, 2012

    Wise Dan (courtesy of Bloodhorse)
    For months, the anticipation builds. Every impressive winner instantly becomes a Breeders’ Cup candidate; every race becomes a prep for the big event.

    Then, faster than one can peruse the “skills” section of Kim Kardashian’s resume, the Breeders’ Cup is over.

    And that is when the real fun begins. That is when the handwringing starts and the whining over terrible trips continues; when both the gloating and the grousing match the resonance frequency of insanity; when I offer my final observations of Breeders’ Cup 2012. 

    So let's get to it...



    Hightail – D. Wayne Lukas’ charge was a maiden entering the Juvenile Sprint and a Breeders’ Cup winner after it. True, the Brisnet speed figure (97) was nothing to get the pulse racing, but the -4 late speed ration (LSR) that the son of Mineshaft was the best such dirt number over the course of the entire BC weekend.

    Merit Man – Although he lost at odds of 1-2, Merit Man gave me the impression that, despite his breeding, he might actually enjoy more ground, as he earned a positive pace profile in the Juvenile Sprint.



    Beholder – Not sure Beholder’s reputation was enhanced by her 1-length score in the Juvenile Fillies, but she sure didn’t harm it any. Not only did the daughter of Henny Hughes show she could motor early (-11 ESR), she also demonstrated she could finish OK (-10 LSR).


    Executiveprivilege – This gal had every chance to run down the winner and simply couldn’t do it. She deserves a shot to redeem herself, of course, but I doubt redemption was on the docket when she went to post as the 3-2 favorite in the Juvenile Fillies.

    Dreaming of Julia – Her LSRs have been poor in general and this race (-15) was no exception. On the plus side, the Todd Pletcher trainee did come from further off the pace than usual.

    Kauai Katie – Ran reasonably fast early (-9) ESR, but backed up like a single toilet at a chili cook-off (-17 LSR).



    Zagora – Mare was 1-for-5 in Grade I company prior to annexing the Filly & Mare Turf, but appears to be getting better with age. She recorded a 98 Brisnet speed figure and +4 LSR in her BC win.


    Nahrain – Second in the 2011 edition of this race, Nahrain never ran a step this year, finishing 10th, beaten by 6 ½ lengths.



    Mike Smith – Contrary to popular opinion, I think Smith’s decision to put Royal Delta on the lead was brilliant.


    Grace Hall – Although I think her nine-length defeat can be explained (she just regressed), Grace Hall certainly looked like the equine version of Mr. Hyde in the Ladies Classic.

    Awesome Feather – From undefeated to awful in one race; reminiscent of Royal Delta in the Suncoast Stakes last year.



    The entire field outside of Groupie Doll – I know I’ll probably get some flak for saying this, but, impressive as she’s been, I’m just not convinced that Groupie Doll has been beating much. In the Filly & Mare Sprint every horse excluding the winner recorded a “poor” LSR (-15 or less), yet the race ESR (pace) was just a -5. Turbulent Descent looks like her best days are behind her; Switch is a shell of her former self…

    To me, the F&M Sprint was simply a case of a good horse beating a bunch of bad horses.



    Tapizar – If Grace Hall was this year’s Mr. Hyde, this guy was Dr. Jekyll. After getting smoked in the Grade II Kelso — the worst defeat of his career in terms of beaten lengths (20 ¾) — Tapizar rebounded like Dennis Rodman in the Dirt Mile, scoring by 2 ¼ lengths and recording an excellent -4 LSR.

    Rail Trip – There’s life in those seven-year-old legs after all.


    Fed Biz – I liked this guy and he ran like the contents of a litter box.



    Shanghai Bobby – Son of Harlan’s Holiday made Hansen’s victory in 2011 look like Secretariat’s Belmont. Yeah, “Bobby” went (very) fast early (-16 ESR), but he finished like Detroit Tigers. Can he win the Derby in 2013? Maybe the Pennsylvania Derby, like his daddy, but that one in Kentucky could be a bit of a problem unless he improves drastically over the winter.

    Power Broker – The -22 LSR he earned in this race says it all.



    Little Mike – He can rate going a distance of ground. Who knew?


    Dullahan – Ran true to his name, finishing 9th with a -6 LSR.



    Trinniberg – One of the few big-priced winners that I really liked. This son of Teufelsberg showed he could rate off the pace — something he was unable to do earlier in the year — in his final prep at Parx and did so again in the Sprint, allowing Sum of the Parts to lead after a quarter-mile in :21-2/5. If he stays in training I expect he’ll have a say in the 2013 BC Sprint as well.


    Amazombie – Ran like one. The 7-2 favorite after winning last year’s Sprint, Amazombie was never a factor last weekend.



    Wise Dan – Showed why many believe he should be Horse of the Year. Facing a field that included top Euro imports Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud, Wise Dan pulled away with ease to win by 1 ½ lengths at the wire.

    Animal Kingdom – Ran much better than I expected and covered nine furlongs more than Wise Dan did according to Trakus (actually, I’m not sure if it was that much more, but to hear some folks tell it, it was close). Look, I don’t think the ground that Animal Kingdom lost was the decisive factor in last Saturday’s Mile, but it certainly didn’t help his chances.


    Moonlight Cloud – Didn’t exactly flatter Black Caviar, did she?



    Fort Larned – This fella is much better than he’s given credit for. Not only was the 114 Brisnet speed figure he earned in the Classic the best among all BC winners, his -5 LSR was very good as well.

    Mucho Macho Man – Raced off of a layoff and performed admirably, finishing second, 6 ½ lengths clear of the third-place finisher Flat Out.

    Chantal Sutherland – If you thought Sutherland’s ride on Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic was bad, it looked like pure genius next to Rafael Bejarano’s effort on that same horse in the BC Classic — at least if you listened to Bob Baffert after the race.


    Game On Dude – The “Dude” may have abided, but he certainly didn’t run last weekend. After a slight bobble at the start, Bob Baffert’s stable star was the very definition of a non-factor in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup finale.

    To Honor And Serve – Neither honored nor served bettors anything other than massive disappointment in the Classic.

    Alpha – I can’t wait to see this horse next year… he should be finishing the Classic by February 2nd if my calculations are correct.

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