We all know who the favorites are and who the contenders are in Saturday's Breeders' Cup races. But we also know that no Breeders’ Cup is complete without its share of longshots.
So here goes. Try these Saturday longshots on for size.
This race is totally wide open, even more so when Pluck drew the 13-post. The Euros are pretty much a grab bag and you can choose any one of them and have a decent shot to win. One horse that has been impressive in his last two starts is Banned, a son of grass specialist and prolific sire Kitten's Joy who has drawn off from his opponents impressively in his last two starts. His trainer Tom Proctor is underrated and always dangerous. At 8-1, Banned is not exactly a huge longshot, but attractive enough.
And for a bigger price, don’t ignore Deciphering Dreams, who didn’t have the best of trips in the Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT), but still finished a solid third, beaten only 1 ½ lengths.
Wayne Lukas feels Hamazing Destiny could surprise a lot of people at 20-1, and we agree. Although he’s been running mainly in allowance company, he is in the best form of his life, and his last at Delaware was a powerful race, as was his second to Here Comes Ben , in which he was beaten a neck, in the Kelly’s Landing at Churchill. This colt was meant to be a good one right from the start, and the feeling here is that he might be very live in here at a big, big price
But because there is plenty of speed in here, and no standout, a big value horse could be Warrior's Reward , based on his class and his powerful closing kick going one turn. Six furlongs looks short for him, but we still feel he is going to be flying late and is capable of getting up in time. He certainly is a horse you want to consider at least in the exotics, especially at 12-1 on the morning line.
As a side note, one horse that most people have not gotten to see is Atta Boy Roy , who has been stabled off track. But close sources say he is doing fantastic and is ready for a huge performance. Both of his starts at Churchill have been excellent, including a win in the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) on Derby Day. At 12-1, he could offer some value.
That is what we were told, so you can make of that what you wish. Of the horses who have been training at Churchill, Hamazing Destiny and Warrior’s Reward look intriguing at a price.
You do not want to invest much in this free-for-all, where anything can happen. There is a ton of speed, and if any one the speedballs can shake free they could be gone. Of the closers, Due Date is attractive at 15-1, and if you like Silver Timber at 4-1, you have to like this horse.
A pair of 12-1 shots with a chance are Grand Adventure and Bridgetown . The latter is mainly a speed horse, but can come from off the pace if he needs to. He ran a huge second in last year’s Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) to Pounced and would be much lower odds if he had run better in the Nearctic Stakes (gr. IT) at Woodbine in his last start. But that course was deep and closers were winning all the big races, so perhaps his fifth in a 12-horse field wasn’t that bad after all. He drew well and is more than capable of bouncing back with a big effort over a course he will like. He looks to be an attractive prospect at the very least in the exotics.
This does not look like a good race for longshots, with the presence of Uncle Mo , Boys At Tosconova , and Stay Thirsty , who at 8-1, actually is an extremely appealing price. Right now, we love him for the Triple Crown trail, and he probably needs a little more foundation, but he will love the two turns, and is a talented colt, so he is capable of giving his stablemate a run for his money.
Rogue Romance is way too high at 30-1, and you have to at least throw something on him. No, he has never run on dirt, but his last two victories on grass, including the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT), were powerful, and he is by Smarty Jones . How appropriate would it be if Smarty sired a Breeders’ Cup winner as he is about to leave Kentucky for his home state of Pennsylvania? He’s trained by the always dangerous Ken McPeek. He has trained well on the dirt at Saratoga, and worked a bullet :58 2/5 on Keeneland’s Polytrack on Oct. 23, so he looks as if he could be a top-class colt on any surface. At anything near 30-1, he should be included in all exotic bets, and you might want to put a win saver on him just in case.
Can anyone beat Goldikova? She didn’t draw very well with the 10-post, and Gio Ponti , Paco Boy, and Proviso look like formidable foes; better than anything she faced last year. And who knows what Sidney's Candy is capable of? He could blow them all away early and just keep going.
So, is that pretty much the race? We’re not going to be so bold as to say any of the others have a good chance of beating all five of these powerhouses. But if you’re looking for a price horse who should at least be closing fast in the stretch, Court Vision is in top form, has been a class horse his entire career, and definitely make his presence felt.
A couple of side notes: If you like Rip Van Winkle, his stablemate Beethoven finished fairly close to him on several occasions, and could be an in interesting alternative at 20-1. The Usual Q.T. looks terrific physically, and we’ll see if he can compete with this caliber of horses.
Another pick-out-of-a-hat race. To us, Tizway looks to be the most logical horse, based on several factors, including his last race, a victory in the Kelso (gr. II), and his excellent third to Quality Road in the Met Mile (gr. I) in 1:33 flat. He also was good enough to finish third in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), which was huge, and is too high at 6-1. He should go off at lower odds.
The one longshot who has stood out physically, loves this track, and is coming off a powerful effort is Thiskyhasnolimit. His second to Lookin At Lucky in the Indiana Derby (gr. II) was strong, as he hung tough to the wire to be beaten only 1 ¼ lengths. We like to drop back in distance to one turn, as he has already won the Matt Winn Stakes at seven furlongs and Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill, and broke his maiden here by seven lengths. As we said, he looks spectacular physically and training, and could very well be live in here.
After seeing his last two races, in which he has become a changed horse, Al Khali may be as improved as any horse in the country and has demonstrated a turn of foot that might actually enable him to outkick the Euros. He’s 10-1 on the morning line and is at least worth a shot at that price.
We’re not even going to go near the Big Four, who speak for themselves. This is about longshots, and we’ll throw three at you.
Musket Man is a horse we’ve always liked, because of his consistency, gameness, and versatility. And he’s had nothing but bad luck through a good part of his career, yet still has managed to finish in the money in all 14 of his starts, while competing against the best. The 10 furlongs is a question, but his performances in last year’s Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) suggest it might not out be of his range. Many knock him for failing to pass Etched in the Monmouth Cup (gr. II), but he came home his last three-eighths in :35 2/5 and last eighth in :11 1/5, and horses just don’t close faster than that. At 20-1, he at least has to be considered in the exotics.
Paddy O'Prado obviously looks to be better on the grass, but his troubled third in this year’s Kentucky Derby was a monster effort, and he has a turn of foot that could put him right there in a flash. We really don’t know how good this horse is, especially on the dirt, and that makes him an intriguing proposition at 15-1.
Finally, guess who has the third fastest Thoro-Graph figure in the race, behind Quality Road’s phenomenal negative 7 ½ in the Donn (gr. I) and negative 5 ¾ in the Met Mile (gr. I)?
It just happens to be Fly Down, with a negative 4 ½ in the Travers (gr. I). Second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), where many felt he was the best horse, and second, beaten a nose in Travers, where most felt he was the best horse, adds up to a live closer, who will be helped with the addition of Julien Leparoux. If Leparoux can get him to change leads, watch him come flying late, maybe even behind Zenyatta. He’s 15-1 on the morning line and likely will go off higher than that. And if anyone deserves to finally win a big one this year it is Nick Zito, who has been snake-bit by a number of seconds and thirds in major stakes.
You can put some kind of win bet on all three just to take a shot, and put all three in the exotics with the horse or horses of your choice.