2013 Breeders' Cup Classic Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/29/2013
This is shaping up to be a great Breeders’ Cup Classic. The field is deep and interesting, and there is no clear, obvious winner. Anything could happen, and that’s what makes handicapping so exciting. It’s going to be a thrilling 12-horse race, but the winner is very likely to come from these nine contenders. Here are some 2013 Breeders’ Cup predictions for those nine horses with morning line betting odds:
Game On Dude (Post Position 9, 8/5): He was the strong favorite in the Classic last year and very likely will be again this year. Let’s just hope he shows up this year unlike last year when he was a dismal seventh. He hasn’t lost in six races since that poor outing, including two overwhelming wins here at Santa Anita. He loves the track and has won big races time and again. The biggest concern, though, is that he is six years old, and no horse that old has won this race. Still, he’s the horse to beat and the deserving favorite — though he will very likely have all of the value bet out of him by the adoring public. He worked very well in his last real outing on Monday. It seems like he will be held off the pace early, though, and that strategic change at this point in his career concerns me. At this low morning line price — which is likely to go lower by post time — it will be a very tough decision about what to do with this guy.
Mucho Macho Man (PP 6, 5/1): This five year old is back for another shot at this race after just coming up short and finishing second last year. He struggled to find his form for much of this year, but a change in jockeys to Gary Stevens last time out drew out a spectacular winning effort in the Awesome Again here at Santa Anita in late September. He has found form, he’s ready to run, and he’ll be a big factor.
Fort Larned (PP 7, 6/1): The defending champion is back for another shot. I’ll never take anything away from a horse that won a race like this, but Fort Larned was unquestionably a major beneficiary of the ridiculous speed bias we saw last year. The track should be much fairer this year, and that’s bad news for this guy. He has been very inconsistent this year and doesn’t seem to be the horse that he was last year. He also needs to control the pace in races to get his best effort. With a lot of early speed in his field, he’s not likely to be able to do that — at least not without sacrificing himself. That makes it hard to back him to win.
Ron The Greek (PP 11, 8/1): His win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last time out over horses like Palace Malice and Flat Out was very impressive, and if he could replicate it he would probably win here. The problem is, though, that it is not at all clear where that effort came from. He hadn’t finished better than third in five races against similar company before that outing, and he went off at 21/1 in the Gold Cup. He has run 29 times, and that last outing was the second-best Beyer speed rating of 114. It’s hard to believe that he can move forward from that effort, and he has no room to take a step back and still be competitive here.
Flat Out (PP 12, 12/1): If this race was in early July then Flat Out may have been my first choice. He was in great form back then, and he was running with confidence. He wasn’t as good as he should have been in the Woodward, though, and he just plain wasn’t good enough in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I’m concerned that he is regressing from his best form — especially because he is seven years old. That’s too old for this race in all but the rarest of situations, and I’m not confident that this is the horse to go against that well established age trend.
Palace Malice (PP 8, 10/1): This year’s Belmont winner is arguably the best of a pretty solid group of three year olds in this field this year. After the Belmont he won the Jim Dandy handily at Saratoga. He stumbled at the start in the Travers and was never a factor. Next time out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup he faced older horses for the first time and didn’t look out of place while finishing second. He’s taken big strides forward this summer and could be sitting on a big race here. He has worked very well leading up to the race, so he should be sharp. His sire, the great Curlin, won this race in 2007, so we know he has the bloodlines to succeed.
Will Take Charge (PP 10, 12/1): What a story it would be for 78-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas to add a Classic win to victories in the Preakness and Travers in what has been an incredible comeback season for a guy who most had written off. After disappointing performances in all three Triple Crown races, this guy has grown into himself this summer. The change came about when they took the blinkers off of him. He won the Travers then dominated the Pennsylvania Derby. The biggest knock is that he has yet to face older horses. He’s a closer, though, and with so much speed in this race, and a whole lot of horses that will be pressing that speed early, we could see fast early fractions that set up perfectly for this horse. The price could be right.
Declaration of War (PP 5, 10/1): This Euro invader has won two Grade 1 stakes this year, so he is certainly capable. He’s well-bred and comes from excellent connections as well. There are many concerns, though. He has never run on dirt, so we have no way of knowing how he will deal with the surface. His pedigree points more towards the grass. He also last raced on Aug. 21, so he is coming off a break of more than two months. It’s hard to figure out how he fits in this field, but his owners deserve respect.
Paynter (PP 2, 12/1): This horse missed a year of action when a collection of injuries and illnesses not only kept him from the track but also seriously threatened his life. He came back in June, and has been working into form since. He has stunning natural talent, and his very best could be good enough here. He may not yet be ready for primetime, but at the price he is likely to go off at he should deliver real value.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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