How to Pick a Horse to Back at the Breeders’ Cup

Horses break from the starting gate at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. (Eclipse Sportswire)

This year’s Breeders’ Cup takes place on Nov. 6 and 7. Starting two months ahead gives us a bit more time to pick some winning horses, but just what do you need to look for when making your selections?

You need to take time to do some research if wanting to source Breeders’ Cup winners. The Breeders’ Cup is two days of highly competitive horse racing with millions of dollars up for grabs. One of the first tasks you have to do is take a long look at the formbook, as this contains plenty of useful information that will help you make winning selections.

It’s not just a case of looking for horses that have been consistently winning races. Yes, those horses may have compiled some wins, but just who have they beaten? It may be the case that their wins have come in lower class races. They can compete on a certain level with ease, but if they move up in class (a key word in racing), will they continue to win or struggle when competing against tougher horses?

Guarana (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Breeders’ Cup isn’t always held at the same racetrack. Because of this, you need to take a look at the formbook to see which horses have won on this year’s track, which is Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Horses that have experience at Keeneland, having won there in the past and over the distance that they will be racing at this year, will be helpful. For example, Guarana is strongly fancied in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and she won at Keeneland in July, the second win for Gurana on this track.

Horse racing is held over a variety of distances. Sometimes, it takes a while for a trainer to work out which distance fits a horse best. If you can look at the formbook and see that a potential selection has good form at say, running over a mile, then that past history indicates that a good performance over that distance is likely at the Breeders’ Cup. Take the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, for example. Right now, the favorite is Vekoma, and Vekoma has never lost when running at the one-mile distance, so he has a good chance this year. If you want to check the latest odds on the Breeders’ Cup races, then a trip to one of the best horse racing betting sites will give you all the answers you need.

Your selection may be a horse that has been running over a mile and finishing strongly. Look at the formbook to see the description of how a horse has run in previous races; all the information is there. If that horse was upped in distance by another furlong and raced past one mile, it might well run well again in the Dirt Mile. Then there are horses that race longer and fade in the final furlong. Dropping them down in distance for the Dirt Mile could well result in a win. Look at how your potential selection has been bred; the abilities of their sire and dam will indicate how they may perform over certain distances.

Earlier, this article mentioned the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Not every race at this event is run on turf. It is important to look at whether a horse has run on dirt before. Some European contenders will be used to running on turf and might struggle on dirt. Look at their past record to see if they have run on dirt in the past.

Another essential factor to consider is the time a horse has been off the track. Picking a horse that hasn’t run for a while is always a gamble. Often, they need a race when the come back to become fitter for the future. Then there are the horses that run best when fresh, so a long time off the track won’t be a problem. If a horse has frequently been running, that might be a worry. It could be a case of running one race too many, and that has happened plenty of times in the past. Age is also important – don’t choose a horse that is too old and gradually losing its form.

There are still some key races to take place before the Breeders’ Cup, so keep an eye on those to see how the contenders fare. How will top horses coming out of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby train on in the coming months? Horses such as Gamine, Tiz the Law, and Authentic are on the road to the Breeders’ Cup, so continued good performances will boost their chances of success.

As you can see, there is a lot to look at when assessing who may be successful at the Breeders’ Cup. All of this information is helpful, though, and will hopefully provide you with some good winners in November.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!