Will Classic Empire Rule the Holy Bull?
By: Michael Amo, ThoroFan Chairman
On the heels of the $12 million Pegasus World Invitational Cup and an enormous betting weekend, comes the beginning of Florida’s Triple Crown Trail with the Holy Bull Stakes (GII). As in past years the field is over shadowed with one heavy morning line favorite, Classic Empire. Classic Empire towers over the field from three perspectives. He won the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Classic. He was awarded the Eclipse Award as the 2-year-old of the year. Finally, he was ranked number one on the Jockey Club’s Experimental Free Handicap.
In the Breeders’ Cup Classic Empire dominated the field of eleven with a gutsy performance to hold off Not This Time to win by a neck.
He won the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old colt easily. Check out America’s Best Racing’s article: https://www.americasbestracing.net/the-sport/2017-2016-eclipse-awards-winners
When the Jockey Club looked at the performances of 2-year-olds and created the fictional Experimental Free Handicap, http://www.jockeyclub.com/pdfs/xper16c.pdfo EFH weights for horses turning three in 2017, Classic Empire was on top with an assigned weight of 126, same as Nyquist received last year. As in classic handicap assignments the Jockey Club was trying to assign weights that would theoretically make all 100 horses evaluate hit the finish line at the same time. By way of example the only other horse in the Holy Bull that made the list was Gunnevera that was assigned nine pound less at 117.
With these points in mind handicapping the Holy Bull seems straight forward and poses only one question. Who will run second behind Classic Empire? Of course, using him as the winner in the late Pick 4 or Pick 6, is an option for vertical bettors. Playing him to win, place or show will return little value compared with the inherent risk in any horse race.
So, let’s have some fun using Tom Amello’s “Playing the Odds” http://agameofskill.com/author/tamello/. Tom a seasoned horseplayer, handicapper and television analyst offers a way for new fans to have fun and maybe win. He reasons in a race where there is an overwhelming favorite this horse is likely to win. However, given the tease to beat the favorite the odds board may falsely reduce some odds and inflate others. His recommendation on these “Monster Boards” is to eliminate the second and (sometimes) the third choice on the odds board from the exotic play while insert the 4th and 5th. Let’s see how this might work in the Holy Bull. (Note: since we are handicapping this in advance live odds are not available. Therefore morning line odds will be used. However, the reader should use live odds)
The morning line odds have Gunnevera (9-2) as second choice and Fact Finding as 3rd choice. Throw them out and use Talk Logistics (12-1), the 4nd choice, Irish War Cry (15-1 and Cavil (15-1) tied for 5th and 6th choices. Using the Amello’s Playing the Odds model, here is the Handigamble for the Holly Bull.
$20 Exacta part wheel: Classic Empire (#3) over Talk Logistic (#4), Irish War Cry (#5) and Cavil (#8) ---$60
$5 Trifecta Key: Classic Empire (#3) over Talk Logistic (#4), Irish War Cry (#5), Cavil (#8) over Talk Logistic (#4), Irish War Cry (#5), Cavil (#8) --- $30
$10 to win on Classic Empire in case Amello’s model doesn’t work out ---$10