2014 Breeders' Cup Mile Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/28/2014
The Breeders' Cup Mile has been very easy to handicap for a long time now. Simply, you pick Goldikova if she is running and Wise Dan if she isn't. The incredible mare Goldikova won the race from 2008 to 2010, with each win being more impressive than the other. After one transition year in which the mare was a valiant third, Wise Dan won the race each of the last two years to cap Horse of the Year campaigns.
We have been spoiled, and those two have shifted this race from an afterthought to one of the highlights of the card. Wise Dan is unable to make the race this year, though, so again we face confusion, a much more wide-open field, and a race which we can't use as a single in exotic bets after doing so automatically for five of the last six years. That's not to say that it won't be a good race. In fact, there are six horses that stand out as having a chance to really make this one interesting:
Toronado (5/2): There is no chance that he would have been favored over Wise Dan, but he wears that mantle now - and deserves it. His season didn't start until the middle of June this year, but he has a win and two strong seconds in three top-level European mile turf races. His performances and the accompanying numbers indicate he is good enough here, and there is little concern that he is going to be rested. He comes out of the most successful stable in Europe this year, so preparedness isn't a concern, either. He is definitely the horse to beat. If he goes off at his morning line or better then he can't be ignored.
Anodin (6/1): On the surface it would be pretty easy to toss out this colt. He has raced eight times - including five this year - since his last win. He has chased some good horses but hasn't really threatened them. His last race was pretty much a disaster, and that was just on Oct. 5. He just doesn't seem good enough. There is one thing that makes me hesitate, though - he shares all of his connections - breeder, owner, trainer and jockey - with none other than Goldikova. No horse has been better in this race, so no team is poised to get more out of a horse than that one. He'll also be able to run on Lasix here unlike in Europe - something that benefited the great mare.
Seek Again (6/1): He's mentioned here because of his odds, but I am just not a believer. He came over to the U.S. from Europe late last year and won right away. He was then transferred to Bill Mott's barn. In four outings in big stakes races this year he has a win, a second and a third. The win was in August and wasn't exactly overpowering. He regressed badly next time out - the Shadwell at Keeneland in early October - and was a completely non-threatening sixth. The common refrain is that he is the best domestic runner. I'm not convinced that that is true or that it matters.
Karakontie (10/1): Here's another horse that others like much more than me. He ran in June, and it was just a disaster. After a long break he was brought back on Oct. 5 in the same race we saw Anodin in last time out. His performance was much worse than Anodin's - and that was far from good. He was so far behind that he was almost in danger of getting lapped - or so it seemed, anyway. At his best - early this year and late last year - he is competitive. Without a respectable showing since May, though, can we trust him to run off short rest following a massive layoff and a pair of horrible performances? I'm not buying it.
Obviously (8/1): This will be the easiest horse to watch in the race - he'll be the one at the front. This horse is as committed to the lead as any horse entered in the entire Breeders' Cup card this year. He's the quintessential distance specialist - 12 of 21 starts have been at a mile on turf - and he is as one-dimensional as a horse can be. He has been in this race twice before, though, and has never disappointed too badly - fifth last year and third in 2012. If he gets his race he is dangerous, and he should be able to find the lead relatively easily here. He will lay down early fractions that the Europeans just aren't used to. That could be enough to spring him. He's a factor - and the American I would take before Seek Again without hesitation.
Tom's Tribute (15/1): Since we are on the theme, here is another American horse I like more than Seek Again. He's a West Coast local who has seven races - and three wins - at Santa Anita in his career. He has won three of four, and the loss was caused as much by traffic issues - and bad rider decisions from one-time pilot Kent Desormeaux - as anything. He is almost as one-dimensional as Obviously - he stalks the pace then unleashes his one and only move to try to get the lead for good. He may not be as good as the best here all things being equal, but he is much more used to fast early fractions like Obviously will unleash here than others, and that could be his edge. At the price I sure won't ignore him.
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