These favorites look like keys in Breeders' Cup exotics

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 28th, 2015

The 1991 Breeders' Cup remains one of the more memorable for me, although not for the right reasons. After making a long, arduous trek through more than two feet of freshly fallen snow to the local simulcasting facility, I then sat all afternoon and watched a parade of longshots and medium-price horses I didn't like blow up the tote board and my tickets.

While Dance Smartly (Distaff) and Arazi (Juvenile) came through for chalk players that day, others like Housebuster (Sprint) and the pair of In Excess and Tight Spot (Mile) unexpectedly ran up the track. One moral of this story is to maybe think twice about going out into 2+ feet of snow just to make a few bets, which is no longer necessary thanks to the availability of Another takeaway is that even on the roughest betting days there will always be a legitimate favorite, or two or three, that will bring some sense of normality to the proceedings. The trick is finding the right ones.

I honestly don't know how the 2015 Breeders' Cup is going to play out. Much will depend on how quickly the courses dry out after this week's rain. Any apparent biases that might creep up on Thursday or Friday, especially on the main track, will surely be dealt with before the primary action on Saturday's card.

With that said, though, we do know the turf will be, if not officially "soft," certainly much closer to that than firm. As a general proposition, that should favor Europeans and closers. Indeed, the more I look at Saturday's grass races, the more I find some of the favorites or near favorites fairly strong "keys" for multi-race wagers.

I've spent much of the year betting against Filly & Mare Turf (G1) favorite LEGATISSIMO, succeeding only once in the Pretty Polly (G1) with Diamondsandrubies. After back-to-back wins in the Nassau (G1) and Matron (G1), I've now accepted her general superiority and believe only bad luck can stop her on Saturday.

As the turf has gotten wetter and deeper this week, the more I like the mare ESOTERIQUE, the second choice on the morning line for the Mile (G1). Perhaps it might be just a love of Deauville, but her soft-ground wins in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) and Prix Rothschild (G1) give plenty of hope she'll take to these conditions. I also found her sharp seconds to Solow, arguably the world's best miler, in the Queen Anne (G1), and to Europe's best sprinter Muhaarar in the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), evidence she's really stepped up her game this year.

Despite concerns the course might prove a tad too soft for his liking, and that I personally find his presence here a tad peculiar after he cemented his legacy by pulling off the Epsom Derby (G1)/Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) double, GOLDEN HORN really does stand out in the Turf (G1). There's no need to over think things in this particular situation. If the unforeseeable happens, well, I won't be the only one with head in hands.

What about the main track races? I find the clearest standout of the weekend to be LIAM'S MAP in Friday's Dirt Mile (G1). His class and speed advantages are immense, and he's ideally drawn in post 3 with a short run to the first turn.

I also find SONGBIRD to be close to rock solid in Saturday's Juvenile Fillies (G1), although post 10 is certainly a concern. Whether that will be a potential detriment or not will hopefully be known well in advance of post time.

(Liam's Map photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)