Only three weeks until the creme de la turf meets the heavenly surf as the Breeders’ Cup visits Del Mar for the first time. In other words, it’s time to get busy.
It’s not a problem waiting until a day or two before a trip to the track or race book to start handicapping, but it’s sheer folly for the Breeders’ Cup. Two days of the most competitive races imaginable featuring top horses from North America and Europe — and sometimes beyond — require a lot more preparation than that.
In the 21 days remaining until first post, here are some tasks to ensure you’re ready to profit on the world championship series on Nov. 3 and 4.
— Buy an advance handicapping package from your favorite data provider and start getting a sense of the “shape” of each race. In other words, look at whether there is an abundance of speed horses or lack thereof in each contest. The picture might change before race day because of scratches or post position draws, but having a general sense of each race will inform other research you do.
— Watch lots of video. The beauty of the Breeders’ Cup is that almost every prep is a stakes race and likely available via YouTube. If not, you can purchase a video replay package from your favorite data provider for less than arm+leg. Be sure they offer access to European races if you’re interested in the turf races.
— Take notes. Unless you have a photographic memory, you will benefit from some sort of system to organize your observations. As you watch video or read the charts on likely entrants in a given race, record visual observations, trouble during a race, pace scenarios, track condition, strong winds and any other factor that strikes you as significant. Look at pedigrees, connections (the trainer-jockey relationship), successful prior training maneuvers, etc. Then do it again a few days later and write down anything that you didn’t notice before. You’ll be surprised how much your opinion can shift over time and the lightning bolts that only hit you after multiple reviews.
I’ll be devoting my next few columns to the Breeders’ Cup to keep you informed on the latest developments. We’re also planning a special expert handicapping panel Nov. 2 to provide last-minute thoughts for your consideration. I’ll have details on that next week.
#RJhorseracing featured races
Let’s continue to sharpen our skills with this week’s #RJhorseracing featured races, Saturday’s eighth and ninth races at Keeneland — a $100,000 sprint allowance/optional claiming race for 3-year-old fillies and the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup (G1), a 1 1/8-mile turf test for 3-year-old fillies.
Both races look like good wagering opportunities, if our handicappers’ picks are any indication.
In the eighth race, our ’capping crew made Mythical Tale (6-1 on the morning line) to finish ahead of co-favorites Too Much Tip and Auntjenn, both 4-1. I’m taking a flyer in this speed-laden race with Nineteenth Street (15-1), hoping she can rate and improves in her second start off a layoff.
In the marquee event, the $500,000 QEII, our gang gives the nod to familiar face Uni (9-2) over Wuheida and New Money Honey, both 4-1.
Reader Robert Ranfone gets the mints this week with his pithy summation of her attributes: “Good Beyers; 6 of 7 this yr; (top) trainer/jock.”
I’ll throw my lot in with her stablemate, New Money Honey, a Grade 1 winner last time she stepped onto the lawn.
We’d love to have you join the fun next week. Either email me to receive an alert when I post past performances on Wednesday or follow me on Twitter to get in on the action.
Also, a big shout-out to Ellis Starr, Equibase’s national handicapper, for his pick of Suedois ($21.40) in the Shadwell Mile, one of last week’s featured races at Keeneland. That’s another good reason to read this column online, as his analysis sometimes doesn’t make it into print for space reasons.
Ellis Starr’s QE II analysis
Wuheida (GB) has run six times in her career, winning twice and finishing no worse than fourth against some of the best female turf stars in Europe. As a 3-year-old, she has faced her elders and earned a 122 Equibase Speed Figure in the Prix de l’Opera, the best of any horse in this field. In addition, jockey William Buick comes in from Europe to ride, which is a very good sign the filly will run her best.
Dream Dancing may be the best among the U.S. based contingent, even though it may be by a narrow margin, as she enters the race having beaten three other entrants in the Del Mar Oaks this summer in California.
Madam Dancelot (IRE) and Beau Recall (IRE) are both owned by Slam Dunk Racing but have different trainers and will race uncoupled in the wagering, so there could be value on one or both.
Ellis Starr is the national racing analyst for Equibase. Visit the Equibase website for more on the race or to purchase handicapping products.