Noel Michaels weekend winners: Upset picks in Jockey Club Gold Cup and Pacific Classic

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Welcome to Noel Michaels Weekend Winners, the place to go for the best weekend bets and spot games from veteran handicapper and tournament pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back each week for some highlighted selections designed to help you cash in on a few bets and win some cash.

Christmas picks have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at DRF.com, Twinspires.com and USRacing.com, from the on-track paddock at Arlington International Racetrack, and airing on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA’s Talking Horses, and on TV broadcast on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and 72 Long Island Cablevision.


Here are some games to try and beat the big favorites in this weekend’s two $1 million races, the Jockey Club Gold Cup in Saratoga and the Pacific Classic in Del Mar. Good luck.

Saturday September 3

Saratoga Racecourse, Race 11, $1,000,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, tee time 5:45 p.m. ET

Which version of #2 Olympiad will show up – the horse that has won five consecutive victories, including the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on July 2, or the horse that last collapsed at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes on July 3 august ? Olympiad connections are hoping for some redemption at this Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup after the colt’s winning streak ended last time out with a disappointing fourth place at 3-2 in the Whitney. Everyone gets a day off, but Olympiad’s effort was so poor last time around that it became too difficult to bet on him again on the same track and at low odds.

Since the Olympiad will be favored, this creates a great opportunity to bet against him looking elsewhere in the eight-horse field. The best chance of being upset belongs to #8 dynamic coached by Todd Pletcher at 7-2 on the morning line. Dynamic One have really gotten good in their last two outs, including a victory in the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs and one last time in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park. Suburban’s victory was important for today’s purposes, as it came at the same distance as the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be held at 1 ¼ miles. Add that victory to Dynamic One’s victory at Saratoga last season in the two-round Curlin Stakes, and you have all the ingredients for a surprise with leading Saratoga driver Irad Ortiz Jr. on board. Pletcher actually trains four of the eight horses entered in the race, and he’s sure to keep the pressure on Olympiade at all times with his roster which also includes #3 Untreated, #5 American Revolutionand #7 Keep me in mindthe latter being another verbose type that would also benefit from a fast pace.

The game: Betting against favored #2 Olympiad and rather bet #8 dynamic to win. Play both in an exact three-horse box with #7 Keep me in mind.

#8 Dynamic One to win

Exacta box: #2 Olympiad, #7 Keepmeinmind and #8 Dynamic One


Saturday September 3

Del Mar, Race 10, $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes, tee time 8:50 p.m. ET

This year’s highly anticipated Pacific Classic is focused on #5 Line of Flight, the nation’s top-ranked undefeated horse who will be looking to push his career record to a perfect 5-for-5. all ended up being between six and 13 ¼ in length. As a racing fan, you want him to win and continue on the path to becoming a super horse. As a bettor, however, today is the day you are supposed to bet against him. He hasn’t run beyond a mile yet and hasn’t even completed two laps yet, but his chances in the Pacific Classic will be at or near his morning line of 1-5 – far too low to any horse trying to stretch all the way to 1 ¼ miles.

The results of this race will determine the future of Flightline. If he wins, his next outing will probably be the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic where he will be the big favourite. If he loses the Pacific Classic, it will probably be the distance that will make him beat. There are two horses in the Pacific Classic field that have the ability and long distance credentials to hand Flightline its first defeat, if indeed it has distance limitations. These two horses are #2 Grammar of the country and #4 Express Train.

Preference goes to Country Grammar, the 2022 winner of the $12m Dubai World Cup presented by Emirates Airline and $20m Saudi Cup runner-up who also holds a 1¼ mile victory in the Gold Cup Hollywood grade 1 stakes last year. for coach Bob Baffert. He just suffered a defeat against #3 Royal Ship in both horses’ final starts in Del Mar’s San Diego Handicap, but Royal Ship was in mid-season form and Country Grammar was making its first start since returning from the Middle East. Country Grammar will improve this race, which has been on Baffert’s calendar for some time, by leaps and bounds. The other horse to worry about is Express Train, which seems to be trading wins and losses with #6 Stilleto Boy, but is clearly the top horse of this duo once the distance expands to 1 ¼ miles. Express Train won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino over this distance. He also loves Del Mar with a career-high three wins and second in five starts.

The game: Roll the dice and try to beat Flightline because it’s now or never and Flightline’s odds will be way too low. Is he a monster? We will find out in the Pacific Classic. If he’s not a freak, might as well make some money with a high-quality horse like #2 Country Grammar, who’s 4-1 on the morning line. While you’re there, go ahead and run express train #4 into the exactas.

#2 Country grammar to win

Exacta box #2 Country Grammar and #4 Express Train

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