The day post positions are drawn for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is like Christmas morning for racing fans and horseplayers — the time to dig into the races and try to uncover a hidden gem that will lead to the spoils of victory and bragging rights.
The 14 championship races bring the best racehorses together in one venue for a series of races in which multiple Grade 1 winners can step into the starting gate at odds of 20-1 or higher.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the horses I’ll be using as key value bets and longshot plays. These are not necessarily horses I’m picking to win each race, rather I’m trying to identify horses with morning-line odds of 10-1 or higher that have a chance to win or at least spice up the exacta and trifecta payouts.
NBC Sports will televise 12 of the 14 Breeders’ Cup championship races, starting on the Breeders' Cup "Future Stars Friday" program with five races, and continuing on Saturday with seven more. Eight races will be televised on NBCSN, and the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will anchor a 2 1/2-hour telecast on NBC slated for 3:30-6 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 3 that will also include live broadcasts of the Breeders' Cup Mile, Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, and Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. Two Breeders' Cup races that kick off Saturday's card – the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – will be broadcast live on TVG and will also be included as part of a one-hour Breeders’ Cup Live! presented America’s Best Racing digital special on Facebook and NBCSports.com from 11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m. ET.
Friday, Nov. 2
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, 3:21 p.m. ET
#10 So Perfect (12-1): I really like Soldier’s Call (#2) in this spot coming off a third-place finish against older males in a Group 1 race in France, but I’m looking to pair him with another runner who offers better value and I landed on the filly So Perfect. She was third, beaten by three-quarters of a length, in a Group 1 race in England in September and ran second in a Group 1 against males in August. She has some tactical speed and could be in front in early stretch for Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 4 p.m. ET
#2 The Mackem Bullet (15-1): This is a loaded field with two potential U.S. stars and a very strong European contingent, but I think The Mackem Bullet could be overlooked. At 15-1 on the morning line, this filly ran second by a nose in a Group 2 race in August and second by a neck in a Group 1 race in September in her last two races. My only concern is whether she can stretch out to a mile, but I definitely think she’s fast enough to compete.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf , 5:22 p.m. ET
#5 Line of Duty (10-1): The consensus seems to be that Anthony Van Dyck (#14) is by far the top European invader for this race and he’s clearly talented, but Line of Duty has won two in a row, including a Group 3 race, and he’s been first or second in each of his four starts. His dam (mother) ran second in the 1,000 Guineas at this one-mile distance, and Line of Duty drew a much better post position than Anthony Van Dyck in a race where it really matters.
Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 6:05 p.m. ET
#4 Tight Ten (30-1): Tight Ten set the pace and fought gamely late in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at this track and distance, and I think he got something out of his first try stretching out in distance. I prefer Code of Honor (#11) in the top spot, but I think Tight Ten runs well at a huge price and finds his way into the trifecta.
Saturday, Nov. 3
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, noon ET
#15 Dream Pauline (30-1): She’s on the also-eligible list so she’d need one horse to be scratched to draw into the race, but if she gets in I think she has a big chance. She’s only 2-for-2 lifetime and this would be her stakes debut, but I think she’s a star in the making.
#5 Golden Mischief (10-1): If Dream Pauline doesn’t make the field, I’ll move my win money to Golden Mischief at 10-1, who is coming off a visually impressive Grade 2 win at Keeneland and is training exceptionally well. I’d love to play a Dream Pauline-Golden Mischief exacta …
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, 12:38 p.m. ET
#13 Will Call (20-1): I really like World of Trouble (#11) at 6-1 and I’m going to try to spice up the exotics with Will Call. He should get some pace to set up his closing kick and he’s 2-for-2 on the grass at Churchill and owns four wins and two seconds in eight starts at this distance.
Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, 2:04 p.m. ET
#14 Eziyra (15-1): I hate this post position for a filly that I was really excited to bet before the draw, especially with a fairly short run into the first turn, but I’m not ready to cut bait. Never off the board in 11 career starts and Irish classic-placed at 3, Eziyra has raced only three times this year with two group stakes wins and a third-place finish in the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks. Her lone defeat this year came at the hands of a terrific filly in Sea of Class and Eziyra should be fresh coming off a seven-week layoff. Legendary trainer Dermot Weld conditions Eziyra and elite jockey Frankie Dettori will be aboard.
Breeders’ Cup Mile, 3:36 p.m. ET
#11 Lightning Spear (20-1): This is my favorite play of the World Championships as long as the turf doesn’t come up soft. Good or yielding should be fine, just not soft. Take a look at the past performances and cross out the races on soft turf and you see a completely different racehorse, one who has been competing exceptionally well against top milers in Europe for years. He has a terrific turn of foot, he’s shown the ability to overcome trouble, and when he’s at his best he can run with anyone. I will be making a healthy win/place wager on Lightning Spear and he’ll be a key horse in all of my exotics. If he wins, I will walk away from the weekend with a significant profit.