Very Challenging All-Stakes Breeders' Cup Pick 4 Analysis

October 28, 2015 11:09am

The first four races of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships take place on Friday afternoon. Keeneland Racecourse is offering an all-stakes Pick 4 wager starting in Race 6 with the Juvenile Turf and concluding with the $2 million dollar Breeders’ Cup Distaff in Race 9. The sequence is quite challenging and one that could pay very well if you are fortunate enough to piece the four winners together.

It is usually advisable to find a horse to “single” when putting together a horizontal ticket because it allows you to “spread” in other races where you are not as confident, as well as giving you the potential of “busting out” for a big payday. With the Juvenile Turf, the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Distaff all extremely competitive, it is likely the majority of horseplayers will look to single the lowest priced horse in the four race sequence.

Liam’s Map is listed as the even-money favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and while the four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song is the class and perhaps the quickest in this group, singling him in this sequence is not something I will be doing. While the Todd Pletcher conditioned colt is probably the most likely winner, his value in horizontal wagers is simply too low for me to “single” him in a field full of talented runners. It will not always work, but I look to “Zig When Others Zag” when it comes to gambling. Doing this does not give you a greater likelihood of cashing a winning ticket, but it guarantees you an overlaid payout when you do hit. If you are gambling everyday, you need to give yourself as many advantages as possible and be willing to miss out on a few hits that are underlays throughout the year.  It is certainly understandable for those that only play the ponies a few times during the year with a limited budget to take a stand with Liam’s Map singled in Race 7, but I will be spending up in this sequence and including a few others.

At the time of publication, I have two Pick 4 tickets mapped out, but the weather and late information from Kentucky could push me to make some modifications before Friday afternoon. Here are some quick thoughts on the runners I will use in this sequence in hopes of getting the big weekend started right:


Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

This is a very difficult race to decipher, but I am far from thrilled with any of the runners exiting the Grade III Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont. I will toss all of those colts. Aidan O”Brien and John Gosden have combined for four of the first eight winners of this event and must be respected.


#14 Hit It a Bomb- The shorter price of the two O’Brien charges. Great turf pedigree and a perfect two for two to start his career. Gets Lasix for the first time on Friday. The outside post and lack of racing experience are less than ideal, but his talent against a relatively subpar group for this event make him my top choice.

#4 Shogun- The second of the O’Brien runners. Also gets Lasix for the first time off of a mid-pack finish against a stacked group at Longchamp. Well drawn and the price is right for this son of Fastnet Rock.

#13 Cymric- Comes to the States off of a monster near miss effort against Ultra at Longchamp in same race Shogun exits. A repeat of that effort puts him in the winners’ circle, but a firm course is unlikely and the outside post presents a big challenge for this Gosden trained son of Kitten’s Joy. I fear regression in this one.

#8 Airoforce- The best of the American-based runners has dominated two straight fields in Kentucky. Casse has never won a Breeders’ Cup race, but he certainly fits and may be the most likely to hit the board. Using on both tickets, but may figure underneath a bit more.

#12 Camelot Kitten- This Ramsey/Brown runner appears a bit slow, but has a nice turn of foot and gets arguably the best turf jockey in the States in Irad Ortiz, Jr. Perhaps an underneath finish is more likely, but hard to leave off these connections at a price, especially if the course has some “give” in it.

If spreading even deeper, Birchwood has three wins and has faced strong competition in Europe. Ray’s The Bar may have needed his last start in the Pilgrim and has the support of some strong handicappers. Sky Marshal made a strong nice run in the Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine and is 30-1 on the morning line. 



Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

As previously discussed, Liam’s Map will be one of the heaviest favorites on Breeders’ Cup weekend is going to be a single on the majority of tickets played in this sequence. If he runs back to his two races this summer at New York he will likely win rather easily, but I will use at least two others as well.


#3 Liam’s Map- He is the class and likely pacesetter in this group after deciding to bypass the $5 million dollar Classic for this one. Pletcher’s statistics in the Breeders’ Cup, especially since security changes in 2012 make him difficult to endorse at a short price no matter how strong his runners look on paper. Using, but not a cinch.

#5 Lea- My top pick in this one. 3 for 3 at the mile distance. Moves from turf-to-dirt after a solid second place effort in the Woodbine Mile last month. Lezcano takes the mount for the first time and fits his running style well. If Liam’s Map gets pressed at all, I expect him to run down the favorite in the final furlong.

#6 Street Strategy- May be outclassed in this one, but won very easily at this surface/distance in last. Draws outside the speed horses and has been working “lights out.” 

If you have the budget to use one more runner, #10 Valid draws well to the outside and only was defeated a half-length by Liam’s Map in the Harlan’s Holiday last December at Gulfstream Park.  More likely to finish underneath, but has won 10 of 31 career starts and 4 of 10 at the distance.


Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

The race I struggled with most in this sequence. I will be spreading as much as possible on both of my tickets.


#8 Harmonize- This Scat Daddy filly has done little wrong and enters as the 7-2 morning line favorite. An impressive win in the Jessamine over this turf course when forced 8-wide. Will likely be over bet off the troubled trip, but impossible to toss.

#10 Illuminate- The most logical of the European horses. Heads to the States a winner of 3 of her 4 starts, but they have come at six furlongs. Trainer Richard Hannon is 0 for 10 in Breeders’ Cup races, but another that has too much talent to toss.

#6 Sapphire Kitten- Just missed against Harmonize in the Jessamine. Won impressively sprinting at Kentucky Downs in debut. This daughter of Kitten’s joy has room to improve still and could turn the tables on Harmonize. Using on all tickets.

#12 Gliding By- It is a lot to ask to win a race of this caliber in just your second career start, but this Artie Schiller filly showed a powerful turn of foot last month at Woodbine and goes to the Bill Mott barn. The addition of Lasix for this one and a monster price on the morning line make her intriguing and a must use.

#14 Last Waltz- Danehill Dancer filly makes her first start in the States for Chad Brown. Brown excels with these types and the addition of Lasix only helps her chances. Another worth including at a big price.

#3 Alice Springs- Hard to not include O”Brien in these races, but not one of my top options.

#11 Pricedtoperfection- $230K daughter of Temple City for Klaravich Stables and Chad Brown. Could be rolling late at a big price.


Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Distaff

One of the more wide-open renditions of this race I can remember, in large part due to the lack of a real superstar. The two lowest choices on the morning line, Wedding Toast and Sheer Drama are both worth consideration and can win if they can work out a trip, but I am going to take a stand against. Wedding Toast is not quick enough to make the lead and has not illustrated she can win from off the pace at the nine furlong distance. Sheer Drama had a perfect trip in the Personal Ensign and sports the best recent races, but the extreme outside draw will almost certainly require her to get to the wire first without a perfect voyage. I will take a shot against these two to close out the sequence.


#1 I’m a Chatterbox- My top pick in here and a single on one of my two tickets. I am not crazy about the rail draw, but Geroux should be able to keep this Munnings filly off a hot early pace and get first jump when they turn for home. If she relaxes down the backstretch, I love her chances.

#4 Stopchargingmaria- Never been a huge fan of this filly, but Castellano should be able to work out a perfect trip. She is 5 for 7 at the mile and an eighth distance and has run well in her only start over the Keeneland surface, as well as over an off track.

#9 Stellar Wind- Hard to ignore Sadler’s inability to ship and win races of this caliber, but this three-year old filly is well rested and could be rolling late at a nice price.

#12 Got Lucky- This daughter of A.P. Indy has won 3 of 4 since a five and a half length score in the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth on July 3rd. The outside draw is tough, but a repeat of either of her last two races put her right there at the wire.

#2 Frivolous- Five-year old mare has a few races that put her “in the mix.” Has finished in the money in 3 of 5 lifetime starts at Keeneland. An underneath effort may be more likely even on best effort, but the 30-1 morning line is too juicy to not include on one ticket.


My Pick 4 Plays:

4+8+14, 3+5, 3+7+8+10+11+12+14, 1+2+4+9+12

4+6+7+8+9+13+14, 3+5+6+10, 3+7+8+10+11+12+14, 1




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Scott has been a fan of handicapping and following thoroughbred racing since Garden State Park was rebuilt in Cherry Hill, NJ in 1985.  His first memories of the racetrack include the 1985 Jersey Derby won by Spend a Buck and the 1990 Met Mile clash between Easy Goer, Criminal Type and Housebuster, but it was not until his mid to late twenties that Scott became confident he had a knack for picking winners. He points to the summer of 2007 in San Diego while working on a masters degree in American History as the time where he took his handicapping, his communication skills, and his attention to detail to the next level.  It was at this time where he had his first real big score.   He had four of only five winning combinations in the now extinct “Place Pick All” on a $8 ticket netting himself $40,000. 

A few months after hitting a monster pick five at Santa Anita Park in February of 2013, Scott started his website, showcasing his and other experts' selections, as well as analysis and commentary on North American racing. From there, he began writing a weekly column for called "Race of the Week" and soon thereafter started writing for Horse Racing Nation. Currently, he is Horse Racing Nation's Southern California Racing Correspondent and can be found most days at Santa Anita Park or Del Mar Race Course.

Scott loves playing in horse racing tournaments and constructing pick four and pick five tickets.  His favorite all-time horses are Captain Bodgit, A.P. Indy, Fly So Free and Charismatic. He has lived in multiple states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Colorado before returning to Southern California in the middle of 2015 to start "Shapper Da California Capper." 


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