Forget the Favorites, Gimme Some Prices
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 11/6/2009 7:02:39 AM
Last Updated: 11/8/2009 5:11:37 PM

You have to bet Presious Passion to win.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

If there is one thing you can always count on in the Breeders’ Cup it’s that it will have it’s share of longshot winners and mid-price overlays who get lost in the handicapping frenzy that is so much a part of the event.

Here are a few to consider, starting off with the one Friday race not mentioned in yesterday’s column, the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

 

MARATHONFather Time was impressive winning the King Edward VII Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot back in June, exhibiting a strong turn of foot and the ability to quicken away from his opponents. Black Astor looks like a legitimate threat on the front end if Nite Light, who almost always runs his race, leaves him alone long enough. Add Cloudy’s Knight, who is a terrific story and looks great in the mornings and you have an intriguing four-horse exacta box as an alternative to the likely favorite Mastery.

 

TURF SPRINT – This race is a crap shoot, and it could very well come down to whoever gets the trip. Square Eddie will be a huge longshot, but has the turn of foot and class to make his presence felt after a deceivingly good prep in the Ancient Title. A few others to consider for the exotics from the American team are Delta Storm, Noble Court, and Lord Shanakill.

 

DIRT MILE – This is another wide-open race, with the field converging from all different directions. Mastercraftsman is the class of the race and you have to include him in all exotics, but three American horses who have looked good on the track and seem to be flourishing physically are Mr. Sidney, Ready’s Echo, and Chocolate Candy. A three-horse box without Mastercraftsman would offer big bucks. If you want to concentrate on the older horses then Mr. Sidney and Ready’s Echo would complete a monster exacta. Mr. Sidney is a natural miler, has run well in his only race over a synthetic surface, and has looked super in the mornings, with his neck bowed and in a zone. Ready’s Echo has been a hard-luck horse, and there is a question whether he’s up to this company, but he closes strongly regardless of the distance (from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles) or the surface (dirt, grass, or synthetic). All he needs is a clear run. Chocolate Candy ran a sneakily good race in the Goodwood (gr. I) and has looked good in the mornings.

 

JUVENILE – This is a really tough race to figure, especially with Lookin at Lucky, who looks fantastic physically, drawing the 13 post. But even with the outside draw, he cannot be ignored in any of the exotics. We’re looking for prices, however, and there are five to choose from – Aikenite, Eskendereya, Aspire, Radiohead, and Pulsion. I’ve been a big fan of Aikenite, who is a consistent closer, and cannot leave him out. Aspire, who had a ton of trouble in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I), and Pulsion should be closing as well, with Aspire being the bigger price of the trio. Eskendereya is the sleeper. It’s hard to tell whether he’s ready for this kind of company, but he is well bred, looks good physically, and might be better than people think. He can sustain his run a long way and still keep motoring at the end. If not today, then watch him as a 3-year-old. But based on potential he’s worth playing here – straight and in the exotics. Radiohead also will be a price, and it should be noted that when he finished third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the group I Nunthorpe Stakes in England, he was running against older horses in a 16-horse field. Any 2-year-old who can run that well against older horses and who is by Juvenile winner Johannesburg, must be respected. The last two horses are worth straight win bets at a big price and would complete big exotics with some of those mentioned earlier.

 

Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking elsewhere: In Alfred Nobel’s last start, the 22-horse field split in two groups, with one group on better ground. Alfred finished fifth in the race, but wound up on the slower side of the course and made a big run to finish first in that group.

 

MILE – This race is the Euros to lose, headed by last year’s explosive winner Goldikova. The rapidly improving Zacinto could very well wind up second choice. But although most Europeans feel Delegator is most effective at seven furlongs, he’s been running against the best all year, has a good turn of foot, should handle the mile here with no problem, and could very well reverse the tables again with Zacinto. And don’t forget about Justenuffhumor, who hated the soft going at Keeneland and should return to the form that saw him rattle off six straight victories on grass. Those are the two horses who could be overlays in here. Other notes: Cowboy Cal always runs his race and is a must exotics play, and Gladiatorus looks sensational physically and could surprise a lot of people if he runs to his looks.

 

SPRINT – There isn’t too much in here to inspire a longshot pick, as the favorites look to fast and too strong. But you might want to consider Capt. Candyman Can in all your exotics. He always picks up a check and never lets his backers down. He’ll be coming late. Crown of Thorns is another who looks ready for a big effort third race off a layoff. Both these horses will give you a run for your money.

 

TURF – There is nothing to make you think you’re going to make a killing in this seven-horse field, as all three Euros have a big shot to finish 1,2,3. But you have to bet Presious Passion to win, because the Euros have never experienced any horse like him before. There is a good chance he can simply run them off their feet and keep going. How can you not love this horse? He will give you a thrill for sure. Go for it and enjoy the ride.

 

CLASSIC – Wow, is this a tough race. While Zenyatta, Summer Bird, and Rip Van Winkle are standouts from a class perspective, we’re here to look for prices. Four horses who look fantastic physically and have trained super are Gio Ponti, Colonel John, Einstein, and Richard’s Kid. All are worth win bets, as all are potential overlays. I’ve written extensively about Gio Ponti and Colonel John, who would be my two price picks. But Einstein, who will be the shortest price of the four, and Richard’s Kid are musts in the exotics. No one has trained any better than Einstein, whose coat looks fantastic; and Richard’s Kid’s last work was one of the better ones I’ve seen since arriving here. Play around with these four, while betting Gio Ponti and Colonel John to win. The Colonel fits every criteria and has left no questions unanswered, and it’s just a matter if he’s good enough. It’s worth the price to find out. Gio Ponti was being hailed as superhorse; the next Manila. Although he was upset in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. I), that race, run over an absolute bog over a distance a bit too far for him, gave him a tremendous foundation and he should relish the drop back to 1 1/4 miles over a surface he’s won over earlier in the year. This horse has improved mentally from last year and has turned into the consummate pro.

 

I can’t forget to mention my super duper longshot Awesome Gem to possibly spoil a lot of trifectas and superfectas. All the pieces seem to finally be coming together for him, and if gets a good trip, watch out for him to at least get a piece of it at a huge price as he did in the 2007 Classic at 28-1.

 

Finally, one horse must be mentioned. Obviously, no one knows how Quality Road will handle the Pro-Ride, and whether he is at his best at 1 1/4 miles, not having won at that distance. But the belief here is that he is one of the most brilliant and gifted horses seen this year. He is an impressive physical presence, and he should get a good stalking trip. If things fall into place for him watch out. He's that good.



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