Game plan horseplayers should use for Breeders' Cup

Oct 31, 2017 3:09 AM

The 2017 Breeders’ Cup has arrived. The two-day event starts Friday and takes place at Del Mar for the first time in its 34 year history. There will be many opportunities for horseplayers to connect on life-changing scores. It will require stout preparation, keen awareness, a fluid bankroll and a bit of good old fashioned racing luck.

Here are some things to consider when attacking the Breeders’ Cup:

STUDY: There is no substitute for doing the homework. There are 22 races covering the two-day event (13 Breeders’ Cup specific). There are a lot of horses to wade through. There are always two sides to the horse playing regimen – handicapping and bet construction. Those who thoroughly ferret out the horses in advance can focus on the betting development between races. You should know the strength of the European invaders, watch race replays to identify troubled trips and find the key prep races. The past performances come out Monday evening. That gives you three full days of preparation.

TUNE OUT: It’s important for horseplayers to listen, read and watch everything during the run-up to Friday. But be careful not to get overly influenced by the chatter permeating from the talking heads. You’re going to hear how every horse couldn’t be doing better, how Arrogate is back to the horse he was earlier this year, how horses are doing so well acclimating to Del Mar, and so on. Some of this will be spot on but much of it will be pure conjecture.

It’s very hard to know the difference. When dealing with workouts, attempt to cross-reference trusted clocker reports. If you have a keen eye for horses working out in the morning, trust your instincts. If you don’t, consider the commentary but don’t let it override your handicapping.

HAMMER TIME: You should be able to find two or three horses over the two days that you really have a strong opinion on. Make sure your best bet construction is wheeled around these runners. Players often make the mistake of having the same percentage of bankroll on guesses as when they have an edge. Don’t be afraid to single in horizontal wagers with these few plays. The key is to crack the bank when your opinion is spot on. If your key plays are longshots, get brave.

WIN BETS: Everyone, including me, is looking for the five- or six-digit score the Breeders’ Cup offers. But don’t forget a simple win bet when you’ve got a price on a strong opinion. If you’re a $50 per race type of bettor and getting 10-1 on a horse you have a very strong opinion on, start your betting with a simple $20 win bet before layering in other exotic wagers.

BETTOR OR FAN: It’s acceptable to play the Breeders’ Cup as a fan. That means your bets are made with emotion more than anything else. There is nothing wrong with approaching the weekend in that fashion but you should identify what your goals are prior to Friday. If you’re going to wager to make money, you have to bet with your head and not your heart. It might mean fading popular horses like Lady Eli or Arrogate because the value lies elsewhere.

WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY: There are two racing days at Del Mar prior to Friday. It is worthwhile to know where the live horses were coming from on these two days. It doesn’t mean a bias that emerges earlier in the week will be there on the weekend but it is still worth checking out.

OPINIONS: It’s never a bad idea to listen to what others are saying. Focus more on information than projections. Palace Station will have a sensational seminar at 8:30 a.m. PT Friday morning. Professor Gordon Jones, radio host Ralph Siraco and GamingToday’s Richard Saber will be together for this free seminar. They offer free fruit, muffins and coffee.

It’s really worth attending if you can. In addition, I’ll have my annual two day Breeders’ Cup full card analysis report available on my website ( There will be excellent ideas and information passed along but don’t discount your own thoughts. Opinions should simply augment your own handicapping, not replace it.

Top Play

It comes in race 7 on Wednesday at Del Mar. This is the Let It Ride Stakes at 1 Mile on the turf. No. 3 KITTEN’S CAT gets the slight nod over likely favorite No. 6 MASTER MERION. Master Merion is going to be awfully tough to beat in this spot and will do no worse than second. But the value will be Kitten’s Cat. He has two wins at 1 Mile on the turf and one of them came in the $100K Kittens Joy (named after his sire).

He has had excuses in his most recent starts (soft turf, synthetic). He projects a perfect tracking trip in this spot with Leparoux aboard. He won the Juvenile Sprint on Breeders’ Cup Day in 2016 at Santa Anita at 7-1. Post time for the 7th race on Wednesday is 3:30 PT.