A Really Big Deal
A REALLY BIG DEAL
The Breeders Cup is finally here! 15 races over two days, going Friday & Saturday! Join John Piesen to cash in the winners, exotics, Pick-3s, Pick-4s and two Ultra-Pick-6's!
The Triple Crown is a big deal. Saratoga and Del Mar are big deals. The various spring Derbies are big deals. But there's nothing in racing quite like the Breeders' Cup. Hasn't been since 1984 when Reagan was in the White House, and Chief's Crown was winning the first Breeders' Cup race -- the Juvenile -- at Hollywood Park.
There were only eight Breeders' Cup races back in '84, and, here we are, 27 years later, there will be 15 -- over a two-day span -- on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs.
And, especially with the nine-pack on Saturday, the races come so fast and furious, that there's no time to catch your breath between races, much less make wise handicapping decisions on the run.
Oh, yes. Once in a while you'll find an overlay, but those times are rare. The handles on the BC races are so huge that rarely do you
find movement in odds up or down. What you see when the numbers first appear on the board is pretty much what you're going to get.
The action sweeps past you so fast that there's no time to be making changes. You have to do your handicapping in advance. And allow plenty of time. Fifteen races with full fields, and few singles, takes a lot of time. Plenty of time to party later.
To help, the John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283) will be up and running with full-card selections on both days at bargain prices.
Sometimes it's better to let my fingers do the walking.
I've been a public handicapper of consequence since the late '70s, mostly for the New York Post and Daily Racing Form, and during those years, I've earned a reputation as a Big Race Handicapper. And that of course includes my success during those 27
Breeders' Cups. I'm hopeful that No. 28 will follow that pattern.
I've already done my handicapping, and I've landed on several double-digit runners, mostly on the basis of sneaky-bad trips in the past. While most "experts" and media-types are concentrating on big-name horses coming off big-time blowouts, I'm watching what's
going on in the back of the pack. More often than not, there's a lot.
Look at the charts of Cup races over the years, and you'll find a vast number of the winners were beaten decisively in their most recent race or races.
That doesn't mean I'm not going to pick some chalk...but if you're looking for chalk, you don't need professional handicappers. Just check out the tote board.
That said, here's a capsule look at the 15 Cup races...with a reminder to 1) go to to the track, or your favorite simulcast location with a game plan. Those betting lines move very slowly. And 2) Unlike the media, which is obsessed about Eclipse and Horse of
the Year implications, you and I don't give a whiff about that. We just want to cash and keep cashing. Check out my Breeders Cup program to make sure you do the same.
Race 5 (Juvenile Sprint)
The same owners (Pegram, Watson, Weitman) have three major players in the Cup, starting with Secret Circle, the favorite in this race, and continuing with Candrea and Drill. Coil, the Haskell winner, would made four but he flunked his prelims. These guys won a Cup race a few years back with Midnight Lute, named for their buddy, Arizona hoops coach Luke Olsen.
Vexor, Triiniberg and Seeker exit a 1-2-3 finish in the Nashua. The latter likely will fire from the one-hole under the red-hot Leparoux, who has calls in 10 of the 15 BC races, but curiously not in the Classic.
Vexor, drawn widest in the field of nine (a good thing) is one of two Friday BC calls for Cohen, who, on Saturday, will be back at Aqueduct on a string of favorites.
Holdin Bullets, a first-pop Keeneland winner as the stick for trainer Ward, is a son of Ghostzapper, out of a Holy Bull mare. You'd think he'd be a steal for 60K.
(Race 6, Juvenile Fillies Turf)
Stopshoppingmaria was second at even-money in the Frizette to My Miss Aurelia, who will go favored in the twice-as-rich Juvenile Fillies later in the day. Named for the shopping habits of owner Repole's wife. Note that Johnny V, who rode her in all three New York races for Repole/Pletcher, jumps off to ride Stephanie's Kitten, who will be closing widest and fastest.
Elusive Kate, a winner of four straight in Europe, will go favored from post 10.Somali Lemonade figures; the post (14) doesn't.
(Race 7, Filly & Mare Sprint)
You might want to look for an outside closer in a seven-furlong race jammed with speed.
Switch was a closing second in this race last year, and a close-up second to Blind Luck going two-turns this year.
Castellano is re-united by Pletcher/Flay with Her Smile.
Turbulent Descent is 3-for-3 at the distance, inluding the Test in slow time. Faces older first time.
Race 8, (Juvenile Fillies)
Beyer boys love My Miss Aurelia, who must avoid speed duel with Grace Hall among others. Miss Netta had problems behind runaway Maria in the Frizette.
Candrea is working bullets for Baffert.
Northern Passion is an intriguing closer from top Canadian trainer Casse, the stepson of Capital OTB icon Linda Casse.
Rocket Twentyone is first BC starter for primero Arkansas car dealer Fletcher.
Questing tough Euro from the one-hole.
(Race 9, Filly & Mare Turf)
Stacelita will be short-price off back-to-back Grade One wins, but there are dangers lurking throughout the 12-horse field.
Nahrain, Announce a nose apart month back in Longchamps biggie. The latter gets a five-pound swing.
Shared Account won this race last year at 46-1, and will be close to that price again.
Harmonious was up the track at 5-1 in same race, but she's back in top form.
(Race 10, Ladies Classic)
Minus the older Havre de Grace and Blind Luck, this will settle the 3-year-old filly championship. It's Tricky, Plum Pretty, and Royal Delta have taken turns beating one another.
Dominguez replaces seriously injured Castro on It's Tricky, and will be 1-2-3 in the wagering.
Plum Pretty won the Kentucky Oaks over the track at same nine-furlong distance for Baffert, who's sitting on a huge day.
Aruna, Pachattack exit one-two finish in the Spinster, the key prep for this.
(Race 3, Marathon)
A.U. Miner was making a winning move in this race last year when he was shut off near the quarter-pole, leading to all that unpleasantness between Borel and Castellano in the winner's circle.
Hard to believe that this is one of only two Cup mounts for Calvin, the King of Churchill.
The Prestons will shoot for a Cup double with Birdrun, the controlling speed from the one-hole (and Flat Out). Remember the Brooklyn!
Eldaafer won this race last year, but has since been no match for Birdrun and Giant Oak.
(Race 4, Juvenile Turf)
Majestic City was avoiding Drill and Creative Cause when he ran second at Keeneland.
Lucky Chappy and State of Play a super-dangerous uncoupled entry from Animal Kingdom's connections. Finale is 3-for-3 on the grass for the Toddster, who won this race last year with Pluck.
Animal Spirits, Coalport and Lucky Chappy exit 1-2-3 finish in the Bourbon on Keeneland grass.
This is the most wide-open race in the entire Cup.
(Race 5, Sprint)
Giant Ryan made it six straight in taklng the Vosburgh at 12-1, but no Vosburgh winner has won the BC Sprint since Artax in the memorable '99 renewal.
Euroears, wiped out first jump of the Vosburgh. Is taking the smart money from across the pond.
Defending champion Big Drama gets the best of the draw (eight of nine), and Dominguez subs for badly-injured Coa.
Jackson Bend will be closing fastest for trainer Zito.
Force Freeze: third time off the layoff, and first-time Johnny V.
(Race 6, Turf Sprint)
California Flag and Chamberlain Bridge, the last two winners of this race, try again in a race in which the trip always determines the winner.
Jockey Talamo chooses Caracortado over Camp Victory, who was beaten a nose by Regally Ready last spring due to a slow start.
Havelock, Perfect Officer and Country Boy exit 1-2-3 finish in Keeneland stake. Trainer Pino (Perfect Officer) is winning at a 27 per cent clip.
(Race 7, Dirt Mile)
The favorite has hit the board only once in four prior runnings of this race...and of the last nine horses to hit the board, five were 18-1 or higher, including last year's winner (Dakota Phone) at 37-1.
The Factor will fire from the one-hole, but will face early pressure from Shackleford, Tapizar and Irrefutable.
Willburn was enormous winning the Indiana Derby, beating Shackleford and Caleb's Posse.
Repole/Pletcher almost ran Uncle Mo in this spot.
(Race 8, Turf)
Foreign horses have won eight of last 10 runnings of the Turf, and the Euros hold huge edge over the American horses this time.
If the girls are going to whack the boys today, Serafina and Midway will be the place to start. Await the Dawn's people choose the Turf over the Classic.
Sea Bird is a highly-touted Euro 3-year-old.
Still don't believe that Brilliant Speed lost the Belmont.
(Race 9, Juvenile)
Union Rags will be a short-priced favorite off his troubled Champagne win, and a decisive score will make him the shortest-priced Derby favorite since Spectacular Bid.
Alpha had a tough journey same race, and switches to Gomez.
Drill will have a better pace scenario than in California. Dullahan is a half-brother to Mine That Bird. Hansen, named for his owner-breeder, is the one to catch with Dominguez.
(Race 10, Mile)
Goldikova is the 7-5 morning line favorite to become the first four-time winner of a BC stake, and to bet against her from the one-hole is to do so at your own risk.
Gio Ponti closed for second to Goldy last year, and is back in mint form.
Sidney's Candy and Get Stormy will be in front.
Strong Suit, Turallure must overcome terrible posts.
(Race 11, Classic)
Havre de Grace should work out a perfect trip behind the speed from her outside post. A win puts her over the top for Horse of the Year, and would be hugely popular in my household. But she doesn't have to win.
Remember how much horsemen (see Baffert) hate the one-hole in the Derby. But no one is saying a word about Flat Out getting the one-hole (with the scratch of Prayer for Relief). Flat Out will have to break running or risk the possibility of having to loop the entire field.
Uncle Mo likely will sit second behind Game On Dude.
This is the first meeting ever of Belmont Stakes winners -- Drosselmeyer and Ruler on Ice (first-time Gomez), and both will be double-digits.
Good luck with the Breeders' Cup, thanks for tuning in, and don't forget to check out the John Piesen Breeders Cup program. Lots of reward for the risk
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