2020 Breeders Cup: Sizing Up the Betting Favorites
Breeders Cup Picks and Predictions: With the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland around the corner. We’re looked at the longshots, now, let’s take a look at the chances of an expected favorite in each race.
Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
Gamine – suffered her first defeat last time in the Kentucky Oaks when going nine furlongs. Previously, she posted two breathtaking performances in New York going seven furlongs and a one-turn mile. At sprint distances, she has proven to be special. However, Serengeti Empress also figures to be a contender and the book on her is she is a need the lead type. They both set the pace in different races on August 8th at Saratoga and the blistering :213 opening quarter from Serengeti Empress suggests that if she wants the lead, it’s hers.
For Gamine this means either rating for the first time in her toughest sprint race to date or get into a speed duel. Neither option sounds appealing to take her as the favorite thus I’ll play against her. I will start with horses with off the pace styles.
Breeders Cup Dirt Mile
Complexity – From a Beyer Speed Figure perspective, his last race makes him the favorite when he won the Kelso. That said, that race was just a four-horse field, and the second choice Code of Honor has largely been a disappointment this year. The one thing Complexity has been this year is a lot more consistent with his efforts. Going from the Kelso to the much tougher BC Dirt Mile is a step up in class, especially when looking at the projected field. I will play against him for that reason and because I don’t entirely trust him to run to his last race, especially since his previous efforts are good but not great.
Breeders Cup Sprint
Yaupon – The three-year-old has won all four of his career races. Two starts ago in the Amsterdam, the race was projected to have plenty of early pace and Yaupon proved fastest early and then in the stretch, he dismissed the logical closer Basin. Last time he overmatched horses in the Chick Lang at Pimlico. He did face older horses in his second career start while taking plenty of pace pressure so it’s not the first time he is doing that.
This will be the toughest field he has ever faced but he might end up having a tactical advantage alone on the front end as the race isn’t expected to be full of early speed types. His biggest challenge for the early lead might be his stablemate Nashville and if he passes on the race then it is likely Yaupon gets to the front. On talent, Vekoma, who will be coming off a layoff and might elect for the Dirt Mile, and Nashville compare but it’s possible neither runs in this race. I need the speed of Nashville and the talent of Vekoma in this race if trying to beat Yaupon but, I am in no way against him.
Breeders Cup Turf Sprint
Imprimis – has been stellar in his return to the races this year, winning the Troy at Saratoga before being –wrongfully- disqualified and getting up late in the Runhappy Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. He was a non-threatening sixth in this race last year but appears to be in better form this year. He will be coming into this race third off the layoff; thus, you know the connections were mapping a Breeders’ Cup specific plan. View Imprimis as part of a shortlist of contenders in this race where his main competition is likely to be the two fillies Got Stormy and Oleksandra.
If looking for an upset in this race, my first thought would be to look for an early speed horse as the main contenders all prefer an off-the-pace style.
Breeders Cup Turf
Magical – Would trainer Aidan O’Brien wheel back Magical in three weeks to face the boys in the BC Turf over the Filly and Mare Turf? Absolutely! Two years ago, he did with Magical off two weeks rest when a head beat her against the Arc de Triomphe winner Enable. You could argue she is in better form this year than she was going into this race two years ago and the male turf division in North America lacks standouts. You can view Magical as top of the class, and perhaps one of the other Euros can beat her, but not likely that I step in front of her.
Breeders Cup Mile
Mo Forza – It took him six tries to break his maiden and he has since won 5/6 races, all graded stakes and you could make an argument his best two races were his last two thus indicating improvement. His only loss during that span came in the Pegasus World Cup Turf at an extended route distance. That loss, however, was the only time he has had to leave California thus, he needs to prove he can travel and I am skeptical of the overall quality of the fields he has beaten. I wouldn’t ignore him but there is likely to be better value on the board.
Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf
Rushing Fall – won her lone other Breeders’ Cup start way back in 2017 when she won the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf. She has won 11/14 starts, including all three starts this year, has only been out of the exacta once in her life, and she is repeatedly proven at Keeneland.
Her biggest local threat figures to be Mean Mary who she conceded an easy lead to in the Diana and was still able to run her down with ease. Her biggest overseas threat would be Magical but she figures to elect for the turf against the boys thus it’s unlikely I try to beat her.
Breeders Cup Distaff
Monomoy Girl – won this race two years ago on her way to winning the Eclipse for the top female horse. After missing last year with an injury, some questioned if she would come back the same. She has! Providing dominant victories in all three of her starts, including dismissing Vexatious twice who ended up besting last year’s female horse of the year, Midnight Bisou.
I won’t try to beat Monomoy Girl who has had stress-free preparation for this race, especially since the likely second choice, Swiss Skydiver has not. Swiss Skydiver has danced every dance this year and will do the same this week. Swiss won a memorable renewal of the Preakness defeating Kentucky Derby Winner Authentic in a long, heart-pounding stretch drive. While that was an excellent performance, it’s the type of all-out effort that I wonder if she’ll be able to repeat especially, when she is facing older horses for the initial time.
Breeders Cup Classic
It is the Race of the year, for a horse of the year, and if Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver were to skip the Distaff for the Classic, you could make an argument for five horses to win horse of the year with a win in the Classic.
Improbable – beat both By My Standards and Tom’s d’Etat in the Whitney two starts back. Last time, he beat Maximum Security; thus, aside from the three-year-olds in Tiz the Law and Authentic, he has danced all the dances and faced and beaten the top contenders. He has done it stalking the pace and rallying from well off the pace. Overall, it’s hard to view him as anything other than a strong contender.
The one reason you might try to beat Improbable is value. He was not favored in his last two wins against similar horses and will likely be favored this time, which is widely considered one of the more contentious Classic fields in a long time. Despite that, it’s tough to ignore what he has done this year. Even in his lone loss, he was 4-wide on both turns, attacked a wicked pace only to be caught late by Tom’s d’Etat in the Oaklawn Mile.