The 28th Breeders’ Cup: How to Play 7 of the 15 Races

by Greg Melikov

posted on November 1, 2011 in Breeders Cup, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | 2 Comments >>

Breeders' Cup 2011 LogoFifteen Breeders’ Cup contests, one more than last year, is just too many to wager on even if they’re spread over two days. Like 2010, I will concentrate on classy horses with good recent form and wager on seven races.

The weather could be a factor, at least on Friday, but the forecasters have been hedging their bets. What had been a 30 percent chance of rain for Louisville dropped to 10 percent on Tuesday.

The last time Churchill Downs had an off track for BC races was when it played host for the first of seven times back in ’88 when there were only seven contests. That Nov. 5 it was drizzling while the main track ranged from muddy to sloppy. The turf course was rated good.

Two of the five female BC races on Friday caught my eye as well as the first running of the Juvenile Sprint, the first BC race added since ’08.

The standout in the six-furlong race is undefeated Secret Code, who won both his sprints “in hand.” The son of Eddington is the only sophomore boasting a triple-digit speed figure average. My trifecta key will have three horses underneath: Seeker, Sum Of The Parts and Vexor.

The Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles is an All-American race as foreign invaders have never visited the winner’s circle. I’m using a trio of 2-year-olds in an exacta:

Grace Hall, impressive winner of two stakes, is bred to go long; My Miss Aurellia, who sports the best dirt speed figure, took Belmont’s Frizette in a hand ride; and Weemissfrankie, victorious in Santa Anita’s Oakleaf.

The Ladies’ Classic under the lights is a wide-open Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles. So I’m using four distaffers in exotic wagers, including three that have knocked heads since the summer: It’s Tricky, Plum Pretty and Royal Delta, all with at least a victory against each other. I’m adding Ask The Moon, who can shake loose on the lead and has triumphed four times on an off track.

On Saturday’s card, I’m trying my luck in four of nine contests starting with the six-furlong Sprint. I’m using in an exacta defending champ Big Drama, lightly raced this year; front-running Giant Ryan, who led by the stretch in five of his last six straight wins; and fast-closing longshot Aikenite.

My exacta in the Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles will include three 2-year-olds. All have run well in routes, led by Creative Cause, who captured the Grade 1 Norfolk at Santa Anita; Drill, the Norfolk runner-up; and undefeated Union Rags, who triumphed three times as he stretched out.

The Dirt Mile is the most competitive on the card. My exotic bets will include front-running Preakness champ Shackleford, who has been training nicely; speedster The Factor, who could get loose on the rail; fast-closing Caleb’s Posse, who nosed out Classic starter Uncle Mo in the King’s Bishop at Saratoga; and Wilburn, going for his fourth straight since August.

In the 1 ¼-mile Classic I’m going to use a quartet of starters in exotic wagers:

Flat Out, a multi-stakes winner with tactical speed that has been working extremely well at Churchill Downs; Stay Thirsty, the Travers champ; Havre de Grace, the top filly that whipped males in the Woodward at Belmont; and To Honor and Serve, the improving Pennsylvania Derby victor.