Breeders’ Cup payoffs are often quite generous so exotic wagers should have upper hand over straight bets. While this year’s 29th renewal lacks full fields in half of the races over the two days, it should make wagering affordable for the average horseplayer.
There are 10 horses or fewer in seven of the 15 races, including some that attracted my attention. So let’s get started with Friday:
$500,000 Juvenile Sprint, six furlongs: Most of the shrinking field is composed of males with the defection of two major female contenders, Beholder and Kauai Kati, to the Juvenile Fillies. Only one youngster boasts a triple-digit speed figure, Merit Man, son of With Distinction. He has a victory at Santa Anita as does the Pulpit colt Super Ninety Nine, trained by Bob Baffert. I recommend an exacta box plus trifecta key over the rest of the seven-horse field.
$2 million Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 miles: One of the best races on either day’s card. It’s Beholder vs. Kauai Katie, each with a triple-digit speed figure, who are stretching out. I’m using both in exotic bets with Dreaming of Julia, mainly because two of her three triumphs were at a mile. By the way, Todd Pletcher trains Katie and Julie.
$2 million Ladies’ Classic, 1 1/8 miles: Defending champ Royal Delta holds upper hand in most categories, including three victories and two runners-up in Grade1 contests at the distance. The dangerous challenger: 10 for 10 Awesome Feather turns on the speed in the stretch where she’s been no less than second in any contest. Longshot: Include Me Out has tactical speed and romped twice earlier in year at Santa Anita while finishing third in recent tune-up. Three-way exacta box in eight-horse field.
Now for Saturday:
$2 million Juvenile, 1 1/16 miles: Pletcher trainee Shanghai Bobby is only 2-year-old with a triple-digit speed figure while Fortify is the only horse that hasn’t raced with Salix, formerly known as Lasix, which is banned in this contest. The diuretic is used throughout the country to prevent runners from bleeding through the nose during races. Conditioner Bob Baffert’s Fortify ran second to Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne at Belmont Park and his connections, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Ramon Dominguez, won last year’s Juvenile with Hansen. Throw in Title Contender, which posted an impressive victory in his final prep at Santa Anita, for an exacta box in the eight-horse field.
$1 million Filly and Mare Sprint: Heavily favored Groupie Doll is 4 for 4 since adding blinkers, including a pair at the distance. My trifecta box will include Contested, two-time winner at Santa Anita; Musical Romance, the defending champ; and Turbulent Descent, 4 for 6 at the distance.
$1 million Dirt Mile: Fed Biz is 3 for 3 at a mile. Baffert trainee had lead in last after eight furlongs, but was edged at 1 1/16 miles. This might be my only straight bet on the BC card.
$5 million Classic, 1 ¼ miles: It’s Game on Dude’s race to lose along with Horse of the Year honors. The son of Awesome Again, who won this race in 1998, has more victories on Santa Anita’s dirt than the remainder of the field combined – three – and is 2-3-0 of 6 at the distance. The Dude worked six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 on Sunday, galloping out the mile in 1:39 1/45. The Dude will key my trifecta over Flat Out, Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man and To Honor and Serve.