2018 Breeders' Cup Sprint Expert Predictions and Betting Odds
Every year it is the same. The time comes to break down the Breeders' Cup Sprint. I roll up my sleeves and get started, but inevitably I wind up curled up into a ball, whimpering uncontrollably. This race is always total chaos. It makes as much sense as Kanye's career has the last year or two. I am perfectly capable of drawing meaning from a past performances, but when I read them for this race they all just disappear in a blur - probably because of the tears. I hate this race. I fear it. I am powerless in the face of it. But let's look at it in search of a winner, shall we? It's either that or stick my tongue in a wall plug.
We have to start with Roy H, the 5/2 second choice in the nine-horse field. He won the race last year and is back seeking to join Midnight Lute as the only two-time winner. The problem, though, is that Midnight Lute is the only one of eight horses who have tried to win it twice who have succeeded, including Drefong just last year. Last year the horse came into this race off a win in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, a Grade 1 race. He just won that race again. But he hasn't been as dominant in general this year as he was last year, and his speed figures aren't nearly as impressive - he won the Santa Anita with a 111 last year and just a 105 this year. He isn't nearly as impressive in returning as Drefong was last year, and that horse got crushed - with my money on his back - so I am skeptical here at this price.
The 9/5 favorite is Imperial Hint. He is New York's best sprinter, having won three big races in a row. He has nine wins and a second-place finish in his last 11 races, so he is certainly consistent. He has failed to win in two attempts at Churchill Downs, though - but those results require interpretation. In the most recent in May, he clearly didn't like the sloppy track, and the first time was at a mile, so it isn't as relevant here. He needs a dry track on Saturday, but if he gets it he will be competitive. I am allergic to betting favorites in this race when possible, though, and certainly ones at this kind of price when they aren't overwhelmingly dominant.
To further confound things, fully a third of the field sits at 6/1. The first is Whitmore. I always feel loyalty to a horse that ran in the Kentucky Derby - even one like Whitmore who was the last one to cross the finish line in 2016. He has been reborn as a sprinter and won the Grade 1 Forego this summer. He was in this race last year and was a disappointing eighth - also with my money on his back. I'm not sure he's good enough, but he'll be on the bottom of my exotics. Promises Fulfilled beat Whitmore last time out at Keeneland and won twice in a row at Saratoga before that. He's also a Derby also-ran, having finished 15th this year, about a mile behind Justify. He's only three and figuring things out still, so the ceiling is really high. And he is 1-0-1 in three starts at Churchill, so he likes the surface well enough. I like him a lot here - which probably means you shouldn't. And finally, we have Limousine Liberal. If you believe in horses for courses then this is your pick - he has six wins and a second in eight starts on this track, and he has done it in varying conditions. He'll have to really benefit from the setting, though, because he has not been in good form lately, and at his best he doesn't appear to be fast enough. I'm going to pass on him, I suspect.
B Squared is an easy horse for me to toss out at 20/1. A Doug O'Neill horse has to be really special in order for me to back it, and this one isn't. D. Wayne Lukas' Warrior's Club would spark a crazy party if he wins - though he very likely won't. He is owned by a public partnership started at Churchill Downs, so the stands will be full of his part owners. Always Sunshine, 20/1, has been dismal every time he has stepped up to graded stakes company, and I expect the same here. And Distinctive B feels hugely underpriced at 12/1. He made his stakes debut last time out and was beaten soundly by Roy H. Nothing in his past performances makes me believe that he can improve enough as a seven-year-old to win here.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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