Breeders' Cup offers great wagering opportunities . . .
The most important weekend of racing is upon us once again, and once again the wagering opportunities are more than enough to make even the most laid-back adventurers salivate over the possibilities. The two days of the Breeders' Cup are infamous for making a mockery of the morning lines, although those subjective numbers, as the years have passed, have more and more reflected the difficulties of isolating winners.
There are just two races where the linemaker ventured below 5/2, the Juvenile and the Classic, and the latter has to be viewed with an asterisk.
In the Juvenile, Kentucky-bred Bold d'Oro is listed at 9/5 off his perfect 3-for-3 ledger. The colt by Medaglia d'Oro won both the early Grade I's in California, the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner, and, as usual, the California pundits have convinced themselves that anything that races out west is better in most years than the denizens of the east. That, of course, remains to be seen.
There are just seven Florida-breds entered over the two days, but one of them is Firenze Fire, the colt by Pleasant Acres Stallions freshman sire Poseidon's Warrior. Although garnering little respect along the way, Firenze Fire has won 3-of-4, including the Gr. I Champagne at Belmont Park and the Gr. III Sanford at Saratoga. He's listed at a generous 6-1 with talented Irad Ortiz aboard.
The Classic is loaded with the best older horses still standing and it will be interesting to see if Arrogate (2-1) still has enough fan approval to get the nod over Gun Runner (9/5). After winning seven in a row, and being acclaimed the horse of a lifetime, Arrogate bombed in the San Diego Handicap, then came within half a length of catching Collected in the Pacific Classic, and he lost much of his luster.
Gun Runner is 5-3-0 in his last eight starts, and is on a three-race winning streak - the Woodward, Whitney and Stephen Foster. Collected is in the 11-horse field, too, and he's listed at 6-1, as is late-bloomer West Coast.
Live Oak Plantation's World Approval drew the No. 5 post in the Mile on the turf, seeking to go over the $2 million mark for owner/breeder Charlotte Weber. The 5-year-old gelding's dam is Win Approval, possibly the only broodmare in history to have produced four millionaires - Miesque's Approval, Revved Up and Za Approval are the other three. World Approval, trained by Ocalan Mark Casse and to be ridden by John Velazquez, is 10-2-4 in 23 lifetime starts, and has won four of his last five, including the Gr. I Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Gr. I Fourstardave in his last two.
Another Florida-bred given a good chance based on the line is Imperial Hint, who is listed at 9/2 for the Sprint with Javier Castellano. The 4-year-old colt is by former Get Away Farm stallion Imperialism and was bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, same operation that gave us multiple stakes-winner Three Rules. Florida-bred Calculator, a 5-year-old by In Summation bred by Ocala Stud, drew the No. 1 post in the Sprint with Johnny V. and is listed at 20-1.
Florida has two intriguing entrants in the Juvenile Fillies, Blonde Bomber (No. 5 - 20-1) and Caledonia Road (No. 12 - 15-1). Blonde Bomber is a Fort Larned filly owned and bred by Ocala's Arindel Farm and didn't make an impression in her first four tries. Then she broke her maiden at Gulfstream and followed that with a 7 1/4-length score in the Our Dear Peggy Stakes. Caledonia Road, a Quality Road filly owned by Peter Vegso, broke her maiden at Saratoga, then finished second behind Separationofpowers in the Gr. I Frizette. Ironically, Separationofpowers drew the 13 post, right next to Caledonia Road.
Live Oak has another entrant in the Turf Sprint, Holding Gold, also in the barn of Mark Casse. The 4-year-old gelding won the Gr. II Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland and is listed at 15-1. Florida-bred Pure Sensation drew post 12 in the race; he's a 6-year-old gelding by Zensational from the Christophe Clement barn and is 10-1 for owner/breeder Patricia Generazio, who also owns the No. 1 horse, New York-bred Disco Partner.
I will mostly stick by my usual wagering pattern, taking four or five horses in an exacta box and hoping for the best. It has yielded many satisfying results in the past.