Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Picking a winner after a race is about as easy task as there is.
The key to that exercise is learning from what happened in the immediate past and applying it rather wisely to the future.
At last week’s Breeders’ Cup, if there was one race that should be stored away in the memory banks for next year, it’s the BC Marathon.
And what should you do?
Back a foreign horse.
Let’s face it, foreign trainers are much better at preparing their horses for a demanding race like the Marathon simply because races that long are not uncommon to them. Their prowess in that regard is best reflected in four wins by foreign imports in the six editions of the Marathon, with all four of those wins coming at Santa Anita, home of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup.
In addition, the value in backing them is illustrated by their rewarding odds of 12-1, 6-1, 17-1 and 9-1.
This year’s winner of the 1 ¾-mile test, European invader London Bridge, was coming off an even longer race than the Marathon as he raced 1 7/8 miles in France. He was fourth in that race and had three wins and a neck loss in his four previous races, all of which were 1 ¼ miles or longer.
He had only raced on turf or Polytrack, making dirt a new experience for him. Yet more important than the composition of the ground was the amount of ground he had to cover as he was able to rally past four tired American rivals in the final furlong to win by a length at 9-1 odds.
The runner-up, the California-based Blueskiesnrainbows, had a mile and a half race under his belt this year – a third-place finish in the Cougar II at Del Mar – but as illustrated by his 28.90 seconds final quarter mile, the mile and an eighth race he competed in prior to the Marathon did not build enough stamina for the stretch run.
Worldly, conversely, was a classic example of a horse who might have won the race at a mile and a quarter or a mile and an eighth, but the $5.70-to-1 second choice came up empty in the stretch at 14 furlongs and settled for third.
American runners Blueskiesnrainbows, Cease, Indian Jones, Pool Play, Suns Out Guns Out and Worldly all raced mile and an eighth or less in their final prep for the Marathon and lacked the stamina to hold off London Bridge in the final furlong. That’s not a coincidence.
So next year, don’t be fooled by U.S. horses that might be OK at a mile and a quarter. Look for a foreign horse who is truly ready for the challenge of a Marathon.
THE LESSON: With foreign horses owning wins in all four editions of the BC Marathon at Santa Anita, look beyond the U.S. shores for next year’s winner.