Looking beyond the big two in Wynn Las Vegas' Breeders' Cup Classic Future
Gun Runner is currently listed as the 13-10 favorite on Wynn Las Vegas' 2017 Breeders' Cup Classic Future Wager, no surprise in the wake of the colt's 10 1/4-length demolition of the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga on Labor Day weekend.
With no further preps before the Classic, Gun Runner's futures odds figure to remain at or around that price barring any reports of a setback from him or his primary competitors.
Is Gun Runner any value at 13-10? Only if, right now, you think he's the most logical winner and likely to start at a shorter price on Breeders' Cup Day. The same goes for Arrogate, whose odds have drifted up to 11-5 (2.2-1) in the wake of two losses on the Del Mar strip over which the Classic will be run.
While they are the favorites at the moment, neither seem worthy of backing in the pool from this view. Gun Runner has won his last three races convincingly, for sure, but against relatively suspect company. He's also zero-for-three at 1 1/4 miles (two of those losses were to Arrogate) and has never run before at Del Mar, which could prove a tricky surface for a newbie.
Arrogate, meanwhile, has not looked himself this summer and seems to be going in the wrong direction, though trainer Bob Baffert insists he can have him ready to run back to his very best for the Classic.
If, like me, you share these lingering doubts about both horses, what to do in these futures? I would take the view that if you have any inkling that another horse might possibly be good enough to win, consider playing them before their odds potentially drop further in the coming weeks after possible prep wins. Four come to mind.
Collected, who has come into his own this year and led wire-to-wire in the track-and-distance Pacific Classic (G1) over Arrogate, is one such contender. However, his listed odds of 3-1 at Wynn seem a touch low, perhaps less than what might be offered on raceday. On the other hand, it might be about right if he wins the Awesome Again (G1) impressively.
Travers (G1) winner West Coast might wind up being the most capable three-year-old candidate in the Classic field, but only third or fourth best from the Baffert barn. If successful in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) next week, his odds will drop more. Lock in now at 9-1 if you like him.
Not once last year did Cupid look like a mile-and-a-quarter type horse, but then he blew the doors off the competition in the Gold Cup (G1) in May off an eight-month layoff. He's had some physical issues since and has missed an intended start or two, but is taking aim at either the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) or Awesome Again for his final prep. Listed at 30-1, he's a dangerous-looking sleeper.
Finally, Pavel is listed at 60-1 following his demolition of a modest group in the Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx on Labor Day. With only three lifetime starts he has loads of improving to do, but seems to have enough raw talent to take a swing at a price like that. A strong showing in the Pennsylvania Derby will only see his bandwagon grow.