ARCADIA, Ca. -- The 31st Breeders' Cup (BC) world championships get underway Friday afternoon at Santa Anita Park. On Tap are four BC races on the opening day of the two-day championships highlighted by the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Friday's races will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network from 5-8 p.m. ET. The Distaff will feature Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable and Close Hatches, winner of three Grade 1 races this year.
Let's play a little $0.50 Pick-4 with the four BC races into the Distaff.
$1 million BC Juvenile Turf. (Race 6, 5:25 p.m. ET) One mile on the turf for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Mike Smith, the record holding jockey with 20 career BC wins can get off to a great start at #BC14 with 3-Luck of the Kitten (8-1) for Eclipse-winning owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He has a ton of speed and with an inside gate he could post an upset at a nice price. 10-Startup Nation (12-1) will enjoy the pace in this one and can pick up the pieces with Joel Rosario in the irons for Chad Brown. 11-Imperia (6-1) runs for the second time with Lasix and gets top turf jock Javier Castellano aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. 1-Wet Sail (15-1) ships in from over the pond to take a shot at the big purse. In his last race in Great Britain he faced 22 others and finished third in a race with some highly-regarded horses. 6-Conquest Typhoon (12-1) was the talk of the backside during Queen's Plate week at Woodbine this summer and could relish the Santa Anita turf for trainer Mark Casse. We're going five deep in the opener in the Pick-4 (1,3,6,10,11).
Post Time Outlook: 1-Luck of the Kitten, 2-Startup Nation, 3-Imperia, 4-Wet Sail
$1 million BC Dirt Mile. (Race 7, 6:05 p.m. ET) One mile on the dirt for 3-year-olds and up. While 1-Goldencents (6-5) may be everyone's first day single, he has a couple challengers who could steal the race. The horse that could surprise is the Steve Asmussen-trained 9-Tapiture (6-1) who shortens up to a mile after spending time on the Derby trail this spring. Asmussen trained the 2012 winner of this race, Tapizar, who is also a son of Tapit. Rosie Napravnik has the mount on Tapiture. Another who rates consideration is 2-Carve (15-1) who could be live coming off some decent works for Brad Cox and Hall of Famer Smith in the saddle. We'll go with three here (1,2,9) in the second leg.
Post Time Outlook: 1-Tapiture, 2-Goldencents, 3- Carve, 4-Big Bane Theory
$1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf. (Race 8, 6:50 p.m. ET) One mile on the turf for 2-year-old fillies. Time to take a stand with our Pick-4 single. 3-Sunset Glow (7-2) rates the highest Brisnet class and power ratings of the field and has been working great at both Keeneland and Santa Anita. Her trip to Royal Ascot looks to have had little effect on this Wesley Wards trainee, and she looks ready to pop. The 1-2 finishers in the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine are her main threats as 14- Qualify (5-1) drew the far outside post.
Post Time Outlook: 1-Sunset Glow, 2-Isabella Sings, 3-Conquest Harlanate, 4-Qualify
$2 million BC Distaff. (Race 9, 7:35 p.m. ET) 1 1/8 miles on the dirt for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. The Friday feature drew 11 fillies and mares looking to crown the older female and possibly the 3-year-old filly champion with a win. 2-Tiz Midnight (10-1) is the regally-bred daughter of two-time BC Sprint champ Midnight Lute out of a Tiznow mare. The late developing 4-year-old loves Santa Anita and has been training well for Bob Baffert. It would be a big step up to win this race, but the top two appear somewhat vulnerable after long, hard campaigns. Both 10-Untapable (5-2) and 11-Close Hatches (3-1) drew outside posts and could find traffic trouble. We'll throw in a closer in fend against a pace collapse in 5-Unbridled Forever (20-1) with Johnny V aboard for Dallas Stewart. We're four deep and hoping to be alive into the Distaff (2,5,10,11).
Post Time Outlook: 1-Tiz Midnight, 2-Close Hatches, 3-Untapable, 4-Unbridled Forever
$0.50 Late Pick-4 (Race 6) 1,3,6,10,11/1,2,9/3/2,5,10,11 (cost $30)
Be sure to check back here on Friday for some BC Saturday undercard plays and we'll have an advance on the Classic in the print edition of Saturday's News and a recap in Sunday's paper. I'll be on The Fan 1270 AM on Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. from Santa Anita with Rich Gaenzler, who will be live at Buffalo Raceway. Be sure to tune in to catch up on what's going on at the track.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.