The Breeders Cup begins Friday with four races at Del Mar in California. Here are the selections from Star Tribune handicapper Johnny Love. Look for his Day Two picks, including the Breeders Cup Classic, which has a $6 million purse, on Saturday.


Post Time: 4:25 pm • 1 mile (Turf) • 2-year-old, fillies • Purse: $1 million

PP Horse, Jockey Odds

 1. Best Performance, Jose Ortiz 12-1

 2. Happily, Ryan Moore 9-2

 3. Now You’re Talking, Wayne Lordan 30-1

 4. Madeline, Andrea Atzeni 20-1

 5. Ultima D, Tyler Gaffalione 12-1

 6. Orbolution, John Velazquez 20-1

 7. Capla Temptress, Joel Rosario 6-1

 8. Significant Form, Irad Ortiz Jr. 8-1

 9. Fatale Bere, Kent Desormeaux 15-1

10. September, Seamus Heffernan 6-1

11. Rushing Fall, Javier Castellano 7-2

12. Dixie Moon, Eurico DaSilva 20-1

13. Juliet Capulet, Frankie Dettori 12-1

14. Moon Dash, Mike Smith 15-1

AE15. Retro, Flavian Prat 30-1

AE16. Goodthingstaketime, Mike Smith 30-1

Runners coming from off-the-pace have dominated this race since it was initiated in 2008. Two-year-old fillies can be tough to hold back from wanting to take off, so I’m looking at runners, who are sitting behind the wall of speed to get the win. RUSHING FALL is undefeated in both starts, and is talented enough to close from far back, or from the main body of runners. Barnmate SIGNIFICANT FORM, is also undefeated in her two lone starts. Filly has tactical speed to sit right off-the-pace for first attack. CAPLA TEMPTRESS will be the better price of the three choices, and trainer Bill Mott has been pointing to this race since winning her North America debut last September. The Europeans haven’t fared well in this race, but HAPPILY is a Grade 1 winner, and who beat the boys last out.

DIRT MILE • 7th Race

Post Time: 5:05 pm • 1 mile, 3-year-olds and up • Purse: $1 million

PP Horse, Jockey Odds

 1. Iron Fist, Ricardo Santana Jr. 12-1

 2. Giant Expectations, Gary Stevens 12-1

 3. Sharp Azteca, Paco Lopez 9-2

 4. Gato Del Oro, Jose Ortiz 30-1

 5. Awesome Slew, John Velazquez 12-1

 6. Mor Spirit, Mike Smith 3-1

 7. Cupid, Rafael Bejarano 8-1

 8. Accelerate, Victor Espinoza 7-2

9. Battle of Midway, Flavien Prat 10-1

10. Practical Joke, Joel Rosario 6-1

Another race that should expect some snappy fractions with a couple of front runners loaded with early speed. ACCELERATE will be my top choice, pressing the pace to go a little quicker than the pace setters want to. The 4-year-old colt loves the Del Mar track, where he is a career 3-for-4. The group will all be chasing SHARP AZTECA. This colt has five wins at the mile distance and is a triple-digit speed figure professional. Strictly the one to catch to get the win. MOR SPIRIT most likely will be your post time favorite. Ran a career-high 117 speed figure this June in the Met Mile at Belmont Park. Going to try to beat him off the five-month layoff, but will be extremely tough to beat with repeat performance. HOF jockey Gary Stevens, lone ride this weekend is on GIANT EXPECTATIONS, one of my favorite angles. He only has one job to worry about.


Post Time: 5:50 pm • 1 mile (Turf) 2-year-old colts and geldings • Purse: $1 million

PP Horse, Jockey Odds

 1. Mendelssohn, Ryan Moore 8-1

 2. Untamed Domain, Jose Ortiz 8-1

 3. Sands of Mali, Flavien Prat 30-1

 4. Catholic Boy, Manny Franco 12-1

 5. Beckford, Joel Rosario 8-1

 6. Masar, William Buick 9-2

 7. James Garfield, Frankiee Dettori 6-1

 8. Voting Control, Javier Castellano 8-1

 9. Encumbered, Mario Gutierrez 15-1

10. Flameaway, Julien Leparoux 20-1

11. Snapper Sinclair, Ricardo Santana Jr. 15-1

12. Hemp Hemp Hurray, John Velazquez 8-1

13. My Boy Jack, Kent Desormeaux 8-1

14. Rajasinghe, Steve Donohoe 30-1

AE15. Tap Daddy, Florent Geroux 20-1

AE16. Pubilius Syrus, Flavien Prat 20-1

Most wide-open race of the day, so don’t be shy hitting the all button on your exotic tickets. MENDELSSOGN crosses the pond after running second in Grade 1 race to one of the European’s best turf runners last out. Lone win was at today’s one-mile distance. JAMES GARFIELD is another European, and with a stronger résumé. Been in the money in all six career starts, and big field shouldn’t be a problem. Ran third in a 22-horse field in his second start. VOTING CONTROL is my top North American pick, coming out of the Chad Brown barn. Most likely would be 2-for-2 in starts, but got squeezed at the break last out, and still managed to muscle his way for place dollars. FLAMEAWAY has yet to run on the grass, but pedigree screams turf. SNAPPER SINCLAIR is 2-for-2 on the lawn, and now stretches out with fresh legs.

DISTAFF • 9th Race

Post Time: 6:35 pm • 1⅛ miles, 3-year-olds and up Fillies & Mares • Purse: $2 million

PP Horse, Jockey Odds

1. Champagne Room, Mario Gutierrez 15-1

2. Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza 5-2

3. Mopotism, Frankie Dettori 30-1

4. Abel Tasman, Mike Smith 4-1

5. Elate, Jose Ortiz 3-1

6. Forever Unbridled, John Velazquez 4-1

7. Paradise Woods, Flavien Prat 9-2

8. Romantic Vision, Brian Hernandez Jr. 15-1

Solid group for the main event today. ELATE keeps improving with each race and is coming off her best career performance, winning by over 8 lengths. Appears to be peaking at the right time, and is training like a monster. Trainer Bill Mott has won this title five times. PARADISE WOODS is all about speed, but will have company on the lead, especially with CHAMPAGNE ROOM, who will gun it out of the gate with the inside draw. Paradise Woods is probable front runner, but will have to work for it to get the job done. STELLAR WIND comes in with three straight victories, but has been on the bench since July. Most likely post-time favorite, but going to take a shot against the 5-year-old mare. Three- year-olds have dominated this race.


Best Bet - Elate (3-1) Distaff
Best Price Play - Voting Control (8-1) Juvenile Turf
Ticket $1 Pick 3 Race 7 (2,3,6,8/All/5) $64