2014 Breeders' Cup Turf Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/28/2014
The Breeders' Cup Turf has produced some all-time great races and some of my favorite Breeders' Cup champs. Runners like Fraise, Chief Bearheart and Conduit will always stand as giants in my mind and heart. I really don't know who is going to win the race this year, but I am very confident that those greats will not have to make room for him. The entrants in this year's turf marathon test are not among the best to ever challenge the race. There isn't a superstar, and there are any number of horses that could, at least theoretically, come out on top. This is definitely not a race to single in your Pick 4 or Pick 6. In fact, taking 'all' might be more attractive. Here are six of the bigger factors:
Flintshire (7/2): This is pretty much all you need to know about this year's Turf field - the likely favorite hasn't won a race since July of 2013. He has run four times this year and has three seconds and a fifth to show for it. The last second was about as high profile as it gets for a turf horse, though - he was second to the incredible Treve in the Arc de Triomphe. That was on Oct. 5, though, and it is tough for a horse to bounce back so soon with another strong effort here. The public will be all over that result, and that should make him an overlay - and a horse I will be looking to beat in this race.
Telescope (4/1): I used to be terrified of long layoffs heading into this race, but after the results of the last few years the fact that this horse last ran on Aug. 20 barely gets my attention. It's especially comforting that that break was no mistake - he has long been pointed at this spot. He has won at this distance this year, has been competitive against some very good horses - including Australia, who is likely the best turf horse in the world right now -- his running style should suit this race and this course, and his connections are very easy to get behind. The field is wide open this year, so anything could happen, but I feel better getting behind this guy than most - especially among the favorites.
Magician (5/1): Last year he was the somewhat surprising winner of this race at more than 12/1. This year we won't see nearly that price for him. He snuck up on us last year for many reasons - he was just three, he was coming off a layoff of nearly five months, and he had never run close to the distance he faced in the Turf. This year his path here has been a bit more conventional - he has raced six times, and all have been at least a mile and a quarter - but his results have not been inspiring. He has just one win, and that was in an uninspiring stakes in May. His last European effort was lousy, and though he came over to the U.S. early this year, he was so disappointing in finishing second in the Arlington Million on Aug. 16 that the connections backed off and haven't run him since. The rest was likely needed, and this is far from the best Turf field ever assembled, but I still can't help but feel that there will be a big overlay on display when this horse is among the favorites. I am not banking on a repeat winner.
Main Sequence (6/1): The horses we have talked about so far are, not surprisingly, all Euros. This horse offers a twist - he is a former Euro. After a strong three year old season and a fairly disappointing season last year, he was brought to the U.S. and the barn of Graham Motion this year. It has been a good move for him. Since July he has run three times, and won all three - all in a photo. The last two have been at a mile and a half, too. Some of his success has come from the medical front - he is able to race on Lasix here, so the bleeding issues that plagued his lungs last year are no longer a problem. He was also gelded this year, so his ability to focus on his task has improved. He has been lousy at the start in all three wins this year, though, and that has left him a lot of work to do late - something that won't be as easy to accomplish over this group. He also faces a jockey change, and Rajiv Maragh, who has been aboard for all three wins, is injured. He's a contender, but it would be easy to give him too much credit.
Brown Panther (8/1): This is an odd story. He wasn't even supposed to be in this race. He was set for the Canadian International at Woodbine (Incidentally, the last race Secretariat ever appeared in) on Oct.19, and was well liked by bettors in that spot. He ran off before the race started, though, and was scratched. Needing a race and qualifying to run here, this became the second option. I liked that last spot better than this one - though I had bet against him there, too.
Hardest Core (10/1): Speaking of odd stories - this horse was underwhelming as a three year old at low-level races under Kiaran McLaughlin. Obscure trainer Edward Graham - he has just 13 starts this year, albeit with eight wins - took him over this year and actually planned to aim him at steeplechase races. His season debut at Parx in Philadelphia was strong enough to warrant a test in a low-level stakes at Delaware, though, and he won that in July. Playing with house money, they aimed for the fences and sent him to the Arlington Million on Aug. 16. It was his first stakes race, but darned if he didn't win it by chasing Magician down in the stretch. He disappeared after that race and is now emerging off of a long layoff with no meaningful public training. Is he ready? Is he good enough? Is Santa Claus real? I have no good way to answer any question. He is a perfect example of why this is such a tough race this year.
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