11/03/2016 2:05PM

Some Breeders' Cup thoughts

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Let's take a closer look at some Breeders' Cup races.
 
My overall opinion of the entire two-day extravaganza is that these are some of the toughest Breeders' Cup races I've ever handicapped. I picked zero morning line favorites on top in my "Best 4" selections in the paper editions of DRF, and believe there are two or three "value" horses in many of the races. 
 
I had confidence going into last year's Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. Hit It a Bomb ($16.40), Wavell Avenue ($22) and Tepin ($11.80) were some DRF selections that I felt good about. This year feels like the sort of situation where a horseplayer can go 0 for 13 with their top picks, but make big scores due to spreading wisely in multiple-race wagers like the Pick 4.
 
The Distaff and Classic should be super exhibitions, but I'm not sure I'm going to line up to bet either race. I guess one of the big three (SONGBIRD, STELLAR WIND, BEHOLDER) should take the Distaff. I picked Beholder, but don't have a super-strong opinion other that I'm hoping to get alive to all three. 
 
Like most folks, I think the Classic boils down to CALIFORNIA CHROME vs. ARROGATE. The latter should be a better price and seems to have more upside so I picked him on top. Again, I'm hoping to be alive to both in bets like the Pick 4, etc.
 
Here are some races where I have mild-to-strong opinions.
 
TURF SPRINT
SELECTION - A LOT (9) (8 to 1 Morning Line)
 
I've been waiting for A Lot since his excellent runner-up performance in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. That race featured a glacial pace for a classy field at eight furlongs (24.53, 48.43) and A Lot was pinballed coming out of the gate. That cost him important position and he was at the back of the pack while the eventual winner, Tourist, pressed those easy fractions up top. Despite the lack of pace help, A Lot split horses in upper stretch to finish ahead of next-out winners King Kreesa and Ring Weekend. 
 
 
A Lot has always struck me as a seven-furlong horse that finds two-turn routes too taxing. With the lack of opportunities for those kind of performers in North America, A Lot has been forced to run several races at distances that just don't suit him. The fact that he's done well enough to threaten in many of those starts hints at his overall ability. Also, I love turnbacks in these turf sprints at Santa Anita as it appears that horses need stamina to handle the demanding downhill course. 
 
Chad Brown is a wizard with horses turning back in distance on turf. According to DRF Formulator, Brown is 22 for 68 (32% winners) with a $2.57 ROI when utilizing that move. One of those winners was Bobby's Kitten, who won the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. 
 
Of the European entrants in this year's Turf Sprint, I prefer WASHINGTON DC (8), a runner-up in three of his last four starts, and in seven of 15 lifetime races. Most recently, in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly, Washington DC was covered up until very late. Once clear, he came with a strong late run. He acts like this longer distance will suit. 
 
 

FILLY AND MARE SPRINT
SELECTION - BY THE MOON (6) (8 to 1 Morning Line)
 
Of the horses exiting the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga on August 27, I prefer By the Moon, one of two entrants in the Filly and Mare Sprint for trainer Michelle Nevin.  A rock-solid tactical filly with enough speed to work out a good trip, By the Moon has been in underrated form since her very good second-place finish in last year's Acorn Stakes. In that race, she was compromised at the start, rushed up to track a quick pace, and dug in gamely to finish in a photo with the good Curalina. She then finished an okay third in the 3-year-old filly division's signature race, the Grade 1 Test, before going on the shelf for the rest of the year.
 
By the Moon wasn't disgraced in her seasonal debut, the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct. She faced an ultra-live group (several next-out winners including Cavorting) and attempted to rally over a speed-favoring track while likely a short horse. She handled last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner WAVELL AVENUE (10, 6 to 1 Morning Line) in her final start before the Ballerina. 
 
By the Moon has had various problems that caused Nevin to race her sparingly, but she's run well off similar rest in the past. I don't see a ton of early speed in this race and Jose Ortiz can keep By the Moon in close attendance on the backstretch. 
 
Other logical contenders in the race include Ballerina winner HAVEYOUGONEAWAY (2) (3 to 1 Morning Line) and FINEST CITY (12, 12 to 1), a horse that has been compromised by wrong surface, distance, and class level in her last few races.
 

MILE
SELECTION - ALICE SPRINGS (2) (4 to 1 Morning Line)
 
Alice Springs has won three of her last four races, all in Group 1 company, and it appears she really appreciates the firmer turf she's going to get on Saturday.

She ran really well in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf off the long ship so the heavy overseas travel shouldn't be an issue.

The daughter of Galileo seems adaptable as it pertains to running style. She won the Matron two back at Leopardstown with a last-to-first rally, and then utilized stalk-and-pounce tactics to grab the Sun Chariot Stakes. I believe that Ryan Moore is the best rider in the world, and he should have Alice Springs in the right spot after breaking from a comfortable inner draw. 

 
 
 
 
For some other selections and opinions, you can access free video analysis of the Breeders' Cup races at http://video.drf.com/
 
Also, Mike Beer and I will be on for free live Breeders' Cup handicapping analysis at 4:30pm ET on Friday and 2:00pm ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. We'll give info, selections, and check in with our field reporters and handicappers on the scene at Santa Anita. 
 
Good luck with your wagers and enjoy the great racing!
 
***
 
Dan,
Why are there no track variants for the last 2 races for Arrogate?  Spa & Del Mar.  I must say I always use the speed & variant in context.  W/O them I can't get a true barometer.
ThanX..
Curt V
 
When a horse surpasses the three-year best times mark, causing the variant calculation to become a negative number, the variant isn't published. The Travers variant was a negative 2. The prior Del Mar race was a negative 7.
 
***
 
*Congrats to Carl C. for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
 
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
Carl C. selected the Breeders' Cup Classic as this week's contest. 
 
PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
As is FormBlog tradition, an additional wager for this week is the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Breeders' Cup Classic daily double. Past performances for the Distaff are available at http://www.drf.com/race-of-the-day
 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
 
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
 
Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
 
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
 
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
 
As an example :
 
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
 
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!
Harpo
 
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS  IS  ALWAYS  APPRECIATED !
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
 
ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A SATURDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL)

 

AttachmentSize
Copy of HG 10 29 16 Bold Ruler.xls54 KB
HGBCCLASSIC.pdf212.15 KB