2014 Breeders' Cup Predictions and Handicapping
by Trevor Whenham - 10/31/2014
It is almost here - the Breeders' Cup! I have spent the last two weeks analyzing, writing, and dreaming about the fourth and fifth best days of racing of the year (the Triple Crown reigns supreme). It is a tough and very interesting year. The Classic is as good as it has ever been, and the rest of the races are mostly competitive, deep, and challenging. It's shaping up to be a dream weekend. We've looked at the major races, and my picks for the card are almost done, but now is a good time for a few more general 2014 Breeders' Cup predictions:
It's not going to be a good year for the Euros: Some years the European invaders are all but unbeatable. Other years they are basically forgettable. This year falls into the latter. I am just not impressed with this group. They lack true stars like Goldikova, and there are questions in every spot where they will be plenty of European runners. The Turf and Mile are typically the domain of Europeans, but the top contenders all have big questions, and the race isn't likely to shape up well for them in either case. There will still be a Euro winner or two -- there are so many races that are ideal for them that they can't help but win some. It is going to be far from a dominant year, though.
There are going to be some crazy results: A couple of years recently things have gone relatively true to form. We have been lucky that there have been superstars in enough races that things have been very predictable in a lot of races and not shocking in the rest. This year, though, there is a shortage of true superstars outside of the Classic. What we have, though, are deep and wide-open fields that could see any number of horses come out on top. In many races -- the Mile, Distaff, and Juvenile -- the best horse has been sidelined, so things are even more wide open. This is going to be one of the toughest Breeders' Cup cards to handicap in a long while. The plus side of that, though, is that there are going to be some really nice prices in some races -- perhaps some that are extremely fat. You only have to hit one race like that over the course of the weekend to have a good weekend overall.
The track will be fair: Last year on Breeders' Cup Friday the track was as ridiculous and biased as I have ever seen it on a major racing day. All you had to do to win was find the right lane. There was a superhighway for speed horses off the rail, and when horses hit it, the race was over. Santa Anita can't afford the embarrassment of that again. They have replaced their track since last year (again), and you can be sure that they are going to work very hard to make the track fair. That doesn't mean that there won't be biases - the track has favored front-running horses all meet. It just means that results over the Breeders' Cup should be consistent with the expectations of the track instead of being totally random and impossible to overcome.
We won't see a repeat winner: Thanks to the defections of Beholder and Magician heading into the races, only Goldencents in the Dirt Mile and Dank in the Filly and Mare Turf are back for a second shot at winning their race. I am not expecting either to win. Goldencents will quite possibly be the heaviest favorite of the whole weekend, but I think his dominance is overstated, and he is vulnerable to a solid field. At the very least there is no value at all in betting on him, and I expect him to be beat. Dank is much easier to dismiss. She has not had a great year and doesn't appear to have nearly the form that she had last year when she won. A lot of new horses will get a chance to shine.
We are going to see some crazy fractions: Santa Anita is a decent place for speed horses, and we are likely to see some crazy early speed over the course of Saturday. The sprints obviously will be hotly-contested early as they always are, but that's not all. The Juvenile has plenty of speed, and with the two Pletcher horses and the remaining Baffert horse being strong, the rest of the field could look to break the race apart with early aggressiveness. The Mile should be extremely fast early because Obviously is blazing fast out of the gate, and he could go especially fast here to look to disrupt the Euros. The Classic sets up to be plenty fast, too, as Bayern will be looking to run away with it, but Moreno and others will likely try to stick with him, and both Shared Belief and California Chrome will want to stay in contact. If you like to see horses run very fast, you won't want to miss the first 45 seconds of most races on Saturday.
It's going to be two great days: This goes without saying. It is the Breeders' Cup, after all.
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