Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bullish on Cambina, Stephanie's Kitten in Friday's BC

The excitement is certainly building in the NJ Horseplayer circles with Friday's six Breeders Cup races less than 24 hours away. As a lower-budgeted investor, I am hoping to maximize my bankroll by picking out a key horse around which I allocate my dollars. I ended up with $85 in wagers.

In keeping with what worked for me during a 2009 effort that yielded $2,300 of (Saturday) winnings on a $100 bankroll, I have identified a relatively deep-fielded race with a prohibitive favorite and lots of long shots and will focus half of my bankroll on one big price. In 2009 it was the Dirt Mile (Furthest Land at 21-1) for me, and on Friday's card it is Cambina (30-1 morning line) in Race 9, the Grade 1 Filly & Mare Turf.

Stacelita (2-to-1), a two-time Grade 1 winner and a close third against the boys in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park in July, is the clear-cut favorite in a field of 12 and drew post No. 2, just outside 8-to-1 Dubawi Heights, whom I consider a credible contender and early runner who will benefit from a rail draw leading into the quick first turn of this mile-and-three-eighths event. The two outside horses, Dynaslew (30-to-1) and Misty For Me (IRE - 10-to-1), I project will gun from the gate and challenge for the early lead, perhaps setting quick fractions for what is a 3-turn event. I expect Stacelita to sit comfortably behind the leaders.

Banking on 30-to-1 Cambina in the Breeders Cup
Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1); walking the track on
(source: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Considering such a pace scenario may prove dicey, but a big part of the allure of Cambina, for me, is the three-year-old's proven ability to close quickly into either fast or dawdling fractions. The horse's efforts in the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita on April 9 (what I deem fast fractions of 46.00, 1:10.23 and 1:35.20 for a mile-and-an-eighth) and Honeymoon at Hollywood on June 11 (50.19, 1:15.04 and 1:38.57) tell me that with a strong grass-based closing rider in Garrett Gomez, this horse has a legitimate shot at picking up the pieces very late, particularly when considering sub-24 second efforts in the stretch of recent races (albeit 5th- and 4th-place finishes) stack up very well versus this field. I'd argue the extra 1/8-mile will help my chances.

With this in mind, here is what I'm playing surrounding Race 9:
  • Race 8, $1 Pick 3: 2, 11, 12 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 with 1, 7 = $30
    • I consider Aruna, Dubawi Heights and Harmonious players as well, and threw in Stacelita as a safety valve in the middle leg, considering this horse's recent record
    • In leg 1, the Grade 1 Juvenile Fillies, I am leaning toward Weemissfrankie (4-to-1) over Candrea (6-to-1), but very intrigued at 30-to-1 by the No. 12, Frolic's Revenge, with John Velazquez aboard and considering my Calder angle (see Wednesday's notes). 
    • In the third leg, Race 10 - The Ladies Classic, I made Ultra Blend (8-to-1) my top choice over the chalky (and, in my view, vulnerable) Plum Pretty and Royal Delta and consider Miss Match a player as well at 10-to-1, with the rail draw.
  • Race 9, $4 exacta box 1-2-4 ($24), $1 trifecta box 1-2-4 ($6): total of $30
In the earlier Breeders Cup races on Friday, I also made smaller base wagers keying Stephanie's Kitten at 12-to-1 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile. The morning line is way too high on a horse that looked very impressive in winning the Grade 1 Alcibiad at Keeneland on October 7 at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the synthetic surface, and who got strung out wide in the one-turn mile Natalma at Woodbine on turf in September, finishing a creditable third taking the overland route. As a horseplayer I feel obligated to making a stand against, and mine is to generally avoid European shippers who have not had a race yet in North America. The 2-to-1 favorite, Elusive Kate, looks imposing on paper, but I want to see what she'll do from post 10 in a field of at least 14 horses.
Here's where I'm going earlier in the card:
  • Race 5: $1 Pick 3: 2, 6, 9 with 5 (singling Stephanie's Kitten) with 3, 5, 6 = $9
  • Race 6: $2 Daily Double: 5 with 5 = $2
  • Race 6: $1 Exacta Box 5-14 = $2
  • Race 7: $1 Exacta Box 5-6 = $2 
    • I am playing the Calder angle again with No. 5, Musical Romance, at 20-to-1 perhaps stealing Race 7, the Filly and Mare Sprint, from Turbulent Descent (6-to-5) and Switch (3-to-1)
To close out the card, I am going with a $5 exacta box, 1-7, in Race 10 ($10 total), pretty confident about Ultra Blend's and Miss Match's chances to finish first and second at a price.
    As always, nothing too fancy, and maybe Cambina and Stephanie's Kitten prove to be no-shows on Friday, but I'd argue there is a credible case to be made for each pulling off a Breeders Cup upset.  I'll take inventory of Friday's outcome tomorrow night and share some thoughts on Saturday's Breeders Cup card and some contests where I'm participating, including a few fantasy tournaments on Derby

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