The main card of the Breeders’ Cup races will be run today at Keeneland in Lexington Kentucky. The biggest story will be American Pharoah’s final race as he tries to stamp himself as one of the all-time greats by winning the Classic.
If you missed Friday’s story, there is a different approach we take to the Cup races. As a reminder, betting pools are huge, the fields are full and long shots abound. We will look for long shots in every race. Some favorites will win, of course, but our goal is to find value when they lose. Some of the horses discussed will be nowhere at the end of the race. But we only need one or two to make money. And three or four — which we have done on several occasions in the past — can make your betting year. Last year we gave you Juvenile winner Texas Red at 13-1 and Toast of New York, who was second in the Classic at 19-1 and was just inches (and a bad non-disqualification call) away from winning it all.
We aren’t going to provide specific bets, as we did with the Triple Crown. We will simply provide picks and horses we think you should use. If you are longterm reader, you know we will be primarily playing exactas, trifectas and pick threes with the horses we provide. How many you use is up to you and the bankroll you are working with.
Here’s a refresher on what we look for in these races::
1 — Look for horses that are undervalued because of a bad last race. Often quality horses dominate all year, then throw in a clunker in their Breeders’ Cup prep. The public will jump off these horses thinking they are off form, so the odds are better.
2 — Stay away from high profile, overrated trainers like Todd Pletcher. His horses are often overbet and usually by this time of year they have been run into the ground.
With 2-year-olds, look for the improving horse that has not run its best race yet.
3 — In the turf races, use all the Europeans. Euro turf racing is far superior to what we have in the U.S. and these horses will always be a factor. Often it’s not the obvious European, which results in boxcar payoffs.
A new twist this year is the races are at Keeneland, where outside posts really struggle, and many quality horses are stuck outside over the next two days. The other twist is rain could be a factor, especially Saturday, and a sloppy main track leads to a lot of front-running winners. The other other twist is very few of these horses have actually run on the track’s quirky surface. So all of that could impact the races.
We were all around it on Friday’s races. Hopefully the big bomb is out there waiting for us today:
Juvenile fillies: Song Bird will be a significant favorite here. She destroyed her competition in three races in California. She will have to overcome an outside post and perhaps early pace pressure from some sprinters stretching out. She is probably fast enough to do so, and it might be hard to leave her out of bets. There are some media horses in here (high profile types that the media loves) who will also take money — Rachel’s Valentina, a daughter of Rachel’s Alexandra, and New York based nickname. We like three price horses in here — Dothraki Queen (10-1) has a good second over the Keeneland surface and should improve. Bold Quality (20-1) just missed against Dothraki Queen in her second career start. And Land Over Sea (8-1) has been chasing Song Bird in California. We will key Dothraki Queen and one of the other long shots in exactas with the logical horses.
The picks: 10-8-6-1. Others to use: 2-3-7-9.
Turf sprint: This race has historically not been kind to us. So we won’t be investing a lot. Lady Shipman is the likely favorite and very consistent. Undrafted has some big time wins on his resume. Ready for Rye, The Great War, No Silent and Pure Sensation fit here as well. We will probably just box four of these and wait for better wagering opportunities.
The picks: 5-12-3-9. Others to use: 1-10.
Filly/mare sprint: This is where we get a little crazy. This is an evenly matched group filled with horses that want to be on the lead early. Very few in here want to pass other horses. So we will take a flyer with 30-1 shot Kiss to Remember. She has some late kick and will be passing horses late.
The picks: 10-2-3-14. Others to use: 4-6-7-8-11.
Filly/mare turf: Secret Gesture was fourth in this race last year and is not as highly regarded by the Europeans as heavy favorite Legatissimo will be in the this race, but she offers great value at 12-1 and has more experience racing on U.S. tracks than the other Euros in here.
The picks: 12-3-9-10. Others to use: 1-2-11.
Sprint: Hard to get past the favorites, Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale’s Runhappy and the consistent Private Zone. But those two have the same running style and could compromise each other, opening it up for a 30-1 bomb we really like in this spot — Ivan Fallanovalot. This horse will get overlooked because he raced recently at Remington Park, but his form is sharp and his races at Oaklawn earlier this year make him a contender.
The picks: 6-5-2-13. Others to use: 1-8-10-11-12.
Mile: This one is all about the Europeans, and usually it’s not the obvious horse. Mondialiste comes off three strong efforts, including a win in the Woodbine Mile. You get 15-1 with an easy key horse. We will use this one with all other European based horses and leave out all of the U.S. runners except Grand Arch.
The picks: 4-5-11-3. Others to use: 1-9-12.
Juvenile: Nyquist appears to be the best of this bunch, but he is stuck way out in the 13 post so his chances will be seriously compromised. We will land on Greenspointcrusader, who won’t be a huge price, but we will tie him with some long shots.
The picks: 3-4-5-9. Others to use: 2-7-12-13
Turf: Arc winner Golden Horn is simply the best turf horse in the world. He has been almost unbeatable against the best competition in Europe. Eight times he has gone to post, with seven wins a second by a neck. He will be hard to beat in this spot. The only hope is that he is a little over the top, as the Arc is a grueling race. If that’s the case, we will look at the other Euros, Found and Ordak Dan, and a U.S. based runner, The Pizza Man, who will likely be ignored here.
The picks: 1-10-9-12. Others to use: 7.
Classic: This race lost a lot of luster when Beholder was forced to scratch. That leaves Triple Crown winner American Pharoah as a monster favorite and likely the only speed of the race. He is one of the best horses in decades, but 1 ¼ miles has not been his best distance. He struggled mightily in the Derby, then got caught late in the Travers for his only loss since his debut. He probably should have not been in the race to begin with, but still ran well. He probably rolls here, but if he doesn’t, the usual suspects: Keen Ice, Tonalist and Honor Code are the most likely upsetters.
The picks: 4-2-9-1. Others to use: 3.
Good luck with your wagers. If you like what you see here and are also interested in sports betting, check out our new audio book here.