By Bob Ehalt
The big day - actually days – are less than a week away.
On Friday and Saturday, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park will take over center stage of the racing world for 15 championship-caliber stakes worth a combined $25.5 million.
The pre-entries were announced last week and hopefully by now both veteran and novice handicappers have accessed their favorite set of past performances to begin their homework for the biggest test of the year.
Monday’s post position draw will put everything in place for the race days, yet before deciding the impact post position 10 might have on Game On Dude’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), it’s probably best to take an overview of the two days and the available options at the betting windows. The hope, of course, is that two or three of the races with your prime plays will align next each to other to help you hit a multi-race bet like a Pick 3.
So for starters, here’s the list of races for both days:
The fun starts Friday at 4:06 p.m. with the Juvenile Sprint, followed by the Marathon, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies, Filly and Mare Turf and Ladies’ Classic.
On Saturday, the BC races break from the gate with the Juvenile Turf at 2:50 p.m. After that comes the Filly and Mare Sprint, Dirt Mile, Turf Sprint, Juvenile, Turf, Sprint, Mile and Classic.
All of the 15 races will offer win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering. That’s the easy part.
As for the multi-race wagers, there will be a Pick 6 each day, but let’s just say buyer beware on that front. There will be a gargantuan reward for hitting it, but given the odds that tilt dramatically toward big bankrolls, smaller players would be wise to invest elsewhere.
Friday’s Pick 6 features the day’s six BC races, while on Saturday, the sequence begins with the Turf Sprint, which complicates matters for novices with a limited amount of capital. Horses that can be singled in Pick 6 races help level the playing field between big and small bettors, and if there’s a candidate on Saturday’s card to be a singled in a Pick 6 play, it’s Groupie Doll in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Unfortunately, that race is not part of the sequence.
Point of Entry in the Turf and Wise Dan in the Mile could fill the bill for a single or two, yet in both cases there seems some inherent danger in backing an American-based favorite in a turf race at the Breeders’ Cup.
There are also four Pick 4s. Friday’s slate has a Pick 4 of the final four BC races of the day and a second Pick 4 of the final 3 BC races (Juv. Fillies, F&M Turf and Ladies’ Classic) and the day’s final race, the Twilight Derby (G2), a $150,000 turf stakes for 3-year-olds.
On Saturday, there’s a Pick 4 of the first four BC races (Juv. Turf, F&M Sprint, Dirt Mile and Turf Sprint) and the last four (Turf, Sprint, Mile and Classic).
There are also rolling Pick 3s and daily doubles on each BC race, providing a more reasonable target for players with budgetary constraints.
Hopefully, by viewing the schedule of races and identifying your key plays of the day, some of your betting strategy can fall into place early.
Say for example, that you really like a horse or two in the Turf Sprint and Turf on Saturday. Then chasing a Pick 3 – with the Juvenile in the middle – might be a wise idea. Given the typical parade of longshots at the Breeders’ Cup a ticket of 2 (horses) x All x 2 could make sense. It might cost $48, based on a $1 bet, but the payoff could easily be 10 times that.
In light of all that value out there – not to mention risk, too – don’t ignore the doubles. They may not pay off as handsomely as a Pick 3, but it’s a much better ticket to have in your hand when you successfully pick the first two winners in your Pick 3, but not the last one. Right?
So do your studying. Focus on a handful of horses and see if their races fall into place for a multi-race bet or if a simple win bet might be best.
Don’t let opportunity pass you by because you didn’t do your homework.