Breeders' Cup Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 10/02/2007
The 2007 Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park in New Jersey is less than a month away. For the first time ever the Championship has been extended to two days, Oct. 26 and 27. Three new races have been added on the Friday, and the familiar lineup of eight races will be run on Saturday. For horse players these two days are the best there are. The Kentucky Derby has a higher profile, but that's full of 20 immature horses facing chaos for the first time, while each Breeders' Cup race features the best horses seasoned by a long, tough year of racing. The betting pools are gigantic, the fields are deep, and the chances for a huge payoff are there every time the gates open and the bell sounds. I'm getting giddy just writing about it and am looking forward to two days of Breeders' Cup betting.
If you aren't convinced that the Breeders' Cup is worthy of your attention as a bettor, all you have to do is take a look at last year's Sprint. The field set up with a clear favorite. Henny Hughes had dominated every field he had faced all year, and looked all but unbeatable. He was sent off at 5/2 in the 14-horse field. Those who didn't like that horse were likely in the corner of Bordonaro, a California invader who was clearly the best of the West Coast. He was 4/1. Siren Lure, 6/1, and Bob Baffert's Too Much Bling, at 7/1, also had support. No other horse was below 12/1. It seemed pretty clear how the race was going to play out.
Horse racing is horse racing, though, so nothing happened as was expected. None of those four horses finished in the top three. The favorite finished dead last. With one of the most impressive stretch drives you'll see, 16/1 shot Thor's Echo won the race by four lengths. Friendly Island, 59/1, somehow found his way to the second spot. Nightmare Island closed hard for third at 29/1. The exacta paid $955.40, and the trifecta was $10,611.80. Bordonaro faded, but still hung on for fourth. Despite his presence, the superfecta paid off at an astronomical price - $113,911.80.
Though the results were a bit like a lottery, they certainly shouldn't discourage you from playing the races. Thor's Echo was an intriguing horse who slipped under the radar, and it was definitely possible to have him among your top picks in the race. If the Breeders' Cup, and especially past Sprints, had taught us anything it was that favorites are vulnerable on racing's biggest day, and anything can happen. The races require discipline and sound thought, but if you apply that, and you have some luck, then Breeders' Cup betting can be fantastically profitable.
You can win at the Breeders' Cup, but you won't do it if you approach the day the same as you approach any other day at the races, or any other day of sports betting. The unique structure of the races mean that you have to be ready, or you will be in a lot of trouble. Here are three things you need to keep in mind to succeed on the last weekend in October:
Bring the bucks - More than any other day, the deep fields of quality horses will mean that you won't win every race. In order to have a good day in the end, you need the ability to cover the horses you like, bet as many combinations in the exotics as are necessary, and have the ability to weather an inevitable loss or two without panicking. If your bankroll isn't deep enough to seriously play the day, then you shouldn't seriously play the day. Be prepared, or be prepared to go broke.
Be choosy - Even with a good bankroll, you won't be able to play everything. There are so many temptations on the card - huge exotic pools on every race, pick threes paying thousands, pick fours paying tens of thousands, and a pick six that could pay millions. You can't afford to play it all, and even if you could you wouldn't have the time to effectively evaluate all bets. Pick the spots that you think give you the biggest edge, and then give those bets the attention they need to get a win.
Be prepared - If you go to the track to watch the races and bet on them then you are going to see the biggest crowds of the year. There will be lineups to make a bet, and it may be difficult to find a spot to concentrate and study the racing form. To be at your best, you need to have most of your work done before you get to the track. If you have evaluated the program and decided who you like before the day begins then you can spend the time at the races evaluating the horses on TV as they are in the paddock, going over the program a final time, and deciding the combinations you are going to play, and the horses you are going to drop from your consideration. You'll be more relaxed and you'll ultimately be more successful.