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Of the 15 Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita Park, there might be no more obvious of a favorite than Shanghai Bobby in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

There might also be no better horse to bet against.

Shanghai Bobby has never lost in four career starts. He’s won the Hopeful (G2) and Champagne Stakes (G1), New York’s two most important stakes for 2-year-old males.

He’s trained by Todd Pletcher, who has seemingly won more 2-year-old races this year than the average trainer might in a decade.

And yet, for all that, he offers anything but value as the 2-1 favorite in the Juvenile.

For starters, while he’s won the Champagne and Hopeful by a combined margin of 8 ¾ lengths, a victory in the Juvenile would require a third Grade 1-caliber effort from him in a two-month span. In an era of extra spacing between starts, that’s a near herculean task for a young, developing colt - especially since no horse in the Breeders’ Cup era has ever pulled off the hat trick of the Hopeful-Champagne-BC Juvenile.

He must also travel  across country (with interference from Hurricane Sandy) to race at a track new to him, in a different climate for this time of year, without Lasix for the first time and around two turns for the first time.

And if he handles all that successfully, your return will probably be about $5.60 for a $2 investment.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Finding the horse that can beat him, of course, is the difficult part of the equation.

The most obvious choice would be Power Broker. He was a maiden on grass and synthetics until he ran in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) on Santa Anita’s dirt main track. He then joined the ranks of Grade 1 stakes winners, breezing to an impressive 6 ½-length victory at the same 1 1/16-mile distance as the Juvenile.

He’s the second choice at 5-2, but the homecourt advantage for the Bob Baffert-trained son of Pulpit makes him a more attractive wagering prospect than Shanghai Bobby. The ground loss from his outside post - nine in a field of nine - looms the main obstacle.

Beyond them, there’s a muddles mass of uncertainty, especially since there could be a rather bitter battle of the front end with an abundance of speedsters in the field.

Some of the possibilities for the exotics include Title Contender (positive: a brilliantly fast maiden win; negative: he’ll be involved in the speed duel), Speak Logistics (positive: a big win in the In Reality Stakes at Calder; negative: he’ll also be part of the speed duel), Dynamic Sky (positive:  he’s improving and coming off a sharp second in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1); negative: he’s never raced on dirt) and He's Had Enough  (negative: he’s done nothing exceptional on turf and synthetics; positive: maybe he loves dirt).

But since all of them come with some sort of baggage, the most promising one, and seemingly the best source of value, is Capo Bastone.

Capo Bastone got off to an awkward start in the FrontRunner, but wound up missing third by a half-length. With a better start and the prospect of a faster pace in front of him, the John Sadler-trained son of Street Boss could make some noise in the final furlong. At 15-1 odds, he’s very hard to pass up.

Fortify also merits some attention. He has already lost to Shanghai Bobby twice, in the Hopeful and Champagne, but two turns and a fast pace could be an equalizer. He’s also the only starter who has never raced on Lasix and will not be affected by the new medication rules.

Taking a step back, the overriding dynamic in the Juvenile seems to be that the favorites – Shanghai Bobby and Power Broker – are clearly the best horses and cannot be tossed from the exotics. Yet for your wagering dollars and contest bucks, the risk/reward ratio leans in favor of Capo Bastone because of the superior potential for reward. Remember, even if he runs second, a Shanghai Bobby-Capo Bastone exacta should pay off rather nicely.

It is risky, but that’s why they call it gambling. Right?

Good luck to us all.

Ehalt’s picks:

Capo Bastone 

Power Broker

Shanghai Bobby

Fortify

Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 3 5:36 PM EDT

Post

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Title Contender 

Martin Garcia

Bob Baffert 

 6-1

2

Speak Logistics 

Angel Serpa

Edward Plesa Jr.

 8-1

3

He's Had Enough 

Mario Guttierrez

Doug F. O'Neill 

 20-1

4

Shanghai Bobby 

Rosie Napravnik

Todd A. Pletcher 

 2-1

5

Monument 

Joe Talamo

John W. Sadler 

 12-1

6

Dynamic Sky 

Louie Contreras

Mark E. Casse 

 12-1

7

Capo Bastone 

Joel Rosario

John W. Sadler 

 15-1

8

Fortify 

Ramon Dominguez

Kiaran P. McLaughlin 

 9-2

9

Power Broker

Rafael Bejarano

Bob Baffert 

 5-2

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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