10/24/2012 1:05PM

Jerardi: Searching for those elusive Breeders' Cup singles

Email
Benoit & Associates
Game On Dude will be favored in the Breeders' Cup Classic, he's undefeated on the Santa Anita track, and he's posted seven triple-digit Beyers in a row. But is he a single?

Went through the Breeders’ Cup pre-entries once quickly just to see if anything jumped off the page. Went through them again more slowly just to get a general feel for each race. Will go through them next looking for potential race shapes and how that might affect outcomes. This weekend, I will go through each race, watching videos of every contender and some not-so-obvious contenders.

Once all those exercises are done, I will have a library of notes for each race. I will then add to that any pertinent information that I read and hear, along with watching Mike Welsch’s invaluable DRF morning observation videos and reading his final thoughts late next week. Then and only then will I make decisions on what to bet next Friday and Saturday and, more importantly, how to bet.

Last year, I went to Churchill Downs with two firm opinions. I liked Goldikova in the Mile and Union Rags in Juvenile. I knew both would be favored, but that really was not relevant. If both of them won, I was going to be dangerous in every multi-race pool.

[BREEDERS' CUP PPs: Visit DRF's official BC Handicapping Center]

Turns out all that work made everything right around them, but I turned out to be wrong about both of them – not way wrong, but wrong enough.

I would love to get on the plane to Los Angeles next week with two firm opinions in two races on the same card. Then, I can begin to frame bets around those opinions. My friend Tony Sinisi, the longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker, once told me, as he was in the process of finalizing his lines for college football games one week, that, at some point, you’ve got to have an opinion. His opinion was the basis for sports books in Nevada to display numbers. He did not have to tell me that once I formed an opinion, I had to be willing to support it.

Now, I just have questions, lots of questions.

Game On Dude is going to be favored in the Classic. I know that. Everybody knows that. That, however, is not the question. The question is this: Is Game On Dude a single?

We know he is unbeaten at Santa Anita. We know the horse has earned seven consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. We know or should know the rider change from the now-retired Chantal Sutherland to Rafael Bejarano is quite positive. We know he was a brilliant second in this race last year. We know the pace looks like it should be less than testing. We know he is likely to get first run on the closers.

We also know he is 2 for 7 at 1 1/4 miles. We definitely know there are some serious horses (eight of which have won at least $1 million) that will be running at him in the stretch.

A week out, Game On Dude really has the feel of a single. He is the most consistent of the contenders. He is running where he trains while almost all of the other contenders had to be flown from New York. He has had a terrific year. If he wins, he will be Horse of the Year.

And if you think he is a single, make him a single. Who cares if the Classic is the last race in the sequence? That’s all psychological stuff, which has no meaning when you are structuring a bet. The way I look at it, there are two possibilities: I am going to be right or I am going to be wrong. When that is determined is irrelevant.

If you asked me right now would I like to be alive to Game On Dude and only Game On Dude in any of the multiple race wagers, my answer would be, “Absolutely. Where do I sign up?”

If Game On Dude, with his nearly $3 million in earnings, is arguably the best horse running over the two days, Friday’s Ladies’ Classic has to be the most exciting race. All the Ladies’ has is three former Breeders’ Cup race winners, two unbeaten horses, the defending champion, serious early speed, and many of the top trainers in the sport.

Just getting 2011 Ladies’ champ Royal Delta back in the starting gate would have sold this race to me. Then, we get the unbeaten winners of the last two Juvenile Fillies (My Miss Aurelia and Awesome Feather), along with the super-fast Questing, the accomplished Grace Hall, and the quick Love and Pride. You have a serious horse race with no predetermined outcome. Trainers Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, Tony Dutrow, Kiaran McLaughlin, Chad Brown, and Steve Asmussen, who combined have been represented by more than 800 winners in 2012, all have contenders.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Race-by-race coverage, video, early odds]

Royal Delta should be favored. She is certainly good enough, but there is so much quality that I would not even consider a single. This race could play out in so many different ways.

So, how will the 2012 Breeders’ Cup play out? Don’t know yet, but I will be spending the next week trying to make sense of it all, form some opinions, and convert those opinions into wagers.