Generally speaking, large fields with a half-dozen or more viable win contenders are the best betting events in the sport of horse racing, and if you cash an exotic wager like the trifecta or superfecta in such a competitive race, your reward will be a very large payoff.
But of course, before you can cash, you have to identify the right horses. And some races—such as Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) at Keeneland—are so competitive that cashing any ticket, even a show bet, could be considered a minor victory in and of itself.
Just look at the field for the Shadwell Turf Mile, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I). Fourteen starters, plus two also-eligibles. Twelve graded stakes winners in the main body of the field, including four Grade 1 winners.
I’ll admit that I don’t have any strong opinions here, but if asked to side with one horse, I would point you toward the three-year-old #9 Analyze It, who is facing older horses for the first time. Trained by the wildly successful Chad Brown, Analyze It has lost his last three starts by a neck, a head, and a neck after leading past the eighth pole each time. That might seem like a record of frustration, but keep in mind, those races were the Pennine Ridge Stakes (gr. III), Belmont Derby (gr. I), and Secretariat Stakes (gr. I)—all high-class events—and all three were held at 1 1/8 miles or farther.
Ultimately, I think Analyze It is at his best running a mile to a mile-and-a-sixteenth, which was the case when he crushed the Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) during the Keeneland spring meet by 5 ¼ lengths. The cutback in distance should be to his benefit, and his excellent tactical speed should help him secure a good trip in this large field. Even better, he’s been successful on both firm and yielding turf courses, so with the potential for rain on Saturday, it shouldn’t matter to Analyze It what type of course conditions he encounters.
Rather than endeavor to make Analyze It the key to a huge hit in the exotics, I’m going to take a more conservative approach. Since he’s never run against older horses before, I expect him to offer decent odds in the wagering, so my main focus will be on betting him to win and place. I’ll also box him in a small exacta with #11 Almanaar (runner-up in the Arlington Million) and #12 Mr. Misunderstood, winner of the Wise Dan Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs earlier this year.
$12 to win and place on #9 Analyze It ($24)
$1 exacta: 9,11,12 with 9,11,12 ($6)