Reviewing BC Results with the previously published profiles

By Craig Spencer

Last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup should have been a profitable endeavor for me based on the success that my prior publication had, but my wagering strategy needs a little work.  Here’s a summary by race of the winners compared to my “qualifiers”; qualifiers and the bets that would have been cashed using just the qualifiers are in red.  [Read Craig’s BC Winning Profiles piece here]

Juvenile Turf  – Foreign Shippers

So in the Juvenile Turf I suggested Commemorative and War Envoy from the foreign contingent and discussed that Hootenanny shouldn’t have a problem getting the distance from a breeding perspective but the time since his last race did cause me some concern.

BC Results Juv Turf 2014

Dirt Mile – last raced within 6 weeks, good last work a plus

Goldencents, Tapiture, Fed Biz were the suggested horses to consider.  Pants On Fire also qualified winning prior race within 6 weeks and having a good last work, but I wasn’t in love with his recent form and didn’t suggest him to be one to consider.

BC Results Mile dirt 2014

Juvenile Fillies Turf  – Group 1 exiters from Foreign shippers, Top 2 in last out and 60%+ top 3 finishes in their turf outs and last raced within 5 weeks with the Miss Grillo Stakes has been a key race for North American entrants

Osaila, Sunset Glow, Lady Eli, Tammy the Torpedo, Conquest Harlanate, and Isabella Sings were the suggested horses to consider.  Prize Exhibit was a Euro shipper that was coming out of a Group 3 race and not a Group 1 as was prescribed for contenders:

BC Results Juv Filly Turf 2014


Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff  – Zenyatta and Beldame are key prep races, a race within 5 weeks is a plus, but either historical decent early or decent late pace presence required

Close Hatches, Untapable, Belle Gallantey, and Don’t Tell Shophia were the suggested horses.  Iotapa did exit the Zenyatta (a key race that was called out) but hadn’t really shown good early or late foot so was not a win contender:

BC Results Distaff 2014

14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies  – Last Race Graded Stakes Winner

By The Moon and Top Decile were the suggested horses.  Wonder Gal and Feathered both exited second and third place finishes in the Frizette (called out key race).  I still can’t make an argument for the winner even knowing she won.

BC Results Juv Filly 2014

Filly & Mare Turf  – 1st or 2nd in G1 prep race within 35 days – unless Euro, and demonstrated early or late pace presence for North Americans)

Abaco, Dayatthespa, Emollient, Just The Judge, Dank, and Stephanie’s Kitten   were the suggested horses:

 BC Results FM Turf 2014

DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint  – Thoroughbred Club of America winner or TCA top 3 with a good last work

Leigh Court and Stonetastic were the suggested horse to consider coming out of the Thoroughbred Club of America.  Judy The Beauty definitely figured to be the one to upset the TCA exiters if that were to occur:

BC Results FM Spring 2014

Turf Sprint  – Track affinity – not surface affinity but track affinity

This one had a few qualifiers.  Those were Ambitious Brew, Bobby’s Kitten, Home Run Kitten, Reneesgotzip, Sweet Swap, and Tightend Touchdown.  Bobby’s Kitten continued the trend that requires track affinity at the host track for this race.  No Nay Never figured to not need a specific track to race on considering his success all over the world on different configured courses:

BC Results Tf sprint 2014

Sentient Jet Juvenile  – First or second place finish and shown strong early or late pace ability

Carpe Diem, Daredevil and Upstart were the qualifiers that were suggested to consider:

BC Results Juvenile 2014

Longines Turf – G1 exiter within 5 weeks

Imagining, Flintshire, Main Sequence, Hangover Kid, and Chiquita were the horses to consider. Twighlight Express had been in the money on the grass 50% of the time, so he was not a qualifier based on the 60% track affinity hurdle rate.  Telescope did not qualify because he ran third in a group 1 in his last start 73 days ago.  The requirements were 1st or 2nd in a Grade/Group 1 within 35 days and be in the money 60%+ for all turf starts:

 BC Results Turf 2014

Xpressbet Sprint – Top 2 finisher in prep, track affinity or surface affinity if no starts at the track with a good last work

Fast Anna, Indianapolis, Seeking the Sherif and Work All Week were the ones suggested to consider.  A reader of the article made me aware that Bourbon Courage also worked pretty fast leading into the race but was the only one working 3 furlongs that day at Keeneland so it didn’t show up in the top 3rd (1 ranked worker  / 1 worker = 100%, need to be below 33.4% to be GLW).  I won’t count it, but 34 and change is a pretty good work.  Private Zone did not have a good last work but qualified on the other requirements.  Secret Circle finished a close third in his prep, so just barely missed qualifying as a win contender:

BC Results Sprint 2014

Mile  – G1 exiters

Suggested to consider Anodin, Karakontie, Toronado, and Trade Storm:

BC Results Mile 2014

Classic  – Awesome Again, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup are the key races, top 3 finishers in prep that have track affinity or surface affinity if no starts at the track

Cigar Street, Bayern, Shared Belief,  California Chromem Moreno and Majestic Harbor were the ones suggested to consider:

BC Results Classic 2014

In Summary, the suggested horses finished first 10 times, second 8 times, third 5 times, fourth 3 times with 6 exactas, 3 trifectas,  1 superfecta, 6 doubles, 4 pick 3s, and 2 pick 4s.

Not too shabby, so how did I lose money?  By talking myself out of Karakontie in the last minute before placing my late pick 4 wager on Saturday.  I had noticed that Goldikova’s brother, Anodin, had soundly beaten Karokontie in their last race at Longchamp and I had originally casted my lot with Shared Belief and Zivo in the Classic.  After Lukas’ 2 year-old filly went wire to wire in the Juvenile Fillies I thought I had better get Bayern on my ticket and decided to cut the Mile down to just Anodin and Toronado so I could save $12. That was costly, the $0.50 pick 4 paid $18,335 and I had the other 3 legs.

If I had just played the trifectas with my win contenders it would have been pretty profitable weekend.  Had I boxed each race with just the contenders it would have cost $726 to play both days, and I would have cashed for $5,259. This is a great example of where the analysis and handicapping is solid but the plan of attack (wagering strategy) needs some work.

Breeders’ Cup Winners Profiles – Part II

By Craig Spencer

I have gone back and looked at the winner of each Breeders’ Cup race since 1999.  In Part II we  look at each of the remaining races and discuss historically successful prep races and other interesting things to keep in mind:

Juvenile Turf

The European contingent have been deadly in this race with 5 winners in the 6 runnings of this race (Foreign Tacks are shaded).  4 of the 5 European winners last raced at Newmarket.  The lone US winner, Pluck, didn’t make his last start in the US either, although I wouldn’t call a race at Woodbine a real foreign test.

BC Juv Turf

Figure 1: Juvenile Turf

The abbreviations for the “Angles” are LOW=Last Out Winner, LO2=Last Out Second Place, GLW=Good Last Work (top 1/3rd at the distance, within 14 days of the race), TA=Track Affinity, TA (s)=Surface Affinity, KR=Key Race Exiter (at least one of the top 3 finishers came back to win)

Most of the best US talent at this stage of their 2 year-old year are still trying to make a name for themselves on the dirt so they can make a run at the Triple Crown.  The European shippers are definitely at an advantage in this race.  Not only have they been racing on turf against the best 2 year olds that Europe has to offer, they are trained over turf in the mornings and are well prepared to handle the lower rate North American talent that they will undoubtedly face.

Hootenanny (3-1) provides an interesting twist in this race.  He made his winning debut sprinting in April at Keeneland and went to Royal Ascot to win handily in the Windsor Castle.  He was narrowly beaten at Deauville in a Group 1 in August and has yet to make a start since then for Wesley Ward.  Ward is a master with 2 year olds and this colt has been working steadily since September 23rd for his return.  But he has never tried anything over 6 furlongs.  A mile should be well within his capabilities being by Quality Road (Florida Derby, Donn, Metropolitan, Woodward) and out of the Hennessy mare More Hennessy; his bottom side doesn’t scream out stamina, but a mile isn’t exactly a distance race.  The biggest concern with Hootenanny is the 68 days since his last race.

The foreign shippers include Group 3 winners Commemorative (8-1) and Aktabantay (12-1) and Group 2 placed War Envoy (9-2) from the Aidan O’Brien barn.  Juddmonte Farms’ Commemorative comes out of a winning effort in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, the only foreign shipper to have made his last start at that venue, that race was just 20 days before the Juvenile Turf.  George Vancouver and Donativum only had one more days rest between their last race and the Breeders’ Cup, both last racing at Newmarket as well.

Dirt Mile:

The first five winners of this race all were 6-1 or better.  This is definitely a race that will require a strong opinion or deep pockets to be comfortable with coverage in multi-race tickets.

No horse has won this race off more than a 6 week break from his prior race and 4 of the 6 winners had a good last work (top 1/3rd at the distance, within 14 days of the race), so watching the workout tabs heading into the Breeders’ Cup seems like a good idea.  To date there has not been one instance of a horse, jockey or trainer to win this race more than once.

BC Mile

Figure 2: Dirt Mile

Goldencents (6-5) is back to defend his title and he finished second again this year in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship in his final prep.  He may be coming into this year’s race better than last year, he was able to post an impressive victory in the Pat O’Brien at Del Mar in August, last year he finished second in that same event.

Bronzo (12-1) will try and become the first Chilean invader to win this race.  The 5 year old Fusaichi Pegasus colt comes off two consecutive wins in a Group 2 and Group 1 race in his homeland but has not made a start since June.  He has been training decently at Santa Anita, registering works there since early September.  No horse has won this race off more than a 6 week break from his prior race.

The 3 year old Tapiture (6-1) has put in 3 good efforts since his 15th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and will definitely be running on the end of this one, however he is the only starter in the race that did not turn in a “Good Last Work” when working 50 of 63 going four furlongs.

Fed Biz (7-2) gave likely Classic favorite Shared Belief all he could handle in the Awesome Again and should be forwardly placed in this event.

Pants On Fire (6-1) has been competitive in all his races this year, but his campaign has been much softer than his 2013 campaign, he would have to revert back to his 2013 form to be competitive with this field and nothing is indicating that that is a strong likelihood.  He is a crowd favorite and will likely be overbet.

Most of the rest seem to be a notch, or many notches in some cases, below Goldencents, Tapiture and Fed Biz.

Turf Sprint

The American’s have dominated this race!!  If you have read much about what it takes to win this race, especially on the specialized Santa Anita Downhill Course, you surely have heard that a horse needs to have demonstrated an affinity for the course.  That is absolutely what history would suggest, not just at Santa Anita though, no matter the venue in which the Breeders Cup is held, EVERY WINNER has shown an affinity (60% in the money) on the grass course at the host track (TA in the Angle(s) list below).

BC Turf sprint

Figure 8: Turf Sprint

If you haven’t raced on the course or have raced and haven’t done pretty well, you may as well stay home.  The horses that were pre-entered that meet this criteria are:

  • Ambitious Brew (12-1)
  • Bobby’s Kitten (10-1)
  • Home Run Kitten (12-)
  • Reneesgotzip (5-1)
  • Silentio (8-1, but all SA turf starts have been routing)
  • Sweet Swap (12-1)
  • Tightend Touchdown (8-1)

The Santa Anita hillside course is very unique in US Racing as it first has a right hand turn before the traditional left hand turn.  As the field is coming out of the left hand turn they have to pass over a short section of dirt.  Most of the time the horses on the lead see the dirt and shift outward, ducking and hesitating a bit from the dirt, and allowing horses to rally up the rail.  Horses that have experience over the course have an advantage as they are less likely to hesitate when they come to the small dirt section.

Sentient Jet Juvenile

Grade or Group 1 top 2 finish in last race, Good Last Work a plus, Top Early or Late

BC Juvenile stats

Figure 9: Sentient Jet Juvenile

If you didn’t light the board in your final prep race, you have not won this race over the past 15 years.  Foreign horses have performed admirably here, but since the advent of the Juvenile Turf in 2008, only Vale of York has successfully tried this event.  Most of the highly regarded Euro shippers now have the option to stay on their preferred surface.

In 10 of the 15 events shown, the winner last raced within 4 weeks of the Breeders’ Cup.  You would think that this is a firm requirement, but 5 winners made their last start beyond 28 days out with 47 horses attempting this feat (one out of every 9.4).  There have been 135 starters come back on 4 weeks or less rest (one out of every 13.5).  Every entrant, except for Texas Red, finished first or second in their last start.

From a pace perspective, a horse that has shown the ability to run fast early or late is definitely preferred.  This is not a race for a one paced horse.  Carpe Diem (4-1), Daredevil (7-2), and Upstart (8-1) have demonstrated early or late pace presence.

Longines Turf

Can you say “European Domination”?  12 of the past 15 years this race has been won by a European shipper.  There have been 16 winners (in 2003 there was a dead heat) over the past 15 runnings of this race.  75% of those have come from horses who last raced in Europe. 4 from the O’Brien barn, 3 from the Stoute barn, 2 from Suroor (Godolphin).  Six made their prior start at Longchamp in France in the Prix de L’Arc de Triumph, six from other foreign locales (Ascot, Newbury, Newmarket, Leopardstown, Doncaster, and York).

BC Turf stats

Figure 10: Longines Turf

Ten of the sixteen winners last ran within 5 weeks of the Breeders’ Cup with only one winner not making their last start in a Grade/Group 1 event.  Every winner has been in the money 60% of the time, either on the lawn at the host track if they have any starts over it or over turf in general if they have no starts at the host track.

This year’s contenders who last ran in a Grade/Group 1 event within 5 weeks of the Cup and have shown track/surface affinity are:

  • Imagining (12-1)
  • Flintshire, (7-2) who finished second behind the super mare Treve in the Arc in his latest
  • Main Sequence (6-1)
  • Hangover Kid (30-1)
  • Chicquita (8-1)

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Xpressbet Sprint

No worries about a foreign invader picking up the winners share in this event.  It is incumbent on the contenders to have ran well (60%+ in the money) at the track or on the surface if no starts at the track. Nine out of fifteen winners won their last out, four out of fifteen finished second in the most recent race, leaving just two that did not at least place in their final prep race.

BC Sprint stats

Figure 11: Xpressbet Sprint

You might expect early speed to be at an advantage over the six furlong distance, but only six winners appeared to be early pace types, six winners also did their best running late.  One of these (Orientate) actually had both good early and good late pace presence prior to the BC.  The remaining 4 winners were more one paced.

Horses that finished in the top 2 in their final prep race and have demonstrated track or surface affinity are:

  • Bourbon Courage (30-1)
  • Fast Anna (12-1)
  • Indianapolis (12-1)
  • Mico Margarita (15-1)
  • Private Zone (6-1)
  • Rich Tapestry (5-1)
  • Seeking the Sherif (20-1)
  • Work All Week (10-1)

Twelve of the last fifteen editions, and all of the previous nine, have had a Good Last Work.  Of those listed above only Fast Anna, Indianapolis, Seeking the Sherif and Work All Week turned in good last breezes.


Because of the domination of Wise Dan and Goldikova in this race over the past 6 years it is a bit difficult to really pinpoint winners profiles to look at.  But in the 10 renditions that were not won by either of those two greats, only two were won by foreign horses. All of the US horses have shown track or surface affinity.  Since most of the morning workouts in the US occur over the dirt surfaces, a good last work does not appear to be a requirement.  Woodbine has produced a couple of winners, and from 1999-2004, the Oak Tree Mile (now the City of Hope) produced all of the non-European winners.

BC Mile grass stats

Figure 12: BC Mile

The defection of Wise Dan due to injury has opened the flood gates for horses that see this now as a winnable affair.

Group 1 exiters entering this race are Anodin (6-1, 5th in Prix de la Foret), multiple Group 1 winner Karakonite (10-1, 11th in Prix de la Foret), and multiple Group 1 winner Toronado (5-2, 2nd beaten a head in Prix du Molin).

The Woodbine Mile sends us winner Trade Storm (12-1, Group 3 placed prior to the Woodbine Mile).

The City of Hope winner, Big Bane Theory, inexplicably did not get invited to participate in this event and will be trying the dirt for the first time in the Dirt Mile.


The best foreign horses usually stick to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf or the Mile depending on their distance limitations.  There have been a couple notable exceptions but only Raven’s Pass has been able to successfully invade and win this event (and cost me the consolation in the pick 6 that year after hitting the first 4 legs).  There have been 4 horses with decent early pace presence win, 3 horses with decent late presence, 5 horses that had decent early and late pace numbers, 2 that were more one pace plodders (Drosselmeyer and Tiznow in his first victory as a 3 year old), and Raven’s Pass (no data to support pace presence).  13 of the 15 horses had track affinity or surface affinity (if no starts at the host track), if you last finished worse than 3rd you probably aren’t picking up the big check.  Of late, the Jockey Club Gold Cup has been the key prep with the Awesome Again (formerly the Goodwood) recovering last year from its recent losing streak but it produced the winner 3 of 4 years from 2000-2003.  If you haven’t won the Awesome Again or Woodward or if you haven’t finished in the top 3 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, you probably won’t be on my ticket.

BC Classic stats

Figure 13: Breeders’ Cup Classic

In this year’s race, we have the Awesome Again winner in undefeated Shared Belief (9-5), the Woodward winner Itsmyluckyday ran poorly in the Kelso and was not entered in any Breeders’ Cup event.  Moreno (20-1) finished second in the Woodward before running a well beaten fourth in the eventful Jockey Club Gold Cup and is getting a new pilot in Johnny Velazquez.  In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (5-1) redeemed his Jim Dandy and Travers losses to win impressively over a troubled Zivo (15-1) and non-BC entered Long River.  Based on the last 4 Classic’s, Shared Belief, Tonalist and Zivo are the main contenders.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome (4-1) finished a well beaten 6th in the Pennsylvania Derby which was 6 weeks prior to the Breeders’ Cup.  No horse since Invasor in 2006 has had more than 5 weeks off, both of these factors tell me Chrome is up against it and is not a true win contender.

Horses that have shown, according to my handicapping spreadsheets calculations, early and/or late pace presence include Cigar Street (12-1), Bayern (6-1), Shared Belief (9-5), California Chrome (4-1), Moreno (20-1), and Majestic Harbor (20-1). 



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Breeders’ Cup Winners Profiles – Part I

By Craig Spencer

I have gone back and looked at the winner of each Breeders’ Cup race since 1999.  I will look at each of the races and discuss historically successful prep races and other interesting things to keep in mind:

Juvenile Fillies Turf:

The last two winners came from European invaders and it appears that they are bringing over some talented fillies again this year.

The first two runnings, also at Santa Anita, were won by horses coming out of Belmont’s Miss Grillo stakes.  If a North American based horse is to win this race, it appears that they need to have ran first or second in their most recent race and to have finished in the top 3 in 60% of their grass races.  The only horse to win this race and not meet the 60% hurdle was the foreign based Flotilla in 2012.  A prep race within seven weeks has been necessary to get the money in this race, with 5 of the 6 winners coming back within 5 weeks.

BC Juv Filly Turf

Figure 3: Juvenile Fillies Turf

None of the foreign contingent come out of a Group 1 race within 5 weeks of the Cup, however Osaila (5-1) impressively won the ₤300,000 Tattersalls Millions race at Newmarket on October 4th and she had previously won a Group 3 event and finished a close fifth in a Group 1 event at The Curragh.

Wesley Ward brings in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Sunset Glow (7-2).  She made a trip to Royal Ascot in June and did not embarrass herself.  She finished second in the Group 3 Albany Stakes defeating Osaila in that event.  The biggest negative with Sunset Glow is that she last raced on the 30th of August, which is a bit longer of a break than I would like leading into this event.  She has been working regularly since September 23rd on the Keeneland Turf Course and her breeding leaves little doubt that she can handle the mile.

Lady Eli (6-1) is undefeated in two starts in New York, and she was the victor in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes. Tammy The Torpedo (12-1) and Partisan Politics (15-1) finished 3rd and 4th, respectively in that event.

The winner and second place finisher of Woodbine’s Grade 3 Natalma are also planned to be a part of the field.  Conquest Harlanate (10-1) for Mark Casse and Isabella Sings (12-1) for Todd Pletcher finished a neck apart in that affair with Conquest Harlanate getting the upper hand.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff:

In the 15 runnings of this event since 1999, we have had zero winners that last raced over 5 weeks out.  With the Beldame and the Zenyatta (formerly the Lady’s Secret) providing the last 8 winners. A good last work (GLW) does not appear to be of much importance, 4 of the last 8 winners did not have a “good last work”.  Either a decent early pace presence or the best late pace ability seems to be a requirement with Pleasant Home and Unbridled Elaine being the only victors to not meet one of those requirements.  The last 4 had shown decent early pace presence, with Life is Sweet, Zenyatta and Ginger Punch all being monsters in the final stages of the event.

BC Distaff

Figure 4: Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The mares coming out of the Beldame are the winner Belle Gallantey (6-1) and the fourth place finisher Stanwyck (20-1).  The horses coming out of the Zenyatta are second place finisher Tiz Midnight (10-1) and third place finisher Iotapa (6-1).  Beholder won that event and has not been entered in this year’s race.

Untapable (5-2) will try and be the first filly to win this event after winning the Cotillion since Ashado in 2004. Her BRIS figures took a turn south in her last two events.  She took on the boys in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth and finished fifth behind Classic contender Bayern’s electrifying run that day.  She came back to win the Cotillion while drifting inward and outward at Parx but ran the same BRIS figure in both events.  She will need to run back to the numbers she was running earlier in the year to be competitive and will likely be way overbet.

The females who have shown decent early pace presence are Close Hatches (3-1) and Untapable (5-2) with Bella Gallantey (6-1) and Don’t Tell Sophia (5-1) being the clear late pace advantage runners.

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14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies

Last year’s rendition of the Juvenile Fillies proved to be the exception to the many rules.  The first rule that Ria Antonia broke was winning the race after finishing out of the money in her final prep.  In fact, going back to 2002, the only other last race loser that was able to win this race occurred when She Be Wild won off a second place finish at Keeneland in the Alcibiades 4 weeks prior to the Breeders’ Cup.  Ria Antonia won after finishing fifth in the Frizette at Belmont.

BC Juv Fillies

Figure 5: 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies

Ria Antonia was adding blinkers last year; changing equipment coming into big races is not something that you typically see a lot of success with.  Blinker changes are usually made when horses aren’t performing up to expectations, not many BC entrants are performing below expectations or they wouldn’t be running in a race of this caliber.  However, Ria Antonia had woken up big time in the morning since the change, in young horses that can be a huge indicator that the change was beneficial.

Since 1999, the stats for all Breeders’ Cup races aren’t real great in regards to equipment changes:

  • Blinkers On had 4 winners out of 45 starters (Ria Antonia, Trinniberg, Dangerous Midge, Valponi)
  • Blinkers Off did a bit better, percentage wise, with 2 winners out of 12 starters (Midnight Lute and Adoration)
  • Second time blinkers has done horribly with 0 wins out of 18 starters and only 2 seconds and 1 third in this timeframe

Graded Stakes winners in the final prep has been nearly a requirement in this race, the last 7 winners have raced within 29 days.  The only horse that meets the criteria this year is By The Moon (12-1) off her Frizette win 28 days prior, but she drew the outside 12 post position and that’s a lot to overcome but not something that hasn’t been done before, Halbridled won in 2003 from the 14 post.  Top Decile (10-1) finished second in the Alcibiades 29 days out, similar to She Be Wild in 2009, and the winner of the Alcibiades, Peace and War, is not going to Arcadia.  Top Decile only faired marginally better at the post-position draw, getting the 11 post.

We have had, in the past 15 years, four winners breaking from the rail, three from the 4 post, one from the 5, one from the 7, one from the 8, two from the 9, two from the 10 and one from the 14.

Filly & Mare Turf

The Filly & Mare Turf seems to be the only race, aside from the Turf Sprint, on grass that the Europeans have not completely dominated with only 5 winners making their last start across the pond, Dank made all of her career starts in Europe before coming over to win the Beverly D at Arlington last year to follow it up with another successful trip stateside to take the money in this race.

BC F M Turf

Figure 6: Filly and Mare Turf

Every one of the winners had shown an affinity for turf.  In my calculations I use a 60% in the money hurdle for track/surface affinity.  If they have not finished in the money 3 out of every 5 races on the grass, they are not likely to begin showing that ability on the first Saturday in November.  Only two instances in the past 15 renditions have been won by a horse that did not finish in the top 3 in their penultimate race.  For US contenders, they have to either have a distinct early pace advantage or a distinct late pace advantage to be a win contender.  These advantages are an indicator of having a good acceleration, or turn of foot, and that is a huge asset in these international turf races with large fields.  Dank’s (5-2) BC performance from last year, Dayatthespa (8-1), and Just The Judge’s (5-1) North America performances qualify these three horses from a perceived early or late pace advantage.

In the past 15 runnings, five winners have made their last start more than 5 weeks prior, all of those were trained by European trainers.

I would look for a horse coming out of a winning or placing performance in a Grade or Group 1 race within 35 days (unless a Euro shipper) and only consider an American horse if a pace advantage (early or late) has been demonstrated.  In this year’s field, those that qualify are Abaco (15-1), Dayatthespa (8-1), Emollient (12-1), Just The Judge (5-1), and Stephanie’s Kitten (3-1).

Just The Judge won the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine 2 weeks prior to Breeders’ Cup Saturday.  Many people will say that is too close, we have had 34 horses try since 1999 with zero successes, the best finish was a second in the 2003 F&M Turf by L’Ancresse for Aidan O’Brien.  I believe that Just The Judge will be the most bet of the Euro contingent in this race but she is one to try and beat.

I do like Stephanie’s Kitten, Dayatthespa and Abaco from the US hopefuls.  I expect to get a pretty good price on Abaco, who I think will be a key horse for me in my exotic wagers. This will be Shug’s first starter in this race since 1999.  His two BC wins in that timeframe came with female runners (Storm Flag Flying in the 2002 Juvenile Fillies and Pleasant Home in the 2005 Distaff).

DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint

This race shouldn’t take a lot of time to handicap if the last 5 editions are any indication of the win contenders.  The Thoroughbred Club of America (TCA) at Keeneland 4 weeks out has produced each of the winners in that span.  The two caveats to add here are that 1) Keeneland removed their Polytrack surface this year, which they initially installed in 2006, and replaced it with conventional dirt.  In 2008-2009, Santa Anita also had an All-Weather track.  2) Groupie Doll won the last two BC F&M Sprints and she was a beast on any surface so no matter the prep her connections chose for her, she probably was the winner.

BC F M sprint

Figure 7: DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint

The 3 horses that were in the trifecta at Keeneland were, in order, Leigh Court (4-1)  – Southern Honey (20-1) – Stonetastic (8-1).  Southern Honey’s work at Keeneland last Saturday was not good enough to be considered a Good Last Work when she turned in a work that was ranked 20th of 47 working a half mile that day.  Stonetastic worked a fantastic half mile at Santa Anita the same day when she turned in the fastest work of 59.

I have been a fan of morning line favorite Judy the Beauty (5-2), but she will come in last racing 76 days prior to the event when she won the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar.  I think I’ll stick with Leigh Court and Stonetastic.

Look for Part II of Craig Spencer’s work this week