Free Website Handicapping Newsletter > Reflections on the 2013 Breeders' Cup
Reflections on the 2013 Breeders' Cup

Nov 22, 2013

Reflections on the Breeders’ Cup

In today’s newsletter, I discuss my selections from the 2013 Breeders’ Cup. But first, here’s a little introduction.

Aside from the Kentucky Derby, perhaps the Breeders’ Cup is the next most anticipated days on the American racing calendar. (Of course if the winner of the Kentucky Derby goes on to win the Preakness, then the Belmont would naturally become the most anticipated horse race of the year for handicappers, casual racing fans and even non-fans alike.) The Breeders’ Cup is now a two-day extravaganza, complete with incredible hype and interest that is watched by millions on nationwide TV.

As many of you know, I have been providing a daily selection service for some months now. We have a core of people who have been with us since the starting point for our new service, and recently we’ve had several new faces join us, (of course, all names are kept confidential from each other). On Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, after providing regular selections for two tracks to our subscribers, I offered complimentary selections for a few of the Breeders’ Cup races, scheduled to run later that afternoon. I sent out the following free selections to those who expressed an interest in receiving them:

"Here are the free Breeders’ Cup selections I promised you. A reminder, this is a showcase day, extremely competitive and a day when there are always some surprise long shot winners. As you may recall, in previous years there have been one or two $90, $100 winning horses.

Keep any wagers reduced, (or just watch for fun); enjoy the fun and spectacle. Having noted all of the above, here they are:

Race 4:
#9 Sweet Reason | 5/2 morning line

Long Shot to Watch:
#8 Scandalous | 8-1 morning line

Race 5:
#6 Marketing | 7/2 morning line
(Likely will go with show)

#3 Tiz Flirtatious | 7/2 morning line

Likely favorite:
#1 Dank | 5/2 morning line

Race 11:
#8 Wise Dan is prohibitive morning line favorite at even $

Long Shots to Watch - contenders for possible inclusion with # 8 in small exotic type wagers:
#10 Za Approval | 15-1 morning line
#3 Silver Max | 5-1 morning line
#4 Obviously | 10-1mline

Race12:
#6 Mucho Macho Man | 5-1 morning line
(Possible show wager)

Long Shot to Watch:
12 Flat Out | 12-1 morning line

Likely favorite:
#9 Game On Dude | 8/5 morning line
If you’re looking to collect a show wager, Game On Dude looks like it."

As you can see, I dispensed a bit of unsolicited advice, but I believe that while certainly not groundbreaking, the advice had merit. Just as in the website newsletter from the October 31, 2013, I suggested caution with a reminder not to go overboard, (in wagering), on the Breeders’ Cup. Yes, it is fantastic to watch the very best of the best horses compete, including many European horses which help in many sense makes the Breeders’ Cup a worldwide competition. In short, the fields are full, the competition is fierce and often, what separates the winners from the rest is a razor thin margin.

Beginning with the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies which had a $2,000,000 purse, the huge purse money continued to flow unabated right through to Race 12, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, namely the feature race of the day complete with an enormous purse of $5,000,000.

From among the eight actual Breeders’ Cup races, I found selections in four of those races. Current odds can be crucial, especially with such closely matched horses, often one of the top three or four contenders will go off at 10-1, 15-1. However, I was sending out these selections a couple of hours ahead, and while I couldn’t with reasonable accuracy gauge what all current odds might be, (there are usually a few surprises with some high priced long shots), I recommended contenders who I believed had the best chances to run in-the-money and also included some possible wagering suggestions.

We’ll briefly review the races and selections now.

In the 4th race, my selection, Sweet Reason, finished in fourth place. As you may remember, the stakes races started off with a blockbuster upset in this particular race, as little known, (nationally at least), Jeremiah Englehart, who hones his trainer craft at an obscure and small track, Finger Lakes, in upstate New York, sent forth a 30-1 winner, in Ria Antonia, who took first place honors after Gary Stevens and She’s a Tiger suffered a disqualification and were taken down from 1st place to 2nd place. Englehart is a first rate trainer, (he does ship occasionally to Aqueduct/Belmont), but the bulk of his starters run at Finger Lakes. However, that may now change with his big splash on the national scene, and his services may become in more demand. What an exciting race and finish, providing some terrific entertainment. While my advice to keep wagers low and enjoy the races may seem trite, as noted, it does have merit because it can be more difficult to find an edge in these super events. Thus, I wanted clients to be prudent, as I would and was. (As an aside, TIPS Report subscribers know that I do handicap races from Finger Lakes and have discussed Englehart in the past.)

For the 5th race I offered up Marketing as a potential show wager. Tiz Flirtatious was another contender I mentioned and noted that Dank was the likely favorite. Marketing ran a decent race, held 3rd place from the first call to the mile marker, but couldn’t hold on when the battle down the stretch ensued, and eventually landed 5th at the finish. Flirtatious finished one spot behind Marketing, in 6th. Dank, as predicted, indeed ended up as the post time favorite, at odds of 1.5-1. Dank was always close up, in 2nd, before turning up the heat in the stretch drive crossing the wire 1st, and returned $5, $3.40 and $2.80. Okay – so my first choice ran out of-the-money. We all have day like this. I’m not discouraged because I followed my own advice and haven’t as yet bet heavily. I’m still enjoying the Breeders’ Cup.

I didn’t have any other selections until the 11th race, The Breeders’ Cup Mile. Wise Dan seemed as close to a lock as you could expect to find on a Breeders’ Cup day. And though I noted that Wise Dan would be the prohibitive favorite at even money, it seemed to me that the way to attack and handicap this race was to search for some logical, (and hopefully high odds), contenders to include with Wise Dan in an exacta, and the three that I unearthed were: #10 Za Approval at 15-1 in the morning line, #3 Silver Max with a 5-1 ml and #4 Obviously with a 10-1 ml.

And they’re off! The #4, Obviously, (at 13-1), ran like a rocket out of the gate and set a torrid pace, 21 and 4/5 for the first call, 44 and 2/5 at the ½ in this mile-long event. Silver Max was right behind in 2nd while Wise Dan, (who went off at odds on, 4/5, stumbled at the start, “but recovered,” as noted on the chart), started out slowly, (8th in a 10 horse field), was in 7th for the ½ mile and ¾ marker, before vaulting quickly to 3rd at the stretch call. Meanwhile, the other contender I had suggested, Za Approval, (18-1), was never too far back, and was 3rd at the ¾ mark, made his move and vaulted forth, briefly grabbing the lead at the stretch call. Za Approval and Wise Dan knocked heads, battling fiercely down the stretch, until ultimately, Dan showed his will and heart, and prevailed by ¾ of a hard won length.

I had wheeled Dan over the three contenders for an exacta and had also made small win wagers on Obviously and Za Approval. In addition, because I liked Za’s current form, I thought a ‘saver’ type show wager would produce a profit, even if the exactas and win wagers ran out, so I went ahead and made a show wager on Za. Of the 3 contenders on which I wagered, Za Approval went off at the highest odds.

While the race was an exciting and heart pounding finish, providing great entertainment, the profit realized was a nice bonus. The exacta returned $33.60, and Za paid $8.40 to place and $5.80 to show. However, as nip and tuck, and exciting a finish the 11th race was, it was just an opening prelude to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the finale.

For the Classic, my selection was Mucho Macho Man, (noting a possible show wager). I thought the Bill Mott trained horse was a LSTW, (Long Shot to Watch), and the likely favorite was Game On Dude, with a morning line of 8/5. While I stuck with Mucho Macho Man in my wagering, I did hedge a bit in the email and in a moment of weakness, I noted, “If you’re looking to collect on a show wager, Game On Dude looks like it.”

Well, Game On Dude, after leading ever so briefly, held the lead at the first call before settling into 3rd, a spot he held until the 1 mile mark. However, things quickly fell apart thereafter, as Dude and Mike Smith “gave way” and fell further and further back, eventually settling for 9th place. Flat Out was never in the thick of things and finished an uninspired 8th.

However, Mucho, who was never far back, alternating between 4th and 5th through the first 3 calls, made a bold and powerful move grabbing the lead at the 1 mile marker, after “patiently tracking the leaders.” However, although Mucho held the lead from the 1 Mile pole, right through to the finish at a 1 and ¼ mile race, he was challenged staunchly by both Aiden O’Brien’s Declaration of War and Hall of Famer, D. Wayne Lukas entry, Will Take Charge. In the end, after a spirited and fierce battle down the stretch, Mucho and Gary Stevens held on by a disappearing nose for trainer Katherine Ritvo, a heart transplant survivor.

In the aftermath of the incredible finish and competition of the best of the best competing so determinedly, perhaps my most indelible memory was watching Ritvo break away from an interview, and run as fast as she was able to tend to her horse and also to congratulate and thank both Gary Stevens and Mucho Macho. This emotional scene made for just wonderful television. While my small exactas of Dude and Mucho and Flat Out ran out, I did collect on the straight wagers I had on Mucho and thus realized a profit on the race.

The Breeders’ Cup is a wonderful event to watch in terms of both the highly competitive races and the festivities. There are many back stories, and the producers do a wonderful job sharing many of them. My wife and I enjoy watching some of the human and equine interest stories. And someone who sews and is an aspiring milliner, Mary especially enjoys seeing the ladies’ hats.

In closing, I encourage you to enjoy these special events on the horse racing calendar and to stay within your wagering comfort zone. Of course our main goal is to make a profit on the day, but it’s also a great day to relax and watch the races without going overboard in these highly competitive races.

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