Homeracing

Spot plays for Breeders’ Cup Saturday

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

October 31st, 2019

There’s an unwritten rule about watching and wagering on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships—you have to play every race.

Oh sure, there are folks who confidently -- and perhaps wisely -- play only the races in which they have strong opinions. But half the fun of the Breeders’ Cup is having a rooting interest in every championship race, so you can watch with a pounding heart as your favorite horse looks for a way through traffic at the top of the stretch. And you never know which race might be the key to cashing a life-changing payoff.

We’ve already suggested wagering strategies for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), the final three Breeders’ Cup events on November 2 at Santa Anita. But these signature races will be preceded by a half-dozen other exciting Breeders’ Cup races, including the always-competitive Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Want to partake in all the action? We’ve put together a series of spot plays on a $250 budget, giving you a potentially lucrative rooting interest in every race. Let’s dig in!

Race 4: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)

The brilliant three-year-old #1 Covfefe has fired off eye-catching Brisnet Speed figures against her own age group, but she was beaten in her lone start against older mares while setting a pressured pace along the rail. A similar trip on Saturday seems likely since Covfefe has drawn the rail, and it’s worth noting sophomores have fared poorly for the most part in this testing seven-furlong sprint.

Instead, I’ll support #4 Come Dancing. A four-time graded stakes winner this season, Come Dancing posted a massive 114 Brisnet Speed figure when winning the seven-furlong Distaff Handicap (G3) in gate-to-wire fashion. But she’s also versatile enough to rally from a mid-pack position, and I expect her to employ those tactics in the Filly & Mare Sprint. A sit-and-pounce trip should land her in the winner’s circle.
  • $25 to win on #4 Come Dancing
  • $5 exacta: 4 with 3,8,9 ($15)

Race 5: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)

If not for a tough trip in an allowance sprint at Churchill Downs, which he lost by a nose, #1 Totally Boss would be 5-for-5 this year. Totally Boss has risen steadily through the ranks and was a decisive pace-tracking winner of the Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs on September 7.

Call it a hunch, but I believe Totally Boss is getting good at the right time and sitting on a big effort. He’s already shown the ability to stay within shouting distance of fast fractions and finish strongly. The key will be working out an unencumbered trip from post 1, but I’ll leave that to Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz.

Let’s bet Totally Boss to win and box him in the exacta with #10 Eddie Haskell, who boasts a 14-9-3-2 record sprinting five furlongs.
  • $20 to win on #1 Totally Boss
  • $10 exacta box: 1,12 ($20)

Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)

#5 Omaha Beach impressed me during the winter at Oaklawn, when he demonstrated the ability to make a mid-race move and sustain it through the finish line in both the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). I also loved his comeback victory in the six-furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), considering he had no business cutting back in distance off a layoff to defeat classy sprinters with a career-best 106 Brisnet Speed figure.

Omaha Beach has trained sharply since then, and his experience running long will be an asset in this two-turn mile. Let’s play him on top in the trifecta while emphasizing Pennsylvania Derby (G1) runner-up #4 Mr. Money underneath.
  • $24 to win on #5 Omaha Beach
  • $4 trifecta: 5 with 4 with 1,3,7,9 ($16)
  • $3.5 trifecta: 5 with 1,3,7,9 with 4 ($14)

Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1)

#2 Sistercharlie won this race last year and is a deserving favorite to repeat. Trainer Chad Brown has won the Filly & Mare Turf four times since 2012, and Sistercharlie is riding a six-race win streak in Grade 1 company. She got an easy prep in the Flower Bowl Stakes (G1), settling far behind a slow pace before sprinting a half-mile or so to win comfortably, and you can argue only a traffic-filled trip will keep her out of the winner’s circle on Saturday.

But this is the Breeders’ Cup, there are 12 starters, and anything can happen trip-wise in grass racing. #1 Iridessa and #4 Billesdon Brook are classy Group 1 winners shipping in from Europe, where they’ve shown the speed to win top-level events going a mile. This speed will come in handy over the tight-turning turf course at Santa Anita. In contrast, #12 Fanny Logan might be more of a grinder than a speedster, but she’s rattled off four straight wins for the high-profile team of jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden.

Let's use these three in the trifecta with Sistercharlie:
  • $4 trifecta: 2 with 1,4,12 with 1,4,12 ($24)
  • $2 trifecta: 1,4,12 with 2 with 1,4,12 ($12)

Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1)

I’m concerned morning line favorite #4 Mitole (a three-time Grade 1 winner running seven furlongs to a mile) might lack the raw speed to survive the intense pace of an elite six-furlong dash, especially while drawn inside of his key pace rivals.

I’ll exclude him from my tickets while favoring #6 Shancelot (runner-up in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship) and #9 Imperial Hint (twice placed in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint). Whereas Mitole’s career-best Brisnet Speed figure is a 108, Shancelot and Imperial Hint reached 114 and 113, respectively, while scoring impressive graded stakes wins at Saratoga this summer. An intense pace shouldn’t be problematic for these two tried-and-true sprinters.
  • $4 exacta: 6,9 with 1,6,9 ($16)
  • $2 trifecta: 6,9 with 1,6,9,10 with 1,6,9,10 ($24)

Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)

#6 Got Stormy arguably moved too soon into a hot pace (:44.43, 1:08.33) when finishing second by a half-length against males in the Woodbine Mile (G1). Previously, Got Stormy trounced a quality field in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, romping 2 ½ lengths in the course-record time of 1:32. Among her beaten rivals was #11 Uni, who came back to impressively win the First Lady Stakes (G1).

In this deep field, Got Stormy might have the best blend of tactical speed and finishing power. Trainer Mark Casse won this race in 2015 with the filly Tepin, so he’s treading familiar territory with Got Stormy. If her 7-2 morning line odds hold up, we’ll keep things simple and place a large win bet on Got Stormy.
  • $40 to win on #6 Got Stormy
Good luck!
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