Analyzing favorites and races producing the best value in the Breeders’ Cup
Over the past five years, favorites have won 18 of 65 Breeders’ Cup races, a 27.7% strike rate. Six were odds-on (even-money or less), including a trio at Keeneland in 2015 (American Pharoah, Songbird and Liam’s Map).
As someone who is often trying to beat the chalk, I take comfort in the fact that 47 of the last 65 Breeders’ Cup favorites proved beatable. The racing is simply more contentious than the day-to-day fare at tracks and horseplayers must adjust when betting the Breeders’ Cup.
Let’s take a look at the best races for value in recent editions of the Breeders’ Cup:
Juvenile Fillies: The 2017 edition will lack a standout like Songbird, who romped at 3-5 odds, and the Juvenile Fillies has been one of the best races for longshots of late with three of the last four scorers returning a $60+ win mutuel: Take Charge Brandi (61-1 in 2014), Champagne Room (33-1 in 2016) and Ria Antonia (32-1 in 2013).
Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf: Bettors have every right to demand value when it comes to the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf because these races seldom play to chalk. Lady Eli (2-1 in 2014) is the lone exception over the past five years as the nine other winners all left the starting gate at 6-1 or higher.
Turf: Highland Reel prevailed as the 7-2 third choice last year, but the four previous winners of the Turf were all at least 6-1, including Little Mike at 17-1 in 2012 and Magician at 12-1 in 2013.
Mile: It’s been synonymous with high-class performers like Wise Dan, Goldikova, Miesque, Lure and Tepin since its inception, but the Mile isn’t adverse from upsets. Court Vision’s 64-1 shocker in 2011 was the biggest this century, and two of the last three winners have paid more than $25 with the 30-1 Karakontie in 2014 and 12-1 Tourist last year.
Turf Sprint: Even though Obviously salvaged the weekend for favorites last year, he was bet down as a lukewarm 3.80-1 choice and returned a $9.60 mutuel. Three of the last five winners of the Turf Sprint were at least 6-1 odds including Mongolian Saturday, the highest-priced winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland (15-1). He is expected to seek another upset this year at Del Mar.
Classic: American Pharoah (2015) and Zenyatta (2009) are the only successful favorites since 2005 and the Classic featured a nice five-year stretch from 2010-2014 where every winner paid at least $10.