Box the 1-2-3 in the BC Turf Sprint

Sometimes handicapping races is downright difficult. Sometimes it’s as easy as 1-2-3. The 2017 Breeders Cup Turf Sprint is the latter. We’re going to stay close to the rail, and box the first three horses that load into the gate on Saturday (race 5) at Del Mar.

The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be contested at five furlongs on the grass for a share of the $1,000,000 purse in this Grade I event for three year olds and upward. Twelve runners-including two fillies–will make a mad dash for the finish line in one of the more exciting races on the Saturday card. There will be no holding back.

My top selections (in order of preference) are:

#1 DISCO PARTNER (trainer: Christophe Clement jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr) 9/2

#3 LADY AURELIA (trainer: Wesley Ward jockey: John Velazquez) 5/2

#2 HOLDING GOLD (trainer: Mark Casse jockey: Manny Franco) 15/1

Disco Partner will not be asked to go to the lead from the #1 hole, and that is just fine, since turf sprint winners at Del Mar more often than not (56%) come from off the pace. There will be plenty of contention for the early lead in such a short race, but setting back just a few lengths all while saving ground will help, not hinder the six-furlong Jaipur winner.

Lady Aurelia is a three year old female phenomenon, and although she will be over-bet, is most likely the race winner, if you believe in “numbers” handicapping. She’s been jet-setting, running in Great Britain and France (Deauville, Newmarket, York, and Ascot twice), and last won stateside in a 5-½ furlong sprint at Keeneland (the $100k Giant’s Causeway) in April. She hasn’t raced in 71 days, and just a tiny bit of rust may mean the difference between winning and merely hitting the board. At juicier odds, we’ll play Disco Partner over her.

As much as I’d love to make Bucchero my “longshot pick to hit the board” (I’m a big Tim Glyshaw fan), that designation goes to Holding Gold. who may go off northward of 20-1. This one will take some work, but the jockey instructions have to start and end with “don’t go wide”. Holding Gold has had a tendency to swing wide (sometimes as far as five or six wide), but will today have speed to his outside, forcing him to take a much more direct route to the turn. He’s shown he can run with (albeit behind) Disco Partner, and his nemesis Green Mask has been retired due to injury.

Boxing the 1,2, and 3 in exactas and trifectas, while using those three in multi-race bets is the way to go. But some bettors like to play the superfecta, and we’ll identify some horses to play underneath in exotics:

#7 Richard’s Boy (trainer: Peter Miller jockey: Flavien Prat) 10/1

#11 Bucchero (trainer: Tim Glyshaw jockey: Fernando De La Cruz) 12/1

#12 Pure Sensation (trainer: Christophe Clement jockey: Kendrick Carmouche) 10/1
Richard’s Boy is a “horse for the course” as he’s run four times at Del Mar, winning twice while hitting the board every single time. Prat is an under-appreciated jockey, nationally, and he’ll have his chance to shine in this race where Richard’s Boy is cutting back distance after racing just two weeks ago. He’s a live longshot.

Bucchero is one of two runners for Glyshaw in his first-ever Breeders’ Cup, as he’ll also saddle Bullards Alley in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Both of his charges won in impressive fashion last time out to earn a spot this Saturday, and Glyshaw isn’t in San Diego for sightseeing. Although he MAY be a cut below the top selections class-wise, you’d never know it based on his heart, or how he won the Grade II Woodford at Keeneland last month. I will play him in multi-race bets, because I’d hate to lose a pick-4 where my favorite trainer continued his much-deserved success. A sentimental pick for me, to be sure.

Pure Sensation, like Bucchero are hampered by the outside post position, and had this one drawn better, he’d warrant much more consideration. But, he hit the board in last year’s B.C. Turf Sprint, and pressured Disco Partner, Green Mask, and Holding Gold in the Jaipur. Carmouche has piloted Pure Sensation to two graded stakes victories in his last three starts. His best days may be behind him, but he’s still a serviceable pick underneath.

In order to win on Breeders’ Cup weekend, bettors must beat good horses. “Play against” horses in this race are: Washington DC, Marsha, Mongolian Saturday, and Hogy. Should any of those horses upset the 1-2-3 boxes, there’ll be another Breeders’ Cup race to try about half an hour later.

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