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Isolate vulnerable favorites at Breeders’ Cup

Among the keys to making money betting on horse racing is to identify vulnerable favorites. This is never more important than on big race days like the Breeders’ Cup today and Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

This is because the pari-mutuel pool will have an inordinate amount of wagering by recreational bettors. That fresh money is what makes the big horseplayers salivate.

In handicapping the Breeders’ Cup, I try to isolate vulnerable favorites and make my picks accordingly. Here are a few favorites I consider bet againsts:

In the Classic, Shared Belief (9-5) figures to be way overbet due to the popularity of media personality and co-owner Jim Rome. The colt is undefeated in seven starts and the public loves undefeated horses.

However, his last win in the Awesome Again was potentially taxing. Shared Belief had an extremely wide trip due to the race-riding of Victor Espinoza on Sky Kingdom. It was almost a miracle that Mike Smith was able to recover and get the colt up for a neck win.

I can’t see how Shared Belief can improve off that, thus I expect him to regress in the Classic.

Dank (5-2) is the defending champion of the Filly and Mare Turf. She came into the race last year in top form and was no surprise. She is favored again, but her prep races this year leave something to be desired.

Dank has run only twice this season, both losses, in Dubai in March and Ascot in June. Unless her training is out of this world, she does not look like the same mare as last year.

I expect the European turf horses to do well in the Breeders’ Cup grass events. But others look sharper than Dank.

Judy the Beauty (5-2) is a solid favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint. She ran second in the race last year to champion Groupie Doll. And there lies the rub.

Judy the Beauty has raced eight times on dirt and has been second six times. Some would call that a model of consistency. But in a sport where winning, and betting on winners, is paramount, second place doesn’t cut it.

I would use Judy the Beauty in vertical wagers, but not so much in my horizontal bets.

Hootenanny (3-1) is an American-based horse that had great success when shipped to Europe. He was second in a sprint at Deauville and won a sprint at Ascot. Thus he’s favored today in the Juvenile Turf, and I don’t like him.

Hootenanny stretches out for the first time around two-turns going a mile. I am always leery of a horse trying something for the first time.

I credit trainer Wesley Ward for timing his invasion to Europe early in their 2-year-old season. However, I put more stock in babies that are either late developers or are bred to excel at longer distances.

It’s dicey to write a column like this because the horses I mentioned are, on paper, all fast enough to win. But the potential for a big score, versus egg on the face, is worth putting out there.

Bottomline, the final decision when you bet should always be your own.

SUNSET STATION — Their seminar is today at 6 p.m. featuring handicapper Steve Davidowitz, who writes for espn.com and Dave Valento of trackphantom.com

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.

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