2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day Two Handicapping Analysis (11/6/21)

I’ll start off this column with a disclaimer: If you don’t want to bet Saturday’s races because of the three-ring circus that happened before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, I completely understand. A lot of people got the short end of the stick with what happened, and I couldn’t write anything else before writing something I posted to Twitter late Friday.

If you want to play, though, there’s plenty to digest Saturday at Del Mar. As with Friday’s races, I’ll spend more time on races where I have a strong opinion and less time on races where I don’t. Let’s take a look!

“Champagne and J.D.,” cued up to our analysis of Saturday’s card!

RACE #1: We’ll start things off with an optional claiming event for older horses. I’m not sure which runner will go favored, but #1 ONE FAST BRO would intrigue me a bit if others took money. His lone recent poor race on turf came in a paceless race at Santa Anita, and it sure seems like he’s taken a step forward late in his 4-year-old season. He’s a stone closer that may need some luck breaking on the rail, but Joe Bravo’s riding style should fit him like a glove, and the jockey got to know this gelding a bit last time out, when he ran second behind next-out stakes-winner Subconscious.

RACE #2: The Grade 2 TAA is the annual marathon race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, and I think the morning line is off. Yes, #2 LONE ROCK was beaten last time out as a very heavy favorite, but I can’t see #4 TIZAMAGICIAN challenging him for favoritism. I think Lone Rock comes down from his 6/5 morning line price, and that Tizamagician drifts up.

I focused on that because, handicapping-wise, this looks chalky to me. Lone Rock still looks very imposing, and anything close to his races from mid-2021 would make him very tough to beat.

RACE #3: We start cooking with gas in the Grade 2 Goldikova. I respect 8/5 favorite #2 PRINCESS GRACE, who’s won six of seven career starts and wouldn’t be surprising. However, I think there’s value to that one’s inside.

Instead of the chalk, give me #1 ZOFELLE, whose last race is a clear throw-out. She’s shown she detests Belmont Park and its funky one-mile configuration, and she’s also shown she shines going two turns. Her races from early-2021 are sharp, and while the layoff is a concern, she’s been working steadily for a barn that can get fresh horses ready to run.

Zofelle’s best race can win this, and I think things will set up for her. This race isn’t without some early zip, and the faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be. 6-1 hits me as an overlay, and I hope we get that price (or something close to it) come post time.

RACE #4: Many handicappers detest this race, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. It’s down to a five-horse field, and the likely odds-on favorite, #5 GAMINE, has been in the news several times for the wrong reasons.

However, I think there’s money to be made, as Gamine shouldn’t be alone on the front end. She may be joined by #3 EDGEWAY or #6 BELLA SOFIA, and while she may be good enough to overcome that pressure, I think her likely price is an underlay, and that such a scenario would set things up for #4 CE CE.

Ce Ce didn’t get her desired trip in the Ballerina two starts back. Gamine ran her first quarter-mile in :23 and change, and the race was over at that point. That shouldn’t happen again here, and when Ce Ce gets a pace to run at, she’s very, very good. I wish we were likely to get the 4-1 morning line price, but we’ll probably have to make due with 5/2 or so. Still, she’ll be a single for me on multi-race exotics tickets, and if Gamine loses, the payoff potential on those goes up significantly.

RACE #5: Singling Ce Ce is handy, because the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is a puzzling race. I’ve been a big fan of #3 GOLDEN PAL all year long, and a win here wouldn’t surprise me. However, if the 3-year-old misfires against open company, any number of his rivals could potentially get the money.

#1 GLASS SLIPPERS won this race last year, and her stablemate, #2 EMARAATY ANA, may be even better than she is. Golden Pal’s stablemate, #9 KIMARI, hasn’t run since April, but she’s been working consistently at Keeneland and is a world-class sprinter when she’s right.

The one I’m most intrigued by at a price, though, is #11 FAST BOAT. Closers in turf sprints make me nervous, but Del Mar’s surface was a fair one on Friday, and a few closers did reasonably well. Additionally, he’s capitalized on several meltdowns against these types this season, and a similar situation may present itself here. His best is certainly good enough to win this, and he’ll be on all of my tickets.

RACE #6: #5 LIFE IS GOOD is a single for me in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (TV won’t say the sponsor, but I will because I’m a rebel and play by my own rules). I can’t see him getting challenged early, and if he gets comfortable, I think he’ll coast.

RACE #7: The Filly and Mare Turf will be a blast. I’m pumped to see #7 WAR LIKE GODDESS tackle the likes of #6 LOVE and #8 LOVES ONLY YOU, who ship in from England and Japan for this event. Consider this: #12 AUDARYA is the defending champ in this race, and she’s the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line!

The top three choices are all world-class talents, and Audarya would merit attention if not for a terrible post draw. However, there’s another that I need to advise you to consider. #1 GOING TO VEGAS did sit a dream trip last time out in winning the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, but everything says she could sit that trip again here. There just isn’t a lot of early speed signed on to chase her, and if she gets comfortable, I think she’ll have every chance to grab a big piece of this at a very nice price.

RACE #8: Neither of my two opinions in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint should surprise you. The first is that #2 JACKIE’S WARRIOR looks very tough, by any conceivable measure. His figures only seem to be going up, he’s very fast out of the gate, and he’s shown an ability to grind his foes into dust. He’s my top pick.

My other opinion is that #7 LEXITONIAN, a first-ballot inductee into the Andrew Champagne Gambling Hall of Fame, hits the board. Toss the Forego, where he got left at the gate, and toss the Met Mile, which I think is a toss for every horse that ran in it (it was a WEIRD race). His two-back Grade 1 win in the Vanderbilt was sharp, and it also helps that he ran very well in his lone Del Mar start, when he fell by a dirty nose after a big late run in the 2020 Bing Crosby. Lexitonian’s an honest horse that should be going the right way late, and I think he’ll clunk up for a piece of it at a big number.

RACE #9: The Breeders’ Cup Mile is always a blast. Some of my favorite horses (Lure and Wise Dan, to name two) have won this race over the years, and from a handicapping perspective, you can make cases for a bunch of these runners.

I’m spreading in multi-race exotics. #3 SPACE BLUES is a win machine from Europe, and his best race would absolutely put him right there, but he’s stretching out to a mile from seven furlongs, and that’s not insignificant. By contrast, #9 MOTHER EARTH has won at this distance before and ran into Aunt Pearl last fall in her lone stateside start to date. I need to use her, too, especially since she’s run very well over firmer going in the past. Of the American runners, I prefer #6 MO FORZA and #7 IN LOVE, who both come in off of strong wins in prep races a few weeks ago.

RACE #10: The Breeders’ Cup Distaff features #6 LETRUSKA, who enters on a five-race win streak and figures to be one of the day’s heaviest favorites. However, I’m against her in here. I think there’s a lot of other early speed signed on (specifically #7 HOROLOGIST and #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL), and I think the race shape could set up for a closer to come from out of the clouds.

With that in mind, I prefer #2 ROYAL FLAG on top. She exits a very nice win in the Beldame at Belmont, where she won by more than four lengths despite a pretty slow early pace. She’s shown an ability to rally from well back in races without much early zip. Given the likelihood of some fast fractions, I think her chances go way up, and 8-1 hits me as an overlay.

Of the front-running types, I prefer #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL, who beat Letruska earlier this year and has shown she doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. Given how fast they’ll probably be going, that could prove valuable.

RACE #11: I could wind up having plenty of fun in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. #13 TARNAWA is logical and hasn’t run a bad race in more than two years. She could win this for the second year in a row, but there’s another runner I like at a significantly bigger price.

Toss the Arc de Triomphe, and doesn’t the form of #8 BROOME look a lot better? He’s run plenty of races at this distance that would be good enough to win, and I love the presence of Frankie Dettori, whose record in this race is excellent. The same can be said of trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race six times. At his likely price, Broome is a must-use, and he’d be a day-maker for me.

RACE #12: We’ll finish, of course, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I can’t go too in-depth on this, as I’ll have a longer, race-specific writeup available on Oddschecker US. However, I think #5 KNICKS GO will be very tough to beat, and you can head over there for my reasoning and betting strategy.

2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day One Handicapping Analysis (11/5/21)

This week’s “Champagne and J.D.,” filmed before news broke about Jack Christopher scratching out of the Juvenile.

It’s Breeders’ Cup time, and I’m going to do things a little bit differently this year. In the past, I’ve written walls of text on every race. This year, I’m going to follow my own advice about being smarter with time and money management.

I’ll still take looks at every race, but I’ll expound far more on ones where I have strong opinions. Friday’s card, for my money, is far more intriguing than Saturday’s, and I’m looking forward to getting things rolling and hopefully setting us up for more success over the weekend. Let’s dive in, shall we?

RACE #1: We’re bringing some firepower right off the bat. #4 TRIPLE TAP is American Pharoah’s younger half-brother, and he’s been on the sidelines since an impressive first-out score in March at Santa Anita. He’s been working very well, and I think he’s well-meant, but I also think the likely race shape may be kind to others. There’s a lot of other speed in this event, and as a result, I’d advise you to use two closers in your exotics tickets.

#2 I’LL STAND TALLER has rounded into form for Doug O’Neill. He’s won two of his last three starts, and the race shape in his most recent effort didn’t set up for a closer. He’s a Cal-bred stepping up into open company, but his connections saw fit to run him in two stakes races earlier this year, and perhaps he’s just getting better as he gets older.

I’ll also get a little crazy and include #8 EL DIABLO ROJO, whose record looks far better if you toss the turf races. I’m not entirely sure why he’s been running on it, since it’s clear he’s better on dirt, and he has back form from early-2021 that would make him dangerous at a price.

RACE #2: I don’t find the Qatar Golden Mile nearly as appealing. Likely favorite #8 READY TO PURRFORM looms large off of an impressive win in a similar spot at Laurel, and the most appealing alternative will be the likely second choice, #3 DEGREE OF RISK. That one exits a decent third in the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine and adds both blinkers and Flavien Prat.

RACE #3: One of my strongest opinions of the undercard is here, in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies. It looks like a fantastic betting race if you have one of those, and I like a runner enough to single her in multi-race exotics.

#9 VIVACIOUS VANESSA ran exceptionally well in her debut. Gary Mandella’s first-time starters aren’t usually fully-cranked, and going two turns at first asking isn’t easy to do. However, she broke slowly, uncorked a big rally, and won going away. The fast pace did help her that day, but that’s not the kind of effort that can simply be chalked up to a race falling apart.

Vivacious Vanessa goes turf to dirt here, and the dirt works tell me she’ll take to the new surface just fine. I think there’s plenty of pace signed on to set up for the way she wants to run, and if she wins, it’ll provide a nice stake for the rest of the weekend.

RACE #4: The Ken Maddy is a grass grab bag with a 10-horse field, and many of these fillies and mares have shown plenty of talent. #8 SUPERSTITION loves Del Mar and doesn’t need the lead, which are both good things. She’s not a bad favorite, but she also doesn’t tower over this group, and I think there are two others worthy of consideration.

#1 HEAR MY PRAYER is probably my other “A horse” in multi-race exotics. She’s run just once since February, but that was a winning effort at this route, and she’s been training lights-out at Santa Anita ahead of this event. Given the layoff lines, it’s safe to assume she’s had her issues, but when she’s right, she’s very fast.

I’ll also have some saver tickets with #5 TIME LIMIT, who gets a significant class test but hasn’t run a poor race on turf. She’s got plenty of early zip, but showed she can rate a bit in two wins at Saratoga. One of those wins was over a very good turf sprinter named Risky Mischief, who’s run some fast races and wouldn’t have been out-of-place in this race. Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride for Mike Maker, and we’ll likely be assured a square price on a very nice horse.

RACE #5: The brother race to the third event of the day, the Golden State Juvenile for 2-year-old colts has drawn another big field. I do have a lean here, and while it’s not strong enough to single the horse on all tickets, it’s probably a “lone A” situation.

#11 SLOW DOWN ANDY won his debut like a very good horse. He cruised home clear by nearly five lengths, and that day’s runner-up (#10 MOOSE MITCHELL) came right back to win at next asking. Doug O’Neill’s first-time starters aren’t always fully-cranked, but when this barn gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there. I don’t know if we’ll get 5-1, but I also don’t think he’ll be favored, so we should get a little bit of value.

If Slow Down Andy doesn’t win, I’m not quite sure who does. #1 JOKER BOY will likely be favored, but I just don’t think he beat much in his two wins earlier this year. The bigger price that intrigues me is #4 BILLY’S BET, who led at every call in a five-furlong turf sprint and gets a big class test for a small barn. For a 2-year-old sprint, there isn’t a metric ton of early speed signed on, so maybe he’ll get comfortable and give the field something to think about turning for home.

RACE #6: And now we punch the accelerator, because this is the first Breeders’ Cup race of the day. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint has attracted plenty of speedy, precocious 2-year-olds that will go five furlongs. Traditionally in these races, speed is king, but there’s so much of it signed on that I need to back a closer, and there’s one in here I really like.

#7 ARMOR had nowhere to go most of the way last time out in a Group 1. Still, once he finally got a seam, he finished very nicely and was beaten less than a length by multiple Group 1 winner Perfect Power. Perfect Power would almost certainly be favored in this spot had he shipped over, so it’s tough to see a narrow loss to that rival as a bad thing.

Between his back class and the likely race shape, I think there’s a ton to like here. I don’t think we’ll get the 6-1 morning line, but 9/2 and up would hit me as a pretty fair value. If you’re looking for a closer at an even bigger price, #11 DERRYNANE’s two-back clunker over a boggy turf course is a total throw-out. Her score at Woodbine was excellent, and while the post is awful, she’s got enough talent to where I’ll still be alive on a few tickets if she pops at a price. Having said that, Armor is the heavier lean.

RACE #7: It stinks that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies only drew six horses. Having said that, it’s headed by the flashy #6 ECHO ZULU, who’s 3-for-3 and has never been truly tested.

On one hand, I’m not crazy about betting a horse, as the favorite, doing something it’s never done before (hi, Harvey Pack!). On the other, she’s bred up and down to get better as the distances get longer. She’s by Gun Runner, out of a Menifee mare, and sure looks like the controlling speed. This race won’t get much of my money, as I think the favorite is legitimate and the field size is too short for vertical exotics to pay much.

RACE #8: I’ve got a play here in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I don’t think there’s much in the way of early speed signed on, and I think a filly stretching out in distance for a top-class barn will sit an ideal trip.

#5 BUBBLE ROCK broke her maiden like a very good horse two starts ago at Saratoga. She finished powerfully, which is no shock since she’s bred to go much longer than that 5 1/2-furlong route. She’s since added a win in the Matron, and while that was more workmanlike than I anticipated, I think it’s entirely possible she just bounced off of her big performance prior to that. She’s shown sprinter speed, and she’s bred to go two turns. Her second dam is a multiple stakes-winner going two turns, and her dam is a half to Blue Chipper, who ran third in the Dirt Mile a few years ago.

Maybe Bubble Rock turns out to just be a sprinter, or maybe she peaked too early in the season. However, at her 8-1 morning line price, I’ll absolutely pay to find out. She’ll be a “separator single” for me on at least a few of my tickets, and while I respect the likes of #11 HAUGHTY and #13 MISE EN SCENE, Bubble Rock would be a day-maker if she runs like I think she can.

RACE #9: I was looking forward to this race a lot more before the scratch of #1 JACK CHRISTOPHER. I didn’t like him, I thought he was a beatable favorite, and I thought his presence would help set things up for a closer.

Now that he’s out, I don’t know what to think. Bob Baffert has three runners in here, including #12 CORNICHE, who will likely assume the favorite’s role. I actually think #9 PINEHURST has some appeal given his two-turn pedigree and a recent stretch of excellent workouts, but he hasn’t yet shown that he can rate.

I’ll use both of those as well as a pair of runners from the Todd Pletcher barn. #10 COMMANDPERFORMANCE sure seems like a wise guy horse, given how many people on horse racing Twitter seem to love him, but there’s no doubt he made up a lot of ground in the Champagne. I’m also intrigued by #5 DOUBLE THUNDER, who’s bred to run all day and has been taking steps forward with each start. These two would benefit from a pace meltdown, as well as a scenario where the Baffert runners just aren’t that special.

RACE #10: In my opinion, they saved the most puzzling Breeders’ Cup race for last. The Juvenile Turf features several well-meant runners from Europe, and those would be my two “A horses,” but there are two Americans that intrigue me a bit, too.

Charles Appleby has a very powerful hand here. He trains #1 MODERN GAMES and #2 ALBAHR, and they’ve combined to win seven of 10 races with just one off-the-board finish (Modern Games was fifth in his debut). Neither would surprise me, though I’d probably give the slight edge to Modern Games, whose Group 3 win at Newmarket last time out was excellent.

Of the Americans, I prefer #4 TIZ THE BOMB, who has won three straight and has shown some versatility in his two recent stakes wins. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was fairly close to a soft pace, which might be set by the other horse I have my eye on, #10 PORTFOLIO COMPANY. I’m not crazy about him having set a very slow pace last time and still getting beat, but I think he’ll be the controlling early speed in here, and the presence of Flavien Prat is encouraging.

NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Nov. 1, 2020 (Week Eight)

I know you’re probably here for football, but I need to give a few cheap plugs for stuff I’ll be doing this week. We’re less than a week from the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can create some cool content and help others do the same.

We’ll be doing two episodes of “Champagne and J.D.” this week. Ren Carothers will join us Wednesday to preview the Friday slate, while Nick Hines will return for his second appearance to discuss the Saturday program. I’m proud to call both Ren and Nick friends of mine, and I’ve learned a great deal from them. You won’t want to miss this, so head to the “Champagne and J.D.” YouTube channel and hit the “subscribe” button.

I’ll also be part of Gino Buccola’s Murderer’s Row-ish lineup of guests on his podcast, “That’s What G Said.” Darin Zoccali and I will join Gino to talk about the Turf and Filly and Mare Turf, and given some of our past episodes where we’ve dived into fields and wagering strategies, this’ll be even more good stuff for you to sink your teeth into ahead of racing’s year-end championship event.

Anyway, on to the week eight slate of NFL picks, plays, and daily fantasy players to watch! Last week was another good one, as a 3-1 mark moved me to 19-8-1 on the season. As usual, point spreads and totals are courtesy of America’s Line, and daily fantasy costs are courtesy of DraftKings. Let’s get to it!

PICKS/PLAYS

Titans/Bengals: OVER 51

I’m really looking forward to watching this one, for a lot of reasons. These are two offenses that can put up a lot of points, and I think the public might be sleeping on that fact just a bit. The total opened at 52.5 and has actually drifted down a bit, which surprises me.

The Titans did just record their first loss of the season against Pittsburgh, but they still put up 24 points against a top-tier defense. Meanwhile, the Bengals have gone over the total in three of their last four games and have positively crushed the number each of the last two weeks. They’ll likely be playing from behind, and I think that could set things up for a shootout (more on that in the DFS section).

51 seems too low. With 31-20 being a push, this is probably my best bet of the weekend, and I’m hoping for carnage.

Bills -4.5 over Patriots

Given the way San Francisco took New England behind the woodshed last weekend, I’m stunned the line is this low. Honestly, I think a big reason for that is the New England stigma in the AFC East. Take that fact out of the equation, and this hits me as two or three points too low.

Buffalo did not look good last week, when they had to come from behind to beat the woeful Jets. With that said, New England will be without Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore for this game, and I simply don’t think they’ve got the firepower to keep up with Josh Allen and company. This hits me as a 24-14 sort of game, which would be a comfortable cover for Buffalo.

Seahawks -3 over 49ers

This is the contest many are seeing as the game of the week, and for good reason. These two NFC West rivals are loaded with talent, and the last three meetings between these two teams have been decided by a total of 11 points.

My question: Are George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk enough to match Russell Wilson and company? I simply don’t think so. Perhaps Kyle Shanahan has fun stuff cooked up, but this game looks to be a high-scoring one, and Seattle just seems to have far more weapons. It doesn’t surprise me that the spread is narrow, and it’s not like it’d be shocking if San Francisco covered or even won outright, but give me the Seahawks in what seems like a 38-31 kind of game.

Bucs -12.5 over Giants

No two ways around it, gang: The Giants are bad. They’re not historically bad, like their fellow MetLife Stadium residents, but they’re bad, and I just cannot see a way in which this one is even remotely close.

Tom Brady has the Tampa Bay offense humming right now, and the Bucs defense is a top-10 unit that’s second-best in the entire league against the run. Add in the friendlier-than-expected spread, which I’d anticipated being 14 or 15 points, and I’ll gladly back the Bucs in this Monday night tilt.

DAILY FANTASY PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Tyler Boyd, CIN ($6,600)
QB Joe Burrow, CIN ($6,200)
WR A.J. Green, CIN ($4,500)

Need an economical mini-stack that may not draw much attention? Consider Cincinnati, which will likely be throwing early and often against the Titans. Burrow has thrown for 300 yards or more in five of his last six games, and while Boyd has drawn most of the targets, Green stepped up with a big game last week, one that indicates he could finally be rounding back into form.

If you want to bet on the Bengals even more, running back Giovani Bernard is available for a reasonable price tag as well ($5,800). However, my biggest bet is on the Cincinnati passing attack, one that I’m hoping holds up its end of the bargain in a shootout.

WR Brandon Aiyuk, SF ($5,800)

Aiyuk doesn’t touch the ball much, but when he does, he’s a threat to take it the distance from wherever he is on the field. That’s a recipe for success against a Seattle defense that’s every bit as poor as the team’s offense is sharp. I think he’ll have several opportunities at big plays in a game where San Francisco will need as many of them as they can get, and he only needs to convert on one or two to make this modest price tag a bargain.

TE Darren Waller, LV ($5,600)

I usually don’t like to splurge on the tight end position, and this is a bit more than I’d prefer to spend. However, Waller, one of last year’s revelations, is reasserting himself as one of the league’s top weapons at the tight end spot. He’s been targeted 16 times over his last two games and has scored in each of those contests, which is appealing enough. Add in that the Raiders are playing Cleveland, whose defense is one of the worst in the league against tight ends, and I think there’s a lot that says Waller will have another big game Sunday.

Green Bay Packers DEF ($2,900)

On paper, Minnesota’s offense looks quite good. However, I think their numbers are a bit inflated after high-scoring games against the Falcons, Seahawks, and Texans, three defenses who have been exploited by many teams so far this year.

Green Bay’s defense has, for the most part, been a solid, if unspectacular, unit to this point in the season. They looked strong in holding Houston to 20 points a week ago, and held Atlanta to 16 earlier this month. At this price, I’m buying a lot of shares and using the savings on other positions.

2019 BREEDERS’ CUP: Saturday Analysis and Selections

It’s Breeders’ Cup time, which means it may as well be Christmas morning for handicappers. Two days of full fields comprised of some of the fastest horses on the planet, many of which will win or run well at big prices, is pretty much all we can ask for as horseplayers, and I’m really excited to dive in.

I’ve done a lot of handicapping elsewhere for Friday’s card. I’m proud to dissect a lot of 2-year-old races for Oddschecker US, and I wrote up quick summaries of all five Breeders’ Cup races over there. Additionally, I did a few videos for The Daily Racing Form, where I offered Pick Five analysis and a look at my top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

However, my analysis for each of the Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday is all below. In addition, there’s another race on the undercard I’m very interested in, and I’ll look at that race as well. As I said on Twitter, this is as much work as I’ll do all year long outside of Saratoga season, but I absolutely love it, and I’m grateful to have an audience that enjoys reading my stuff.

Enough talk; let’s get to it!

RACE #3: Grade 2 Twilight Derby

I’ll never understand why Santa Anita opted to run the Twilight Derby at 11:17 am local time, but alas, here we are. This race came up salty for the level given the restricted condition (it’s only for 3-year-olds), but I think the pace scenario sets up perfectly for one of these runners.

#9 KINGLY has a lot of early speed, and that’s not a trait shared by many other runners in this field. He was last seen in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile, where he was beaten just a neck by older foes after setting a fast pace. He should not have to go nearly as quickly early on in here, and if he gets brave on the front end, I think he’ll be very tough to catch.

Kingly’s 5-1 on the morning line, and I think that’s an overlay. My hope is that he’ll dictate terms early and have plenty left late, and if he gets home, my day will get off to a flying start.

RACE #4: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

The first Breeders’ Cup race of the day is one that carries plenty of Eclipse Award ramifications. #1 COVFEFE could very well lock up Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors with a win in this race, and she’s logical. Her efforts going seven furlongs have been incredibly sharp, and given her two victories ahead of this event, it can be argued she’s never been better.

However, the rail draw is certainly a concern. She has speed, but the rivals directly to her outside aren’t slow. If she doesn’t break perfectly, she could be in big trouble, and for that reason, she isn’t my top pick.

That distinction goes to #4 COME DANCING, the race’s likely second choice. She’s won four of her last six starts, and the two losses came to top-quality foes Marley’s Freedom and Midnight Bisou (neither of which shows up here). Unlike several of her foes, she does not need the lead in order to win. She could sit a picture-perfect trip beneath Javier Castellano, and I think she’ll have first run on the tiring pacesetters turning for home.

Underneath those two, #6 BELLAFINA and #9 SPICED PERFECTION both make sense. I’ll also throw in #5 LADY NINJA, who has won five of her last seven starts and would also benefit from a pace meltdown. She’ll be a price, and if you’re looking for a longshot to throw in, I think she’s the one to use.

RACE #5: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Much like the race before it, there’s a lot of early speed signed on here. It certainly seems like they’re going to go very, very quickly out of the gate, which should benefit those who do their best running late.

#10 EDDIE HASKELL fits the bill, and he’s my top pick. He loves this route of ground, and while he has a powerful late kick, he’s also got enough tactical speed to not be too far back. Joel Rosario should have plenty left late, and if he can save some ground from a difficult (but not impossible) post, he should be pretty formidable.

The other intriguing closer is #5 STUBBINS, who comes in off a win in the Grade 2 Woodford at Keeneland. He hits me as a 3-year-old hitting his best stride late in the year, and the presence of Flavien Prat is a plus. The faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be, and at his likely price, I absolutely have to use him.

On wider tickets, I’ll also use #6 STORMY LIBERAL, who won this race a season ago but hasn’t found the winner’s circle since. However, the rider switch to John Velazquez is noteworthy, and he’s another who does not need the lead in order to run well. In a race with tons of early zip, that’s valuable, and while he may be past his peak, it’s not like improvement isn’t out of the question.

RACE #6: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

I’d love to tell you that I can find a reason to go against #5 OMAHA BEACH, but I can’t do it. He had every excuse to run a clunker in his comeback race, and he instead outdueled Shancelot to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. We know he can handle two turns, and judging by his recent bullet workout over this surface, he may be coming into this race better than he’s ever been.

I respect #2 IMPROBABLE and #4 MR. MONEY. However, Omaha Beach beat the former earlier this year, and the latter would definitely need to take a step up from a figure standpoint. With all of this in mind, I’ll happily single Omaha Beach in multi-race exotics and spread elsewhere.

RACE #7: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf

Unfortunately, this race took a hit when Magical didn’t ship in with the rest of the European contingent. After that defection, #2 SISTERCHARLIE towers over the field and seems to be in great position to record her seventh consecutive victory.

The question is, how do we make money when the favorite appears legitimate? I’m going to key her in exactas with several bigger prices. #1 IRIDESSA won a Group 1 at this distance earlier this year, #8 CASTLE LADY may have needed her run in the Grade 1 QE2 at Keeneland, and #12 FANNY LOGAN has won four in a row, gets Lasix for the first time, and is 5-for-5 at this distance.

If Sistercharlie wins, I’ll likely still make a few bucks. However, if she runs second to one of the horses I’ve used, I stand to connect on a nice score.

RACE #8: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint

If #4 MITOLE wins, he may very well have a case for Horse of the Year honors. A win would give him six victories in seven starts on the season, with four Grade 1 triumphs ranging in distances from six furlongs to a mile. He’s had a great year, and he merits respect, but while I’m using him, he’s not my top pick.

The only time Mitole locked up with #9 IMPERIAL HINT was in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt. That day, Imperial Hint won by four lengths and set a new track record at Saratoga. Mitole bounced back with a win in the Grade 1 Forego, but Imperial Hint also added a Grade 1 win of his own in the Vosburgh.

I think these two are pretty equal, but Imperial Hint will likely be twice the price. With that in mind, give me that one and the potential for a bigger payoff.

If you’re looking for a longshot to use in the exotics, I’d recommend #7 WHITMORE, who ran very well in his comeback race at Keeneland. He stumbled at the start and was forced to race very wide, but he rallied to be beaten just a half-length. There’s plenty of early speed in here, and if he steps forward off of that performance, he could absolutely hit the board at a big price.

RACE #9: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile

Every year, the Mile seems like a true grass grab bag. This renewal is no exception, and despite the presence of #6 GOT STORMY and #11 UNI, a European runner may very well go favored.

That’s #9 CIRCUS MAXIMUS, a two-time Group 1 winner from the barn of Aidan O’Brien. His form is already top-notch, and he’s getting Lasix for the first time, which can’t be ignored. It’s not an easy race to handicap, and it’ll be worth seeing how he’s warming up prior to the race, but I think his best effort would make him tough to beat.

Got Stormy and Uni could both win, but there are red flags with both runners. The former hung badly in the Woodbine Mile without any apparent excuse, and the latter drew a poor post that could cause her to lose ground. Both could win, I suppose, but I think there’s more money to be made betting against them than betting on them.

In addition to Circus Maximus, I’ll also use #1 SUEDOIS, #2 LUCULLAN, and #13 HEY GAMAN. Suedois didn’t have a great trip when third in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and has shown plenty of talent, while Lucullan is in career-best form and Hey Gaman gets the firm ground he prefers while also adding Lasix for the first time.

RACE #10: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Remember the Dirt Mile, where I said I wish I could find a reason to go against Omaha Beach? Substitute #4 MIDNIGHT BISOU, and you have my preview of the Distaff. Simply put, she looks head and shoulders above the rest in here, and she’s my best bet of the entire card.

I’m going to channel former TVG colleague Dave Weaver with my wagering strategy here, which involves an “ice cold” exacta. I’ll use Midnight Bisou on top of #6 WOW CAT, who may be rounding back into form in her fourth start of the season. Wow Cat was the best of the rest behind Midnight Bisou in the Grade 2 Beldame, and she was a fast-closing second in this race a season ago. If they go quickly early on, that will bode well for her chances to hit the board at a big price here.

RACE #11: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf

Here’s the big question, perhaps the biggest of Breeders’ Cup weekend: Can #9 BRICKS AND MORTAR get a mile and a half? If he can, he’ll likely win and sew up Horse of the Year honors with his fifth Grade 1 win of the year. If he can’t, my inclination is that one of two European runners will capitalize.

#5 ANTHONY VAN DYCK has been pointed to this race for a while, and for good reason. This year’s Epsom Derby winner was most recently third behind Magical in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, and if you draw a line through his two-back effort at Ascot over softer going, he hasn’t run a bad race all year. I think he’s matured, and that he’s the horse to beat given his proven ability to get this distance.

Meanwhile, #10 OLD PERSIAN came to North America and rolled to an easy win in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Most notably, he won the $6 million Sheema Classic in Dubai earlier this year, and his best race could absolutely be good enough to beat this group. Can he fire that shot if Bricks and Mortar gets the distance? That’s a good question.

RACE #12: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic

I haven’t been shy about voicing my opinion of this race on Twitter, and I’ll do it again here. Simply put, this race just doesn’t excite me as much as it has in past years. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make money; quite the opposite, actually, as I’m not sold on a few horses that may get action at the windows.

#10 VINO ROSSO was the victim of what I felt was a horrible DQ in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. I don’t think #11 CODE OF HONOR was ever getting by, and because of that, the DQ ensured the best horse didn’t win. Vino Rosso gets another crack at that one here, and he gets it going a route of ground he won at earlier this year. He’s worked well coming into this race, and he’s my reluctant top pick.

#8 MCKINZIE may go favored, and #6 ELATE and Code of Honor will take money as well. I could see any of these horses winning, but I’ll be leaning heavier on #5 YOSHIDA. I think there’s enough pace in here to set up for his late kick, and the presence of Hall of Famer Mike Smith is a big, big plus.

2018 BREEDERS’ CUP: Saturday Analysis, Selections, Betting Strategies, and Tickets

The 2018 Breeders’ Cup is upon us. While Friday’s program features races for 2-year-olds, Saturday’s slate focuses on older horses, and is headlined by the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. World-class horses like Enable, Monomoy Girl, Abel Tasman, Accelerate, and others will be in action, and each race brings with it plenty of potential to make some money.

If you didn’t see my write-up of Friday’s card, it’s available here. This will follow the same template, as I’ll give A, B, and C horses, expound with some analysis, and provide tips for betting each individual race on a $20ish budget. At the end, I’ll dive into the multi-race exotics sequences and offer a few tickets for wagers that are likely to boast pools of several million dollars.

It’s a great betting program, and there’s a lot to decipher, so let’s get to it!

BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY AND MARE SPRINT

A’s: 13
B’s: 5,10
C’s: 8,11,14

We’ll start off the day with a favorite that seems very imposing on paper, for a variety of different reasons. It’s not exciting, and starting off with an 8/5 shot that will likely drift down towards even money won’t win me any awards for bravery, but #13 MARLEY’S FREEDOM seems much the best and should be bet as such.

Let’s approach this from a variety of different angles. Marley’s Freedom has won four in a row, and in that stretch, she hasn’t seriously been tested. Bob Baffert has her in career-best form, and the recent bullet workout indicates she’s fully loaded for this race. Furthermore, there appears to be a lot of speed signed on, and that should set up for this one’s closing kick. The outside draw is cushy, and while it wouldn’t necessarily be shocking if she lost, it would be a mild surprise.

If Marley’s Freedom doesn’t win, I don’t have a clue who does. I’m taking the stand that the race sets up for a closer, and because of that, my two B horses are ones that don’t need the lead. #5 GOLDEN MISCHIEF has won three in a row and turned in a very strong workout on Sunday (the best of 113 at the distance), while #10 HIGHWAY STAR is a closer that would benefit from the likely pace scenario. That one seems a cut below my top two choices, but if they go :44 for the opening half-mile, Jose Ortiz will be smiling widely aboard this consistent mare.

Two of my C horses are speed horses that need a lot to go right, but could hang on for a share. #8 MIA MISCHIEF has finished worse than second just once in 10 career starts, while #11 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM loves Churchill Downs and may have bounced last time out. Having said that, both need the lead to run their best, and the latter has misfired twice in her last three outings. I’ll also lightly use 20-1 shot #14 SHAMROCK ROSE, who capitalized when the Grade 2 Raven Run fell apart. The quick turnaround isn’t ideal, but she could get that race shape again, and if you’re playing tri’s and supers, she may be worth throwing on the bottom rungs of those wagers.

Betting on a Budget

I’ll key the chalk on top of my two B horses in exactas. Ideally, I’d like to key Marley’s Freedom in doubles, but the Turf Sprint is an absolute mess, so I’m trying to steer far clear of it.

$10 exactas: 13 with 5,10 ($20)

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT

A’s: 14
B’s: 7,9,10
C’s: 2,4,5

Good freaking luck, folks! I found the Turf Sprint to be the toughest race of the entire Breeders’ Cup program, and there’s a real chance that I’m passing this race if the tote board isn’t displaying odds I like on my top choice.

I hate the post position #14 CONQUEST TSUNAMI drew, but he certainly looks like the controlling speed in this race. #11 WORLD OF TROUBLE has speed, to be sure, but Conquest Tsunami is lightning quick and cuts back to a distance that should be more to his liking. His only poor race for trainer Peter Miller was going much further than he wanted to, and if he can clear the field (which I think he can), I think he’s got a big, big shot.

If he doesn’t clear the field…well, then it’s anyone’s guess who wins. The two morning line favorites, #5 DISCO PARTNER and #9 STORMY LIBERAL, both have a history of not running as well outside of their home states (though the latter ran very, very well in Dubai earlier this year, his duds at Belmont and Hong Kong can’t just be ignored).

Stormy Liberal is a B horse for me, as are two European invaders that are prices on the morning line. #7 LOST TREASURE has hit another gear late in his 3-year-old season, as he’s put up three straight Timeform Ratings of 112 or higher coming into this race. Meanwhile, #10 HAVANA GREY would move way up if this race was contested over soft going (which seems likely). His form over firmer going is no great shakes, but he won a Group 1 over yielding ground at The Curragh two back and gets Lasix. Both Euros are 20-1 morning line, and while I think they’ll both drift down, anything 15-1 or higher would hit me as an overlay.

Disco Partner is one of three C horses. The second is #2 BUCCHERO, a consistent, hard-knocking sort that’s very easy to root for. He may be a cut below the top tier, but he always tries hard and is usually going the right way late. Finally, I’ll include #4 VISION PERFECT, strictly because Jason Servis is one of the top trainers in the country when it comes to turf sprints. He hits with 33% of such runners, and Javier Castellano’s presence can’t be ignored (especially considering he doesn’t ride much for this outfit).

Betting on a Budget

Conquest Tsunami is 6-1 on the morning line, and that seems fair. Anything above 9/2 would make him an OK win/place play, and 8-1 or higher would be a significant overlay. If not, I’m likely passing the race.

$5 win/place: 14 (conditional on him being 9/2 or higher)

BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE

A’s: 1
B’s: 10
C’s: 6,9

Like many, I’m seeing the Dirt Mile as a two-horse race between #1 CITY OF LIGHT and #10 CATALINA CRUISER. The former is the only horse to top Accelerate to this point in the year, but comes in off of two straight defeats. The latter, meanwhile, is a perfect 4-for-4, and was last seen running away from a pair of Grade 2 fields at Del Mar this summer.

I’m siding with City of Light. The most damning reason is a statistic that will be cited ad nauseum between now and Saturday: Trainer John Sadler is 0 for 41 with Breeders’ Cup runners. To be fair, he had a few tough beats with Stellar Wind in the 2015 and 2016 Distaffs, but this isn’t an 0 for 7 or 0 for 8 stat. This is a significant sample size, and if I’ve got a reason to go against a Sadler trainee, I’m going to do it.

My thinking here is that Catalina Cruiser, as talented as he may be, hasn’t really beaten anyone. Yes, he beat Battle of Midway in the Pat O’Brien, but that one was making his first start since the 2017 Breeders’ Cup and absolutely needed the race. As Dirt Miles go, this race isn’t bad. City of Light is a two-time Grade 1 winner, and my two C horses exit what I feel was a live prep race (the Grade 3 Ack Ack at this route). Catalina Cruiser may be a freak, and I won’t be stunned if he beats me, but I’ll take slightly better odds on a horse that this distance should hit right between the eyes.

#6 SEEKING THE SOUL won the Ack Ack, and his connections were hoping he’d make the Classic. However, he wouldn’t have drawn in off the AE list, so they settled for running here. This is his favorite track, and he’d benefit from a fast pace. I also need to consider #9 GIANT EXPECTATIONS, who may have needed the Ack Ack coming off a six-month layoff. He has a tendency to find trouble, and that’s a red flag sometimes, but he could easily improve off of that effort, and his best would certainly be good enough to hit the board.

Betting on a Budget

I’ll key City of Light on top of trifectas that include my other horses underneath. Additionally, I’ll play a small, cold double singling both City of Light and a live longshot in the Filly and Mare Turf.

$3 trifectas: 1 with 6,9,10 with 6,9,10 ($18)
$5 double: 1 with 14 ($5)

BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY AND MARE TURF

A’s: 3,6,14
B’s: 10
C’s: N/A

I have very few hardcore tenets when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup, but this race emphasizes one of them: Never, ever, ever, ever bet against Frankie Dettori when he’s on a live turf horse.

Here, he rides #14 EZIYRA, who’s 15-1 on the morning line but may be considerably shorter come post time. She’s won four of her last five starts, and the lone defeat came in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, when she was third behind an all-world talent in Sea of Class. She’s never finished worse than third in 11 career starts, soft turf will not be a problem, she likes this distance, and she’s got arguably the best turf rider in the world on her. 15-1 would be a ridiculous overlay, and anything over 8-1 would be more than fair.

The other two A horses are the two likely favorites. #3 WILD ILLUSION is a three-time Group 1 winner, while #6 SISTERCHARLIE has flourished since coming to America last summer. She’s a head away from being undefeated this year, and while she does stretch out in distance a bit, she’s won going similar routes of ground overseas, so I don’t see it as an issue. These favorites are legitimate, and I think they’re both must-uses in any multi-race exotics ticket you come up with.

Aidan O’Brien can’t be ignored here, as he saddles possible third choice #10 MAGIC WAND. She hasn’t won in a while but has kept tremendous company, running in Group 1 races in five of her last six starts. Here’s what I don’t get, though. Three back, she was fifth in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. You know who was third that day? Eziyra. Eziyra is three times the price of Magic Wand on the morning line, and while a lot of that has to do with the O’Brien factor, it’s a ridiculous disparity. The bigger that is come post time, the more value this race has to this handicapper.

Betting on a Budget

I’ll box my top three horses in exactas and lean on Eziyra in a few other wagers. I’m splurging a bit compared to other races, but Eziyra is my price play of the weekend.

$2 exacta box: 3,6,14 ($12)
$1 exacta key box: 14 with 3,6,10 ($6)
$3 win/place: 14
$6 double: 14 with 5

BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT

A’s: 5
B’s: N/A
C’s: 1,8,9

This race houses one of the easiest horses in the country to root for. That’s #5 IMPERIAL HINT, who will likely be a pretty heavy favorite. A horse christened by many as “a little rocket ship,” he ran second in this race last year and has since won four of five starts. His last two have been brilliant victories in Grade 1 company, and it certainly seems like he would need to regress for another runner to win.

That’s not to say he can’t lose, though. If Imperial Hint takes a step back, a number of others could potentially pick up the pieces. If the track is fair, and if closers are making up ground, #1 WHITMORE has a big shot to capitalize on a favorable pace scenario. There’s an abundance of early speed (as there is in most renewals of this race), and while the rail draw isn’t ideal, if the frontrunners post a sub-:44 opening half-mile, that could set things up perfectly for this Grade 1-winning closer.

#9 ROY H won last year’s renewal of this race, and comes in off a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. His best effort could absolutely win this race, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s lost a step from his brilliant campaign a season ago. He does have the right running style to succeed here, as he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. Having said that, he may need to run back to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint effort to get the job done here, and in his first start at this track, off of a few races that weren’t his best, I’m not sure that’s in the cards.

The other horse I need to use in vertical exotics is #8 LIMOUSINE LIBERAL, who loves this strip and is another that could be going well late. He’s won six of eight local starts, and while he may not be quite as talented as some others in this field, he’s done his best running at Churchill Downs and will be a bit of a price. I don’t think he wins, but it wouldn’t shock me if he closed late for second or third at a nice number.

Betting on a Budget

I’m going to try to keep Roy H out of the top two, as an exacta involving the two favorites won’t pay much. I’ll key Imperial Hint on top in exactas with the other two horses I’m using, as they should be big enough prices to make the wager pay reasonably well.

$10 exactas: 5 with 1,8 ($20)

BREEDERS’ CUP MILE

A’s: 5,7,8
B’s: 2,14
C’s: 1,4,10,13

The Breeders’ Cup Mile has taken a number of hits to it this year. Most notably, several top European runners that were pointed to the event (Alpha Centauri and Laurens, to name two) did not ship, and the American group of milers has largely been pretty subpar.

This is good news for gamblers, though, as the assemblage of runners makes for a fascinating betting race. Whatever horse you like is going to be a square price, and if you’re right, you’ll be in line for a nice score.

The thing that jumped out at me, in looking at this race, is a real lack of early speed. #5 OSCAR PERFORMANCE has capitalized on a number of these scenarios in the past, and there’s a chance he’ll once again be gifted an easy lead early on. He’s shown he can’t be left alone on the front end, but it certainly doesn’t seem like many others want to be on or near the lead early. If there’s a concern here, it’s that he may not like give in the ground, but given that he won’t be a short price, that doesn’t scare me.

Remember my Frankie Dettori mantra? That’s part of the reason #7 EXPERT EYE is one of my top picks. He’s competed against some of the best milers in Europe this year and gets Lasix for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. While it’s a bit concerning that most of his best efforts have come at seven furlongs (not a mile), this isn’t the best Breeders’ Cup Mile field, and he’s certainly good enough to win. I like #8 I CAN FLY for similar reasons, as she’s coming off a tough beat at the hands of top European runner Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot. She’s another that gets Lasix in her first North American start, and she’s shown she can be effective over softer going, which is another big plus.

#2 NEXT SHARES seems to have realized his potential. After running second and third in a pair of Grade 1 events earlier this year, he’s won two in a row, and his win in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland was very good. I’m not sure he can repeat that type of performance, but he’s in career-best form, and that has to be respected to a certain extent. My other B horse is #14 MUSTASHRY, and I wanted to like him more than I do. He’s won five of his last seven starts and gets Lasix for Stoute, but the post is a killer and he’s clearly much better over firm ground than soft ground. If the turf course dries out, he’ll be a major player. If not, he’ll have a fair bit to overcome, despite what appears to be a world of talent.

Three of my four C horses are European runners. #1 ONE MASTER was a 47-1 upset winner of the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, while #4 POLYDREAM stretches out for Freddie Head of Goldikova fame and #13 GUSTAV KLIMT has spent most of his career earning minor awards in Group 1 races for Aidan O’Brien. Finally, #10 CATAPULT is a John Sadler trainee who’s won a pair of graded stakes races on the West Coast. It’s tough to be too enthusiastic about Sadler at this event given the previously-mentioned 0-for-41 mark, but he’s in career-best form and entering a wide-open race, so I couldn’t just ignore him.

Betting on a Budget

In multi-race wagers, I’m spreading. In vertical wagers, I’m gambling that Oscar Performance will get left alone and have every chance to earn his second Breeders’ Cup victory. I’ll use him in exactas above and below my A and B horses and hope I’m right.

$4 exactas: 5 with 2,7,8,14 ($16)
$2 exactas: 2,7,8,14 with 5 ($8)

BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF

A’s: 2
B’s: 10
C’s: 7,11

I’m supposed to see this race as a matchup between likely Champion 3-Year-Old Filly #10 MONOMOY GIRL and last year’s Eclipse Award winner, #2 ABEL TASMAN. I don’t. I respect Monomoy Girl and what she’s accomplished, but I love Abel Tasman in this spot, and I’m happy to explain why.

Yes, Abel Tasman’s run in the Grade 1 Zenyatta was absolutely horrible. With that in mind, though, a look at her running lines hints that something bigger was in play. She’s just 1 for 4 at Santa Anita, and the lone win was in an unremarkable maiden race. It’s a bit weird to say, but perhaps she just does not like Santa Anita as much as other tracks.

She needed her seasonal debut in the Grade 1 La Troienne, but her races two and three back were smashing. A return to that form would absolutely make her the one to beat, and it would make her 7/2 morning line price a significant overlay. Bluntly, I think she should be favored here, and I’ll be happy to plunk down my money if she isn’t.

I don’t even like Monomoy Girl for second in here. #10 BLUE PRIZE has gotten quite good, having won three in a row and four of her last five. She took an abrupt right turn in the stretch of the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland, but still held on to win that day beneath Joe Bravo, who rides her back in this race. She’s 3 for 5 at Churchill Downs, with two second-place finishes, and I don’t think she’s ever been better than she is right now.

My two C horses are the two 3-year-old fillies. Monomoy Girl merits respect. She’s never finished worse than second, she’s got plenty of tactical speed, and if she’s left alone, she could get brave. Meanwhile, #7 MIDNIGHT BISOU was put up to first in the Grade 1 Cotillion last time out and figures to be running well late. Having said all of that, I’m just not sold on the quality of this year’s group of 3-year-old fillies. #5 WONDER GADOT is seen as one of the top three or four in the division, and her two wins this year were both against restricted company in Canada. I suppose either of those two fillies could win, but if they do, a lot of my tickets will turn into confetti.

Betting on a Budget

This one’s pretty simple. While I’ll hedge a bit in my Pick Five ticket, from a single-race standpoint, I’m riding or dying with Abel Tasman and hoping that the Zenyatta was an isolated incident. I’ll play a cold double to my best bet of the afternoon, which should come as no surprise.

$20 double: 2 with 2

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF

A’s: 2
B’s: N/A
C’s: 12

We’ve come to my best bet of the weekend. It’s a popular one, and it’s not on a ridiculous price. In fact, #2 ENABLE may be the shortest price on the entire Breeders’ Cup program. Having said that, she is an extraordinary talent that provides star power to an event that desperately needs it, and I think she’ll be incredibly formidable in the Turf.

Enable has won back-to-back editions of the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the richest race in Europe. She’s done so over world-class groups that have included the likes of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner (#1 TALISMANIC), Sea of Class, and Ulysses (who would’ve been favored in last year’s renewal, but scratched the day of the race). No Arc winner has ever added this race, but she seems leaps and bounds better than this group, and she’d need to seriously regress in order for someone else to catch her.

The only horse that may be able to capitalize if this scenario unfolds, I think, is fellow European invader #12 WALDGEIST, who was beaten by a bit less than two lengths in the Arc. Before that, he had reeled off four consecutive wins in France, including one in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He’s run well over soft going in the past, and conditioner Andre Fabre is no stranger to success on this stage.

Betting on a Budget

I’ll channel former TVG colleague Dave Weaver and put together an ice-cold exacta in an attempt to get some value out of Enable.

$20 exacta: 2 with 12

BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

A’s: 1,6,7
B’s: 3,10,11
C’s: 4,9

I’m saving my biggest stand of the weekend for the weekend’s biggest race. This is the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, and I’ve mentioned eight horses without talking about #14 ACCELERATE, the race’s 5/2 morning line favorite.

I respect what Accelerate’s done to this point in the year. However, I have major questions about the fields he’s beaten. The older horse division in Southern California has been sorely lacking in talent all year long. Yes, he beat #7 WEST COAST in the Grade 1 Awesome Again, but that was West Coast’s first start in six months, and by trainer Bob Baffert’s own admission, he didn’t have the horse fully cranked for that race. Am I supposed to be excited by wins over Mubtaahij, #8 PAVEL, and a running-way-too-far City of Light? Add in Sadler’s putrid record at this event, plus Accelerate’s inexplicable no-show in last year’s Dirt Mile (which, I may add, was contested at his favorite track), and I’ll happily try to beat him.

I understand this may be completely unexpected, but Bob Baffert has a powerful hand in the Classic. Now that you’ve all picked your jaws up off the floor following that stunning revelation, let’s look at #6 MCKINZIE and #7 WEST COAST. Both can win, though I prefer the latter since he’s shown he can run well at this distance. They’ll likely be this race’s second and third choices in some order, and justifiably so.

My other A horse is this race’s ultimate wild card. We all remember #1 THUNDER SNOW doing his impression of an angry bull at a rodeo during the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and when he’s bad, he’s REALLY bad. When he’s good, though, he’s one of the best horses in training. He may have ridden a track bias to his smashing score in the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup, but he’s also a Group 1 winner on turf, and he showed some flexibility when second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. At his likely price, I need him on my tickets.

#3 CATHOLIC BOY is an interesting case. He was terrific when smashing the field in the Grade 1 Travers, and by all accounts, he’s looked strong in the mornings. I’m not quite sure he’s fast enough to contend with my top three, but he’s in strong form, and at least we know he can get the distance. That last tidbit isn’t necessarily the case with regard to #10 YOSHIDA and #11 MIND YOUR BISCUITS, who both come into this race off of sharp wins at a mile and an eighth but are unproven beyond that route. Talent isn’t the question with regard to these horses. It’s strictly a matter of if they’ll get the distance, or if their closing kicks will be dulled a bit by the extra eighth of a mile.

My two C horses are fun ones to root for. #4 GUNNEVERA was a late-running second behind Yoshida in the Woodward, and the faster they go early, the more he’ll like it. That’s in stark contrast to #9 MENDELSSOHN, the well-traveled Aidan O’Brien trainee who held on for third despite pressing a ridiculously-fast pace in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was also second to Catholic Boy in the Travers, and it’s not inconceivable to think he’ll be the one they have to run down going into the far turn. How far he may be in contention after that, though, is anyone’s guess.

Betting on a Budget

No Accelerate for me, but the question is, how does one try to beat the favorite? I’m going to box my top three picks in exactas, and because he’ll likely be the biggest price of the trio, I’ll have a small win-place bet on Thunder Snow. Between this and all my multi-race exotics tickets that will not have Accelerate on them, if he loses, I want to be in position to make money.

$4 exacta box: 1,6,7 ($24)
$3 win/place: 1 ($6)

MULTI-RACE EXOTICS

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #4

R4: 2,4,5,7,9,10,14
R5: 1,10
R6: 3,6,10,14
R7: 5

56 Bets, $28

Spread, two-horse race, mini-spread (with my top pick being a 15-1 shot), then Imperial Hint to finish it out. Of the multi-race tickets I intend to play, this isn’t the one I’m most excited about, but if we get a price or two home in the first and/or third legs, this could still provide an OK return.

$2 Pick Six: Race #6

R6: 3,6,14
R7: 5
R8: 2,5,7,8,14
R9: 2
R10: 2
R11: 1,3,6,7

60 Bets, $120

I don’t usually play Pick Six tickets, simply because my fairly-small budget doesn’t allow for them. Having said that, this is a fairly economical ticket with three singles (two of heavy favorites, one of 7/2 second choice Abel Tasman) and a few “spread” races. If you’re a Pick Six player on a budget, or a group that wants a ticket they can split X different ways, this is the one I’d suggest.

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #7

R7: 5
R8: 2,5,7,8,14
R9: 2,7,10,11
R10: 2
R11: 1,3,6,7

80 Bets, $40

My two singles will be popular. My hope is that we’ll knock out some tickets in my spread races. Note that I did go a bit deeper in the Distaff on this ticket. This is simply because only going five-deep in the Mile gives me a bit of budgetary room.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: ALL
R9: 2
R10: 2
R11: 1,3,6,7,10,11

84 Bets, $42

Simply put, if this goes big price, Abel Tasman, Enable, logical horse that isn’t Accelerate, this has the potential to pay big money. I’m six-deep without the favorite in the final leg, so if I’m alive, chances are it’ll be to a nice chunk of change (provided we can beat the favorite with a mid-priced alternative).