It will be a few days until we know what the fields for the Breeders’ Cup are going to look like for sure. Now that the pre-entries are in, though, we have a sense of what we will see. That means we can start to be on the lookout for interesting horses to watch in the days leading up to the big day of races on Saturday, Nov. 2. Here are five horses that stand out as particularly intriguing on the card. These are certainly not favorites, but they could provide some interesting value:
Breeders’ Cup Classic — Paynter: This horse has spectacular natural talent. Last year he lost the Belmont by just a short neck despite being very lightly-raced at the time. He won the Haskell next time out — a big-time win — but then fell sick soon after. He was out of racing for almost a year, and for a long time it seemed certain that he wasn’t going to make it. Somehow, though, he survived. He has now raced four times, starting with an allowance victory in June. He has not yet shown that he is good enough to win this race — he was a distant second behind Classic contender Mucho Macho Man last time out. He keeps improving, though, and he has worked very well up to this race. Is this when we again get to see his full potential realized? He will almost certainly go off at double-digit odds in the Classic, so he is definitely worth a look in my eyes. His sire, Awesome Again, won one of the toughest Classics we have ever seen in 1998, so he obviously has the breeding for success.
Breeders’ Cup Mile — Olympic Glory: The Mile is typically a very strong race for European contenders. Olympic Glory is coming off a major stakes victory at Ascot in dominating fashion, and he has been impressive in his current three-race series. What makes him more of a question than an automatic choice, though, is that that last race just happened on Oct. 19. He’s running back in two weeks — which horses at this level rarely do outside of the Triple Crown — and he is travelling between continents in between. It’s a whole lot to ask, but if he is up to the challenge he has the talent and the form to win handily. It will be very important to watch how he adjusts to his surroundings at Santa Anita.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint — Secret Circle: In 2007 Midnight Lute won the Sprint. He was injured early in 2008 and didn’t race for the year. Trainer Bob Baffert brought him back for a single prep race — it went horribly — but then went on to become the first two-time Sprint winner in history. Now Baffert is looking to borrow a page from his own playbook. Secret Circle was injured in the spring of 2012 after a strong early showing on the Triple Crown trail. It took until this October for him to be ready to race again, Baffert entered him in a meaningless allowance, so the win was essentially just a paid workout. Now he’ll look to bounce back in this race. The odds are stacked against him. However, if any trainer can have the horse ready in a situation like this it is Baffert.
Breeders’ Cup Turf — Point of Entry: This horse was a strong second in this race last year. He came back and won big Grade 1 races in February and June. But then he was injured and hasn’t raced since. We haven’t seen him out of action for this long in his career, and he hasn’t dealt with a significant injury before. However, every time he has had a layoff he has come back to win and look good. The layoff will inflate his price, and he is working well lately, so if he takes well to the Santa Anita turf track — and we know from last year that it suits him — he could be a nice value play.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint — Caracortado: This horse is only six years old, but I feel like I have been watching him race for about a decade now. As seems to be a recurring theme on this list, he was injured early in 2012 and is now coming back from injury. He had one prep race — a fourth-place finish in a Grade 3 at Santa Anita in late September. The first four horses were separated by less than a length, though, and the top three are all in this field, so the performance was better than the public will assume given the fourth. That could lead to some value. He likes the surface and is training well. If he keeps it up he could be a nice value pick in this wide-open race.
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