Not even two months remain until the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, which, last time anyone checked, is in the U.S. Also the last time anyone checked, there is no place in the U.S. to make a legal futures bet on the championships.
Needed to get action on the Chapecoense-Fluminense soccer match from Brazil on Tuesday? No problem. Looking to wager this weekend on the Australian football final four? That’s easy. Maybe the Kiwoom Heroes and Doosan Bears in Korean baseball were worth a plunge this week? No sweat.
But just try to get legal action on Essential Quality to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Scan the racebooks and betting apps across this land of allegedly limitless sports betting. It is easier to put $2 on the crickets substituting their noise than it is to find any signs of churn on domestic racing futures.
Las Vegas and Atlantic City and all the new dots sprouting upward from the gambling map come with alibis. They do not have enough interest in racing to warrant the money it would take to hire qualified oddsmakers to consider their exposure and monitor the hundreds of thoroughbreds around the world to produce the odds for the 14 races the Breeders’ Cup built. Or interest dried up in part because the racebooks would not hire qualified oddsmakers to … blah, blah, blah.
America’s loss is an international gain. One unregulated global website based in Costa Rica has been building handle most of the summer on the Breeders’ Cup. Now at least a dozen bookmakers in England have put up their own numbers for the nine championships Nov. 6 that are not limited to 2-year-olds. The five juvenile races Nov. 5 will no doubt be added in the coming weeks.
With 58 days left until the Breeders’ Cup, some foreign trends are worth at least a domestic conversation, if not a bet.
— Where likely 3-year-old champion Essential Quality is shortest-priced at 4-1 in the North American global market to beat older horses and win the $6 million Classic, the British monitor Oddschecker reports his 5-year-old stablemate, Knicks Go, is a best-priced 4-1 favorite in Europe. Last weekend’s Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, Max Player, is anywhere from 7-1 to 10-1.
— Mishriff is the consensus favorite to win the $4 million Turf, but that makes the bold assumption that owner Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia will actually order the four-time Group 1 winner shipped to California. In one breath, co-trainer John Gosden talks about the exciting possibility of making the trip. In another he is critical of Del Mar’s short homestretch, which he says would not fit Mishriff’s style. That is a lot to consider for the bettor taking 4-1 with a bet that could be a loser if the 4-year-old colt is not airborne over the Atlantic.
— Snowfall is not only the widely recognized favorite to win Europe’s best race, next month’s $5.9 million Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but the Coolmore filly is also + 225 in the North American global futures to earn the trophy in the Filly and Mare Turf. That is in contrast to the thinking in Europe, where her stablemate and two-time U.S. Grade 1 winner, Santa Barbara, is at the top of the table at 3-1.
— There is agreement ahead of the races for female dirt horses. The top handicap mare in the country, Letruska, is best-priced at 3-1 to win the Distaff. Gamine, who has never looked better in her division, is no better than even money to finish first in the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Horseplayers who choose not to wade into international waters to place bets in these pools will nonetheless be informed by the numbers, if only to assess value if and when Breeders’ Cup markets are ever opened in America. Based on recent years, the Las Vegas casinos Circa, the Westgate, William Hill and perhaps Stations may post odds in the last few days before the Nov. 5-6 meet. More promising is the possibility the New Jersey government will get off its regulatory can and let BetMakers take Breeders’ Cup wagers when its fixed-odds menu gets the long-awaited green light.
It is safe to think American oddsmakers eventually will do a better job keeping themselves up to date on the comings and goings of horses that will actually be in the races at Del Mar. The international books already have had some embarrassing mistakes.
The global market showed Owendale at odds of 12-1 to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic for weeks after he died. The same offshore book still has Gufo listed in the Filly and Mare Turf, even though he is not a she. Even after Whitmore got hurt and was retired last week, he still shows up at no fewer than five books in North America and Europe as a betting choice in the Sprint.
Getting caught unaware of breaking news in thoroughbred racing is admittedly too easy. It happens to everyone from oddsmakers to journalists. For horseplayers, though, the impact of that slippery slope is potentially more treacherous.
So do go gentle into that good fight to find value betting the Breeders’ Cup. And be patient. While it is easy to poke fun at international shops that take bets on dead horses, at least handicappers who are alert and happy to assume the risks have that choice. For American horseplayers, the calendar may say 2021. But in reality it is still the movable-type era.
In addition to this weekly report, Ron Flatter’s racing column is available every Friday at VSiN.com. The Ron Flatter Racing Pod is also available every Friday morning at VSiN.com/podcasts. This week’s episode comes from the turf meet at historic Kentucky Downs near the Tennessee border. Longtime racing writer and publicist Jennie Rees talks about this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup qualifiers there. From the National Horseplayers Championship, Karl Broberg discusses his passions of horse training and betting. Johnny Avello of DraftKings Sportsbook handicaps weekend races. The Ron Flatter Racing Pod is available for free subscription at iHeart, Apple, Google, Spotify and Stitcher. It is sponsored by 1/ST BET.