An Early Look at Potential Breeders’ Cup Longshots

Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

All of the Breeders’ Cup prep races are now done. It’s almost a crime to call these rich graded stakes a prep race for anything. On their merit alone they are all worth winning.

But it’s no different than in the spring with rich traditional stakes leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Trainers and owners know the end game is to win the Derby but if you can win the prestigious steppingstone events, all the better.

The pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup are announced in a few days. I have been watching these preps and taking notes.

At this time I am ready to share my thoughts on a few horses who I don’t think will be favored in the stakes they are pointing for. However, I believe will have a big shot at upsetting the apple cart.

My first horse is Elate who is likely to run in the Classic. She is a 5-year-old mare taking on males. She has lost her last two starts. So why do I like her?

Elate is 3-for-3 at the Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles. Her speed figures are competitive with the logical contenders. She is 16-for-18 in-the-money lifetime. At best she will be the third choice and that will be a juicy price for me.

Next is Improbable in the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile. I suspect on the tote board he will be behind the likes of Catalina Cruiser, Mitole, and Omaha Beach should they all enter.

Improbable will be a price also because he lost badly in the Pennsylvania Derby last out. Since I am a forgiving handicapper I look at his glass as half full.

This will be his third start off a three-month layoff so his form cycle should be perfect. Improbable is 2-for-2 at a mile distance. And there should be plenty of early pace to close into.

My last horse is Dawn the Destroyer in the Filly and Mare Sprint. She figures to be one of the highest prices in the field.

So why do I give her a shot? There is a saying that speed kills. In the two Sprint races, there is always a possibility that multiple speed horses will duel for the early lead. A hot pace will set it up for deep closers to sweep past.

Dawn the Destroyer will be far behind early and be asked to run the final quarter mile. I know she will run on late. The key will be if the early pacesetters all stop in front of her and she flies on by.

For us, the Breeders’ Cup is not just about picking winners. It’s about building tickets giving you a chance of making a betting score. This is the best time of year to really go for it.

Richard Eng is the author of “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies,” an introductory book for newcomers to the sport of horse racing.  For two decades, he was the turf editor and handicapper for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He still handicaps the Southern California tracks and his picks are for sale at You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @richeng4propick and on

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