Searching for those Longshot Winners at Breeders’ Cup? Don’t Overlook the Obvious

The Breeders' Cup at Santa AnitaBy Art Parker

Miss Alleged at 42-1. Wild Again at 31-1. Spain at 56-1. Volponi at 44-1. Shared Account at 46-1. Court Vision at 65-1. One Dreamer at 47-1. And, of course, Arcangues at 133-1.

I had actually had a couple of those. The horses mentioned are a few of the “bombs” that have fallen on Breeders’ Cup days. Longshots on racing’s biggest day. It does happen, but they are just hard to find.

It has been said with correctness that favorites do better than normal in stakes races. I suppose it is true also when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup.  But who wants to cash a ticket on a 6-5 horse?

There are many ways to look at Breeders’ Cup day. For the novice or the fan (it is important that they cash the 6-5 ticket) my advice is to do whatever you want. Enjoy the day and then go tell everyone you know what a great time you had. Tell everyone they ought to be going to the track as often as possible cause it is a ton of fun.

For the serious handicapper with plenty of experience, I cannot tell you a thing. You already know as much as I (probably more).

For the ones that fall in between the novice and the serious player, I can help you a little bit with Breeders’ Cup day. The first thing, in case you have yet to learn it, is that you will not make money betting on favorites with any reasonable frequency. One must seek value and it is rare if a favorite offers such. On Breeders’ Cup day you have to reach back for a little extra, be willing to study a little longer, be willing to ask questions to learn more.

And then, whatever you do, do not discount or overlook the obvious just because it is Breeders’ Cup day.

The only time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Arlington Park was a day I wish to forget, well almost. It came time for the Classic, the last race of the day, and I was about to leave. I had been beaten unmercifully all day. I watched the post parade and noticed that Volponi looked good. Suddenly I remembered something in his form. I took another look at the race and it was clear. Volponi possessed, by far, the highest speed figure on dirt. I believe Volponi was viewed as a grass only horse. It was obvious that a repeat of that race would make him hard to beat. I’ve got to tell you, it’s absolutely amazing how much a paltry $10 will do when a 44-1 crosses the line in front of all others. I remember leaving the OTB thinking that the day was, “not bad at all.”

I remember searching for a good live longshot in 1994 and, just a few minutes before the Distaff, I noticed a 6 year old gray mare named One Dreamer. All of my buddies said she “couldn’t run with these” and told me to forget her. But I noticed the one thing that all good handicappers pay close attention to, and that is lone speed. One Dreamer was definitely going to get the lead, at least in my opinion. And she had Gary Stevens aboard, who knew how to rate a speed horse. I knew she didn’t quite measure up in terms of class, but I felt that Stevens may just be able to nurse the 47-1 shot all the way to the wire. That is exactly what happened. When they crossed the wire I looked at my friends and asked, “Who said the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be?”

The lesson is not to disregard the obvious just because it is Breeders’ Cup day.

Now, I’m not going to review the multitude of lost longshots I’ve had in 29 years of playing on Breeders’ Cup days. There have been plenty, but overall I am better off than I would be playing a bunch of favorites. If you are trying to become a serious handicapper and elevate your game (let’s just say you are past the novice stage), then Breeders’ Cup day gives you the perfect opportunity to jump in and figure things out. On that day horses are shipping in from all over the world. The surface is changing for some, and the venue is changing for all except those based in Southern California since the Breeders’ Cup is at Santa Anita once again.

The pace scenario may be completely different than what the heavily bet horses have seen. Some runners have never been in a real big field. Others are losing their regular rider. The list of things to consider on Breeders’ Cup day is endless. It is a special day and even if you lose every race it will be fun by taking the approach that you intend to improve your game.

And who knows, maybe one of those bombs will fall your way. I hope I’m standing next to you when it does.

What It Takes for an East Coast Horse to Win at the Breeders’ Cup

by ART PARKER

Whatever the surface at Santa Anita, dirt or artificial, the locals have an advantage over all comers, especially the East Coast runners.

It’s been a long time since the Breeders’ Cup was held on the East Coast. Monmouth Park was the last East Coast track to host the Cup, and that was in 2007. In 2005 Belmont Park hosted the Cup, which was the last time the event was in New York. It’s been even longer since an East coast horse won a Breeders’ Cup race on the main track at Santa Anita. It’s been just as long since a horse made its last start on a New York main track and followed that with a Breeders’ Cup win on the main track at Santa Anita.

In 1986 Lady’s Secret won at Belmont and then won the Distaff at Santa Anita. The East Coast based Smile also took the Sprint that year. Since then, it’s been a lost cause for the East and New York’s main track runners when they head for the Cup at Santa Anita.

The Breeders' Cup at Santa AnitaThose recording Breeders’ Cup victories on the main track at Santa Anita have won on dirt and, in 2008 and 2009, won on the artificial surface (This year Santa Anita offers a traditional dirt surface). On either surface the nod goes to those based in Southern California. The Europeans have recorded some winners on the Arcadia main and there have been a few from mid-America. Whatever the surface at Santa Anita, dirt or artificial, the locals have an advantage over all comers, especially the East Coast runners.

Most patrons at a track play the game by examining data on paper and then make a bet. It’s like reading a brief news report in the newspaper and accepting the information as the entire story. And, most handicappers that play the game look at the numbers and a small amount of other numerical data and then they make a decision. Little thought is given to the other evidence.

“We have a tendency to think of these animals as machines, but they are living, breathing creatures, subject to the laws of nature,” said Jude Feld, former Southern California trainer and now a commentator on the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN). The thoroughbreds are not machines and the people that handle them are imperfect because they are human. That really throws a monkey wrench into any analysis, especially for those that don’t believe horse playing is truly a game of skill.

Feld was asked for his thoughts about the lack of East Coast winners on Santa Anita’s main surface over the years that the Breeder’s Cup has been contested there. He noted three major reasons; pace, travel and weather. “When it comes to pace, California horses are trained to run from the bell,” Feld said.  “There is a great difference in training between the East Coast and West Coast. The East Coast is laid back. ‘Let ’em settle and have ’em finish’ is the accepted thought on the East Coast,” Feld explained. “On the West Coast trainers drill the hell out their horses. Their short works are fast – under :35, under :47 and under a minute.”

Feld said that top West Coast trainer Bob Baffert had a lot to do with the training style in California. “Baffert came in from the Quarterhorse world and won everything. His horses worked fast. That forced everyone else to train similarly or lose their clients – a very interesting dynamic.”

As far as travel is concerned it is much harder to travel east to west. Many people claim this is true in other sports such as baseball and football. “The human and equine genome is relatively close. Light regulates clock genes, so it would behoove trainers to get their runners out in the light as much as possible in their first few days. Early shipping would also aid their cause,” Feld explained.

Usually the weather has plenty to do with racing and most of us first think of rain and wet tracks. But when the Breeders’ Cup heads west there are other meteorological considerations. Feld explained the most important weather factor to consider the first Saturday in November. “Fall has definitely hit the Midwest and East Coast, yet it is much warmer in Southern California [than usual].  Eastern horses will have been growing winter coats and adjusting to cool weather (30s in the morning back east) and are suddenly thrust back into summer.” Readjusting to the weather is also another reason for shipping early.

This year give more thought to the other factors in thoroughbred racing, not just the printed numbers and the name of the jockey. Remember, horse playing is an art and a game of skill. It is not for those that guzzle free casino drinks and pull the handle of a slot machine watching their money disappear.

Breeders’ Cup XXIX Workout Watch – Animal Kingdom

Friday, October 19

AGameofSkill.com is tracking the horses that appear to be working well for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, Nov. 2-3. Although many top horses can work well but fail to reproduce that form in the afternoon, watching runners that are training impressively can still provide handicappers with a significant edge come race day.

Keep an eye on this horses on the big weekend: Animal Kingdom. It’s not every day that you get to “ride” a Kentucky Derby winner but this head cam puts you in on the action. Skip to the 3 minute mark if you’re short on time. The work is from Oct. 10 and there are two horses way ahead of him on the rail that he is targeting.

 

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Vlqs56QZKNE[/youtube]

 

ADW Offer: Get cash back on your Breeders’ Cup bets – plus a signup bonus when you join. Visit Premier Turf Club and enter promo code “AGOS” for a bonus offer.

Breeders’ Cup XXIX Workout Watch

Breeders Cup 2012 at Santa AnitaToday we start tracking the horses that appear to be working well for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, Nov. 2-3. Although many top horses can work well but fail to reproduce that form in the afternoon, watching runners that are training impressively can still provide handicappers with a significant edge come race day.

Keep an eye on these horses on the big weekend.

Bern Identity

Hamazing Destiny

Royal Delta

Stay Thirsty

To Honor and Serve

Turbulent Descent

ADW Offer: Get cash back on your Breeders’ Cup bets – plus a signup bonus when you join. Visit Premier Turf Club and enter promo code “AGOS” for a bonus offer.

Santa Anita runner named AGameofSkill Claimer of the Week

Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comAfter winning at $25,000 three weeks ago, El Martillo took a sharp drop in class when meeting $10,000 claimers at Santa Anita Saturday afternoon and recorded another career victory. The bay horse defeated his foes going a mile on the main track in 137.53 for his seventh career win. El Martillo stalked the leaders, took over in mid-stretch and won by an easy 5 lengths. The winner paid $3.20 and was ridden by Martin Garcia. Sired by champion Tiznow, the 7 year old has won on dirt, turf and artificial surfaces. The versatile Bob Baffert trainee has also won going one turn and two turns. From 31 career starts he has finished in the money 15 times and earned $260,000. El Martillo was claimed from the race by trainer Dean Greenman for the Luch Racing Stables.
-Art Parker