Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Breeders' Cup contests bring together the finest horses in the United
States and their top European counterparts. These races can be very
lucrative for handicappers. Since 2000, more than 65% of the winners
have paid double digits. Multi-race wagers and exotics offer a shot
at very serious money.
2000, the Breeders’ Cup has been held at Santa
Anita four times: 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2012. The 2003 and 2013
editions were contested over dirt while the 2008 and 2009 versions
were held over synthetic surfaces.
examine how the favorites and Europeans perform, plus the running
styles and prep races that yield the most Breeders’ Cup winners.
Races: The 1 3/4 mile Marathon has been contested five times. Two
Europeans Muhannak and Man of Iron won the race over
the Santa Anita Pro-Ride after winning listed races over Polytrack in
Dundalk, England. After their victories in the Marathon, neither
horse won another race. Eldaafer won a controversial Marathon
in 2010 when the second place finisher, Prince Will I Am impeded two
on-coming horses in the stretch. Eldaafer entered the 2010 Marathon
after winning the Turfway Park Fall Championship. The old warrior
competed in four of the last five Marathons, finishing off of the
board in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Afleet Again won an
allowance/optional claimer at Monmouth prep in his previous start
before shocking in the 2011 edition of the Marathon. Last year, the
Argentinian-bred Calidoscopio blew away the field by over four
lengths. He won two of his three previous starts in Argentina.
Style: No Marathon winner has wired the field. The two winners
over Pro-Ride pressed the pace while the dirt runners raced in
mid-pack or farther back before unleashing their run in the stretch.
This is the race handicappers
can use to pad their bankroll for the rest of the Breeders' Cup. No
favorite has won the Marathon and only two have finished in the
money. All except one winner paid double digits. Afleet Again
rewarded his backers with the highest payout, a whopping $85.20.
Ten European horses have contested the Marathon. Two won and one
finished third, while the rest were unplaced. Last year, they finished in the last two spots with Sense of Purpose and Fame and Glory, who was pulled up, while two Argentinians competed.
Plays: There's no
formula for prep races. This year, the only entrant who has
previously contested the Marathon is Atigun.
He was third in last year's edition while setting the pace for most
of the race. His last five starts have come over the lawn and he's
scheduled to prep in Thursday's Bowl Game at Belmont. Hunt for
logical long-shots in the Marathon. The Argentinian Ever
Rider has won or
placed in seven starts in his native land. A case could be made for
Kingdom, victor of
last year's Tokyo City. His form over the Del Mar Poly can be
forgiven. If you like the name angle, Blueskiesandrainbows
is another who likes Santa Anita. He's been in the money in all but
one of his seven starts over the track.
Juvenile Fillies Turf has been contested five times. Two prep
races stand out as key factors, the Miss Grillo and Natalma Stakes.
The first two Juvenile Fillies Turf heroines, Maram
and Tapitsfly, won
and placed in the Miss Grillo Stakes (G-3). The 2008 and 2009
Breeders' Cup events were held at Santa Anita.
The one mile Natalma
(G-3) over the Woodbine green was instrumental in the victories of
the next two Juvenile Fillies Turf winners. More Than Real
placed second in the Natalma (G-3) in 2010 before succeeding in the
Juvenile Fillies Turf. In 2011, Stephanie's Kitten was third
in the Natalma. Stephanie's Kitten squeezed in a victory in the
Alcibiades (G-1) over the Keeneland Polytrack before posting her win
in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Lat year, Flotilla invaded from
France. After finishing fourth, beaten only ½ length in the
Criterium des Pouliches (G-1), Flotilla won by 1 ½ lengths at 11-1.
five winners sat in fifth place or farther back before unleashing
their stretch runs.
five fillies paid double digits to win. In all but one instance, the
favorite for the Juvenile Fillies Turf finished out of the money.
The win payout has been in the neighborhood of $20. More Than Real
returned the largest reward at $29.20. Although not as lucrative as
the Marathon, the Juvenile Fillies Turf offers decent financial
rewards to those who look beyond the obvious.
of 17 European fillies to contest the Juvenile Fillies' Turf, only
one visited the winners' circle. Last year they completed the $85.50
Plays: Fillies who fit
the profile this year are Natalma winner Llanarmon
and runner-up Spanish
des Pouliches heroine Queen
Rossi victorious in
the Miss Grillo and Sky
Painter, runner-up in
the Miss Grillo by a slender nose.
Race: The Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile has been contested six times.
Two Dirt Mile winners, Albertus Maximus and Dakota
Phone prepped in the Goodwood Stakes, both recording third place
finishes. The rest had various preps. The only Dirt Mile hero who won
his previous race was Furthest Land in the Kentucky Cup
Classic. Corinthian, the first Dirt Mile winner was fourth in the Woodward before running off to a 6 1/2 length win. Caleb's Posse finished third in the Indiana Derby
before pulling an upset and last year's winner Tapizar was
sixth in the Kelso before roaring to a 2 ¼ length victory in the
Style: No Dirt Mile winner has wired the field. Two made their
runs from the back of the pack and two pressed the pace. One
mid-pack runner won. When the Dirt Mile was contested at Santa
Anita, two winners pressed the pace while the other raced in the back
of the pack and made his run in the stretch.
The Dirt Mile is another
long shot special. None
of the favorites won and only one hit the board. Payouts ranged
between $14.60 to $77.40 and most exactas paid over $100.
Only one European horse has entered the Dirt Mile since its
inception. He placed fourth.
The best advice I can give here is to get out the darts.
has the same profile as last year's winner Tapizar, as both were
sixth after trouble and entered the Dirt Mile second off of a layoff.
Maybe this will be the year a favorite wins. Todd Pletcher could enter the
tough duo of Graydar
Juvenile Turf has been contested six times. Four of the last six
winners had their final prep overseas. Two raced in the Grand
Criterium, one won while the other was second. Last year's winner
George Vancouver, was third in the Dewhurst Stakes (Eng. G1).
The US based Juvenile Turf victors, Nownownow and Pluck
won the Bourbon and Summer Stakes in their preps.
mid-pack early suited four Juvenile Turf champs while a closer and
pace presser also won.
favorite, Pounced, was successful while four favorites ran second and
one was unplaced. The winning payouts ranged between $6.80 and
Europeans rule in the Juvie Turf. 19 runners from overseas were
entered in the last four years and seven hit the board. Of those,
four won, two were second and one placed third.
We still don't know whose shipping in from England, Ireland and
and the Japanese-bred Karakontie
have earned berths through the Win and You're In prep races.
may also join the field. The home boys include Poker
the one-two finishers in the Bourbon, Aotearoa,
the top three from the Zuma Beach Stakes plus Pilgrim winner Bobby's
distaff has been quite predictable over the last seven years. A win,
second or third place finish in the Beldame has been the recipe for
success for four of the six winners. Two mares, Zenyatta
used the Lady's Secret as a prep race. This year, Royal
is going for a historic three-peat. The only other mare to win
back-to-back Distaffs was Bayakoa
Style: Only Royal Delta has gone wire to wire in
the last seven years.
pulled off this feat last year. In 2011, she sat third before taking
command in the stretch. Mid-Pack runners have prevailed three times,
while two deep closers and one pace presser have won.
favorites have won the Distaff since 2006. One was second while the
rest finished off of the board. From a win bet standpoint, this is a
poor betting race. The highest payout was in 2006, when Round Pound
paid $13.90 to win. If you're going to bet the Distaff, concentrate
on the exotics. The lowest exacta was in 2008 when the two
favorites, Zenyatta and Cocoa Beach paid a paltry $6.70. Royal Delta
didn't return all that much either. Last year, she and My Miss Arelia
combined for a $15.20 exacta while the trifecta paid $110.
Otherwise, the exactas have returned from $32 to $400.
Europeans have entered the Distaff in seven years.
year's field is shaping up to be a very strong race, much more
exciting than the Classic. This could also mean we're looking at a
chalky special betting wise. Bill
Mott's mares have won three of the last four editions of the
Distaff and placed in 2009. Can Royal
Delta pull off one
last hurrah? I'm not betting against her. How about a Mott exacta
Hatches? She and
have met up twice, each earning a win. If you want variety, look no
further than Beholder,
queen of the west.
concludes the first day of the Breeders' Cup races. Check back on
Thursday for observations of the next day's contests.