A two-day double wager linking the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) with the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) has been a staple of the Breeders’ Cup wagering menu for nearly a decade, but with changes to the race schedule for 2018, the wager has been replaced with three new multi-day doubles that offer plenty of options and excitement for handicappers.
With the Distaff moving to Saturday and all of the juvenile races shifting to Friday, the new doubles will cleverly link the Juvenile Fillies with the Distaff, the Juvenile Turf with the Turf, and the Juvenile with the Classic. In other words, the first leg of each sequence will showcase young runners that could someday compete in the second leg of the sequence.
If you want to get in on the action, here’s how I would play all three doubles with a $20 budget for each sequence….
Juvenile Fillies/Distaff Double
In my mind, this is the most wide-open of the three doubles since you can make a solid case for at least four or five contenders in the Juvenile Fillies, while two or three boast legitimate chances in the Distaff. In the former race, I’m going to take a reluctant stand against the morning line favorite #10 Bellafina, who has not been finishing particularly fast in her races out West, and instead lean toward #2 Serengeti Empress, who could be any kind of superstar in the making after winning the Ellis Park Debutante Stakes by 13 ½ lengths and the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) over this track and distance by 19 ½ lengths. I’ll also take a small shot with #1 Reflect, a late runner who had an uncomfortable trip racing inside of horses in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) before escaping from traffic and rallying late to finish second. If the pace is hot (which it should be, given the abundance of front-runners in this field), Reflect might have a chance to come running late and post a significant upset.
In the Distaff, the obvious choices are #2 Abel Tasman and #11 Monomoy Girl, the last two winners of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) here at Churchill Downs. They’re by far the most accomplished runners in the field, but as I mentioned in my preview of the race, I also have an interest in the somewhat erratic Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) #10 Blue Prize and will use her as well.
$6 double: 2 with 2,11 ($12)
$3 double: 2 with 10 ($3)
$2 double: 1 with 2,11 ($4)
$1 double: 1 with 10 ($1)
Juvenile Turf/Turf Double
With 14 horses in the Juvenile Turf and 13 in the Turf, it seems like this double should be a tough one to hit, and perhaps it will be. But then again, trainer Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last seven renewals of the Juvenile Turf, and in #14 Anthony Van Dyck he’s sending arguably his best runner yet. This son of Galileo is proven against very high-class competition in Europe, having finish second behind Quorto in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Eng-I) and third behind Too Darn Hot in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I), and he’s already won over two left-handed courses, including a tight-turning course at Killarney, which bodes well for his ability to handle the turns at Churchill Downs. Throw in three straight Timeform Ratings of 100 or higher and the services of top jockey Ryan Moore, and I think we have a winner, even from the outside draw.
The Turf also seems like a fairly clear-cut race with the two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner #2 Enable looming as the filly to beat if she brings anywhere her A-game. She should be fresh for the Turf after running just twice so far this season, but if her effort in the Arc took more out of her than one might expect (and remember, no horse has ever won the Arc and the Turf in the same year), then the high-class Group 1 winner #12 Waldgeist—who weaved his way through traffic to finish fourth in the Arc, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths—could potentially pull off an upset.
I’ll use both of them with Anthony Van Dyck in the double while emphasizing the shorter-priced Enable:
$14 double: 14 with 2
$6 double: 14 with 12
As I outlined in my separate preview of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I believe that Bob Baffert’s #9 Game Winner is simultaneously the fastest horse, the most accomplished horse, and the most promising horse in the Juvenile field. I’m playing him on top of all my single-race exotics, so why not single him in this double as well? The only other horse I might want to include is the second choice #6 Complexity, and since using him would double the cost of my tickets without adding much value, I’ll stand alone with Game Winner and hope for the best.
It’s the Classic end of this double that really gets tricky. I mentioned in my handicapping analysis of the Classic that I am against the morning line favorite #14 Accelerate, but the two horses I’m primarily playing on top in the single-race exotics—#2 Roaring Lion and #10 Yoshida—are admittedly far from being the most likely winners. I’m certainly going to include them in my double since if one of them does prevail, the payoff will be hefty, but I’ll also play a couple of larger doubles using the shorter-priced contenders #6 McKinzie and #7 West Coast.
$7 double: 9 with 6,7 ($14)
$3 double: 9 with 2,10 ($6)