Bet the Breeders Cup: Garrity's early preview of the 9 races on the Saturday card, including the Classic
The big day starts at noon ET, form Keeneland, and the weather should be beautiful.
Saturday is the big day at the Breeders Cup, with nine championship races with total combined purses of $21 million. It’s a smorgasbord of racing at the very highest level.
We will take a brief look at all nine races, and we will note before we start that the conditions should be perfect, with sunny skies, temperatures around 70, and a fast main track and a firm turf course. Garrity's picks for the races will post Saturday morning.
Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Race 4, Post time: 12:02 pm ET
This race may have the shortest-priced favorite of any race over the two days, in the form of 2-Gamine, a Bob Baffert trainee who ran freakishly fast winning the Acorn at Belmont Park and the Test at Saratoga. She is 7/5 on the morning line, and will almost certainly be shorter at post time. If she runs back to either of those New York races, she will win this race comfortably. That she does so, however, is not a certainty: Breeders Cup history is littered with horses who looked like they couldn’t lose, but did lose. Will this race belong to Gamine, and the chalk players? Or to a long shot, and the contrarians? We shall see.
Breeders Cup Turf Sprint
5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
Race 5, Post time: 12:39 pm ET
What happens when you put a large group of horses, several of them from overseas, into a starting gate, and then ask them to sprint as fast as they can for about a minute, over a pretty tight course with a sharp turn in the middle of it?
What usually happens is chaos: The last three winners of this race paid $31.60, $16.00, and $62.40. And this year’s race looks likely to produce another winner at a big price, as the field lacks a standout, and any one of the fourteen entrants probably has a chance. If you like to handicap horse races by throwing darts at the program, this is probably the race for you to play.
Breeders Cup Dirt Mile
1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
Race 6, Post time: 1:18 pm ET
The Dirt Mile has historically had one of the deepest and toughest fields of any Breeders Cup race, and that tradition continues this year, with a very salty group that includes speedy 3-year-old 1-Art Collector, and veteran older horses 4-War of Will, 5-Knicks Go, and 10-Complexity. One entrant who is intriguing at a big number is 7-Rushie: He showed a lot of promise on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier in the year, and seems to be the kind of late-blooming 3-year-old who just might be able to win this kind of race, and to do so at very long odds. This scenario has happened at the Breeders Cup before -- and it may very well happen again in the Dirt Mile.
Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf
1 3/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Race 7, Post time: 1:57 pm ET
The Filly & Mare Turf looks on paper to be a fascinating matchup between the best female turf runners in North America, 2-Sistercharlie, 4-Mean Mary, and 6-Rushing Fall, and four European invaders, 3-Peaceful, 7-Terebellum, 11-Audarya, and 14-Cayenne Pepper. European horses have historically done very well in this race, but this year’s Euro contingent appears to be a cut below their very best. Will a runner from their JV team be good enough to beat a strong group of U.S.-based horses? We will find out on Saturday afternoon.
Breeders Cup Sprint
6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Race 8, Post time: 2:36 pm ET
The big news in the Sprint came earlier this week, when favored Vekoma, who won the Met Mile and the Carter in sensational fashion in his last two starts, scratched after developing a fever. In his absence, favoritism will almost certainly fall on 10-Yaupon, a speedy 3-year-old who is undefeated in four career starts. Yaupon has dominated his races through the virtue of his superior early speed, and while pace figures suggest that he will be able to control the pace, there is some question about whether he can last the six furlongs, as he’s never met a field of this quality. The odds will be important here, as while Yaupon is the likeliest winner, he does not appear to be overwhelmingly superior, and at a short price, he will probably be a play against. If Yaupon does not win, virtually any one of the other thirteen entrants could.
Breeders Cup Mile
1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
Race 9, Post time: 3:15 pm ET
The Europeans, as they have in all the Breeders Cup turf races, have a strong contingent in the Mile, with six of the fourteen entries having last run on the other side of the pond. The Euro group looks superior, but making a win by one of them seem to be more likely is that the North American contingent looks fairly weak, with horses who are either past their prime or seemingly not good enough. 2-Kameko, the winner of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in July, looks very dangerous: He’s a Kentucky-bred who should have an affinity for the Keeneland turf course, and he’s coming off a very impressive win in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Sept. 25, a race that should have him dead fit for this race. He is 6-1 on the morning line, but will probably end up as the favorite; if for some reason the betting public overlooks him at the windows, jump in with both fists.
Breeders Cup Distaff
1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Race 7, Post time: 1:57 pm ET
Ten fillies and mares were entered in the Distaff. This is a smaller field than we usually see in Breeders Cup races, and we can only assume that the presence of 5-Swiss Skydiver, who beat the boys in the Preakness, and 10-Monomoy Girl, who has won her last ten races and is 12-for-14 lifetime, scared away some of the competition. A win by either would be unsurprising, but we think there may be much more wagering value in the form of 2-Harvest Moon, a lightly-raced 3-year-old filly who is coming off a win in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. She’s not that far off the top two in terms of figures, but she’s 12-1, compared to 8/5 for Monomoy Girl and 2-1 for Swiss Skydiver. The favorites are good, but the smart play may be to bet against them, because upsets always happen at the Breeders Cup.
Breeders Cup Turf
1 1/2 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Race 11, Post time: 4:33 pm ET
Ten go in the Turf, four North American-based horses and six European horses. The winner will almost certainly be one of the Euros, as the stateside contingent looks like the second string in comparison. 2-Magical, 6-Lord North and 10-Mogul are among the best turf horses in Europe, and as the history of this race has shown, European horses are, broadly speaking, far superior to U.S. horses at running a mile and a half on turf. We are a sucker for a girl running against the boys, but we quite like 3-Tarnawa, a 4-year-old filly coming off two Group 1 wins in France: She has an exceptionally shrewd trainer, Dermot Weld, she loves the distance, and she should like the going at Keeneland. She may be a good play at relatively robust odds in the neighborhood of 6-1.
Breeders Cup Classic
1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
Race 12, Post time: 5:18 pm ET
The Breeders Cup sells the Classic as the best race in the lineup, but most years, that is simply not true: the undercard races, from both a sporting and wagering perspective, are usually better. We think that this year, though, the Classic just might live up to its billing, as every of the ten horses in the field is accomplished, and a handicapper can make a case for any one of them. Will the winner be a 3-year-old, either Kentucky Derby winner 9-Authentic or Belmont and Travers winner 2-Tiz the Law? Or will the winner be one of the logical older horses, like 4-Tom’s d’Etat, 8-Improbable, or 10-Maximum Security? Or will the winner be someone else? It will be fascinating to find out, as the winner will likely be named Horse of the Year.