Race of the Week 2017

White Discusses BC Classic Morning Line

Game On Dude, who is six for six since finishing seventh as the 6-5 favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, will be the morning-line favorite for this year’s Classic, according to Santa Anita’s oddsmaker, Jon White, who again will be making the official morning lines for all of the Breeders’ Cup races this year.

The post positions for Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile Classic will be drawn Monday, with the morning line for America’s richest race issued shortly thereafter.

“As of this time, while reserving the right to make last-minute adjustments, especially after the draw for post positions, and using last year’s Classic prices as something of a base guideline, what I am planning to do in terms of the Classic is to make Game On Dude 8-5, Fort Larned 6-1, Mucho Macho Man 6-1, Ron the Greek 6-1 or 8-1 and Declaration of War 8-1.

“I would say Game On Dude actually is going into the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a better record this year than last year when he was bet down to 6-5. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see him around 6-5 again this year. On the other hand, when he was 6-5 last year, he did finish seventh. His performance in last year’s Classic seems to resonate with a lot of people vis-à-vis this year’s Classic. So that right there might make his price higher than 6-5 this year. But if his price is higher than 6-5, how much higher will it be?

“If Graydar was running in the Classic instead of the Dirt Mile, I think Game On Dude’s price would be a bit higher because Graydar would have added more early zip to the race. Even without Graydar, Game On Dude’s final price might be higher this year than 6-5 because many seem to believe the pace might be hot and could prove a problem for Game On Dude.

“I’m not so sure about that myself. It’s not as if Game On Dude has never won a race without being in front early. But the goal in making a morning line is to try and get as close as humanely possible to predicting the final odds. So I have to try and get into the heads of all the bettors. I’m sensing that a lot of people are of the opinion that this year’s pace scenario in the Classic is a potential problem for Game On Dude. And if that supposition is correct, it will be reflected in Game On Dude’s price.

“Nevertheless, I find it rather hard to believe Game On Dude’s price is going to be closer to 5-2 than 6-5 in this year’s Classic based on how heavily he has been bet for the last two years. He was 14-1 in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs when he finished second to Drosselmeyer. In Game On Dude’s races since then, other than the Dubai World Cup in which no odds are listed in the past performances, his odds have been 1-5, even money, 2-5, 6-5,

1-5, 6-5, 1-5, 1-20, 6-5, 1-5, 1-5 and 8-5.

“Is he really now going to be around 5-2 in the Classic after winning six in a row? After winning the Pacific Classic by such a big margin (8 ½ lengths) at 8-5, is he really now going up in price to 5-2? I have my doubts about that, though one must keep in mind that the Breeders’ Cup Classic field certainly is stronger than the field for the Pacific Classic.”

White also talked about the dynamic that so many contenders are returning from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“This isn’t a Classic in which most of the contenders have never run against each other,” White noted. “Not only do we have five returnees from last year’s Classic, they are running on the same track. So this is something that can be part of the equation.

“You had pretty good separation in the betting for the Classic last year between Game On Dude at 6-5 and Mucho Macho Man at 6-1, Flat Out at 6-1, Ron the Greek at 8-1 and Fort Larned at 9-1. Considering Game On Dude’s outstanding record since then, which includes winning the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic by record margins, I think we are going to see something similar in terms of the betting for the five returnees in this year’s Classic other than Game On Dude’s price perhaps being a tad higher than 6-5, along with Fort Larned probably being lower than 9-1, largely because he won the race last year.

“One also has to try to get a feel for how much respect the three-year-olds, Palace Malice and Will Take Charge, are going to get from bettors. It seems to me the general perception is the three-year-olds are not superior to their elders this year. Again, that may or may not be the case. But if that is indeed the perception, then the three-year-olds are not likely to attract a lot of play. And then there is the classy European to consider, Declaration of War. He’s never raced on dirt, but he is three for three on synthetic surfaces, which shows he doesn’t need to run on the grass to win.

“I’ve been monitoring the wagering for Breeders’ Cup races at the Wynn in Las Vegas and at William Hill. Not only do the William Hill odds give me some insight on how to handle the Euros, it gives me a clue as to how the betting for each Breeders’ Cup race might go. Unlike odds that are posted that reflect nothing more than a person’s opinion, the William Hill odds and Wynn odds deal with actual betting. People are putting up their money. While keeping in mind William Hill is European wagering and not American wagering, those odds do mean more to me in trying to forecast Breeders’ Cup wagering than odds that are not tied to actual betting. Declaration of War was 10-1 at William Hill after pre-entries were announced. The latest price I have seen on him there is 8-1. If he’s 8-1 in European wagering at William Hill, it tells me I don’t need to go lower than 8-1 on the morning line for him.

“And we do not even know the post positions yet. This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic certainly is a race in which the post positions could affect the morning line. For instance, if Game On Dude were to draw the inside post, putting him inside the other early speed horses, I’d seriously consider raising him slightly. The inside post for the Santa Anita Handicap, which is run at the same distance as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is just 2 for 76.”

The first time White made morning lines for the Breeders’ Cup was in 2010. He installed Zenyatta as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Classic. Zenyatta won as the 5-2 favorite in what has been acknowledged as the greatest moment in the history of the Breeders’ Cup.



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