Don’t look now, but it’s that time…no, not Halloween, that is over. No, Not Thanksgiving, we still have a few more weeks to go. People, its Breeders Cup time!!! That means world class racing, big time rivalries, dynamic performance, and best of all handicapping galore for bettors!
Handicappers, bettors, and fans alike have been waiting since the beginning of the season for the fields to become set in stone, just so that they can pick apart every single race in search of that live long shot, that big play that allows them to leave with their chests puffed out and pockets loaded. If you’re like me, somebody who rarely bets, but likes to handicap to put their skills to the test, it’s a matter of pride and being able to say “Yeah, I picked that horse!”
2011 is no different than any other year, except for maybe this year, there are almost no sure things or perceived locks in any race. Not one race on either card, Friday or Saturday, has one horse that does not have some nagging little question mark hanging over their head. There is not one race that is not loaded top to bottom with top horses, competitive, talented, brilliant horses. They all have an excess of top horses that all have a shot to steal the race. It is a handicapper’s heaven.
One such race is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Just look at the names that pop up on this list and you will see that there are plenty of top horses running that will be eager to take down the two favorites, Shackleford and The Factor. Even horses like Trappe Shot and Caleb’s Posse are vulnerable, leaving the race wide open. My top two picks are the Asmussen pair Tapizar and Wilburn. Tapizar is a speedy colt, who is in risk of getting tangled into a nasty duel, but if they can get this Churchill loving colt to relax off an almost certain to be hot pace, he’ll have first run and be tough for closers to catch. Wilburn, by Bernardini, has been on the improve lately and turned in a bang up race in the Indiana Derby, beating both Shackleford and Caleb’s Posse. He’ll have no trouble rating behind a wicked pace and pouncing, just like he did in the Indiana Derby.
Also look closely at the Sprint. With Euroears, like the Factor, being stuck down on the rail, will have to be used up to beat the overflow of speed on his outside. However, one thing I noticed, is that opening day, most sprints were won by horses close to the pace, so while Euroears may be used up, that does not mean another one of those speedsters couldn’t sit just off of him, then make a run for it turning for home. Giant Ryan may just be the one to pull that off. He proved in the Vosburgh he is not just some Calder loving freak. He ran an exceptional race in an exceptional time. He may not be the leader, but there is no doubt he’ll be close. If he continues to improve while being overlooked, there is no doubt that he could throw a big wrench into the payouts.
On Friday both the Juvenile Fillies and Ladies Classic have huge potential to produce some winners at juicy odds. You can bet My Miss Aurelia will be heavily bet, and deservedly so, but Miss Netta should not be overlooked. She did everything wrong in the Frizette, that is until the stretch. She closed like a monster and wasn’t even part of the race the first half it was run. She got up for third, but clearly was the second best and has room for improvement.
In the Ladies Classic you may not have a dominant older filly to show the lil’ lassies how it’s done, but there are plenty of very capable three year old fillies, all of whom are vying for championship honors in this race. Plum Pretty is 2-1 one now, but something tells me that after Royal Delta trounced her in their last meeting, that she will get the betting attention. Also, I think It’s Tricky will be bet down, while being given the benefit of the doubt for her effort last out, where she was well beaten by Plum Pretty. If that happens, Plum Pretty’s odds will be going up and she will be ripe for the taking. She love Churchill and looks to be the controlling speed. Nine furlongs is well within her scope asnd Baffert has her screws tight as can be.
The last race I wanted to cover was the Classic. This year, more than any other in recent history, has such a wide open field that a longshot could easily end up stealing the show or come lighting up the tote board. With questions hanging over some of the top contenders’ heads, Stay Thirsty would be a wise way to ensure some coverage. We know he loves the distance, and while some may dismiss him off his last effort and previous runs at this track, one can make a case that in the Gold Cup he did not get his ideal set up, and in both runs at Churchill he was far from ready to fire his best shot. This time around he is, and he looked like a horse ready to roll during his recent work. Plus, you know what they always say, third time is the charm. Third time over Churchill could be the charm for the son of Bernardini.
Well, that wraps up some of my live longshots for the upcoming weekend. Anyone else ready to share their thoughts on who may be the horse that could allow them to walk off the track with their pockets bursting at the seams or chests puffed out in pride?