Jason Beem's Thursday Thoughts for Nov. 10, 2022

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November 10th, 2022

A good Thursday to you all! Wanted to use this column to tie the final bows up on this year's Breeders’ Cup and what we’ve seen since the two big races. Post-Breeders’ Cup is often thought of by many people as one of the more “quiet” times of the year in horse racing, but there’s actually a lot of good stuff coming up — Churchill fall meet, Tampa Bay Downs and Fair Grounds opening up, and much more.

This week, though, it seems it’s been dedicated to discussing the fallout from Breeders’ Cup. 

Flightline obviously dominated the news cycle this past week. They didn’t waste much time announcing his retirement, which I don’t think surprised many people. I suppose they could have waited a day or two, but does it really matter?

The two main discussion points after his retirement announcement seemed to be about how the connections had to do it and about how our stars retiring is a bad thing for the sport. I kind of agree with both takes. It’s exciting and almost surprising anytime a valuable horse stays in training and, certainly, it would have been cool to see Flightline run in the Pegasus before going off to stud, or something like that.

As a horseplayer and fan, though, it just doesn’t bother me as much as it used to when these superstars retire. My first reaction upon hearing the Flightline news was, “Well, at least the races will be more competitive next year.”

Watching great horses is indeed an exciting part of our sport. Watching a 1-5 shot gallop around the track and leave his or her competition in the dust just doesn’t excite me all that much. Betting is our business, and, to me, I’d always prefer a big field with many contenders than a small field with an overwhelming favorite. Unless we think we can beat said favorite! 

The retirements are obviously a bummer part of the post-Breeders’ Cup experience. As fans, we form attachments to our favorite horses, and not seeing them out on the track is a bummer. But it’s part of the cycle of a horse’s career and as long as we have new ones coming up to look forward to, then I suppose we’re all good.

One thing I always look to keep an eye on going forward is horses who ran well or won in the Breeders’ Cup in their next starts. Often horses are given a little break if they win a BC race, and they’re almost always over-bet in their follow-up starts. I feel like the two-year-old winners especially are vulnerable because oftentimes their peers catch up to them very quickly or there are horses we haven’t even seen yet that will be showing up on the scene in the coming months.

Pizza Bianca got beat at 4-5 in her first start after her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) win last year. Corniche went off as a strong favorite in his return start after his Juvenile (G1) win, albeit after a long layoff. Ce Ce followed up her Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) win with a defeat at odds of 1-2, and Knicks Go ran second in his only other start after his Classic (G1) triumph.

Winning on Breeders’ Cup weekend is obviously the big goal for these connections, and horses who win big races tend to get over-bet just because those races carry so much weight in the hearts and minds of horseplayers.

Everyone have a good weekend!