2013 Breeders' Cup Mile Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/29/2013
The story in the Breeders’ Cup Mile this year is Wise Dan. The reigning Horse of the Year is looking to repeat as the winner of this race. He would not be alone if he does pull off the double — great runners Lure, Goldikova, Da Hoss and Miesque have all done it. He finished second last time out to snap a nine-race winning streak, and he’s not likely to repeat as Horse of the Year unless he gets some help, but he’s still the horse to watch — and to beat — in this one.
It’s a deep and talented field this year for the Breeders’ Cup Mile — which always seems to be the case. When looking at the past performances, there are six horses that stand out above the rest in the 10-horse field:
Wise Dan (Post Position 8, 1/1): The obvious question here is whether the fact that he is coming off his first loss since June of 2012 is a cause for major concern. From where I am sitting, it isn’t. The race, The Shadwell at Keeneland, was taken off the turf due to conditions and run instead on the synthetic surface. The horse hadn’t run on that surface since April of 2012, and he still ran a solid race before losing to a good horse — Silver Max, who he will get another shot at here. He also had some troubles around the turn where he was six wide, and he was bumped hard two different times. He had a rough day and still finished second. No cause for panic. This is still the classiest horse in the field — and one of the classiest we will see all weekend. I just hope that the loss inflates his odds somewhat, because he’s the clear class of the field — though if the morning line is an indicator, then it certainly hasn’t.
Olympic Glory (PP 5, 4/1): European Invaders have frequently done well in this race, and this horse is the top Euro contesting it this year. He’s unquestionably talented, but there are two big areas for concern. For starters, he is just three, and young horses have not had a lot of success in this race. More significantly, he raced last time on Oct. 19. That means he is coming back in just two weeks, and he is travelling all the way from Britain in that time. That is a lot to ask of any horse — never mind a three year old. His best could be good enough here, but it’s hard to imagine that we will see that.
Silver Max (PP 3, 5/1): The only horse to beat Wise Dan in almost two years will be looking to do it again. He has won three in a row, so he is obviously in good form. I’m not in love with him in this spot, though. For starters, the win in the Shadwell was by far the toughest, and since it came on synthetic it isn’t that relevant here. More significantly, the horse has posted career-best Beyer speed ratings in each of his last three races. That indicates that he could be primed for a step back in this one. He’ll definitely be a part of my exotic tickets, but perhaps not on top.
Bright Thought (PP 6, 20/1): If you just looked at the last three races of this horse, you would get very excited. He not only won three straight turf races on the same Santa Anita course he will face here — he absolutely dominated. The problem is, though, that the last of those three races was on March 16, and he has not run since. That’s a seven-and-a-half-month layoff. Scary. He has been working regularly the last couple of months, but they have been pedestrian outings, for the most part. Thirteen of the 15 North American-based horses that have won this race have come off a race in 35 or fewer days. I would love to back this horse — and the price will be right — but that layoff is a lot to overcome.
Obviously (PP 4, 10/1): This is a very tough race to run because of the combination of speed and stamina needed and the quality of the field. Because of that, there is often a big improvement for horses the second time they run in the race. Obviously is back for more this year after a very respectable third last year in the Mile. He led much of the way but couldn’t hold off Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the stretch. He is likely to be the pacesetter in this one as well — like he usually is — and that could work well for him this time. His critics will point out that he lost last time out. I’m not concerned, though. He likes to lead but was intentionally held back in the early fractions, and he fought it. That shouldn’t be the case in this race, and he has been working exceptionally well. He’s a real contender.
Za Approval (PP 10, 15/1): You need a good longshot in the mix every once in a while, and this one is an attractive one. This five-year-old son of the great Ghostzapper is the definition of consistency. He’s not flashy, but he has three wins and two seconds in his last five graded stakes. All but one of those efforts have been at this distance on turf, and in the two seconds he had respectable showings behind Wise Dan and Obviously. He stands a very good chance of being in the mix here.
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