The Cup and the Less Experienced

By Art Parker, author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

Breeders’ Cup handicapping is routine, but exciting, for many of us that have been playing for years. While we appreciate the great day of thoroughbred racing we know what to expect, prepare the same way, and just hope we can pick enough winners to make the day profitable.

For the less experienced things are a little different. Many things are intimidating and overwhelming. There can be an immediate feeling of inferiority because of the lack of knowledge. For those who are exposed to the game in the mid-low levels of racing the first few Breeders’ Cups can be a frightful expedition.

The Breeders' Cup at Santa AnitaThe inexperienced may first feel the pain when looking at past performances. Trying to handicap a Breeders’ Cup card can be a state of bewilderment when one has only been faced with maiden claiming races and the never ending non-winners of 2 or 3 low level claiming contests. Seeing all of the graded stakes in past performances lines and a mountain of different tracks hosting such races is new territory for the Breeders’ Cup novice. The most important rule for the Breeders’ Cup novice to remember is that horses with successful trainers that have earned big money in big races are the ones with the highest probability of winning.

The tote board fascination should cease at the Breeders’ Cup. Any of us that have played at the mid-low level tracks know that a lot can change in terms of odds in a minute. I can recall many times I have seen an 8-1 drop to a 4-1 or lower in the last minute. That doesn’t happen very often at the Breeders’ Cup. Millions have already been shoved through the windows when the post time changes for the next race. Sure, there may be a small variance but in reality when you get to about 15 minutes to post what you see is what you get. Not much can change when wagering exceeds $12 million (or much more) per race.

Newcomers to the Cup wagering should not place a lot of stock in TV commentators. I always felt they tell the wrong stories because they are after ratings and trying to appeal to just about everyone who is tuned in. The best way to learn about handicapping the Breeders’ Cup is to do it the old fashion way…read. News organizations dedicated to racing produce the reports that are the best sources for information. Their purpose is to inform the handicapper not get a higher rating.

Also, those with less experience at Santa Anita need to be reminded of a few track notes. Santa Anita is a beautiful location and a great facility but turf races can be unique due to course layout. On three occasions Breeders’ Cup races on the turf will cross the main track at a certain point. Part of the Arcadia turf course is on the side of a hill that meanders downward toward the main body of the facility. For the turf course to resemble other American tracks and be positioned inside the main dirt track, the turf course must cross the dirt just before the top of the turf stretch. Many a horse that looked to be a winner finished out of the money after dealing with the small dirt crossing at Santa Anita. A rational person would think this favors the Californians instead of invaders, especially the Europeans. But that is not the case, thus far, since the Europeans have done very well at Breeders’ Cup turf races at Santa Anita. The races affected by the dirt crossing will be the Turf Sprint (6 1/2 furlongs), The Filly & Mare Turf (1 ¼ miles) and the Turf (1 ½ miles).

The other track note involves the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, which is on the dirt (1 ¾ miles). The race will be run around three turns with the starting gate being fixed in a position for a traditional sprint race.

If you are one of the inexperienced at the Breeders’ Cup battle don’t be afraid to jump in. Take time to learn and only wager when you really like your selection. After a couple of years of practice you will be prepared to be a more serious player. Just remember that horse playing and playing the Breeders’ Cup is not an attempt to get lucky, it is a game of skill.

Breeders’ Cup OMH Worksheets Now Available – Friday & Saturday

Download the time-tested, proven angles from The One Minute Handicapper for this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. Each report covers the full card: 12 races on Saturday and 10 total races on Friday.

For only $5 per report, The One Minute Handicapper (OMH) Worksheet automatically searches for and details the angles that each and every horse on the card has for their Breeders’ Cup start. It’s easy to miss an important angle when handicapping, especially on these two big days, but with the help of these worksheets that will not happen.

Some of the angles include:

* Favorable Trainer statistics

* Horses working sharply for this race

* Horses moving from a bad post position to a more favorable post position

* Troubled Trip last time out

There are 23 total angles or “betting scenarios” that are automatically handicapped for the player. Try the One Minute Handicapper worksheets for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships!

Breeders’ Cup Friday OMH Worksheet 11/02 – $5.00
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Breeders’ Cup Saturday OMH Worksheet 11/03 – $5.00
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“I understand and like the approach to The One Minute Handicapper. It’s a novel but great idea. I believe it can be a great tool in trying to make sense of the plethora of information in the DRF…”

Donna Barton Brothers, Former Jockey, NBC Sports Thoroughbred Racing  Commentator & Horse Player Magazine Columnist


“Author Frank DiTondo’s One Minute Handicapper teaches new handicappers the proper thought processes to identify prime betting situations and reinforces those key handicapping tools to the long-time horse player in such a way it becomes second nature to cover all the bases before heading to the windows.”

– Jon Lindo, Throughbred L.A. Radio Show and Syndicated handicapper for: The San Diego Union-Tribune & North County Times

2012 Breeders’ Cup TV Schedule

Breeders’ Cup

Friday, November 2

4 – 8 p.m. ET  NBC Sports Network


Breeders’ Cup

Saturday, November 3

3:30 – 8 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Network

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)

Saturday, November 3

8 – 9 p.m. ET  NBC

Feuds Horse Racing doesn’t need – Part II

by Art Parker

 Along the way the Breeders’ Cup opened another can of worms with the announcement of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Championship Day site. The Breeders’ Cup has decided to go back to Santa Anita in 2012 and the decision is not popular, especially in New York.  The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held in New York was 2005 at Belmont Park. Since then it has been held at Churchill Downs in 2006, 2010 and will be held there this year, 2011. In 2007 it was held at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and in 2008 and 2009 it was held at Santa Anita. The Lasix issue had many New York trainers on the defensive and then the Breeders’ Cup gave New York a snub on the 2012 Championship Day. 

Some New York trainers and owners have already started to talk about a boycott for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, and they may have a workable idea. If the New York based horsemen can get the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to move the dates of several important Grade One races it could hold a day of its own like the Breeders’ Cup. New York horsemen could draw from the states on the east coast, Canada and maybe even Kentucky for a special day to compete with the Breeders’ Cup. Many horsemen may want to stay home or ship a shorter distance even if purses are much smaller. Just the thought of an east coast boycott should be quite disturbing to the Breeders’ Cup.

But what if New York does not go along with the new anti-Lasix movement? Now things get real interesting, especially for those prospects for the five juvenile Breeders’ Cup races in 2012. Keeping some of your runners in New York because they could get Lasix may be a motivator to keep all runners in New York. I know this is quite a bit of “what ifs” but in a way it reminds me of 1987 when New York was the only state opposed to Lasix. Could it be that in 2012 New York will be the only state that allows Lasix? If New York wanted to compete with the Breeders’ Cup it would certainly give them an advantage to allow Lasix. 

Looking at all of this, the feud, the potential feuds, the possibility of an East versus West battle, and the possibility of controversy swirling around the Breeders’ Cup makes me wish for some quick solutions. The Lasix issue and the Breeders’ Cup site selection for 2012 are things that can blow up in the face of our sport. We really do not need this. Horse racing is yearning for good news and needs the public to hear about what a great sport it is and how much fun they can have at the track. Television exposure needs to generate excitement about the sport, not generate questions that cloud its image.

The one thing critical to horse racing’s survival is the need to avoid implosion. In the political world it has been said that one’s demise usually comes from within and not from without and the same really applies to horse racing. Our sport does not need to self destruct and that means feuds, like the ones we are seeing, need to be handled quickly and decisively. Most importantly, the day after solutions are agreed to there needs to be a united front promoting this great sport.

Anything less could prove to be our Waterloo.

Handicapper Art ParkerART PARKER is a regular contributor to