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When Breeders' Cup Plans Go Awry

Over the next 2 weeks, handicappers will pour over the past performances of Breeders’ Cup entrants before making their selections.  When handicapping any race (especially Breeders’ Cup races) players should always ask 1 simple question. Is this race the goal for this horse?  Of course it’s the goal of any owner or trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race, but the most serious contenders have a course mapped out at the beginning of the year.  When horses are forced to deviate from the plan due to injury or illness, it tends to dampen their chances, regardless of talent.  Also, from time to time, horses under the radar will deliver a superior effort that tends to fast track their road to the Breeders’ Cup, though that may not have been the plan at the beginning of the year.  It is unusual for these competitors to find the winner’s circle as well.   Here are some horses that have had their plans rerouted on their way to the Breeders’ Cup.  I don’t think all of these horses are 100% exempt from winning, but I will not make them the focal point of any of my bets on Breeders’ Cup Day. 



Amazombie is a model of consistency not having missed the board in 2011, but he is not Breeders’ Cup nominated and will have to be supplemented to the race.  Earlier in the year trainer Bill Spawr stated Amazombie’s year-end goal was the Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, even though he recently defeated probable Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite, The Factor, in Santa Anita’s Ancient Title Stakes.

David Fawkes duo of Apriority and 2010 Sprint Champion Big Drama missed significant time this year due to nagging injuries.  In fact, Big Drama has only had 1 start since January when he captured the Whippleton Handicap at Calder Race Course running a Beyer Speed Figure of 88.  Big Drama was scratched out of the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes coming down with a slight illness.  At that time,  Fawkes decided to train Big Drama up to the race rather than search for another prep.   Apriority only has 2 starts since falling a nose short in the Churchill Downs Handicap on May 7th, but seems to be regrouping with a 4th place finish in the Vanderbilt Handicap and a troubled 7th in the Vosburgh.


Recent winner of the Hawthorne Gold Cup, Headache started out 2011 running in 5 allowance races (2 on turf) before making his graded stakes debut on June 25th.  The Classic had to be the farthest thing from trainer Mike Maker’s mind at the beginning of the year for Headache.

Tizway was on track for the BC Classic before running a fever and was forced to miss the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 1st.  Trainer H. James Bond began working Tizway out vigorously in order to make up for lost time, but missing the 1 ¼ miles prep race really put Tizway behind the “8 ball”.  He will be hard pressed to win at a distance he’s never been successful at, against the world’s best. 

No one can doubt Uncle Mo’s enormous talent, but he contracted an intestinal virus prior to the Kentucky Derby and only returned to the races in August.   Uncle Mo has been playing catch up the last 2 months in order to make it to the Classic, but has never raced at 1 ¼ miles, nor has he won past 1 1/16 miles.  We will have to wait until Breeders’ Cup day to see if Uncle Mo’s monumental talent will outweigh his misfortune.

Dirt Mile

Twirling Candy raced 3 times this year at 1 ¼ miles without reaching the winner’s circle.  It was obvious his connections were aiming for the Breeders’ Cup Classic all year, and the Dirt Mile is just a consolation prize.   In addition, Twirling Candy missed the Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita earlier this month, further rerouting his Breeders’ Cup road map.

Turf Mile

This year Sidney’s Candy has sprinted, routed, run on turf and dirt.  Since moving to Todd Pletcher’s barn last summer, he has tried everything, but nothing has seemed to work.  It appears Pletcher is grasping for straws with Sidney’s Candy.  Last year, Sidney’s Candy seemed destined for turf success, but he seems to be sputtering towards the finish line.


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Older Comments about When Breeders' Cup Plans Go Awry...

Amazombie doesn't know he was not always headed for the won't affect his winning ways.
Ha!!! My bad. I meant Scooter, not Lynn. Wonder if they're related?
Hey nice to see another Jayhawk that loves horse racing!
Memories of '93 BC , when said about Brocco "There's a New kid on the block and his name is..." This year will also hold many Surprises! Look out chalk players,you might just be tossed to the young Lions! Proceed with Caution at this years BC!
Hey Cause for Concern, I'm not a huge fan of Havre de Grace for that reason, but I didn't want this article to turn into a novel since there's a handful of horses I could've written about. I think the Ladies Classic was the plan all along, but as the connections saw they had a chance at the HOY award that's when they changed at the last minute, not good. HDG has never won at 1 1/4, not even at her home track (Delaware Park). I'm also not a fan of Lynn Dickey since he was the old QB for Kansas State & I'm a Kansas alum. =) But I'm a fan of Scooter Dickey & Flat Out, but not just because he's from Kansas. I think Flat Out has a legitimate chance, at least more than So You about a horse changing plans.
Good points, Jasen. When you speak of the intents of the connections for the year, how does Havre De Grace play into this scenario. They had to have their eyes originally on the Ladies Classic early on. I guess the answer might be "not properly prepared", as she has done everything to be ready for her next endeavor. And, do you have any partiality toward Flat Out, since Lynn Dickey is from the Kansas area?
I could not agree more, Jasen ... The Breeders' Cup is tough enough, but when you try to do something you were not being pointed for, or not properly prepared, it only becomes that much harder.

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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, NE.  From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10.  Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for handicapping the races has risen to a new level.  Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.


My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch.   My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping pick-4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.


The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do.  From week to week, I’ll explain angles I think are important to locate winners.  I encourage others to post picks they like too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions.  That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal.-Best of luck, Jasen Mangrum

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