Expert Picks - Mike Battaglia

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Please note that selections typically are available about 48 hours in advance of the race.

E.g., February 8

    Mike Battaglia

    Mike is Keeneland’s longtime odds maker and is recognized as being one of the best handicappers in America. In addition to his duties at Keeneland, he is a racing analyst for NBC’s Thoroughbred racing coverage.

    Saturday, October 31, 2015

    1st Race-- Perryville: BAYERD (#8) is a consistent runner from the Asmussen barn who has been in the money in nine of his 11 races. He is training sharply and rates the slight edge in the opener. PRIME ENGINE (4) has done the bulk of his racing at Emerald Downs and normally wouldn't merit much attention. However, he moves to the barn of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and has impressed the Keeneland clockers with his works in the morning. He could run well at nice odds. LEWYS VAPORIZER (#2) has the speed to be in front and will be tough to catch.

    2nd Race – Juvenile Dirt Sprint: RICHIE THE BULL (#10) is undefeated in two career starts. He should get a good stalking trip in here and can extend his streak today. SHEIKH OF SHEIKHS (#4) faded after setting the pace in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and shortens up for this one. He will be tough with Frankie Dettori picking up the mount for trainer Wesley Ward. DAN THE GO TO MAN (#5) will be running at the end and has to be considered.

    3rd Race – 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1): SONGBIRD (#10) has been dominant in California and appears to be as good or better than any of the colts. She has the speed to be on or near the lead throughout and looks like a solid bet to win her fourth in a row with Mike Smith back aboard for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. LAND OVER SEA (#1) was no match for the top pick in her last two but should get a good trip from the inside post and can't be left out of the exotics. RACHEL'S VALENTINA (#9) is untested around two turns but is also unbeaten and has been training sharply. She is a solid threat.

    4th Race – TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1): UNDRAFTED (#3) prefers more distance but should be flying at the end in a race that will have a very fast pace. Trainer Wesley Ward figures to have him ready for a top effort and he gets the nod in a wide-open Turf Sprint. LADY SHIPMAN (#5) has been beating up on the fillies and is very capable of taking on the boys today. She will be pressed on the front end but is definitely the one to catch. READY FOR RYE (#12) is a perfect 2 for 2 on the grass and will be in good position right off the early leaders.

    5th Race – TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1): STONETASTIC (#8) was given a needed break after her late-season California campaign. She just missed in her first start in August and ran a career best last out winning by 15. She came up short at seven furlongs in this race last year but is more seasoned now and appears to be sitting on another top effort. CAVORTING (#14) is a deserving favorite despite drawing post 14. She has looked very sharp winning her last three and will be running at the end with Javier Castellano aboard. SUPER MAJESTY (#6) is a nose away from being undefeated and can run well at nice odds.

    6th Race – Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1): LEGATISSIMO (#3) has won three Group 1 races in Europe and comes into the Breeders Cup’ in top form for David Watchman. She appears to be the best of a field that is dominated by the Europeans and looks like a winner at short odds. DACITA (#8) is a Chilean import who was impressive winning her U.S. debut for trainer Chad Brown. She doesn't have the credentials of the top pick but she figures to improve and is a threat. MISS FRANCE (#9) is a lightly raced 4-year-old who just missed in both of her races this year in France. She figures to improve and rates a chance.

    7th Race – TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1): RUNHAPPY (#5) is freakishly fast. He toyed with the field in the King’s Bishop (G1) and won the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G3) despite breaking poorly. The bad starts are a reason for concern but if he stays out of trouble he will be extremely tough to beat. PRIVATE ZONE (#13) is a 6-year-old who has never been better. He is sharp from the gate and will be on or near the lead throughout. He has to be respected but looks second best. LIMOUSINE LIBERAL (#4) was no match for the top pick at Saratoga but is training well here and John Velazquez picks up the mount.

    8th Race – Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1): TEPIN (#7) could not have been more impressive winning the First Lady (G1) over a soft turf course here on opening Saturday of the Fall Meet. She ran faster than the boys in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and finished with a final quarter of :23 2/5. If she runs that one back, she can win this one for trainer Mark Casse with Julien Leparoux back aboard. MAKE BELIEVE (#3) is one of several top-flight Europeans. He is trained by Andre Fabre, who has had four Breeders’ Cup winners and also saddles ESOTERIQUE (#9) in here. Both are coming off Group 1 wins and a win from either one would be no surprise.

    9th Race – Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1): UNBRIDLED OUTLAW (#4) and BRODY'S CAUSE (#7) give Dale Romans a solid 1-2 punch. UNBRIDLED OUTLAW was third in the Iroquois (G3) but had a horrendous trip in there and looked to be much the best. He may be overlooked a bit in the wagering but is capable of winning with Mike Smith picking up the mount. BRODY'S CAUSE was very impressive winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), coming from far back under Corey Lanerie. He has improved with every start and a repeat of that last out makes him the one to beat. RALIS (#10) threw in a bad one in the Champagne (G1) on a sloppy track but worked well here at Keeneland and could rebound today.

    10th Race – Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1): GOLDEN HORN (#1) is a 3-year-old who has emerged as the best runner in Europe this year. He has just one blemish in his eight-race career but came back from that one to win two in a row, including an impressive score in the Arc (G1). Anything close to his best form would make him a winner with Frankie Dettori back aboard for trainer John Gosden. TWILIGHT ECLIPSE (#6) has finished in the money in 10 of his last 12 races and could figure in the gimmicks at big odds. BIG BLUE KITTEN (#7) is another one who always seems to run his race and has to be respected.

    11th Race – Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1): TONALIST (#1) has been a model of consistency throughout his career and comes in off an impressive score in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). He breaks from the rail and John Velazquez may have him closer to the pace than usual. He loves the distance and is very capable of winning with his best effort. HONOR CODE (#9) has never been a mile and a quarter but is definitely bred to handle it. He will be at a disadvantage with no one to run with American Pharoah in the early going but he should be flying at the end. AMERICAN PHAROAH (#4) was spectacular in the Triple Crown. He figures to make the lead without much pressure and it would be no surprise to see him win easily, but this is his first try against older runners and he may be vulnerable. 

    12th Race – Fort Springs: SWEET SWINGIN (#1) gets the nod in the last. MESHELL (#4) had a bad trip last out and is capable of better. DR. FAGERS GAL (#8) is a definite threat. 




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