As the brilliant writer and horseracing fan “Red” Smith wrote many years ago, when it comes to horse racing, “If you are right once, you are an expert.”
If you trust the Pulitzer Prize winning Smith, generally regarded as the best sports columnist ever (sorry Jim Murray fans), then my selection of and week-long endorsement of Animal Kingdom to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby qualifies me to do a little touting for this Friday and Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
After all, Animal Kingdom did pay $43.80 to win and keyed wallet-busting mutuel returns up, down, and across the board.
The Breeders’ Cup races are so heavily bet anyone reading this prose or bumping into yours truly this week would not really affect the prices.
Come to think if it, if enough people who don’t regard me as a “Red” Smith-certified expert read this column and/or see yours truly out and about this week, the payoffs may be pushed even higher.
As I greet horse playing friends and associates in the next few days, I may be as obnoxious as possible (not really that hard to do) just to increase the price on my Breeders’ Cup best bet.
So the thought here is this: bet all you can afford on Mucho Macho Man to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The five-year-old son of Macho Uno (Holy Bull) and Ponche de Leona (Ponche) is very lightly raced this year with only one win and two thirds in just four starts. He’s trained by Kathy Ritvo and was ridden by red-hot Gary Stevens in his last start, a winning one at Santa Anita in the Awesome Again. It was a Grade 1 effort in a Grade 1 race.
He’s been pointed to this race and is ready to fire.
If Stevens chooses this horse in the big race, it might hurt the odds, but we’ll just grin and bear it. If someone else gets aboard, the odds will be better and the pick remains the same.
Mucho Macho Man is a little bit of a hunch play as well. There’s no horseplayer alive who can honestly claim he’s never picked a winner thanks to a hunch.
When a late scratch landed top jock John Velazquez on the back of Animal Kingdom for the Kentucky Derby the feeling that the garland of roses awaited this horses grew even stronger.
The stars will align for Mucho Macho Man Saturday the same way they did for Animal Kingdom.
As colleague Richard Saber has pointed out on many an occasion, sometimes a gambler is just destined to win. The trick is getting the feeling early enough and then acting on it. Confidence can make you and overconfidence can break you.
Mucho Macho Man was second last year to Fort Larned. His chances of winning have also been enhanced because trainer Ritvo made sure the horse was ensconced in Southern California in early September. Therefore he’s tanned, he’s rested, and he’s ready to win!
Another strong play is a win bet on Beholder, the probable third choice in the betting behind Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar, in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Beholder is the pick here on Friday because this is her home track, she’s been training and racing brilliantly and, most importantly, Beholder is conditioned by the wily Richard Mandella. Mandella must always be respected when he sends out a horse in a major race at Santa Anita.
We like a Beholder/Mucho Macho Man double. It could pay about $75. That’s $750 if you bet $20. Give it a shot!
BC World Championship Notes
• If you are thinking about driving from Las Vegas to Santa Anita to go in person on Saturday, there are no reserved general admission seats and just to get through the turnstiles on Saturday costs $25 in advance and $40 at the gate.
• Many local race and sports book managers follow the ponies closely. Be sure and ask their opinion. Jerry’s Nugget stalwart Mark Dufty picked Fort Larned in these pages last year at a nifty 9-1. Other managers with a proclivity for the horses but better known for their sports knowledge, are Jay Kornegay at LVH, Ed Malinowski at the Stratosphere, Joe Porrello at the Cannery, and John Avello at Wynn.
• Pay close attention to jockeys Mike Smith and Gary Stevens. These veterans are only on live horses. The guess is a $2 exacta box on any races in which both are riding would net a profit.
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