Powell: How to develop betting strategy for 2016 Breeders' Cup

TwinSpires Staff

November 3rd, 2016


The Breeders’ Cup will be run for the 33rd time and it seems like yesterday when the first one was run at Hollywood Park with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant were in attendance. The “A” list has been replaced by anyone they can scrounge up and it kind of shows you the decline of the event.

Originally run on one day with seven races, it was unheard of for other tracks to conduct races during the window of the Breeders’ Cup races. Maybe, a Louisiana Downs or Finger Lakes, would dare to conduct racing at that time but everyone else tailored their schedule before and after the Breeders’ Cup races.

 Gradually, there were more races then, more days, as it expanded to two days. The rest of racing could not be expected to shut down for two days so it is a free-for-all now with racing conducted throughout Friday and Saturday no matter what the post time.

This should not be a big deal except the Breeders’ Cup economic model has changed. They used to generate a lot of revenue from foal and stallion nominations. Now, their revenue comes from almost entirely the betting public who is willing to take on the challenge of big fields of horses coming in from all over the world.


Betting on the Breeders’ Cup is often referred to a “Kid in a candy store” but nobody ever thinks what happens to a kid in a candy store. Usually, they get an upset stomach or a trip to the ER. Too much of a good thing can be bad for your pari-mutuel health so go into the races with a plan of how you are going to attack them. 13 races over two days can consume your bankroll if you are not careful.

Decide which races look formful and which look chaotic. Spread out in the chaotic ones and narrow down the formful ones. Be mindful that all the gimmick bets are at high takeouts so my advice is to avoid them if possible.

The most formful races on Breeders’ Cup weekend appear to be the Dirt Mile (G1), the Distaff (G1) and the Classic (G1). They are all run on the dirt and they appear to be two or three-horse races at the most.

The rest are pretty wide open, highlighted by 14 horses charging down the hill in the Turf Sprint (G1). Great race to watch. Not so much to have a strong opinion in. Doesn’t mean you can’t hit it; just that you better spread out.

Santa Anita has a new turf course and it has played very fast but has been very fair to all running styles. Six races will be contested over it and coming from behind might be the way to since big fields usually mean that the pace will be fast and contested.

Two races, the Turf Sprint and Turf (G1), will be conducted down the hill and when there are full fields, outside posts have a decided advantage. The inside horses tend to get squeezed back and then are at bigger risk to be stuck in traffic.


Aidan O’Brien has starters in all six turf races. Turf defending champion FOUND (Galileo) was not entered in her first preference of the Classic and shows up here. Gritty and determined, she will be making her third start in five weeks which is like a vacation for her since last year when she won the Turf, it was her third race in four weeks.

O’Brien did not send his best filly, MINDING (Galileo) nor his best juvenile colt, CHURCHILL (Galileo), who is odds-on for the 2000 Guineas (G1) next year. Still, O’Brien has won the juvenile races with second-teamers. The only real champion juvenile that he brought over was JOHANNESBURG (Hennessy), who won the Juvenile (G1) on dirt back in 2001 since there was not a Juvenile Turf race back then.

Great sires have the eventual problem of having to compete with their offspring. Aidan O’Brien is no exception now that his son Joseph, too big to keep riding, has taken out his training license and already has a group one stakes winner to his credit with INTRICATELY (Fastnet Rock). The winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) is entered in the Juvenile Filly Turf (G1) on Friday. He will be up against two of his father’s horses and will be ridden by his younger brother, 18-year-old Donnacha, who was the leading apprentice rider in Ireland this season.