October 23, 2008

Breeders' Cup Picks

After two nights of scouring the Daily Racing Form (aka,Bettor's Bible), I have been able to eliminate most of the favorites -- in my mind anyway! Those of you who have been to the track with me, or more likely who have heard one of many stories about how I lost a HUGE trifecta on a "head bob" know that I loathe the chalk. Won't touch it with a 10 foot pole, other than an occasional wheel with a long-shot choice. I obtain no excitement whatsoever by risking $5 to win $8. Now I have known some very astute handicappers who would gladly accept a 50% plus rate of return for close to a "sure thing," but those gentlemen have much more bank than me (even before the seemingly daily exhaustion of my 201k). Conversely, I delight in the notion that I can go to the track with a hundred bucks and come back with five grand and a 1099-G from Uncle Sam (hey, we've got to help "spread the wealth", right??).

So proceed with caution on the following "spot play" longshots and don't be calling next week harrassing me about my lousy handicapping skills. I already know that I hit a big trifecta about as often as the Cubs win a pennant... why do you think I have a real job?!

Here we go. It's rare that I play the first race or "daily double," since that is usually relegated to non-winners of two claiming races and I like to save my limited funds for the feature race. But on Breeders' Cup day, every race is a feature! Which reminds me, if you haven't realized it by now, all of the five filly and mare races will be run Friday and nine races will follow on Saturday. So let's try to get off to a fast start in the first Breeders' Cup race (Filly and Mare Sprint) by picking Zaftig (8-1) on top of Intangaroo and favorite Indian Blessing in an exacta part-wheel. Hopefully, you read my blog tribute to Cozzene and Princess Rooney earlier. Well, I'll be damned if the first race doesn't have a grandson of Cozzene (Zaftig) that is coming off a victory against Indian Blessing at a mile. Let's cash a nice ticket early and have some ammunition so we can really start firing at em!

The next race is the Fillies Juvenile Turf where I like Consequence (also at 8-1 odds) coming off a bullet work. She was a bit wide in her last 4th place effort but only beaten a half length. While I mentioned I don't like betting favorites, some of my best wins have been with "beaten favorites" a race or two later when the betting public have given up on them. Everybody can have a bad day at the office every now and then. Hell, it's nearly a daily occurrence with me lately. Let's hope this filly rewards our faith in her.

The Juvenile Fillies race is one that I'm most excited about. Perhaps my best long-shot pick of the weekend is C.S. Silk. Not only because of her two widening six length victories, but because jockey Robby Albarado chose to ride this one over the third choice, Dream Express. I would say this is a bit like inside information, but the kind you can't go to jail for. C.S. Silk is a whopping 15-1 on the morning line odds! I will box her with Stardom Bound and Sky Diva in exactas and trifectas.

In the Filly and Mare Turf I will take a shot with one of many European shippers, Folk Opera (10-1), who wreaks of class while being a perfect 3 for 4 at the 1 1/4 mile distance. Again, I'll box her with the favorites in the exotics. That leads us to the last race on Friday's card, the Ladies Classic. Optimistically, I'll be counting all my money at this point and can simply sit back and relish Zenyatta's quest for racing immortality.

Saturday's action is equally as appealing for my longshot hunches. I'll start in the 3rd race (Dirt Mile) by playing the speedball Two Step Salsa (15-1) across the board and boxing with deserving favorite, Well Armed. The next race is the Turf Mile, where I'll go against logic by playing an American horse, Thorn Song at 12-1. When I first saw this name, I immediately thought of Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Thors Echo from several years ago. In addition, this one has speed to burn and has only lost as of late when going longer than one mile. Whatsthescript will be tough to beat, but the far outside post may compromise his chances.

Handicapping the Juvenile really had me perplexed, but I decided to give the nod to Square Eddie (9-2) based on his dominant Keenland romp over the polytrack surface. A hunch is telling me to bet a ticket or two on Mine That Bird at 30-1, who has dominated lesser foes north of the border at Woodbine in Canada.

Skipping ahead to the Breeders' Cup Turf, I tried over and again to beat the favorite, but couldn't. Soldier of Fortune (7-2) looks much the best in this race if he runs to form after his trans-Atlantic journey. Grand Couturier is also in excellent form and may complete the exacta. That brings us to the Classic, possibly Curlin's grand farewell. He certainly will be the focus of the event and without him in the race I would have stayed and watched from home. Many have already conceded the race to Curlin, quite a change in opinion from when trainer and owner wanted no part of a synthetic surface only one month ago. While I would love to see "little big red" in the winner's circle, I have come to expect a letdown after journeying to see Cigar and Smarty Jones clinch records after similar hype. Three of Europe's leading turf horses decided to give it a go in the Classic this year, thinking this may be their best shot on the synthetic surface. I believe that Duke of Marmalade has the class to challenge Curlin. At 10-1, this five time Group I winner this year is being grossly disrespected, probably due to his flat performance in his last start. Again, looking at the entire body of work, I expect a return to form for the Aidan O'Brien trained Coolmoore Farm standout. Go Between is heralded in California, as is three year-old Colonel John, who has took his time coming back after his gut-wrenching nose victory in the Travers Stakes in August. But the wild card in this race is Casino Drive, who scratched the week of the Belmont Stakes. This Japanese based horse and trainer then played hide and seek until two weeks ago, winning a conditioned allowance race at Santa Anita as his tune-up. Many "experts" are saying that his looks alone will put him in the winners' circle, whatever that means.

Good luck to all of your picks, as long as they don't interfere with my long-shot specials!

Horse Racing

No comments: