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Betting Preview: 2015 Breeders’ Cup

By Kory Walker
Published on October 28, 2015
Breeders' Cup Betting Preview

The Breeders’ Cup is always a special event in the horse racing calendar. This year’s meeting, which starts this Friday, is particularly noteworthy. It’s the first time that it has ever taken place at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, and Lexington is known as the “Horse Racing Capital of World”. It’s at the very heart of the horse breeding industry in America.

The final, and most important, race of the meeting will also be the final race of American Pharoah. In case you’ve somehow managed to miss it, American Pharoah rode into the record books earlier this year when he became the first horse to win the American Triple Crown since 1978. He’ll be retiring after his run in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, which makes this race something of an historic occasion.

In this post I’ll provide some details about the upcoming meeting, and try to highlight some horses that might be worth putting your money on.

Friday’s Racing

The Breeder’s Cup takes place over two days. On Friday, the schedule is as follows.

  • Race Time
  • Race Name Name
  • Distance
  • Prize Purse
  • 3:30 pm
  • Juvenile Turf
  • 1 mile
  • $1,000,000
  • 4:10 pm
  • Las Vegas Dirt Mile
  • 1 mile
  • $1,000,000
  • 4:50 pm
  • Juvenile Fillies Turf
  • 1 mile
  • $1,000,000
  • 5:35 pm
  • Longines Distaff
  • 1 1/8 miles
  • $2,000,000

I don’t have any strong tips for any of Friday’s races, but the following three horses are all worth considering in my opinion.

Cymric
  • Trainer: John Gosden
  • Jockey: William Buick
  • Age: 2
  • 2015 Wins: 3

Cymric will be running in the Juvenile Turf, the first race of the meeting. He’s at odds of around 11/2 at the time of writing, and I think he could be worth a bet at those odds. Although the horse looked shaky on his debut at Royal Ascot earlier this year, he’s looked a lot better since. He’s shown he can win, and his best performance was in a Group One at Longchamp. Although he was eventually beaten, it was only by a narrow margin and he was in good company. If he can match that performance, he’ll definitely be close in this one.

Birchwood
  • Trainer: Richard Fahey
  • Jockey: James Doyle
  • Age: 2
  • 2015 Wins: 3

This one’s also running in the Juvenile Turf. His odds of 8/1 look like value to me. Birchwood has been far from consistent this season, with some fine performances mixed with some disappointments. He’ll need to show some improvement to win this race, but I can definitely see him being in the front three.

Alice Springs
  • Trainer: Aiden O’Brien
  • Jockey: Ryan Moore
  • Age: 2
  • 2015 Wins: 2

Alice Springs has been racing against some excellent competition this season, and there are no horses in the Juvenile Fillies Turf that she should fear. The race will be a step up for her in terms of distance, but I think that she’ll take a mile in her stride without too much difficulty. Even though her odds of around 7/2 are perhaps a little on the light side, I think I’ll be having a wager on her to win this one.

Saturday’s Racing

Saturday is the busier of the two days, with nine races taking place. The schedule looks like this.

  • Race Time
  • Race Name Name
  • Distance
  • Prize Purse
  • 12:05 pm
  • Winery Juvenile Fillies
  • 1 1/16 miles
  • $2,000,000
  • 12:45 pm
  • TwinSpires Sprint
  • 5.5 furlongs
  • $1,000,000
  • 1:25 pm
  • TwinSpires Filly & Mare Sprint
  • 7 furlongs
  • $1,000,000
  • 2:10 pm
  • Filly & Mare Turf
  • 1 3/16 miles
  • $2,000,000
  • 2:50 pm
  • TwinSpires Sprint
  • 6 furlongs
  • $1,500,000
  • 3:30 pm
  • Mile
  • 1 mile
  • $2,000,000
  • 4:10 pm
  • Sentient Jet Juvenile
  • 1 mile
  • $2,000,000
  • 4:50 pm
  • Logines Turf
  • 1 mile
  • $3,000,000
  • 5:35 pm
  • Classic
  • 1 1/4 miles
  • $5,000,000

I’ll address the Classic separately later on, but first let me tell you about two horses which I’ll definitely be backing in the earlier races on Saturday.

Legatissimo
  • Trainer: David Wachman
  • Jockey: Ryan Moore
  • Age: 3
  • 2015 Wins: 4

One of my most confident bets this weekend will be on Legatissimo to win the Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday. She’s had a really good campaign and, unlike so many fillies, she doesn’t look at all like losing her form as the year comes to an end. Her trainer has been talking about her very highly, and I expect he’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t add to this season’s victories here.

Golden Horn
  • Trainer: John Gosden
  • Jockey: Frankie Dettori
  • Age: 3
  • 2015 Wins: 6

Golden Horn will be running for the last time in his racing career in the Longines Turf, and I’ll be very surprised indeed if he doesn’t finish on a high. He’s had a fabulous season, with his solitary defeat coming by a mere quarter of a length. The soft ground didn’t suit him that day, and if the forecast is correct and there is rain this weekend then I don’t expect we’ll see a vintage performance from him. However, he’s easily the best horse in the race and even at a level or two below his best I think he’ll end his career with a victory. The odds of 4/7 are not great at all, but the fact that I’ll be backing him anyway is a measure of just how much I believe in this horse.

The Classic

Saturday’s schedule concludes with the main race of the two-day event, the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The post positions were announced on Monday, and the field now looks like this.

  • Post Position
  • Horse
  • Current Best Odds
  • 1
  • Tonalist
  • 6/1
  • 2
  • Keen Ice
  • 12/1
  • 3
  • Frosted
  • 15/1
  • 4
  • American Pharoah
  • 6/5
  • 5
  • Gleneagles
  • 20/1
  • 6
  • Effinex
  • 30/1
  • 7
  • Smooth Roller
  • 15/1
  • 8
  • Hard Aces
  • 50/1
  • 9
  • Honor Code
  • 6/1
  • 10
  • Beholder
  • 3/1

Gleneagles is the outsider that appeals to me the most, and Keen Ice and Frosted are both tempting at their prices too. However, there are only two horses that I think are realistically likely to win this race.

American Pharoah
  • Trainer: Bob Baffert
  • Jockey: Victor Espinoza
  • Age: 3
  • 2015 Wins: 6

I could write a whole blog post just about this horse. In fact, I could probably write several. I’ll keep it concise here though. It’s fair to say that American Pharoah achieved more this season than anyone connected with him could have hoped for, and he will long be remembered for finally ending the wait for a Triple Crown winner. He’s tended to win in style too, which is just one of the reasons why I have genuine affection for him. Although he suffered an unexpected defeat in the Travers Stakes back in August, he’s rightly the favorite for the Classic and has an excellent chance of capping his remarkable season with another victory.

Beholder
  • Trainer: Richard Mandella
  • Jockey: Gary Stevens
  • Age: 5
  • 2015 Wins: 5

Much of the pre-race commentary has, understandably, focused on American Pharoah. Beholder is also more than worthy of some attention too, as she is a fine horse with a fine record. Indeed, if she manages a victory in the Classic (which will be her third at this meeting) then she’ll hold the distinction of being the all-time earnings leader in the history of the Breeders’ Cup. Perhaps not quite as impressive as being a Triple Crown winner, but impressive nonetheless. Her trainer has won the Classic before, and I think he has the only horse in this race that’s got a chance of beating American Pharoah.

It’s a tight call between American Pharoah and Beholder for me, with Beholder probably just about offering more value in the betting. However, even though it goes against all my principles, sometimes you just have to forget about the value and go with your instinct. I hadn’t fully decided who I was going to back in this race when I started this post, but just writing about American Pharoah and remembering his performances has made my mind up.

So I’ll be backing American Pharoah for the Classic. More importantly, on this occasion, I’ll be enjoying every moment of watching his final race. It may well be a long time before we see a horse this special again.

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