Updated on 09/16/2011 7:44AM

Think past early future favorites


LEXINGTON, Ky. - At the moment, I'm a big fan of Street Cry, Azeri, and Left Bank. If the Breeders' Cup races were scheduled to be run a month from now, and square prices were offered in the that began this weekend, I would make aggressive wagers on all three of them.

Unfortunately, the Breeders' Cup races won't be run until Oct. 26, a span of nearly four months that will provide more than enough time for the form of those leading contenders, and their opponents, to change significantly.

Fans of Street Cry who are considering accepting a price that might be well below the 4-1 I believe he deserves to be should try to temper their enthusiasm by recalling that as recently as June 15, he was only the second-betting choice at 2-1 behind 13-10 favorite Congaree in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Although I believed that Street Cry deserved to be favored in that race, I never envisioned him dominating his field in a 6 1/2-length triumph. I doubt that many other people who bet him in that race expected it to play out the way it did, either. So don't be surprised if other legitimate Breeders' Cup Classic contenders run big races that point them out as prime contenders over the next few months. And don't overlook the possibility that Street Cry, who has won three straight races since Feb. 28, might not be able to maintain that form all the way through late October.

Bettors looking for overlaid contenders in the Classic will find a few interesting longshots. Handicappers who are kind enough to overlook Sakhee's third-place finish behind Street Cry in the Dubai World Cup will get a great price on the horse who missed winning the Classic by only a nose last year. Both High Chaparral and Hawk Wing are well above their 15-1 morning line odds in the early betting. If they continue to be overlooked, they would qualify as attractive longshots. Hail the Chief earned strong Beyer Speed Figures in his last two wins at Sportsman's and Hawthorne but has not yet received the respect he deserves. Bettors who are still mad at themselves for passing on War Emblem in the Kentucky Derby might want to consider accepting Hail the Chief's Illinois form at face value at a very generous price. And Milwaukee Brew, who won the Santa Anita Handicap and the Californian in his last two starts, would also be an overlay if he closes at a price that is significantly higher than his 15-1 morning line.

I can understand why bettors have hammered Azeri down below even-money during the early betting on the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She deserves to be a heavy favorite based on her recent form. Anyone who watched her reel off four straight Grade 1 wins in the Santa Margarita, Apple Blossom, Milady, and Vanity would have to be impressed. But the contrarian view is that she has been going strong since her debut last November, without a break of longer than seven weeks between races. At a price that seems very likely to fall far below her 5-1 morning line odds, is it really a slam dunk that she can maintain her form from her Nov. 1 debut all the way to the Distaff on October 26?

Bettors who are willing to guess that Azeri is overdue to tail off will find all kinds of betting value available. I plan on constructing the equivalent of a large entry for myself by considering (in alphabetical order) Affluent, Atelier, Dancethruthedawn, Farda Amiga, Fleet Renee, Miss Linda, and Summer Colony. All of them are above 20-1 in the early betting, but Dancethruthedawn and/or Summer Colony figure to be bet down below that price. I'll play the longshots from that group who remain at 20-1 and higher.

I was just as impressed as most people were by Left Bank's sensational 6 1/4-length win in the Tom Fool on July 4. As things stand now, his blazing 1:20.17 final clocking, a track record for the seven-furlong distance at Belmont, makes him the horse to beat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. But I'm not sold on the idea that he will be ready to run that same race a few months down the road. The concern is that the most likely alternatives to Left Bank figure to take enough money to offer only mild, if any betting value. I'll have to watch the late betting to see if I can find a few interesting alternatives since nothing jumps off the page at me. This is the race I might skip.

The field bets are worth considering, but I'm still leaning toward the idea that there is a good chance that all three of these races will be won by horses listed as individual betting interests.