ARCADIA, Calif. -- The Breeders’ Cup undercard Saturday includes nine races and a number of talented thoroughbreds on day two of the world championships.
Be sure to check back for a preview of the $6 million BC Classic, a competitive field of 11 that will head to the gate at 8:45 p.m. EDT on NBC. Television coverage of the races will be split between NBC Sports Network (3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and NBC (8-9 p.m.).
Small capsules and top selections of the Saturday undercard races follow:
$1 million BC Filly and Mare Sprint (Race 4, 2:55 p.m. EDT)
A smallish field of nine females will sprint 7-furlongs over the Santa Anita main track. 1-Covfefe (2-1) looks like a solid favorite and had a bullet work at Churchill Downs coming into the race. Joel Rosario will ride for trainer Brad Cox. We’ll bookend the exacta with 9-Spiced Perfection (4-1), the daughter of Smiling Tiger who won the Grade 2 TCA at Keeneland last out. Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez is in the irons. 4-Come Dancing (5-2) comes into the race off two wins and looks formful for jockey Javier Castellano. Long shot 5-Lady Ninja (10-1) has a win on the home track for trainer Richard Baltas.
Post Time Outlook: 1-9-4-5
$1 million BC Turf Sprint (Race 5, 3:33 p.m. EDT)
The Turf Sprint will be run at 5 furlongs and we’ll take a shot on Gary Barber’s 12-Belvoir Bay (12-1) with Castellano up. He’s 6-for-9 at Santa Anita and should appreciated the shorter distance. 10-Eddie Haskell (9-2) looks to be sitting on a big one and has experience over the turf course. 5-Stubbins (12-1) is another price horse with a shot with red-hot Flavien Prat aboard coming off a career top at Keeneland. 3-Imprimus (8-1) could surprise with international star Frankie Dettori in the irons, he gets the slight nod over Stormy Liberal.
Post Time Outlook: 12-10-5-3
$1 million BC Dirt Mile (Race 6, 4:10 p.m. EDT)
The Dirt Mile features a huge matchup between 3-year-olds 5-Omaha Beach (8-5) and 2-Improbable (5-2). The favorite returned to the races after bowing out of the Kentucky Derby in May with a win earlier in the month in a 6-furlong tilt over the main track. Improbable has been working lights out, but has yet to win a graded race in 2019. 4-Mr. Money (6-1) gave way late in finishing second to Classic-bound Math Wizard in the Pennsylvania Derby, and the cutback might benefit this speedster. 7-Coal Front (6-1) looks to be back on form after a couple of shaky starts after returning from Dubai.
Post Time Outlook: 5-2-4-7
$2 million BC Filly and Mare Turf (Race 7, 4:54 p.m. EDT)
A field of 12 includes a good group of Euro invaders. Looking for an upset of last year’s winner and favorite 2-Sistercharlie (8-5). The 5-year-old mare is the class of the field and will be backed heavily at the windows. 7-Vasilika (8-1)with Prat in the irons is the pick to upset the Chad Brown trainee. She is an unbelievable 11-for-12 over the Santa Anita turf course. Dan Ward will train for the banned Jerry Hollendorfer. A couple of long-priced Euros are interesting to use underneath in the exotics in 9-Villa Marina (8-1) and 4-Billesdon Brook (10-1). Both come off Group 1 wins in Europe.
Post Time Outlook: 7-12-9-4
$2 million BC Sprint (Race 8, 5:36 p.m. EDT)
Possibly the most highly competitive race of the weekend featuring some of the top sprinters in the country. 4-Mitole (9-5) should solidify his superstar status with a win over this group. He shipped to Santa Anita early and has posted some monster works. 1-Catalina Cruiser (4-1) is logical and has won all three of his starts in his 2019 campaign. 9-Imperial Hint (4-1) has had a terrific campaign sprinting for trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. and has shown no ill effects of his March trip to Dubai. He comes into the race with wins in the same two races he did last year, when he finished third. 6-Shancelot (4-1) flashed some brilliance early in the year and will likely be on the engine early, but we see him fading to fourth after setting the early pace.
Post Time Outlook: 4-1-9-6
$2 million BC Mile (Race 9, 6:20 p.m. EDT)
Full field of 14 will try a mile on the Santa Anita grass for big money. 9-Circus Maximus (3-1), a son of Galileo, puts on the blinkers for Euro connections Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, who have had their share of disappointments in the BC. 14-Bowie’s Hero (12-1) interests me from the outside post, with experience on the course and Prat in the irons. 11-Uni (7-2) is a hard-knocking Chad Brown mare who should be coming late. 6-Got Stormy (7-2) should like the firmer Santa Anita turf course and rates a chance.
Post Time Outlook: 9-14-11-6
$2 million BC Distaff (Race 10, 7:00 p.m. EDT)
The Distaff has an outside shot to produce the Horse of the Year, if Bricks and Mortar falters in the Turf and 4-Midnight Bisou (6-5) wins her eighth consecutive race of the year. She’ll be taken on by 3-year-old Alabama winner 5-Dunbar Road (6-1), who along with 11-Blue Prize (6-1), look like the most capable of pulling the upset. 1-Paradise Woods (5-1) has the dangerous home-track advantage and drew the rail for trainer John Shirreffs.
Post Time Outlook: 5-4-11-1
$4 million BC Turf (Race 11, 7:40 p.m. EDT)
The mile-and-a-half turf race is the lead-in to the Classic and features the current top-ranked horse in the NTRA, 9-Bricks and Mortar (9-5), who could lock up Horse of the Year honors with a win. 10-Old Persian (4-1) looked great on the Woodbine Mile undercard in winning the Grade 1 Northern Dancer and could be the toughest competitor the favorite has faced all year. 5-Anthony Van Dyck (3-1) finished third behind Magical and Magic Wand by less than three lengths in his last Group 1 at Leopardstown running against elders. 11-Arklow (12-1) has fared well at the distance and has top turf jock Castellano aboard.
Post Time Outlook: 10-9-5-11
Follow along with me on Twitter over the next two days with reporting from Santa Anita all weekend.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.