One of the best parts of the Breeders’ Cup is the possibility for big payoffs when longshots come in. It happens every year. There is so much expense and effort involved in running a horse in the event that even the worst horses still have something going for them. That means that anything can, and often does, happen. The ultimate longshot, and fuel for the dreams of millions of bettors since, came in the 1993 Classic when Arcangues paid a seemingly impossible price of $269.20 to win on a $2 bet. While we aren’t likely to see a price like that this year, here are eight horses that have a better chance to win — or at least to get a piece of the action — than their odds would suggest.
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Marathon - Almudena (30/1)
The Marathon has proven to be wild and unpredictable in its short history, and this year should be no exception. This South American import could really turn things upside down. She has never run in North America, but in Peru and then in Argentina she has had success at this distance. She has had a long time to get used to California and has trained well. Stranger things have happened.
Juvenile Fillies - Spring in the Air (15/1)
I am a sucker for a horse with a big closing kick, and this filly certainly fits the bill. She can handle the distance, and she has beat good horses. There is some bias against her since she has mostly been based in Toronto, but trainer Mark Casse is very solid and she was at her best when she headed to Kentucky last time out. She has never run on dirt, so that’s a concern, but she has the breeding to handle it. She deserves more respect.
Ladies’ Classic - Include Me Out (15/1)
At this price I love this horse. She has won a grade 1 on this track, so she obviously likes the surface. She won another grade 1 two back, then she took a rest before coming back with a decent effort in a key prep — the Zenyatta. Now she’s tight, training well, and ready to pick up the pieces if the favorites in this one don’t fire.
Ladies’ Classic - Class Included (30/1)
I can’t get this horse out of my head. She has only run at Emerald Downs in Seattle and Hastings Park in Vancouver, so she is facing a massive step up in class. In 16 career starts, though, she has 10 wins and six second-place finishers. She’s a grinder who always finds a way to compete, and I like that. At this price I can’t keep her out of my exotics.
Filly & Mare Sprint - Rumor (20/1)
Groupie Doll is a strong and convincing favorite in this race. When there is one strong favorite that will draw most of the action there is a good opportunity to find longshots that don’t get as much attention as they otherwise would. Rumor fits well there. She has three sprint wins here at Santa Anita in five tries, so she knows and likes the track. If Groupie Doll blows up then Rumor could be well poised to steal the win.
Turf Sprint - Mizdirection (20/1)
If you listen to Jim Rome you are probably very familiar with this horse — he owns her and has spent a lot of time talking about her on his show. If he wins he’ll be unbearable and likely will never talk about anything else again. This race will be run on the unique downhill turf course. She knows it well, and has two wins — including one against graded stakes company — in two tries. She’s coming off a long layoff, but that’s less of a concern in a sprint than a route, and she has been working brilliantly lately. She’s a real contender in a race that is seriously wide-open.
Turf - Optimizer (20/1)
I’m not sure what legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas was thinking earlier this year with this horse. He’s clearly bred for turf — his sire, English Channel, won this race in 2007 — but Lukas stubbornly kept him on dirt and on the Triple Crown trail. He ran in all three Triple Crown races and was humiliated each time. It was ugly. The shift to turf over the summer has shown a lot of promise, and he is riding a two-race winning streak right now. He’d have to have a very good day. However, I have questions about all three of the favorites in this race, so there is a real opportunity for underdogs here.
Classic - Pool Play (30/1)
Here’s another horse who, like Spring in the Air, isn’t getting enough respect because he has been primarily based in Canada. Because of that he has run mostly on turf and synthetic surfaces. When he has tried dirt, though, he has two wins in two tries — a grade 1 and a grade 2 stakes, with both coming this year against decent competition. I’d feel better if he were younger than seven, but he’s a legitimate contender in a wide-open race, and a serious steal at this price. He’s a must for exotics.
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