Friday kicks off the 36th annual addition of the Breeders Cup. The Breeders Cup is a two-day, world championship event for horse racing. There are 14 Breeders Cup races, taking place across multiple surfaces and distances. In this space, I will be focusing on the races taking place on Saturday. I will go through each race in the order they are listed on the card. At the bottom of each race there will be a top selection, along with other suggested plays. With a stacked card like this, and so much money in the pools, wagering strategy is more important than your opinions. On top of featuring an international interest in the betting pools, there is also a live money-handicapping contest that adds to the pools. Bottom line, if you like a horse this weekend, you will get a fair price on them. If you hit an exotic wager (exacta, trifecta, etc.) you will be fairly compensated.

Race 3: Filly and Mare Sprint, 7 Furlongs on Dirt.

The first Breeders Cup race on Saturday also appears to be one of the most wide open. Of the 13 entries, there could be a case made for 11 of them as win contenders. While #1 Slammed winning here would be a great story, it would be the first time a horse who debuted at SunRay Park in New Mexico won a Breeders Cup race, she has her work cut out for here. For one, the presence of #10 Hot Peppers, #12 Lady Rocket, #13 Echo Zulu. With this many horses in one race that look to be on the lead, or at least influencing the early pace, I tend to look elsewhere for a top selection. Of the remaining contenders, I tend to lean towards #6 Chain Of Love. After sending a contingent over last year, this is the only Japanese horse entered in the Breeders Cup this year. While this race is limited to female horses, Chain of Love has been running against boys for the last year. With her being a rather unknown, it should guarantee we get a solid price. Chain of Love is 20-1 on the ML. #8 Goodnight Olive is an interesting choice here as the favorite (3-1). She has a dominating win over the track, but as a lightly raced 4 year old, how much can you really trust her to take a step forward? She has the right running style to be a big factor here and hit the board. It’s worth playing against in the win spot. I also like the #7 Obligatory, and think she has a decent chance to finish on the board (Top 3).

Top Selection: #6 Chain Of Love, staggered Win/Place/Show (ex: $5 W, $10 P, $20 S)

Race 4: The Turf Sprint, 5.5 Furlongs on Turf.

This is the first race of the day that has a bona fide standout and a horse that is something of a superstar in the horseracing world, the #8 Golden Pal. He sits 2-1 on the morning line, but I expect those odds to be a little shorter. These sprints are about as close a thing to a drag race that horse racing has, and very few horses have more natural speed than Golden Pal. Barring this horse missing the break or having some sort of race trouble, I do not foresee him losing on Saturday. Out of the other candidates, the clear second choice to me was #7 Arrest Me Red. He shares the same trainer as Golden Pal, Wesley Ward. Ward is a specialist with these turf sprinting types. There are some knocks against Arrest Me Red, mainly he has been the favorite in four straight races but lost three of those four. He has finished in the top 3 in all of those races though, and hasn’t lost by much. In 4 career races at 5.5 furlongs he has a record of 3-0-1. At 15-1 on the ML, I will play this horse on all of my tickets, mainly in the second and third spots on exotic bets. The #11 Casa Creed is another horse that I think has a really good chance to round out the top 3. While never having ran as short as 5.5 furlongs, he has raced at 6 furlongs and they’ve all gone pretty well, resulting in two wins and a second place. While European horses typically have an advantage on the turf, sprinting is a different game. In Europe most of their sprints are straight runs while in the US sprints go around a left hand turn. The complexion of these races is completely different. That is the main reason I am not very high on the euro’s here. The #1 Creative Force and the #3 Emaraaty Ana are the euro’s that I will be playing underneath here. Creative Force comes over for Charlie Appleby, who has to be respected as a trainer. Over 50% of the horses he has shipped over the US have won their first race stateside. Emaraaty Ana ran well in the Breeders Cup last year at Del Mar, so he does have experience stateside and I figure he will be higher than the 20-1 ML odds suggest.

Top Selection: #8 Golden Pal to win.

Other Bets: Tri Key Box: Key 8, box with 1,3,7,11,12

Race 5: The Dirt Mile (Surface and distance strongly implied in the name)

This is one of my favorite races to bet each Breeders Cup for a myriad of reasons. Usually this race is viewed as the JV game to the Classic’s Varsity game. This field is usually composed of a mixture of horses that couldn’t get longer distances or they are 7 furlong or one-turn mile specialists. Due to the configuration of Keeneland this will be a two-turn race where the finish line is actually in mid-stretch. Betting horses with early speed in these races has paid me pretty well over the years. With what looks to be a fair amount of early speed signed on here, I am going to be siding with a horse that has shown the ability to sit just off of the lead. My top choice here will be #6 Laurel River. He is listed at 9/2 on the morning line, but he is trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Irad Ortiz, so I suspect his price will be a little bit shorter than that at post time. Laurel River is a horse who has been on the improve and I am a big fan of the way he has won his last two races, most recently a Grade 2 Stakes at Del Mar where he won without much effort. For a trainer with as much success as Baffert has had, he hasn’t had much success in this race as of late. He also hasn’t brought a horse here that was strictly a miler like Laurel River appears to be. #7 Cody’s Wish will likely be the favorite when they open the gate. I will be playing against him here. His two races at two turns were a cut below his average performances. Also, I am not exactly thrilled by the competition he has beat leading up to this race. I know he popped the big upset over Jackie’s Warrior last out, but that was at 7 furlongs. I also suspect the Beyer figures from Travers Day might be a little inflated. Out of the long shots on the board, my favorite is #10 Senior Buscador. Currently at 12-1, it appears that he isn’t exactly a favorite among the betting crowd, so maybe we can get a little higher price on race day. His two best lifetime races, by far, have been at the one-mile distance. He does his best running late and he should be moving forward late while some of the lower price horses are sinking through the field, especially if the pace scenario plays out like I expect. Speaking of horses that do their best running late, what about the #11 Three Technique. Formerly owned by Bill Parcells, he is another horse who does his best running late, actually having the highest late race pace figure in the field. He has already hit the board in stakes races this year at odds of 10-1, 14-1 and 17-1. He even won a stakes race on the Kentucky Derby undercard at 37-1! If you are looking for a horse to blow up the trifecta, this may be your guy.

Top Selection: #6 Laurel River (Best Bet)

Other Bets: Trifecta – 6/5,9,10,11/5,9,10,11

Race 6: Filly and Mare Turf, 1 3/16th on the Turf

My picks for this race might change right up until post time based on numerous factors. Mainly, reports have been, that while horses have been galloping on the turf course this week, it has gotten chewed up pretty easily in spots. Between the races Friday and Saturday it will be interesting to see if any sort of bias shows itself. Remember, on Derby Day, Churchill’s turf course had problems of it’s own and it turned out that the center of the course was the place to be. There is also the possibility that it will start to run about this time on Saturday. I have usually thought that, when wet, the Keeneland turf course is much more speed favoring. That plays well for a horse like #11 In Italian who has generated plenty of buzz among the wise guys so far. One of the big allures of In Italian is that she looks to be lone speed on paper and may be able to set the fractions her own way throughout this race. My only drawback with that is, the jockey’s have past performances too. Every rider in this race is going to know that letting her walk on the lead means you are running for second. She will also have to gun it to the lead from an outside post, which makes the task just a little tougher. The #2 Going To Vegas has some early speed and could be the key to this race if someone else is to spring an upset. Personally, my favorite horses here lie amongst the European contingent shipping in. #3 Nashwa gets top billing here but I prefer the #4 Above the Curve. She lost by just a nose to Nashwa last out and could be ready to peak with her third race of this form cycle. Johnny Velazquez will ride her for this race, which is also a huge plus in my book. The #9 Rougir and the #12 Moira both come out of the same race. They both experienced troubled trips and could be live here. Moira actually won the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s version of the Kentucky Derby, and broke the track record in the process. So the talent is there.

Top Selection: #4 Above The Curve

Race 7: Breeders Cup Sprint, 6 Furlong On Dirt

While many horses in this field have been around for a while and have run in some of the biggest races, many here are probably a little bit past their prime. There is also a major standout in this field, #9 Jackie’s Warrior. Admittedly, the only thing missing from his resume is a Breeder’s Cup victory. He failed in this race last year despite being 1-2 (-200 for those who bet sports). Will someone in the field take the race to him early? Between the #2 Kimari, #7 Super Ocho and #10 Willy Boi maybe someone will push Jackie’s Warrior on the front end. If this falls apart, and Jackie’s Warrior fades again, this race has the potential to pay huge. My top selection is the #6 Elite Power he comes here as a horse who has improved every single race and does not appear to have had to try all that hard yet. He likes to sit a couple lengths off the pace and make a run turning for home. If they go too fast up front, and he takes another step forward, he could be well clear at the finish line. I am also intrigued by the #4 American Theorem as well. While a little more experienced than the aforementioned Elite Power, he seems to have just really turned the corner. His last three races, all graded stakes, have been really good. He finished second last out, behind Laurel River and ahead of Senior Buscador. So if those two run well in the Dirt Mile, move this horse up. He’s a gray horse sired by American Pharaoh, what is not to love? If the #3 O Besos can close late, this trifecta could get really exciting, as I expect him to be higher than 20-1 and he’s always a horse I have been high on. The #5 Aloha West actually won this race last year but appears to have lost a step. I was high on him last year but he hasn’t raced in 4 months and I don’t know what to make of him.

Top Selection: 6 Elite Power Win/Place Staggered (ex: $10 W, $20 P)

Trifecta Box: 3,4,5,6,8 – This is a bet that is trying to capture a big score. If it hits, it should pay over $1k, even for a 50-cent bet.

Notes: I will also monitor the show pools, if Jackie Warrior is taking over 50% of the money in the show pool, I will probably play the 3,4,6 to show depending on percentages. I will also build Pick 3’s that have Race 8 as the last leg. Most likely singling Laurel River in the 6th race.

Race 8: Turf Mile

Back to the turf here and what a field this is. The #13 Kinross ships in and at 9/2 odds, he is a toss for me. For one, this will be his third race, in his third different country in the last 5 weeks. He also appears to be a sprinter and the extra distance to the mile here might be a little too much for him, as he has failed to hit the board in both attempts at the distance. The #4 Modern Games is a bit of a sore spot. I had hammered him in the Juvenile Turf last year, he was deemed a runner “for purse money only”, won the race rather easily and I had nothing to show for it. He does seem to have a big chance here again this year, although I’d prefer if he hadn’t raced on October 15th but who am I to question trainer Charles Appleby. #5 Smooth Like Strait, #7 Beyond Brilliant and #12 King Cause should all play prominent roles in the early pace of the race. Apparently the #1 Pogo also expects to be near the front early but the pace between American and European turf races varies differently. Unless speed is really holding up on this turf course, I don’t expect them to be around at the finish. 15-1 on the ML, #6 Ivar will be a horse used on all of my exotic bets. He has run in this race the last two year and finished 3rd and 4th respectively. He has only finished worse than fourth one time since June of 2020 and that was going 1 1/8th mile. High-priced, consistent horses are our friends this weekend. The #11 Annapolis is a horse that should get the right trip and he has been improving. I am awfully intrigued, especially at odds of over 10-1. #8 Regal Mary is also one who has been touted by the wise guys this week. Personally, I am looking elsewhere but with a Chad Brown turf horse you can never rule them out. #14 Domestic Spending is the real wild card here. An ultra-talented horse trained by Chad Brown, he comes into this race off a long layoff. He hasn’t raced since August of 2021 but if he is 100%, he has a huge chance here. The tote board should tell the story.

Race 9: Distaff, 1 1/8th on Dirt

This is the version of the Breeders Cup Classic except for the females. This race has kind of been billed as a Heavyweight matchup between the two Pletcher horses, #1 Malathaat and the #6 Nest. While those two are certainly superstars in their own right, the other horses in here aren’t to be overlooked. I’m really intrigued to see what kind of tactics Nest uses in this race. She is normally a length or so off the pace, but I expect the pace to be much faster than her last few races. Does that create a problem? She was second in the Belmont Stakes this year and won the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, so the distance certainly won’t be an issue. #8 Society looks to have otherworldly speed. Can she sustain it for a mile and an eighth? Word is that Asmussen is really high on this horse and thinks she can lead them all the way around. If the price is right, I will have to play her. Especially if the track seems to be juiced for speed like it normally is on these big days. #3 Secret Oath won the Kentucky Oaks and took a chance in the Preakness Stakes, but she hasn’t been the same horse sense. Malathaat has a grinding running style where she’s almost perfectly efficient. She usually doesn’t win by much but winning by a head pays the same as winning by 5 lengths.

Top Selection: #8 Society – Win bet, I think Society either wins or finishes off the board.

Race 10: Turf Championship, 1 1/2th Mile

The penultimate race before The Classic, this race isn’t short on star power either. At this distance, the race is actually a three-turn race, which makes it quite unique. European turf horses have usually fared quite well in this race. On first glance through the program, it appeared that the race was devoid of much early pace. Really, the #1 Bye Bye Melvin looks like he could be alone on lead for most of the race. From a talent standpoint though, he is a cut below this field. Unless the early pace is glacially slow, I don’t see him sticking around at the finish. The Godolphin horses are clear standouts in here to me. #7 Nations Pride has been on a tear stateside. He was 3/4th of a length away from sweeping the American Turf Triple Crown series this summer in New York. He should be close enough to the lead to get first jump at Bye Bye Melvin, which might be enough to insure he wins. #5 Rebel’s Romance was a horse that had his ticket punched to the Kentucky Derby last year after a dominating win in the UAE Derby. An injury derailed his season before he could make the race. Since then, he has switched surfaces to turf and is undefeated through 4 races.  While his last two races have been victories in Germany, and I can’t attest to the quality of German stakes races, I have always thought Rebel’s Romance was a nice talent. I am willing to give him a shot here, although it might be a tell that normal rider William Buick is riding Nations Pride instead. The #11 Mishriff is a horse that about a year ago could stake a claim to the #1 racehorse in the world. He upset Charlatan in the Saudi Cup in 2021 on dirt. He then followed that effort up with a win in the Sheema Classic on turf, a month later in Dubai. His form has soured since then though, as it usually does in horse racing, 6-1 seems too short of a price for me to take on him here, but a good effort wouldn’t surprise me. Upgrade him if the turf is firm. #2 War Like Goddess is the story of this race. She is a perfect 5 for 5 at the distance but will take on the boys for only the second time in her career. While she might be the sentimental favorite, I am not a huge fan of her chances here. If the turf is firm, the #10 Red Knight might be able to make a late run into the money at a price.

Top Selection: #7 Nations Pride – Win/Place Staggered

Heavy Breeders Cup Classic Favorite, Flightline.

Race 11: The Classic

I don’t know if this will be the race to make a big score but it might be the race to see something spectacular happen. It’s 8-horse field where the worst horse may very well be a former Kentucky Derby winner. And the best horse? One who has drawn comparisons to Secretariat. If the seemingly invincible #4 Flightline is going to lose this race, it will most likely require a pace meltdown. The only horse capable of making that happen is #2 Life Is Good. If that scenario is to unfold then you’re going to see this race pay stacks, but I don’t foresee that happening. I think the most likely scenario is that Life Is Good and Flightline go with each other, Life Is Good folds around the turn, Flightline wins by lengths and some combination of #1 Taiba, #3 Happy Saver and #6 Epicenter pick up the pieces underneath. Life Is Good had one race at 1 1/4th mile and he appeared to hit a wall after going a mile and eighth. That was without a special horse like Flightline pushing him. I am partial to Taiba, I was able to get a future on him to win this race at 33-1. I don’t think he is very likely to win but the pastime odds will be much lower than that. With Tabia, the connections have openly said that he doesn’t like running inside horses, so the 1 hole might be a very big hurdle. According to morning lines, Happy Saver is the longest shot on the board. If that is the case, I will be betting some show money on him Saturday. He has hit the board in 11/12 career races. #7 Olympiad seems to be in over his head here and if he sits close to the pace, I think he will fold as well.

Top Selection: Playing Flightline over the aforementioned combinations. Also, it seems everyone is planning to single Flightline in their multi-race wagers. If you play a Pick 3,4 or 5, it is probably worth it to take a chance with some of these other horses like Taiba or Epicenter. If they pull it off, you’re walking out of the track with money in both pockets.

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