10/01/2007 12:37PM

Classic Odds?


With all the top BC Classic contenders in the clubhouse after the final preps this past weekend, forget for a moment who you like and tackle a tougher question: Who's going to be the favorite at Monmouth Oct. 27?

The European bookmakers have it as a four-way virtual dead-heat. The Monday-morning odds posted by William Hill have (in alphabetical order) Any Given Saturday, Curlin, Lawyer Ron and Street Sense all at 5-1, followed by Hard Spun (10-1), George Washington (14-1) and Tiago (16-1). At eurohorse.com, which calculates a blend of "current generally available industry odds in Ireland and the U.K.," it's Lawyer Ron (previously 3-1) at 4-1, Curlin (previously 7-1) at 4-1, Any Given Saturday at 9-2 and Street Sense at 11-2, followed by George Washington (16-1), Asiatic Boy (16-1) and Tiago (16-1).

The cases for the four favorites can be summarized as follows:

Any Given Saturday: Thrashed Curlin and Hard Spun over Monmouth track in Haskell.

Curlin: Nailed Street Sense at the wire of the Preakness and Lawyer Ron in the final yards of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Might improve off the JCGC, his first start in eight weeks.

Lawyer Ron: Whitney and Woodward triumphs remain fastest of year, was somewhat rank in early stages of JCGC, might benefit from return to two turns and historically speed-favoring nature of Monmouth track.

Street Sense: Juvenile, Derby and Travers victories came off uninspiring preps similar to Kentucky Cup Classic defeat; is 1-1 in races against Curlin, 2-1 vs. Hard Spun and 2-0 vs. Any Given Saturday.

There of course are 26 days of potential developments ahead, with workouts, changes to the field and the post-position draw all likely to affect the odds and possibly tip the balance. Everything else being equal, my gut feeling is that Street Sense would be oh-so-narrowly favored if the betting closed today. The good news is that whoever you like, you're going to get a square price. not only among the four favorites who will eat up around 60 percent of the win pool, but on any outsiders taking a sliver of what's left over.

Thoughts on Sunday's developments:

--The Jockey Club Gold Cup was a classic horse race, an exhilirating finish between a very good 3-year-old in Curlin and a very good older horse in Lawyer Ron. Curlin's winning time of 2:01.20 was good for a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 114 in his eighth career start.

--English Channel's victory at 2-5 was another solid performance from an admirable veteran who has now won 12 of 22 career starts, $3.7 million, and five Grade 1 races. It's not his fault that the Turf Classic has drawn dismal fields behind him for two years running, but his excellent resume does not dispel the feeling that he'll be outkicked late by whatever quality Europeans show up for the BC Turf for a third straight year.

--Unbridled Belle's narrow victory over stablemate Indian Vale in the Beldame earned a 104 Beyer and proved that the winner can run a big one outside of Delaware Park. They'll both head for the BC Distaff, which is shaping up as a crowded and chaotic affair, with next Sunday's G1 Spinster at Keeneland and G1 Lady's Secret at Oak Tree likely to yield other pieces to the puzzle.

--Fabulous Strike's front-running tour de force in the Vosburgh earned a 114 Beyer, ran his record to 9 for 14, and was his fifth Beyer of 114 or higher in the last 12 months. His five defeats are his debut, a grass race, a seven-furlong race and two races on off tracks; he's 6-for-6 on fast tracks at distances under seven furlongs. Discreet Cat was never going to catch him at six furlongs off a long layoff but showed very little in defeat plugging along for a distant third.

--The announced attendance at Belmont Sunday was 19,338, aided by a folding-chair giveaway, and the place had a lively buzz to it. The number stands in sharp contrast to the 7,361 who turned out for Rags to Riches in the Gazelle Sept. 15, especially given that Sunday's races were telecast on ESPN and that many New Yorkers were busy watching the Mets complete their historic collapse in the last game of the regular season. On the other hand, total handle was actually higher on the 10-race Gazelle card than the 11-race Gold Cup card ($17.29 million vs. $16.35 million), though the former was helped by a pick-six carryover and $1.2 million in show bets on Rags to Riches. Ontrack handle was up only from $1.7 million with an attendance of 7,361 to $2.3 million with an official attendance of 19,338.

jo lev More than 1 year ago
yes alvarado is a weak rider in big races
cory stevens More than 1 year ago
Here's a BC subject I haven't seen addressed yesterday. As funny as this sounds I concentrate on show betting on BC day due to the HUGE show pools. Last year Cotton Blossom paid $9 to show and Street Sense paid $8 in the 2 juvenile races and a healthy parlay on the 2 races made me pretty much done for the day. My question is how do you think the handle will be for the 3 new Friday BC races. I'm not even planning on scoping them out because I don't see the handles on those 3 races being nearly as large as the Saturdy races. What is your take on that ?
Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
As to the comments regarding Lava Man. There is no way that the connections of Lava Man will send him back to the B C Classic. Maybe the new dirt mile or even the turf mile, but not the classic. And rightfully so. I love what he has done for them and that he continues to perform at a high level. But it would be too painful to watch him get trounced again by this group in the classic.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Steve An observation from this past weekends great racing... Smart Strike certainly did himself proud as a sire !!! Fabulous Strike (sprint), English Channel (turf) and Curlin (classic distance). And on top of that Smarty Deb, the 2 year old who beat the boys at Emerald Downs in the Joe Gottstein Futurity (which you mentioned in your blog). Quite a weekend !!! My morning lines for the B C classic would be something like this: Street Sense - 7-2 Lawyer Ron - 4-1 Curlin - 9-2 Any Given Saturday - 6-1 Hard Spun - 8-1 Tiago - 12-1 Student council - 15-1 I am not very familiar with the Europeans. Love the blog !!! Dick W
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
richie: Your raw figure is way off. A mile and an eighth at Belmont is a one-turn race, unique in American racing. On the Beyer scale, the time for the Beldame gets a 10-point lower figure than the raw times of the Vosburgh and Gold Cup. You have it as only a 2-point lower figure.
Richie More than 1 year ago
Steve, Could you comment on the Beyer figure for Unbridled Belle from Sunday at Belmont a bit more. I, too, had Fabulous Strike and Curlin each earning 114 (Raw figs of 120 minus a variant of +6 on the day). But Unbridled Belle I had with a final fig of 111 to 112 (Raw fig of just less than 118 minus a variant of +6 on the day). Is the 1 1/8 distance a "quirky" distance at Belmont? Or was there some "art" involved with this fig? Or is my variant or raw fig way off for the race? Any thoughts are appreciated.
todd saunders More than 1 year ago
i have not posted here, but just wanted to throw in some thoughts. this is by far one of the best crops of 3 year olds to come around in a long, long time. durable and tenacious, and willing to race, the 3 year olds this year have really distinguished themselves. that said, i think Tiago deserves a long,long look in the classic. he has been brought along very carefully, and off a fairly long layoff, raced extremely well. he figures to really move forward off that race, and i think sheriffs has done an excellent job with this colt. i also think that awesome gem will be very good going back to dirt, and he has fired one good race after anotehr, and would seem to relish the longer distance of the classic. will be a great betting event
Jen Morrison More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve Fascinated with the odds for the Classic. As the oddmsaker for Woodbine, I noticed the money CURLIN took for the longest time in the JCC before Ron wound up favoured.I would bet that it will be Curlin or Ron battling for favoritism with those big Beyers. I can see lumbering Street Sense not taking much action at all at Monmouth - like 4 to 1! Jen
SamG More than 1 year ago
Oops I got it backwards.I think AGS will take too much money and that HS could be a bit of an overlay.Niether is proven at the distance but HS has sharp current form and could be a handful without much early speed in the race.With his pedigree it`s a shame we`ll never see him on turf.
yuwipw More than 1 year ago
What a great blog and this thread in particular is fascinating. Agreeing with Gary above, if Lava Man is still as good as his connections say then send him one last time. I think the most difficult angle on the Classic will be weighing the authoritative victories each contender has against their less than inspiring outings. I think Curlin will be the fav (wish I could get his failure at Monmouth out of my mind), but juicy prices should be assured on all. Made a friendly wager with a Hard Spun fan today that he will get 10-1 on him. Here's a plea to our maestro and all you other bloggers. I've already seen many references to the speed favoring nature of the Monmouth track. Do you folks feel Monmouth favors speed to an extent greater than the already existing favoritism towards speed in American dirt racing? A second request for our blog leader. DRF has a real treasure in Alan Shuback. I especially enjoy reading his informative and opinionated columns this time of year. He knows what he's talking about. Here's hoping DRF can find a little more space for him in the coming month. Many thanks.