One of my favorite things to do each year leading up to the Breeders' Cup is to look for long shots that have a chance to win and deliver real value. Admittedly, though, I stretch the definition of long shot a bit - I make the cutoff at 12/1 on the morning line and don't typically look for the massive prices out there. Those massive long shots can and do win, but investing in them typically isn't a very good idea. I'm more interested in horses that will deliver a nice price but which have a decent shot at delivering some value and profit as well. Here, then, are six horses that fit my definition of a live long shot on this year's card - one on Friday and five on Saturday.
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Curalina, Distaff (12/1): Every time you have a race as deep and tough as this one, you are going to have very good horses that don't get the betting attention that they probably should. There are just so many good horses that the betting money can't hit them all heavily. That can present an opportunity for bettors. Curalina was third in this race last year as a three year old. This year she had two dominant wins and was a solid second last time out. The early pace could be a bit crazy in this one, but that won't scare this horse away. Her connections are strong, and as a daughter of Curlin she's bred to run.
Limousine Liberal, Sprint (15/1): This isn't a big field, but it's a very interesting one. There isn't a single horse that doesn't have a chance of winning it. I have real respect for favored Masochistic and the two Bob Baffert horses. The winner is quite likely to come from that group. If it doesn't, though, then Limousine Liberal is the one I like best. Two outings back he had a disaster in the Forego, finishing seventh. It was ugly. He came back at Keeneland and had the lead late before getting nipped at the line. He obviously needed that race, and I am less interested by the result than by the improvement. He has worked well, too, and looks ready to run.
Theory, Juvenile (12/1): The Juvenile is often wide open, but rarely has it felt as totally open as this one. There is no dominant favorite, and there are plenty of horses worthy of respect. There are a bunch of horses at 6/1 or less. I would have no problem with having this horse in that group, so at this price he's worth a real look. He has run only twice, but both were wins - in identical times no less. He will be stretching out for the first time, but he has the breeding to handle it. His connections are strong, and he will be ready.
Ashleyluvssugar, Turf (15/1): The bettors are seeing this one as a showdown between favored Flintshire and defending champ Found. I like both, but no horse is unbeatable in this brutal race. I like this local contender quite a lot, and with four wins in seven tries on this track he obviously likes the surface. I like his recent form - he has won his last two, including the John Henry in early October at Santa Anita. Gary Stevens is very comfortable on this mount, and he rides him well. He and Ectot should be looking to set the early pace, and he is capable of riding that position to the wire.
Midnight Storm, Mile (12/1): Tepin is an all-time great, and she is the defending champion here, but this race feels wide open. Midnight Storm is in the mix of horses that could upset the favorite. For one thing, he's a son of Pioneerof the Nile. That stud also sired some horse named American Pharoah, so the Breeders' Cup mojo is strong. This is a local horse that has won his last three - one at Santa Anita and the last two at Del Mar. He has never trailed in those races. There is some real speed here, with Photo Call a wire runner as well, but Midnight Storm sets up well on that front, and could run away with this one. Worth a shot.
Melatonin, Classic (12/1): David Hofmans trains this horse. He's the guy who upset Cigar in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic with long shot Alphabet Soup. He is also the guy who ended Silver Charm's Triple Crown bid in the 1997 Belmont with Touch Gold. And he has won two more Breeders' Cup winners with major long shots - 36/1 and 40/1. So are you going to doubt his chances of ruining the coronation of California Chrome this year? This horse hasn't run since the end of June, so rust is a concern. He has three wins and a strong second in his last four, and all of the wins were at Santa Anita. He's a horse for the course, and he's training well. He could be ready to do some damage.
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