Breeders' Cup Saturday selections: Fourstar Crook (9/1), Next Shares (25/1) and Thunder Snow (16/1)

Line Of Duty got Godolphin and Europe off the mark on the opening Friday of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, narrowly denying our 20/1 poke Uncle Benny and rightly surviving at stewards’ enquiry. We reload and go again for day two and plan to stick to the plan of favouring the home team over the shorter trips.

18:04 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (Grade 1)

Wild Illusion looks a worthy favourite given her autumn form has been so strong, having landed back-to-back Group Ones at Goodwood and Longchamp. She’s too short in the betting, though, and bookmakers have clearly taken the stance that the European middle-distance fillies are a cut above the locals.

The ground has gone against Magic Wand while Eziyra, though of plenty of interest, is drawn very wide and has to find a fair amount of improvement to win.

I suspect the answer lies amongst Chad Brown’s five runners, particularly Sistercharlie and the remarkably consistent FOURSTAR CROOK. There doesn’t seem much between these two horses as they’ve both beaten each-other this season, mopping up four Grade 1s between them.

Sistercharlie has been fairly well found in the market but Fourstar Crook is twice the price and drawn low in stall one. She has only finished outside the top two once in her last 13 starts, finishing third that time, and always seems to run her race. She has a little form with cut in the ground and generally stays well, so she has all the right attributes for an each-way bet.

1pt each-way Fourstar Crook @9/1, 18:04 Churchill Downs, Saturday (1,2,3, 1/4 with Bet365)

19:36: Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1)

Europeans dominate the betting market for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, at least with our [European] bookmakers anyway, yet the away team have only won this race once in the past seven seasons. The home team is usually underrated by our layers in this meeting and this year looks no different with just second-favourite Oscar Performance short in the betting for the mile.

The tight turns of American tracks mean I’m always looking for low draws in the Breeders’ Cup and NEXT SHARES has fared well, breaking from stall two. He had a similar draw when slipping up the inside rail to land the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on his last start with relative ease, and that looked a career best from the five-year-old – watch below.

He was unfancied that day and sprung a 23/1 surprise to win, so it’s natural to doubt the form a little. However, whilst he undoubtedly got the run of the race, there was cut in the ground on the day an he’s spent most of his career racing on a road. That’s a good sign as there’s plenty of rain forecast for Churchill Downs this week and it’s certainly not going to be fast ground, which will suit.

Connections seem to agree, stating “he’s loved it [soft ground]” so at 25/1 I reckon he’s well worth a bet in case the Europeans flop and Oscar Performance fails to handle the conditions – which is likely.

1pt each-way Next Shares @25/1, 19:36 Churchill Downs, Saturday (1,2,3,4, 1/5 with Skybet)

21:44: Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1)

This is a fascinating renewal of America’s biggest all-ages race, with three very classy Europeans threatening to take advantage over what looks a mediocre bunch of Americans. The first one to throw out is  the turf-bred Roaring Lion as he’s drawn low, meaning he’s going to be facing plenty of kickback from the dirt, and he’s had a hard season having only last raced on soft ground a couple of weeks back.

I don’t think there’s much between Irish hope Mendelssohn and THUNDER SNOW based on their last meeting, but it looks to me like the market has totally overlooked the fact that Thunder Snow has been trained to peak in this race. A hugely impressive winner of the Dubai World Cup on the dirt at Meydan this winter, thrashing West Coast, whose form ties in with most of the local horses, he has nothing to prove from a class perspective and that’s arguably the best dirt form in this race.

His low draw isn’t a positive as he’s likely to get boxed in and get plenty of kickback, but he’s 16/1 with Coral who offer four places each-way, and I just think that’s a steal for a horse of his class. I fully expect him to improve for his last run, and if he hits the same form as Dubai he could have been massively underestimated.

Of the home team the obvious bet is Mckinzie, who is a tempting price at 5/1 and has every chance, but I’m sticking with the selection.

1pt each-way Thunder Snow @16/1, 21:44 Churchill Downs, Saturday (1,2,3,4, 1/5 with Coral)

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