Make no mistake, picking winners at the Breeders' Cup races is difficult. It features the best of the best, and in most of the races the horses are all within a length or so of each other talent wise, which makes it a crapshoot. Throw in the track surface, which many of these have never tried, and it's a lot like throwing darts.
But it's a great time to throw those darts. The big fields, huge mutuel pools and monster payoffs make it worth the gamble.
So get over your Halloween hangover and hit one of the local tracks today or tomorrow and take some swings. Sam Houston Race Park has a great setup for Breeders' Cup day. If you are down South, Gulf Greyhound Park has all the races. And for our friends in the Beaumont and Golden Triangle area, it's a quick skip to Delta Downs in Vinton, La.
For the most part, I will be swinging for the pick threes and trifectas. It will be an all or nothing type strategy designed to pull down some big scores. If you like a particular horse, don't let me talk you out of it. I've watched all the preps and have chosen my plays based on that, but that doesn't always translate on Cup day. I'll offer an analysis of each race more in terms of where to look for big prices and where to be conservative.
So here we go...
BC Marathon: Most of these horses have never tried running this far, which is why Argentinian distance specialist EVER RIDER figures to get a lot of play. He'll have no problems with the distance, but he might not be good enough to beat some of these. I'll be playing my wagers around WORLDLY, POOL PLAY and LONDON BRIDGE. WORLDLY comes off two nice efforts, one behind the defending Classic champ, and he's very well bred out of A.P. Indy and should get the trip. POOL PLAY is an old class horse, and LONDON BRIDGE is a European who ran well on synthetics early in his career.
The picks: 10-7-9-4. Other horses we will use: 1.
BC Juvenile Turf: This is where I usually focus on the European horses, and this year is no exception. GIOVANI BOLDINI, OUTSTRIP, WILSHIRE BOULEVARD all figure. BOBBY'S KITTEN looks like the best of the Americans. We'll also include massive long shot ALL CASH on some tickets as well.
The picks: 9-2-5-4. Other horses we will use: 1, 7, 12
BC Dirt Mile: Not expecting a boxcar price here, as solid horses like GOLDENCENTS and PANTS ON FIRE figure to be tough. VERRAZANO either wins for fun or doesn't show up. For potential trifecta long shots, look inside to TAPTOWNE, GOLDEN TICKET AND HYMN BOOK. I'll also use BROADWAY EMPIRE on some tickets.
The picks: 11-12-3-6. Other horses we will use: 1-2-10.
BC Juvenile fillies: Another where we like Europeans, and VORDA looks like a monster, but we also like AL THAKIRA. MY CONQUESTADORY might be the best North American hope but she draws a brutal post. We'll play VORDA and AL THAKIRA on top in tris and go deep in the 2/3 slots.
The picks: 6-2-14-4. Others we will use: 10-11-12.
BC Distaff: We'll take a stand against defending champ ROYAL DELTA, who isn't as sharp coming in this year and faces a tougher group, even though it is a small field. BEHOLDER should get the early jump, with ROYAL DELTA tracking. Would not be shocked to see BEHOLDER wire the field, but PRINCESS OF SYLMAR will be hot on her heels and watch out for the improving CLOSE HATCHES.
The picks: 6-5-3-4. Others we might use: 1.
If you are playing multirace wagers to the closing Arabian race, I am using 5-6-9 in that one.
BC Juvenile fillies: This one looks fairly chalky with unbeatens ARTERMIS AGROTERA and UNTAPABLE leading the charge. SWEER REASON also figures to take some play. For a mild price, we'll use SECRET COMPASS, who has a win over the track, but don't expect to get rich on this one.
The picks: 1-7-4-9. Others we'll use: 10.
BC Filly/Mare turf: It will be hard to get past the brilliant DANK, who won a Group 2 in Europe then crushed the Beverly D. But ROMANTICA was more impressive in Europe and would not be a shock. A solid group of American-based horses led by LAUGHING, MARKETING MIX and KITTEN'S DUMPLNGS make this one a very interesting race if DANK fails to run.
The picks: 2-3-7-6. Others we will use: 3-4-10.
BC Filly/mare sprint: Total crap shoot. We'll leave out defending champ GROUPIE DOLL and swing for the fences with some potential long shots, including BOOK REVIEW, SUMMER APPLAUSE, DANCE CARD and DANCE TO BRISTOL, among others.
The picks: 8-2-4-7. Others we will use: 5-10-11.
Turf sprint: Defending champ MIZDIRECTION has never lost on this turf course in six tries. She will be favored again and is the classic horse for a course, as we saw how brutally ineffective she was when they shipped her to Belmont. She's a must use, but we'll try to bet her in pick threes (we tried and failed last year, too) with some other Santa Anita specialists: JERANIMO, UNBRIDLEDS NOTE, CHIPS ALL IN and BOAT TRIP.
The picks: 1-3-14-12. Others we will use: 4-5-6-7-10.
Juvenile: As much as I don't like the two races before this, I am very high on BOND HOLDER in this spot with a powerful win over the surface. I also like the Baffert duo of TAP IT RICH and NEW YEAR'S DAY. HAVANA figures to be the favorite but has a tough post and we'll lean to the California horses here.
The picks: 5-6-4-13. We'll also use 10.
BC Turf: THE FUGUE is a European monster who will be very tough here, but POINT OF ENTRY has some dominant wins in the U.S. Off since June, but if right he will be in the mix. Don't rule out defending champ LITTLE MIKE, who had a nice score in his last. BIG BLUE KITTEN and MAGICIAN are legitimate contenders as well.
The picks: 8-7-4-11. We'll also use 10.
BC Sprint: Really like SECRET CIRCLE in this spot. He was off for more than a year and came back with a vengeance last month. Extremely talented and catches a weaker than usual sprint group. JUSTIN PHILLIP is consistent but always at the mercy of the pace as he has to come from well out of it. Also will give a big chance to lightly race long shot MAJESTIC STRIDE.
The picks: 9-1-4-12. We will also use 7.
BC Mile: WISE DAN had a nine-race winning streak snapped in last by SILVER MAX, but that was on synthetic after a ridiculous rainstorm and the track was a mess. (Even though technically synthetic tracks can't get sloppy, it was a poor surface). Back on turf, the big fella should be tough here. The concern is this will be his seventh race in 2013 in a very ambitious campaign and he might not be 100 percent. If he is, he wins. If not, talented Euro miler OLYMPIC GLORY is a legitimate threat. SILVER MAX is in good form and beat Dan, but he'll face a stiff test early as this race is loaded with speed. That favors closers like HE B FIRE N ICE and ZA APPROVAL. We'll take a couple stabs at beating Dan but won't try too hard.
The picks: 8-10-5-7. We'll also use 3.
BC Classic. Ah, the ultimate get-out race. GAME ON DUDE is a win machine who loves Santa Anita, although he bombed big time in this race last year (his only loss over the surface). He also figures to catch a ton of early pressure, which means he could once again disappoint. Still, if he is on his game, he'll roll. We'll swing for the fences with the improving 3-year-old WILL TAKE CHARGE. If the track is playing fair, he should be rolling in the stretch and will be a nice price, even as an exacta partner to Dude. MUCHO MACHO MAN and defending champ FORT LARNED are serious contenders as well.
The picks: 10-9-6-7. Others we will use: 3-4-5-6-8.
Good luck on all your wagers.