Friday, November 27, 2015

Handicappers' Corner: The Clark Handicap

Thank you to The Thorofan for allowing this idiot, hack handicapper an opportunity to talk ponies with you all.

Poor Meriweather Lewis Clark. He did so much for our sport yet died by his own hand at age 53. The Clark Handicap is a part of my Thanksgiving tradition, tun across a route of dirt located on property donated and named for Meriweather's mother's family, the Churchills.

I remember Mr. Clark every year as the race named in his honor shouts THANKSGIVING to me as much as turkey, stuffing, gravy. Anyway, we have a nice post holiday smorgasbord of runners in this event with 7 legitimate Grade 1 horses going head to head.  I don't know about you, but that alone get's my blood going.    Let's get it on!


When I look at the past performances, and I look at who likes to race within 2 lengths of the lead and who doesn't I have a mixed bag.

Who likes the lead:  Mr. Z (have you seen him race?) for sure, Race Day, Effinex, and Protonico  most of the time, and Hopportunity, Keen Ice and Frivolous, not so much.  Of my two tosses, only Shotgun Kowboy appears to be willing to add to the pace. So what am I expecting?  While some bad weather is headed there, it looks like the rains may not start until around post time.

I expect Hopportunity to fire off the pace and retain his Clark Handicap title.  Alternatives?  The pace could go awry and then I think Race Day or  Effinex have the best win potential of the remaining group.  Filling out Place and Show and if you want to go into the exotic Superfecta you most likely will need some luck or alot of covers which I never advocate.  Remember, winning your wager at any cost, is not a good strategy for race track capital management.   While we might be gambling, their are river boat gamblers and there are shrewd gamblers.  Be shrewd! Hopportunity, Protonico and Race Day last met in the Hagyard Fayette, G2 at KEE


I've never been big on betting Breeders' Cup contestants in their next race back.  Keen Ice comes in on 2nd off a long layoff and first off was Breeders' Cup Classic.  The 3 YO son of already has $1.8 MM in winnings.  By the way Trainer Roman's is 13% off the break and he places Lanerie up from the jock pool, and together they win 26% of time at CD.

Locals! Mr. Z. comes in off the Breeders' Cup Mile where he was rank early and faded late.  The 3 YO Malibu Moon will be a major pace player but expect him to crack around 8 panels. Frivolous, the lone lady, comes in off the Distaff (let it be known the Turk never referred to it as a "ladies classic.")  5 of 7 in the money at CD, 5 of 8 in the money at the distance, but I think she's just not fast enough here. [Update: Frivolous scratched and is being retired]

Effinex was first loser, aka Place, against American Pharoah in the Breeders' Cup Classic, so so in Gold Cup and the Woodward and running at CD for the first time.  Plenty fast with tactical speed. Race Day's best efforts have been on/near the lead.  I think the 4 YO will be sent out fast from the far end of gate and could wire the race.

 Whatever you do,, have fun with it and keep your betting based in the realities of your bank account. Turk Out!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Handicappers' Corner: Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash

By Dylan Jarmulowicz,

As we race to the end of another year, Saturday is a big day on the Maryland (MD) racing calendar. Sans Preakness day at Pimlico, De Francis Dash day is the biggest day of racing in the state of Maryland and by far the biggest day of the Laurel Park meet. Over the years this race has featured some of the nation’s top sprinters along with some solid local horses who always seem to run well while being overlooked at the mutual windows. In 2009, Godolphin Racing sent out highly talented Vineyard Haven who needed everything he had to fight off local legend Ravalo. This year’s race certainly looks to be setting up the similar, and should be another good rendition of the De Francis Dash!

Race 10 – 6 Furlongs  Post Time – 4:10 p.m. (Eastern)

Advance Weather: Partly Sunny, 50’s
Let’s start with what many teachers probably said about me growing up…, #9 TROUBLE KID (9/2) who comes in on great form. After finishing second on July 5 in a $15,000 claimer at Parx, he has won four straight races including two stakes. Unusual for a sprint stake, there is not a whole lot of speed in this race and he likes to go to the front and take them all the way to the finish line. I see no reason why he will not try that again today and he has a big chance to do so at a fair price.

If you are going against TROUBLE KID, then most likely it will be with #2 STALLWALKIN’ DUDE (5/2) or #3 PALACE (9/5). STALLWALKIN’ DUDE comes out of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint where he finished eighth. He did not run badly but I never play horses coming out of Breeders’ Cup races as they usually need some time and a race or two to recover from such a big effort, I’ll let him beat me. The other favorite however, PALACE looks to be spotted in a perfect spot. His connections have been patient with him this year (only his fifth race), he will add blinkers for the first time and Linda Rice has terrific numbers first time blinkers (wins at 24%). His last two have been very good starts at Belmont including a stakes win and running style of sitting right off the pace should suit him well. I would be surprised if he goes off at 9-5; he is very dangerous.

Finally, I have to mention #1 CUTTY SHARK (15-1) and trainer Donald Barr. His last two efforts have left something to be desired, but he is making a second start off a five month layoff and could improve. Today’s distance of six furlongs maybe too short as he is more of a seven furlong specialist, but, he ran so well in the Grade III General George Handicap back in February and has a great record over this racetrack (5 wins in 16 races). Donald Barr also always spots his horses well, look for these local connections to surprise at a price.

My Plays:
Ex: 1,3,9 BOX
Tri: 1,3,9/1,3,9/1,2,3,9

Good Luck!         

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Breeders' Cup Recap

Before the BC Dust Completely Settles

by Jean Chodkowski
for ThoroFan Newsletter (11/7/15)

Now that the Breeders’ Cup is over, you may be moving on looking forward to the remaining big days of racing in 2015 or you might be taking a break from the sport altogether. Whichever route you take, you might be missing out on a great opportunity to improve your handicapping skills by not reviewing each day of the Breeders’ Cup. Of course, if you made some money on the BC races, this task may not be as disagreeable if you didn’t have such success. Whatever your results, by thinking over the decisions you made, you can determine what areas of your handicapping need work.

For example, did you find yourself locked into one kind of bet type, where you may have won, but didn’t get a enough of a payout for all your efforts? We’re thinking of those exactas where the chalk came in first and second, like in the Juvenile Fillies and Sprint. Maybe you were locked into the contenders you chose before the races even began. By doing so, you may not have changed your picks based on what their trainers were saying about how the surface wasn’t the kind their horses preferred, as in the case of Golden Horn. The same thing applies to the workouts. Did you follow what the trainers were saying about their BC horses’ workouts? Did you know Stopchargingmaria was sitting on a big effort based on her works?

Every Breeders’ Cup features a trainer or two that can get multiple wins in the event. Last year, both Chad Brown and Wesley Ward had multiple winners. This year maybe you figured out that Mark Casse, who was coming into the event “oh-for-23” had some live horses. After all, he finally won the Queen’s Plate earlier in the year after years of frustration and close calls. What should have tipped you off about Casse’s barn was the fact that it had the most stakes winners at the recently concluded Keeneland meet. Of course, if you did your gut handicapping, you might have picked Casse runners Catch a Glimpse and Tepin. The same thing goes if you thought Chad Brown would continue his Breeders’ Cup success, which he did with Stephanie’s Kitten and Wavell Avenue, both paying nice prices. Keeping with the humans in the BC, if you had to pick a jockey who would shine in the event, why not Florent Geroux? All he did was bring home Mongolian Saturday for a win that overjoyed a nation far, far away. It didn’t get more international than that!

Overall, after figuring out what you might have done differently with your BC handicapping don’t kick yourself. Instead, use the knowledge in handicapping all the great races that still remain in 2015, so that by the start of the new year, you’ll be ready with a sharp set of handicapping tools. Remember too, that we got to watch history, as American Pharoah provided the happy ending we all wanted when he became the first Triple Crown champion to win a Breeders’ Cup race. As the years go by, we will remember that moment long after the thoughts of how we handicapped the BC fade.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Handicappers' Corner: BC Filly & Mare Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, preview by Steve Munday

The Filly and Mare Sprint is Race 5 on Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup card at Keeneland for a $1,000,000 purse. There are fourteen entries in a fairly competitive, evenly matched field.

The 3-1 morning line favorite is CAVORTING parked way on the far outside in post 14. She’s an extremely talented three-year old filly facing older mares for the first time. There seems to be plenty of early speed in this race which should set up very well for CAVORTING’s late closing running style. This is the toughest field she has faced in her seven race career so I’m hesitate to make a strong bet to win at short odds.

Searching for a better option than the 3-1 favorite should lead you immediately to #11 JUDY THE BEAUTY at twice the morning line price; 6-1. JUDY THE BEAUTY is the defending Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Champion and was runner-up to the legendary Groupie Doll in this race in 2013. She’s proven she can win at this level and has a stellar 4 wins in 5 career races at Keeneland. Rider Frankie Dettori and trainer Wesley Ward teamed up to win the first at Keeneland on Breeders’ Cup weekend on Pablo Del Monte in a six furlong sprint. Dettori could be set for a big weekend.

The biggest concern with JUDY THE BEAUTY is she’s 0 for 3 in 2015, with all three losses coming to three different competitors in this race: finishing 3rd to #1 FIORETTI (30-1) at Keeneland on 3 October; finishing 3rd to #4 LA VERDAD (6-1) at Saratoga on 29 July; and a 2nd to #2 DAME DOROTHY (10-1) at Churchill Downs on 2 May on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Of those three I’m most enamored with LA VERDAD; she’s a hard-hitter than fires just about every time out.

Another hard hitter at a better price is #3 TARIS at 12-1 with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in the saddle. TARIS is one for one at Keeneland and has two wins and a place in three tries at the seven furlong distance. Ontario-bred #7 WAVELL AVENUE, also listed at 12-1, steps up in class, but fits with these and it would not be shocking to see her closing fast late. 

The x factor in this race is #10 KISS TO REMEMBER at a shockingly high 30-1 on the morning line. She’s put together a nice string of four competitive races since Marty Wolfson took over training duties from Tom Amoss. She’s finished strong and Saturday’s pace setup should help her late closing running style. She looks great on the Sheets and the expected post time odds make her an attractive win bet as well as a “must use” in the exotics. Julien Leparoux rides KISS TO REMEMBER for the first time and though he would not be my first choice for a dirt sprint, hopefully he can work out a tactically adept trip allows her to take dead aim on the race leaders down the stretch.

#14 CAVORTING (3-1)


Handicappers' Corner: BC Classic

Tonalist: image by Travis Lindquist
First of all, thank you to The ThoroFan for allowing me to hack my way through the handicap of the richest race in North America, the Breeders' Cup Classic.

I am clearly not worthy! The Turk's been on a blogging holiday since mid summer.

Sometimes I need a break from the game, and after a very emotional Triple Crown season, I needed some racing downtime.

At the same time I took a handicapping break I worked more on completing my MBA.  I've learned enough to know that handicapping and gambling on horse racing is a horrible investment, even for most of the best handicappers, so if you are reading this handicap and you lost more money than you should have this weekend, stop, this isn't a panacea for what ails you.  Seek Help! That's The Ol' Turk's public message.

I handicap because I enjoy the mental exercise and I've learned over the years I am good enough to stay near break even over the long run, punctuated by periods of incredible success and incredible failure.

 Not much handicapping is really needed for a race like the Breeders' Cup Classic .  We have a Triple Crown Winner, American Pharoah, six million dollar plus earners, and no real wildcards like a freaky good filly such as Beholder, a scratch.

We have a classy 3 YO son of Galileo, Gleaneagles (Ire) who has never run in North American, never run on fast dirt and hasn't been past 1 mile.  I call this noise, a distraction. Let's stop rambling and get after this!

I'm not as hung up on American Pharoah's Travers Stakes loss as I am that he's had a grueling year and while class and skill could still carry him to a win, a 4-5 odds or worse, do I really want to back that as a gambler?  If you want to be a fan, great, and we need more of them, but I'm a gambler, a race track investor, and I don't see much reason to risk capital on a bet like that.  All that said, I still think he's due to regress and it creates a real opportunity to find some value.  I like the work tab Baffert has put him through and I think he's still top four.


Unfortunately for me, I've identified Tonalist as my chalk, and he'll most likely be bet down below 4-1.  I've made some very good money on Christophe Clement's turf runners over the past several years and I love the ride he's had with the 4 YO son of Tapit. Stepping back, I have a group of five horses that I think are are possible for Place or Show.  I think Frosted, along with American Pharoah and Tonalist is the only other I may cover in the win spot.  Expecting 10-1 or worse, the 3 YO son of Tapit, this maybe purely a value insertion and most likely

I will flip flop Keen Ice and Frosted in my actual bets.  I like Keen Ice better actually, with a good finish at the Haskell and the win at the Travers. I'd like to not see him drop to under 5-1. Smooth Roller is my looney tunes idea.  A very raw 4-year-old gelded Hard Spun, he ran a beautiful Awesome Again in late September and I'm willing to entertain him pulling of Show or the exotic fourth spot.

Did I skip Honor Code?  No, but I can't cover everyone.  I've got him in the RED/TOSS group but again in full disclosure, if his odds lengthen past 7-1 I might be inclined to cover him in Show and fourth. Who will screw me up?  Frosted and Effinex.  I like Effinex an awful lot.  His Suburban Handicap, beating Tonalist, was very very game.  His Woodward and his Jockey Club Gold Cup were both regressions for the New York Bred 4 Yo son of Mineshaft.  Back to Frosted, he hasn't won past 1 1/8 miles.  I think I have him too high and I have to put some thought into my final bets.


 So I don't this very often, in fact I've never done it in 8 years of blogging, but I've got an alternative universe handicap I might actually like better than the one I led with. What's different and what's the same?


I brought Keen Ice up to a share of the Win Spot.  I brought Effinex up to Place or Show, as well as Honor Code.  I dropped Frosted and Smooth Roller outside of the Top 4 and I left American Pharoah right where I had him. Whatever you do, have fun with it!

 Turk Out!

Handicappers' Corner: BC Filly & Mare Turf

By Valerie Grash, Foolish Pleasure

In the 16 prior runnings of the Filly & Mare Turf, a 3-year-old has only won three times—Banks Hill (2001), Quija Board (2004) and Midday (2009). Can Legatissimo become the fourth filly to do so?

Let’s break down the field by post position:

1. Hard Not to Like
(Hard Spun out of Tactical Cat mare Like a Gem) Christophe Clement/John Velazquez

A two-time 9-furlong Grade 1 winner this year (Gamely and Diana), this 6-year-old veteran had a terribly disappointing race last-out, fading to finish eighth out of 10 starters in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Rodeo Drive. The positive is she likes this turf course, having been victorious in the 8.5 furlong Grade 1 Jenny Wiley last spring, and then finishing a weakening third in this year’s spring event. I just find it suspect that she wants this distance, not to mention the softer turf may not be to her liking.

2. Sentiero Italia
(Medaglia d’Oro out of Cadeaux Genereux  mare Golden Way) Kiaran McLaughlin/Joel Rosario

A half-sister to 9-furlong Grade 2 Bernard Baruch victor Ashkal Way, this 3-year-old filly easily broke her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion going 9-furlongs on turf in April. Since then, she’s captured two Grade 2 events, the Lake Placid and Sands Point, before her most recent third-place finish in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over this Keeneland turf course. Her performance in that race (especially her willingness to kick on late) is extremely promising, but, boy, there’s still that class divide that needs closed between her and the more veteran US performers, let alone the talented Euro contenders. She is fast, though, so I’ll be hoping for a price when I put her down for a longshot chance.

3. Legatissimo
(Danehill Dancer out of Montjeu mare Yummy Mummy) David Wachman/Ryan Moore

A winner or runner-up in her past six races, this 3-year-old filly is a worthy morning line favorite. The Group 1 English One Thousand Guineas winner was just nosed out by Qualify in the 12-furlong Group 1 English Oaks and then by Diamondsandrubies in the 10-furlong Irish Group 1 Pretty Polly (fellow F&M Turf entrant Secret Gesture was two lengths back in fourth-place in the latter). She followed those narrow losses with two dominant victories, in the 10-furlong English Group 1 Nassau and in the one-mile Irish Group 1 Matron, both against older fillies and mares. In addition to her dam being a full-sister to 20-furlong Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory, she’s got a wonderfully appropriate name (Yummy Mummy) for a Halloween race. Perfectly drawn in post position 3, Legatissimo will run on Lasix for the first time.

4. Sharla Rae
(Afleet Alex out of Gold Fever mare Jinny’s Gold) Doug O’Neill/Jose Lezcano

Her winning effort in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks was her best race by far, but when this 3-year-old stepped up against older in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Rodeo Drive she couldn’t made an impact, finishing mid-pack. Her dam ran second over this turf course in the 8.5 furlong Grade 3 Valley View, which sort of proves my point—there’s definitely a stamina issue for this filly and even the turf maestro Jose Lezcano is unlikely to bring her home in the money.

5. Photo Call
(Galileo out of Rock of Gibraltar mare Theann) Graham Motion/Drayden Van Dyke

Her breeding suggests a perfect blending of stamina (by dual English and Irish Derby winner Galileo) and speed (her second dam Cassandra Go captured the prestigious 5-furlong Group 2 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot). Initially raced in Ireland, she arrived in the US last October where she captured a one-mile turf allowance race at Keeneland first-up. Off a two-month break, she’s rattled off two consecutive victories, in the 9-furlong Grade 3 Violet at Monmouth and in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita.

6. Queen’s Jewel
(Pivotal out of Lode mare Safari Queen) Freddy Head/Maxime Guyon

This lightly-raced French invader won the 10-furlong Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary back in May, but followed that up with two disappointing Group 1 finishes in the 10.5-furlong Prix de Diane and, most recently, in the 10-furlong Prix de l’Opera. With only five career races under her belt, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of this 3-year-old, but surely she’s not up to snuff against a veteran like Stephanie’s Kitten.

7. Watsdachances
(Diamond Green out of Entrepreneur mare High Finance) Chad Brown/Joe Bravo

Runner-up to Flotilla in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Watsdachances returns to compete in the Breeders’ Cup as a 5-year-old. Off a 7-month break, she won the 8.5 furlong Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico. A strong runner-up finish in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine led to winning (by disqualification) the Grade 1 Beverly D. Her last effort, a disappointing fourth (nearly 7 lengths back) to Stephanie’s Kitten in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Flower Bowl, came over soft going, so not loving her chances here.

8. Dacita
(Scat Daddy out of Seeker’s Reward mare Daja) Chad Brown/Javier Castellano

This 4-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy was a 3-time Group 1 turf winner in Chile before being sold and transferred to the barn of trainer Chad Brown. Her first (and only) start of 2015 was a late-charging victory in the 8.5 furlong Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga over Tepin and My Miss Sophia. The trainer-jockey combination of Chad Brown and Javier Castellano has been red-hot, so don’t be surprised if she runs big. The only major question mark is how she will handle the turf if soft (she’s only been tested on firm). If the grass has dried out, she’s a major upset contender—her 10-furlong time winning the Group 1 Chilean Oaks last December was nearly 4 seconds faster than last year’s 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf over rock-hard Santa Anita course. The speed is definitely there.

9. Miss France
(Dansili out of Tirol mare Miss Tahiti) Andre Fabre/Frankie Dettori

Last year, she captured the one-mile Group 1 English One Thousand Guineas—and, frustratingly, hasn’t found the winner’s circle since. After four consecutive runner-up finishes—each by a length or less—you figure her luck has got to change. Interestingly, though, all four of those most recent efforts were over the mile distance; entering her in this race appears to be just to avoid Esoterique. Her dam was French Group 1-placed at 12 furlongs so the 10-furlong distance may suit her, but not sure she’ll like soft turf.

10. Bawina
(Dubawi out of Sadler’s Wells mare Esneh) Carlos Laffon-Parias/Olivier Peslier

Winner of the one-mile Group 2 Prix du Muguet in May, this 4-year-old filly’s only previous 10-furlong attempt (Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet) resulted in a narrow defeat, just a neck back of Odeliz over “Very Soft” conditions at Deauville in August. Last out, she finished sixth, four lengths back of top BC Mile contender Esoterique in the one-mile Group 1 Sun Chariot at Newmarket. The more give out of the turf, the better her chances to pick up a piece of the exotics. She will run on Lasix for the first time.

11. Stephanie’s Kitten
(Kitten’s Joy out of Catienus mare Unfold the Rose) Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz, Jr.

In 2011, she captured the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf over a 14-horse field that included fellow BC Filly and Mare Turf contestant Hard Not to Like. Last year, she came roaring late, but had to settle for second behind Dayathespa in this event. Can this finally be her year? A clear repeat winner in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Flower Bowl last-out, she’s certainly in form and clearly has the necessary speed. While she won the Grade 1 Alcibiades and finished third (just behind Hard Not to Like) in the Grade 1 Ashland over Keeneland’s former Polytrack, she’s finished out of the money in both her prior turf starts at Keeneland which is just a tad concerning. However, Kitten’s Joy progeny tend to love a soft turf course.

12. Secret Gesture
(Galileo out of Danehill mare Shastye) Ralph Beckett/Florent Geroux

Fifth-place finisher in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, this now 5-year-old mare has been a little more lightly-raced this season, beginning with an impressive wire-to-wire victory over recent Grade 1 E.P. Taylor runner-up Talmada in the 10.5 furlong Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York in mid-May. Next, a disappointing fourth behind Legatissimo in the 10-furlong Group 1 Pretty Polly, and then a controversial disqualification from an apparent win in the 9.5 furlong Grade 1 Beverly D, placed behind Watsdachances and Stephanie’s Kitten. Undoubtedly looking for retribution here, her connections have made a jockey switch, from Jamie Spencer (who will be in town to ride on Friday, but is scheduled to ride at Newmarket on Saturday) to US-based Florent Geroux. Her outside post position isn’t advantageous, but she may be hard to catch if she (as expected) makes the early lead in a race lacking a lot of early speed.

$1 Trifecta boxed: (3, 5, 11) Legatissimo, Photo Call, Stephanie’s Kitten
Also exotics contenders (if soft turf): (6, 9, 10) Queen’s Jewel, Miss France, Bawina
Also exotics contenders (if firm turf): (8) Dacita
Longshot play (any conditions): (2) Sentiero Italia

Post time for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (race 6 on Saturday’s card) is 2:10 p.m. ET.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Handicappers' Corner: BC Sprint

By Michael Amo, ThoroFan

With nearly half of the field showing an inclination to want the early lead, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint will be exciting from gate to wire. Breeders’ Cup races bring the best of the best to the gate. This certainly the case in the Sprint. Eleven in the field have run and performed respectable in grade one events. Two, Alsvid and Barbados, have shown quality at the grade two level. Ivan Fallunovalot has only been tested at the grade three level.  Therefore, it is hard to classify any of them as “pretenders”. Handicapping Breeders’ Cup races forces one to take each entry seriously. So let’s look at the field from three perspectives, speed, class and form.

Out of the gate six horses will be rushing for dominance down the long back stretch. Positioning will be critical, demanding exceptional jockey skills.  With all jockeys at the top of their game quick thinking strategic ability will prevail. 
Given the abundance of early speed the pace will be fast and maybe too fast for some. As the field approaches the far turn it is likely that Masochistic (Smith), Runhappy (Prado), Favorite Tale (Castellano) and Private Zone ( Pedroza) will be leading the herd. In the second tier chasing the leaders will be three solid performers with experienced jockeys –I Ortiz (Stallwalkin’ Dude), J. Velasquez ( Limousine Liberal) and C. Borel (Ivan Fallunovalot).

Another way to look at the field is money earned. Using this criterion splits the field into two categories –millionaires and the non-millionaires. In the former group are three horse—Alsvid ($1 m), Salutos Amigos ($1.1 m) and Private Zone ($2.6m). Although money earned isn’t everything it signifies that these three have run and done well in some of the country’s most prestigious races.
Of the three big money earners Private Zone and Salutos Amigos stand out and should influence the outcome of the race. Jose Ortiz should have Salutos Amigos closing in on the leaders preparing for the stretch run. His race in the grade one Vosburgh at Belmont Park in September against Rock Fall confirms that he has late running style and ability. His weak performance one race back where he finished fifth behind Private Zone might be explained in two ways. Saratoga is not his preferred race course and neither is seven furlongs.

A final way to dissect the field is by current conditioning and form. Are they doing well now and/or showing improvement in recent efforts both in workouts and races? It is not enough just to be a good horse to win a Breeders’ Cup Race. You must be in top form and peaking. Showing any decline in form is a sure negative for a horse racing at this level. From an improving perspective four horses look ready to run their best race. ---Stallwalking’ Dude, Salutos Amigos, Favorite Tale and Private Zone.
All four are coming into the race with solid and improving Beyer Speed Figures. They all have competitive experience at this level of racing. Finally, they all show progressive improvement in the ThoroGraph figures. For these reasons these four are on the top of the list for win and exotic plays.

Let’s try molding this thinking into a betting strategy. With the hot up front pace, combined with class and form we expect that Private Zone will be the one to catch in the lane with Stallwalkin’ Dude desperately trying to hold off Favorite Tale and Salutos Amigos. Salutos Amigos should be driving hard passing Favorite Tale and Stallwalkin’ Dude gaining every second on Private Zone.

The finish, although very close, should be:

1.    Salutos Amigos (10)
2.    Private Zone (13)
3.    Stallwalkin’ Dude (3)
4.    Favorite Tale (14)

Key Salutos Amigos over Private Zone, Stallwalkin’ Dude and Favorite Tale in Trifectas and Superfectas.

Key Private Zone over Salutos Amigos, Stallwalkin’ Dude and Favorite Tale in Trifectas and Superfectas.

Box Salutos Amigos and Private Zone in an exacta

Make a Show wager on Salutos Amigos if odds are 10-1 or greater as a saver bet. 

Good luck, but keep the day job.