Observations on Breeders' Cup weekend betting pools

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 6th, 2018

With several days of reflection and a review of the charts, here are random thoughts on some of the betting that occurred during Breeders' Cup weekend at Churchill Downs.

Juvenile Turf Sprint

By far the strangest odds discrepency involved runner-up Chelsea Cloisters, who started at nearly 25-1, well above her morning line of 8-1. That instead turned out to be the starting price for her stablemate Stillwater Cove, who was 20-1 on the morning line. Though Stillwater Cove had won the battle of the two at Saratoga, Chelsea Cloisters had long held the higher reputation in the barn, even starting favorite in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot in June and also being sent back overseas for a Group 3 in France. Chelsea Cloisters had also only missed by a neck at Keeneland to Strike Silver, himself a 6-1 chance in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

So overwhelming a favorite was Newspaperofrecord that only one other filly in the field started at a single-digit price. Her record on rain-softened turf undoubtedly had much to do with the lukewarm support of the more accomplished European invaders.

Juvenile Turf

Anthony Van Dyk wound up a narrow favorite based on his running lines, but certainly no surprise the winning Line of Duty was backed down to 7-2, especially after drawing a much more favorable post position. The morning line perhaps could have been better adjusted following the post draw, in which Anthony Van Dyk was saddled with the 14 hole.


Bettors who thought the Breeders' Futurity (G1) was a much better prep than the conventional wisdom suggested must have cashed big if they linked runner-up Knicks Go (40-1) and third-placer Signalman (67-1) at all with even-money favorite Game Winner. The price discrepency between those two and Breeders' Futurity third-placer Standard Deviation (8-1) showed the sway trainer Chad Brown has on these types of races, but both he and stablemate Complexity (5-2) fared poorly.

Filly and Mare Sprint

The only true bomb during a generally formful Breeders' Cup weekend was Shamrock Rose ($53.80), who narrowly edged 14-1 chance Chalon and 31-1 outsider Anonymity. Odds-on favorite Marley's Freedom missed winning by a half-length after a wide trip from post 13. This race was not included in any all-Breeders' Cup Pick 4 or Pick 5, but she proved a useful separator in the early Pick 5 that included two undercard stakes, both won by heavy favorites. It paid handsomely -- over 200% of the parlay value.

Turf Sprint

Bettors were right to an extent as the three single-digit prices on the board occupied the top three slots, with defending champion Stormy Liberal a square price at 7-1.

Dirt Mile

Runner-up Seeking the Soul (10-1), despite a Grade 1 win over the track and a course-and-distance prep winner, was nearly twice the price of Firenze Fire, who until Saturday had never faced older horses.

TwinSpires Sprint

The early 50-cent Pick 4 linking winners Stormy Liberal, City of Light, Sistercharlie, and Roy H returned $253.25, a little over 10% of the estimated $229 parlay value (based on 50-cent bets). Not a great return.


Analyze It's 6-1 morning line price seemed a significant underlay in my mind when it was announced. That was indeed his starting odds, but he outran my own modest expectations missing by just three parts of a length in a fine performance as the pacesetter.


The Enable/Magical exacta was a 13.4-1 proposition for $1, in retrospect a nifty price as both exited premier wins in Europe. They were 9-10 lengths best of the others.


Given prior placings in the Travers (G1) and Pegasus World Cup (G1), plus a respectable fifth in the 2017 Classic, Gunnevera's 30-1 price was an overlay, at least in relation to European invaders like Mendelssohn (13-1) and Roaring Lion (19-1).

(Stormy Liberal: Coady Photography)