Breeders' Cup Saturday: Some wagering options to ponder
Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup card is full of excitement, with superstar Flightline and other outstanding gallopers such as Jackie’s Warrior and Nest set to grab some headlines.
However, several of the Breeders’ Cup races look to be highly competitive affairs. The turf races in particular look extremely open, and the exciting contests could well provide some great value.
All races are subject to the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Money Back promotion, where those who opt in can get up to $10 of their win bet back if their horse finishes second or third, provided the fields are large enough. With that in mind — and I’d suggest always opting in for that (especially for the Classic, as explained below) — here are some spot plays for the big day.
Race 4: Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1)
Normally I’d take the U.S. horses on their home tracks given how important early speed is. But this is the only track that Europeans have won this race, where Glass Slippers got a saloon passage along the rails in 2020, and they’ve arguably got a better candidate this year in #6 Highfield Princess.
She has good gate speed herself and if she can get a position close to the speed, about fifth and one off the fence, she has enough speed to run down favorite #8 Golden Pal. A trifecta anchored on these two is also a good option.
- $10 win/$40 show: #6 Highfield Princess ($50)
- $1 trifecta: 6 with 8 with 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 ($6)
- $2 trifecta: 8 with 6 with 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 ($12)
Race 5: Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
I’m a big supporter of #9 Cyberknife here. He’s consistently been just off the top three-year-olds this season, and his connections have correctly decided this is a better race for him than the Classic. He has enough speed to deal with likely favorite #7 Cody’s Wish.
- $10 win/$30 show: #9 Cyberknife
Race 8: Breeders' Cup Mile (G1)
#4 Modern Games is the likely favorite; not surprising given he’s been in good form all season and is proven in North America. He’s clearly got a great chance, especially if the track stays on the firm side. But I was very taken with the way #11 Annapolis dealt to some good rivals in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) on this track. If he can find a handy position with some cover from his wide barrier, he can score at a good price. He is at the very least worth a shot in exactas with the favorite.
- $10 win/$30 show: #11 Annapolis
- $10 exacta: 4 with 11
- $5 exacta: 11 with 4
Race 10: Breeders' Cup Turf (G1)
It’s not a bad field for the $4 million Turf, but it has to be said there aren’t that many genuine topline 1 1/2-mile horses from Europe here. With the likes of Alpinista, Torquator Tasso, Vadeni, Pyledriver, and Onesto not making the journey, it has something of a second tier look about it.
The only genuinely proven European turf topliner is #11 Mishriff, and his top form was in 2021. Still, apart from his poor effort in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), which can be excused due to the very soft going, he’s been running well enough to suggest he’s a very big chance here, especially with Frankie Dettori riding.
The other horse I would seriously consider is last year’s runner-up, #4 Broome. If he starts at anything like the 12-1 morning line odds, I’d take some of it. He has been racing against the best in Europe, and the one time he didn’t, in the Hardwicke (G2), he scored a very nice victory. His form isn’t much different to what he brought into last year’s event, and I can see him running another strong race.
- $10 win/$30 show: #11 Mishriff
- $5 win/$20 show: #4 Broome
Race 11: Breeders' Cup Classic (G1)
From a purist’s perspective, I’d like to see #4 Flightline run to his form in the Pacific Classic (G1) and give us a great show. He may well do so, though there won’t be a lot of money to be made for bettors if he does.
Perhaps the best option is to opt in to the TwinSpires $10 money back offer and back something else. For me, the best candidate is #6 Epicenter. He has never let his backers down all season, finishing in the first two every time, and though this is the strongest field he’s faced, he should be highly competitive again.
Provided all eight entries start the race, the money back offer will go back to third, making it all the more enticing. There’s a good chance Epicenter at least runs in the top three, meaning you can get up to $10 of your win bet back, and if Flightline has an off day and Epicenter wins, you’re in for a great payout. We’ll throw a place bet in there as well, along with a Flightline-Epicenter exacta.
- $10 win (opting in to Breeders’ Cup Money Back offer): #6 Epicenter
- $10 place: #6 Epicenter
- $10 exacta: 4 with 6