Steve Haskin's Longshot Specials
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Juvenile Fillies entrant Ruby's Reception among Haskin's featured longshots.

Break open your piggy banks. There are longshots galore in this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, not to mention a number of potential overlays. Some might think several of the following picks border on insanity, but sanity has never been a requirement in the mysterious world of longshot winners.

CLASSIC: Let's start out with major bang. It's difficult to know for sure what the three top 3-year-olds – War Emblem, Came Home, and Medaglia d'Oro -- are going to do in here coming off a nine-week layoff, and you really have to have a strong conviction to bet on any of them at the price. On the other hand, most people don't care much for the older horses. This is a perfect scenario to put your money on HAWK WING. While he is not our longshot pick at 5-1 on the morning line, he is a smart horse to play. The son of Woodman has been a hard-luck horse all year. After losing the entire summer with a cough, he returned from the layoff and was subjected to a gut-wrencher in the Irish Champion Stakes, in which he had to battle two hard-knocking Godolphin horses, who had him sandwiched in the final yards. Coming back only three weeks later and dropping back in distance from 1 ¼ miles to a mile, he was victimized by a slow pace and was caught by surprise by an improving horse. That race sets him up perfectly for the Classic. He has strong dirt influences in his female family, including his dam, who beat the colts by daylight in the Queen's Plate. The main concern is that his coat has begun to turn, but the cold weather should help in that regard.

For our super duper longshot pick and best bet of the day, we feel there are a lot of things to like about VOLPONI, who has proven his versatility, running big on grass and dirt, short and long. He is coming off a big effort in the Meadowlands Cup, which has proven to be a successful steppingstone to the Classic. Alysheba (1st), Wild Again (1st), L'Carriere (2nd),_Twilight Agenda (2nd), Blushing John (3rd to Sunday Silence and Easy Goer), Mt. Sassafras (4th, beaten a half-length at 101-1), Marquetry (4th) all turned in big efforts in the Classic after running in the Meadowlands Cup. He gets blinkers added, and in his last two equipment changes, he won a 1 1/8-mile Saratoga allowance race on dirt by 13 ½ lengths with blinkers on and won the one-mile Poker Handicap on grass in a near-world-record 1:32 1/5 with blinkers off. This year, he has run big from 7 furlongs on the dirt to 1 ½ miles on the turf (finishing third, beaten 2 lengths by With Anticipation and Denon). He has a hot rider with Breeders' Cup success in Jose Santos, and with his versatility, natural talent, and ability to be placed anywhere, the feeling here is that he will surprise a lot of people at a monster price.

One monster trifecta possibility would be Volponi, Hawk Wing, and Evening Attire, or you can use any of the big 3-year-olds if that's who you like. But we see no reason why Evening Attire shouldn't run another big race, and should be included in all exotics. If you're looking for other bombs to include in the trifectas, MACHO UNO has as much talent as any horse in the race. He had virtually no training going into his last race and was dead-short. He's really picked up since and is sharp and alert, and as ornery as ever, which is always a good sign. Look for him to run much-improved race. And you can also throw out MILWAUKEE BREW'S last race, as he came back afterward as if he had never run. He looks super physically and is one horse who you know loves 1 ¼ miles.

So, there you have several longshot possibilities to choose from. Whoever you choose and whichever ones you put in the exotics, the financial rewards are endless. But we'll leave you with one word – VOLPONI. Heck, it's only money.

DISTAFF – No real bombs in here, but MANDY'S GOLD should be a decent price. What makes her attractive is that she has changed so dramatically from her speedball sprinting days, we really have no idea how good she is right now. The feeling is that she's very good and worth a play.

JUVENILE FILLIES – Lots of live favorites here, but watch out for RUBY'S RECEPTION, who is tough, consistent, can handle any kind of track, and is always closing. If you don't bet her to win, certainly don't ignore her in the exotics.

MILE – The Rock is the best horse in the race, period. But he's had a long, hard campaign, and the super hotshot European milers are usually not the ones who win the Mile. This could be a one-two coup for Bobby Frankel. ALDEBARAN is the pick here, longshot or no longshot. Yes, he has been suffering from a severe case of seconditis, but this is an excellent spot for him, coming off all those dirt sprints, while running big against the best sprinters in America. The last time he ran a mile on turf, he was brilliant, and this race sets up well for his late kick. Remember, the last three Mile winners came from 10th, 11th, and 12th. This horse is as strong as he's ever been, and is really looking and doing well. Frankel's other horse, BEAT HOLLOW, needed his last start desperately, coming off 1 ¼ miles, and he hung tough against a very classy European horse who had nearly beaten Rock of Gibraltar. Jerry Bailey now has a better feel for him and will ride him perfectly this time. And just to throw this in, don't be surprised to see the 7-year-old FORBIDDEN APPLE right there at the wire. But we're going Frankel exacta on this one.

SPRINT – Speed, speed, and speed. Pick one. The horse who has a perfect Sprint profile and is really getting good now is CRAFTY C.T. He has class at a distance, running with Point Given last year, and finishing a solid third in the Met Mile off one start in nine months. His last start was brilliant, as he broke last, then was trapped turning for home, swung out late and closed fast to be second, beaten a half-length in 1:08 1/5. He's fresh and dangerous. The longshot win bet. Can the old boy, Kona Gold, come back? Bruce Headley is an excellent horseman and should have him sharp and fit. He might be a good bet in the exotics. And there's a good chance

FILLY & MARE TURF – It's Frankel again. Certain to be overlooked in here is STARINE, who is coming into this race in terrific shape, having needed her last start. She's already beaten Golden Apples decisively, and this is the first time since her victory in the Matriarch Stakes last November that she's run two consecutive races without a long layoff in between. She looks great and has been training great. She makes an attractive exacta possibility with Frankel's more prominent entry BANKS HILL. But don't forget to play her to win at a big price.

JUVENILE – This race is too wide-open to have a strong feeling about. WHYWHYWHY should be overlooked and has done nothing wrong. There's no reason why he won't run well again. And how can you knock the long-striding MOST FEARED with a big win over the track? He could be a huge overlay in here. But at a big, big price, you might want to take a shot with WANDO, just in case he's as good as he looked in the Grey BC.

TURF – This race belongs to High Chaparral and Golan, but watch out if THE TIN MAN gets loose on the lead. He's bred to run all day and is improving rapidly.

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