2018 Breeders' Cup Betting Advice: Live Long Shots with Wagering Value
There is a tradition we have every year when we are nearly finished writing about the Breeders' Cup - and therefore finished with writing about horse racing until the new year. We sit down, pick out a few Breeders' Cup live long shots, and take a shot at a big payday. I haven't done the math accurately, but I would bet that, though last year's list yielded nothing, we have come out ahead over the many years we have done this now. And this year we have six horses to jump on and hold on for the ride. As always, for the sake of consistency we have defined a long shot as any horse that is at 15/1 or higher on the morning line. It's quite possible that at least one of these could fall below that price by post time, but we'll hope not. Without further ado:
Well Defined, Juvenile (20/1): This colt is leaving Gulfstream Park for the first time and making his graded stakes debut, so a lot is being asked of him. And I do really like favorite Game Winner a lot in this race. What intrigues about this gelding, though - at least as a horse to use in the exotics - is his rider. Mike Smith is as hot as they get in big races, and he basically owns the Breeders' Cup. The Juvenile is the first big launching pad towards the Kentucky Derby, and Smith loves the Triple Crown more than anything. Game Winner is Bob Baffert's colt, and Smith has first call on Baffert's top horses, so he likely could have had that ride if he wanted it. He previously rode Dueling and could have landed in a few other saddles here as well. So, the fact that he landed on this colt, for a trainer who is not a big client of his, says something. He isn't going to give himself no chance here, and he makes this horse better by being on it.
Eziyra, Filly and Mare Turf (15/1): The turf is likely to come up softer than ideal because of the rain this week, so we are looking towards horses that like that. This four-year-old European filly has had her best races on yielding or soft turf, so she will be right at home. She has raced only three times this year, so she is fresh, and her connections - trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Frankie Dettori - are excellent. In those three starts this year, she has won twice and was beaten the other time by Sea of Class, a really excellent filly. She didn't get help when she drew the outside post position, but the surface is a boost and the price is right in a wide-open race with a favorite and second choice, Sistercharlie and Wild Illusion, who I don't embrace.
Divisidero, Mile (30/1): This horse drew in when Hunt was scratched from the field, and at this price he is worth a look. He is a horse with a strong closing kick, which suits this race well when it has been run at Churchill Downs in the past. He has had an up-and-down year, but he had a win at Arlington that I really liked, and he is training great right now. This is a wide-open race with several fairly-evenly-matched contenders, so it is a good spot to go shopping for a big price. And this will be one for sure.
Wonder Gadot, Distaff (15/1): I have a real soft spot for this filly. She was a solid second to Monomoy Girl, the likely favorite in this race, in the Kentucky Oaks, so we know she likes this track. Then she went to Canada and beat the boys in the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. She came back and faced boys again in the Travers, but it really wasn't her day. And she returned against fillies in the Cotillion and was only mediocre. There is some concern that she has done too much, but her breeding is strong, her connections - Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for Mark Casse - are excellent, and she is very talented. Most significantly, she has been training incredibly well over this Churchill surface. She is a bit of a forgotten filly in the frenzy over Monomoy Girl and Abel Tasman - understandably - and that has created a bit of an opportunity at this price.
Roaring Lion, Classic (20/1): This horse probably shouldn't be in the Classic and probably won't win. The race is wide-open, though, so I can't ignore him. He is one of Europe's top horses, coming off a stretch of four straight Group 1 wins - the highest level of race. He has won beyond this distance and has a mid-pack style that could suit this race. There is a big issue, though - he is making his dirt debut and doing so just two weeks after his last race. The layoff is concerning, but not unprecedented for European horses. The surface is a concern, and his sire, Kitten's Joy, is definitely better on grass. But his damsire is Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, and his connections wouldn't send him here if they thought he had no chance in the race. He is not the likeliest winner in the race, but then he is at 20/1. He feels more likely than that. This is a race without any true superstars. I am skeptical of favorite Accelerate - unless I am mistaken, Churchill Downs is outside of California, so he is out of his element - and any number of horses could be in the mix. This colt offers value at the price.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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