Value the key in Breeders' Cup strategy

Nov 1, 2019 3:00 AM

The two days of the Breeders’ Cup offers the best chances all year to make a score. Large fields full of Grade 1 horses. The best jockeys and trainers from around the world giving their all on animals honed to a razor’s edge. The prep races are over. Now all the marbles are on the table for you to pick up and win.

Here are a half dozen horses, no race favorites, that I suggest you consider using. Good luck!

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Dawn The Destroyer (F&M Sprint, 12-1): There is a saying that speed kills. In the two Sprint races, there is usually a fast contested early pace. Thus I seek out long shot closers to run into the number.

Dawn the Destroyer will be far back early. And I know she will run on late. Even though she is only 1 for 7 wins this year she exits stakes with small fields and not nearly enough early pace. She figures to see some sizzling fractions to close into. Her braking from post No. 8 should not be a detriment.

Elate (Classic, 6-1): A 5-year-old mare taking on males? Elate is 3 for 3 wins at the Classic distance of 1¼ miles. She is 16 for 18 in the money lifetime mostly in graded stakes. Her speed figures are equal to if not better than her main contenders. Plus, she avoids Midnight Bisou, whom she has lost to all three meetings this year.

This Classic field is good but nearly as strong as in previous years. I think it is ripe for an upset and I like her chances.

Improbable (Dirt Mile, 3-1): He has been his own worst enemy with bad behavior behind and in the starting gate. It hurt him again in the Pennsylvania Derby last out.

If Bob Baffert can fix this issue, Improbable is one of the most talented horses in the field. He is 2 for 2 wins at a mile. And I love him cutting back in distance. If you have followed me over the years, you’ll know that a lot of my price winners are horses shortening up.

Vasilika (F&M Turf, 8-1): Her name comes up mainly due to the ban on trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. But don’t overlook her Arcadia resume. She has won 11 of 12 starts with a second over the Santa Anita sod.

Horses for courses is a legit handicapping angle. So while Sistercharlie is a strong and deserving favorite, don’t forget about Vasilika. She has been claimed four times in her life, but she is easily the best $40,000 that Hollendorfer has ever spent.

Unfortunately, Hollendorfer won’t be allowed to saddle her as the Breeders’ Cup barred him from participating.

Wicked Whisper (Juvenile Fillies, 7-2): If race replays mean anything to you, I suggest you watch both of her wins. I swear she has yet to be asked to run hard.

Steve Asmussen sent his Breeders’ Cup horses to Santa Anita early to get them acclimated. And I love his decision to use Joel Rosario, who fits this filly like a glove. Her sire is Liam’s Map, whose 2-year-olds have been on fire this season. Her one knock is she has never run a race around two turns. Hopefully that will boost her odds.

Wow Cat (Distaff, 15-1): A lot of folks will use Midnight Bisou as a free bingo square. And deservedly so. If Midnight Bisou wins, she is in the conversation for Horse of the Year.

However, while in search of prices I came up with Wow Cat from Chad Brown. The last time Midnight Bisou lost was in the 2018 Distaff. The two fillies who beat her were Monomoy Girl and Wow Cat. I won’t make a Joe Namath guarantee of a win, but getting a Chad Brown horse at such long shot odds is always a juicy proposition.

For us horseplayers, the Breeders’ Cup is not just about picking winners. It’s about building tickets giving you a chance of making a betting score. Maybe even two. If I did my job well enough and these long shot horses run to Hoyle, then the vertical wagers in particular have a chance to blow up the tote board. 

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