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Tuley's Takes on 2018 Breeders' Cup

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

November 1, 2018 04:59 PM

LAS VEGAS – Breeders’ Cup Weekend is here. My favorite betting day(s) of the year.

OK, I might say the same thing on Super Bowl Weekend, March Madness, MLB opening day, Kentucky Derby Day (especially when there’s also a big fight), NFL opening day, etc. But I really mean it.

Screen_Shot_2018-11-01_at_3.12.55_PMAll year long when focusing more of our attention on sports betting, we talk all the time about looking for value and making educated wagers. Well, that’s never illustrated better than on Breeders’ Cup Weekend when the best horses in the world get together for two days of championship racing. Even with top-quality horses filling every field, the public still tends to overbet the favorites and let great horses go off at prices they never have the rest of the year. And unlike your regular run-of-the-mill cards held all year long, you don’t have to worry that you’re betting on a glue-factory candidate with three legs. Also, if you are betting chalk, you don’t have to worry that the connections are really just prepping their horse for an upcoming race – this is that upcoming race!

I’ve had a lot of success over the years with my top picks in Daily Racing Form, on Vegas radio stations over the years, on my ViewFromVegas.com website and at ESPN Insider. The accompanying chart is from 199 BC races since 199 in which I’ve shown a return on investment (ROI) of $3.12 for every $2 wagered ($424 in wagers with payoffs totaling $662.20).

Last year, I snapped a two-year BC losing streak with two $30 winners as my top selections. But even when my longshots don’t come in, every time another longshot wins a race it validates that I’m betting these races the right way because that’s where the value is.

Having said all that, I understand my way of betting isn’t for everyone, so I’m going to break down each BC race starting with the top contenders in each race. I’ll give my thoughts on who the best horse is among those top contenders. But while I’m doing that to help chalk-eating players at least make good value bets, I have an ulterior motive as I’m trying to figure out who I’m going to include with my longshots in vertical wagers (exactas, trifectas, superfectas in that given race) or horizontal wagers (multi-race bets like doubles, pick 3s, pick 4s, pick 6s). So, this betting guide, is meant to give some input into what horses you’re including (or throwing out) in building your own tickets. Personally, I’m going to mostly bet my top picks to win (also to place if they go off at least 10-1) and box my 1-2-3-Longshot picks in exacta and trifecta boxes. As for my longshot pick, I’ll be more likely to also bet those to win (especially if they go off higher than the morning-line odds stated here) rather than my lower-priced No. 2 or No. 3 picks, and also looking to include a horse to increase those exotic payoffs. There’s been several years where I didn’t have a single winner on top but was able to “connect-the-dots” and save my day(s) by hitting an exotic or two.

So, let’s get started with Friday’s five-race BC card, which are races 5 through 9 at Churchill:

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BC Juvenile Turf Sprint (Churchill Race #5)

Estimated post time: 3:21 p.m. ET/12:21 p.m. PT

Top contenders: When looking at races on the turf, we usually start with the European invaders. The top Euros are Soldier’s Call (9-2) and Sergei Prokofiev (6-1) along with the versatile U.S. hopeful Strike Silver (4-1 morning-line favorite, who has won wire-to-wire and also rallying from worst-to-first).

My value pick and other horses to include:

#4 Stillwater Cove (20-1): This Wesley Ward-trainee is American-based but did run a race in England back in June, but it’s her Saratoga race in August that has me thinking she can run with the boys and come from off the pace for the upset here. She lost her last race at Woodbine, but note that was at a mile and she had come from behind to actually lead in midstretch (this shorter distance should suite her better).

#2 Soldier’s Call (9-2): Strike Silver is also very good as stated above (and I wouldn’t blame anyone for including him in their exotics), but Soldier’s Call is my choice for the best among the top contenders. He won a Group 3 and a Group 2 race and then was third by a neck in a Group 1 at Longchamp in France.

#6 Sergei Prokofiev (6-1): Comes in off a nice Group 3 win and gets first-time Lasix as well as Ryan Moore, who was his jockey in his earlier victories.

Longshot: #5 Bulletin (10-1): Romped in career debut by seven lengths. Granted, that was a minor stakes and he’s taking a big step up in class here, but that also means no one has any idea what his upside could be.

 

BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (Churchill Race #6)

Estimated post time: 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Another turf race with another American favorite, Newspaperofrecord (2-1), but maybe that’s not surprising in this case as Euros are only 2-for-10 in this race’s history. Still, the top invaders are Just Wonderful (6-1), Lily’s Candle (8-1) and The Mackem Bullet (15-1).

My value pick and other horses to include:

#3 Lily’s Candle (8-1): I usually look for longer prices in the BC, but I believe the 8-1 price on Lily’s Candle is the best overlay on the board. She’s won three of her last four, including a Group 1 at Longchamp at 27-1 at this distance, but her fastest running time was actually in her fourth-place finish prior race when she lost by just a length. If Churchill’s turf course is still soft (or yielding) from the rains earlier in the week, that only enhances her chances.

#4 Just Wonderful (6-1): Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s best chance to end his 0-for-11 streak in this race (yes, he’s had multiple entries in some years). Just Wonderful certainly fits off of her Group wins in England and Ireland.

#6 Newspaperofrecord (2-1): Can’t completely toss the favorite here as she’s been dominant in her two career races (both on yielding courses, which could benefit here as well).

Longshot: #12 Summering (15-1): She won her first two races and then lost last time out as the favorite. That actually works in our favor as I highly doubt she would be double-digit odds here if she were 3-for-3. Most handicappers probably expect her to be sitting just off the pace, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her connections send her to the front from the outside and try to steal this wire-to-wire.

 

BC Juvenile Fillies (Churchill Race #7)

Estimated post time: 4:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Last year, trainer Simon Callaghan had the favorite in Moonshine Memories and she finished seventh. This year, he has the favorite again in Bellafina (2-1). Her top challengers are Jaywalk (7-2), Serengeti Empress (7-2) and Restless Rider (9-2)

My value pick and other horses to include:

#8 Sippican Harbor (12-1): I really like this filly who continues to fly below the radar. She broke her maiden by 17 lengths and then won her stakes debut in the Spinaway at 16-1. She’s still double-digit odds here and a huge threat in my eyes as we expect the pacesetters to run each other into the ground and set it up for a closer.

#4 Restless Rider (9-2): I like Restless Rider best among the top contenders with her three wins and a second in four career races. She should be sitting just behind the front-runners and I see her as the most likely winner.

#10 Bellafina (2-1): We’re certainly trying to beat the morning-line favorite (and hopefully the outside post helps with that), but she’s too good to not include in the exotics.

Longshot: #5 Cassies Dreamer (30-1): She should be keeping Sippican Harbor company in the back of the field, but she also does her best running late. It’s obviously my best-case scenario if the Nos. 5 and 8 are closing in tandem down the stretch.

 

BC Juvenile Turf (Churchill #8)

Estimated post time: 5:22 p.m. ET/2:22 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Foreign horses have dominated this race, winning seven of the last 11, including Aidan O’Brien winning four as well as two of the last three. Anthony Van Dyck (4-1) leads the invaders but draws the No. 14 post. The next two contender, both at 5-1 are U.S.-based Forty Under and Current.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#5 Line of Duty (10-1): I feel this Euro invader is being overlooked and thus a value play at 10-1. He won his last two races (showing versatility by winning in England and France) and has never been worse than second in four career starts.

#14 Anthony Van Dyck (4-1): O’Brien’s only entry in this race this year is obviously a huge threat and I can’t leave him out of my exotics.

#3 Much Better (10-1): We don’t see trainer Bob Baffert often in BC turf races, but this 2-year-old ridgling (look it up if you don’t know what that means) has the typical Baffert speed and could steal this on the lead.

Longshot: #7 Somelikeithotbrown (12-1): Indulge me for one race with a hunch play (though this colt has the look of a horse that could spring an upset as he’s run three straight strong races and just needs a little improvement to compete with these rivals); but I just love the name. Somelikeithotbrown is from dam Marilyn Monroan (a great name in itself) and sire Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby winner). The name is a clever use of my favorite MM movie and my favorite open-faced sandwich in the world. I tried to talk VSiN contributor “Dink” (see the BC Consensus Box on the website) into trying the Kentucky Hot Brown on his visit to Louisville but he said he didn’t want to see his cardiologist. Anyway, I’ll take a flier on Somelikeithotbrown at 10-1 or higher.

BC Juvenile (Churchill Race #9)

Estimated post time: 6:05 p.m. ET/3:05 p.m. PT

Top contenders: The Friday nightcap features the 2-year-old colts and some (but not all) of the top contenders for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Game Winner (8-5) is Bob Baffert’s top candidate as he’s 3-for-3 including winning the Grade 1 American Pharoah, named after Baffert’s first Triple Crown winner. Complexity (5-2) and Code of Honor (5-1) are other early-developing 2-year-olds.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#7 Mind Control (20-1): It’s hard to explain why the Grade 1 Hopeful winner is 20-1 expect that he missed his last start with a fever – but I’ll take the higher odds. He’s two-for-three including that Hopeful triumph and has a great shot to take this wire-to-wire; the only problem might be another speedster, Complexity, breaking from the #6 gate and they might duel each other into the ground, but I’ll take my chances to 20-1 or anything close to that.

#9 Game Winner (8-5): It’s just foolish (though potentially lucrative) to leave Baffert out of any stakes race on the dirt and this young colt has doesn’t anything wrong yet.

#11 Code of Honor (5-1): This Shug McGaughey trainee went wire-to-wire to break his maiden and then closed to finish second in stakes debut. Should be a threat despite how the races shapes up from a pace perspective.

Longshot: #1 Dueling (20-1): Only a maiden win to his credit, but he was so highly thought of earlier in his career that he was favored over Game Winner two races back at Del Mar. He won his next race so maybe he can handle the jump up in class, especially as he’s been a consistent closer and he could the beneficiary of a torrid speed duel.

 

SATURDAY’S BC RACES

BC Filly & Mare Sprint (Churchill Race #3)

Estimated post time: noon ET/9 a.m. PT

Top contenders: Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith rides Bob Baffert’s 8-5 favorite Marley’s Freedom in this race but draws post No. 13. Speedy Selcourt (4-1) is the only other contender at single digits on the morning line.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#2 Miss Sunset (15-1): I mentioned this on the Ron Flatter Racing Podcast: the Brisnet PPs list “Failed as favorite in last race” in its negative notes, but I see it as a positive, especially in regard to us getting better odds because of it. Miss Sunset has the early speed to steal this, but a lot of people will be turned off by that fourth-place finish last time out (especially if they bet her as the chalk). However, I see her as a big overlay at 15-1.

#13 Marley’s Freedom (8-5): With four straight wins, Marley’s Freedom is certainly worthy of favoritism and will benefit from my top choice setting a fast early pace to set up her late kick; I’m just banking on Miss Sunset building a bigger lead than she did the last time they met and being able to hold on. Either way, think the 2-13 is great for an exacta box and keying in tris and supers.

#5 Golden Mischief (10-1): This filly comes in off a three-race win streak and could also benefit from a fast pace.

Longshot: #14 Kirby’s Penny (30-1): This one certainly needs to show improvement from back-to-back, third-place finishes, but now way should a mare this good be 30-1 with John Velazquez in the irons.

 

BC Turf Sprint (Churchill Race #4)

Estimated post time: 12:38 p.m. ET/9:38 a.m. PT

Top contenders: This is a turf race where the Europeans might not actually dominate (now watch them complete the exacta at boxcar odds!) as the favorite is Stormy Liberal (4-1), who won this race last year at Del Mar and the other top contenders are Americans in Disco Partner (7-2), World of Trouble (6-1) and Conquest Tsunami (6-1).

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#13 Will Call (20-1): Everyone looks for speed horses in sprint races, but I love a closer (especially when we’re also getting fair odds) and this one fits at 20-1 as he closed for a strong second in his last race but also closed for two wins earlier this spring (and, shhhhh, both those were at Churchill, so we have a nice horse-for-the-course).

#9 Stormy Liberal (4-1): I have a soft spot for defending BC champs as they’ve obviously shown the ability to win the race, but also because their connections have presumably built their whole year around trying to peak at BC time again. Stormy Liberal also comes in on a three-race winning streak so we have to use him in our exotics. a

#5 Disco Partner (9-2): I picked Disco Partner third in last year’s BC Turf Sprint – and he finished third. He’s had four other “show” finishes so he’s a great candidate to use in our exotics as well.

Longshot: #8 Chanteline (15-1): I almost made this my top value pick as she’s won her last two races and has been consistently been right in the mix of her races all year long. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing her battling Will Call in deep stretch.

 

BC Dirt Mile (Churchill Race #5)

Estimated post time: 1:16 p.m. ET/10:16 am. PT

Top contenders: Catalina Cruise (8-5) drew the outside No. 10 post, but I see him as the least vulnerable favorite on the card. There’re really no speedsters to challenge him on the lead, so I’m not going crazy in this race.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#8 Bravazo (20-1): Among the long shots, I give Bravazo the best chance to pull the upset. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, he’s ran well in some of the biggest races of the year (Preakness, Haskell, Travers) and Lukas should have him ready for his best effort here.

#10 Catalina Cruiser (8-5): He’s four-for-four and hard to knock him at all, though I found it odd that this is the Dirt Mile and yet the favorite has never run this exact distance. But that would be silly to not include him based on that, so we’ll try to work around him in the exotics.

#7 Firenze Fire (6-1): This colt won at six furlongs in his last, but he is three-for-four at a mile, so this is his best distance and most likely upsetter of Catalina Cruiser.

Longshot: #4 Seven Trumpets (15-1): I almost left this spot vacant, but Seven Trumpets at least is three-for-three at Churchill, so we could have a horse-for-the-course and he’s never been worse than third at a mile.

 

BC Filly & Mare Turf (Churchill Race #6)

Estimated post time: 2:04 p.m. ET/11:04 a.m. PT

Top contenders: I’m calling this the Chad Brown Invitational as he trains five of the entrants, including 3-1 morning-line favorite Sistercharlie. But she’ll be challenged by European invaders Wild Illusion (7-2) and Magic Wand (5-1) as well as another Brown-trainee, Fourstar Crook (5-1).

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#14 Eziyra (15-1): She isn’t one of the highly regarded Euros, but I feel she’s being overlooked thanks to drawing the No. 14 post. I can live with that as she’s four-for-five, adds Lasix and gets the services of jockey Frankie Dettori.

#3 Wild Illusion (7-2): This is the most highly touted Euro with two straight Group 1 wins, so she certainly fits here and looms as the most likely winner (but too short of odds for me to bet to win).

#6 Sistercharlie (3-1): As mentioned, this is Brown’s best in this race as she’s three-for-four this year and won her last two in the Group 1 Diana at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Beverly D at Arlington.

Longshot: #2 Thais (20-1): This is another trainee, and it reminds me that sometimes a trainer doesn’t even know which one of his horses is best in his own barn and oftentimes the “hidden entry” (when a trainer has multiple runners in a race that are uncoupled in the wagering) is the best value play. Thais nearly stole the Beverly D by being able to set soft early fractions. She’s worth a flier to pull that off here.

 

BC Sprint (Churchill Race #7)

Estimated post time: 2:46 p.m. ET/11:46 a.m. PT

Top contenders: Roy H (5-2) is the defending champ after winning this race at Del Mar last year, but Imperial Hint (9-5) is actually the morning-line favorite coming in with three straight graded stakes victories. This is one of the most competitively prices races in the BC this year with Whitmore, Promises Fulfilled and Limousine Liberal all at 6-1.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#2 Promises Fulfilled (6-1): I’m admittedly a little biased as I had Promises Fulfilled at 18-1 when filling in Ron Flatter’s weekly horse racing column at VSiN back in early March. However, he comes into this off of three straight wins and I give him a great shot (certainly better than 6-1) to take this wire-to-wire.

#9 Roy H (5-2): Again, obviously the defending champion fits here and shouldn’t be excluded from the exotics.

#8 Imperial Hint (9-5): We had the exacta in last year’s Sprint with Roy H and Imperial Hint and hope to hit it again but obviously with Promises Fulfilled boosting the price or with our next horse . . .

Longshot: #7 Distinctive B (12-1): If Promises Fulfilled isn’t able to wire the field, it might be because he has to withstand an early challenge from Distinctive B. The hope is that those two run off and never look back to pay a healthy exacta, or else one of them stays on and holds off the two favorites.

 

BC Mile (Churchill Race #8)

Estimated post time: 3:36 p.m. ET/12:36 p.m. PT

Top contenders: We have a mix of U.S. and Euro horses here with Polydream (lukewarm 5-1 favorite), Oscar Performance (6-1), Analyze It (6-1), Catapult (6-1), Expert Eye (8-1), Gustav Klimt (10-1) and I Can Fly (10-1). I’m convinced they could run this race 10 times and we’d have 10 different winners.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#14 Mustashry (15-1): This gelding hasn’t raced in the same company that many of the top horse in this have, but he knows how to find the winner’s circle as he’s three-for-four this year and seven-for-15 lifetime. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he’s second-string in his own barn to Expert Eye, but again we’ll take the added value in the hidden entry.

#3 Expert Eye (8-1): This is a wide-open race, but why not a Stoute exacta? Expert Eye gets Frankie Dettori back in the saddle; the last time they teamed up they won a Group 3 race.

#1 One Master (12-1): This is another of the Europeans that have been overlooked; in fact, he was overlooked so much in last race that he won the Qatar Prix de la Foret at Longchamp at 47-1. Who’s to say he can’t pull another upset?

Longshot: #15 Divisidero (30-1): There’s so many horses with a chance in this wide-open race and there’s several I could list, but this one might be the best value of all simply because it was on the also-eligible list and drew in with the scratch of #9 Hunt. That’s due to the fact a lot of people might not even look at him on assumption he wouldn’t be in the field. His resume isn’t as strong as others in here, but he did win the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap and is three-for-four at Churchill in his career.

 

BC Distaff (Churchill Race #9)

Estimated post time: 4:16 p.m. ET/1:16 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Monomoy Girl (2-1), with six straight victories this year (though she was DQ’s and placed second in the Grade 1 Cotillion last time out), and Abel Tasman (7-2) are the worthy top two choices, with Blue Prize and Midnight Bisou both at 6-1.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#1 Champagne Problems (12-1): Remember when Calvin Borel was the top Triple Crown jockey and the King of Churchill? Well, he’s got a horse here that could bring him back to the winner’s circle at Churchill (though this wouldn’t land him on the talk show circuit like it did back then). Champagne Problems has the rail (remember that Borel was nicknamed “Bo-rail” for riding the rail), has been a consistent deep closer this year with Borel and should get a hot pace to run at.

#2 Monomoy Girl (2-1): Except for getting DQ’d, she’s done nothing wrong this year and needs to be included in our exotic wagers.

#10 Blue Prize (6-1): If I love Champagne Problems, I have to love Blue Prize as well as she outclosed Champagne Problems in their last two starts. I wouldn’t mind that exacta for the third race in a row!

Longshot: #8 Vale Dori (12-1): Bob Baffert at 12-1? Yep. Vale Dori was having a rather lackluster year before upsetting the Grade 1 Zenyatta at 11-1 last time out. Her inconsistency is a concern, but if she’s back to her 2017 form, she fits with this field.

 

BC Turf (Churchill Race #10)

Estimated post time: 4:56 p.m. ET/1:56 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Enable (1-1) is the shortest morning-line favorite and with good reason as she’s riding an eight-race winning streak (half of them in open company against males). Other Euro invaders are Waldgeist (9-2), Robert Bruce (10-1), Magical (10-1) and defending champion Talismanic (12-1).

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#1 Talismanic (12-1): I have a soft spot for Talismanic as he gave me my second $30 winner on last year’s BC card. I strove to be objective in handicapping this year’s race, especially as one of the reasons I like him last year was he was getting a firm course at Del Mar. However, he has two wins this year, including on a soft course at Deauville in France. In addition, as stated above, I love that we can be pretty sure that a repeat attempt has been the goal all along and trainer Andre Fabre should have him ready for this top performance again on Saturday.

#2 Enable (1-1): The heavy favorite is just too good not to include as it’s hard to find a more consistent horse on the planet.

#3 Channel Maker (12-1): This is the best American hope to hit the board (well, except for Robert Bruce, but more on him in a 7 seconds of reading time). He’s won two of his last three races and should be forwardly placed; it’ll just be a matter if he’s good enough to hold off the cavalry charge turning for home.

Longshot: #4 Robert Bruce (10-1): He’s a Chilean-bred son of an Irish sire and Argentine dam and won his first six career races in Chile, but he’s run his last four races here in the states (with two wins, including the Grade 1 Arlington Million), so I suppose he can claim American citizenship. On either continent, he’s a winner and has a shot for the upset here.

 

BC Classic (Churchill Race #11)

Estimated post time: 5:44 p.m. ET/2:44 p.m. PT

Top contenders: Accelerate (5-2) is one of the stars of this year’s Breeders’ Cup as the morning-line favorite in the Classic. He’s earned that with three straight Grade 1 victories. Bob Baffert’s West Coast (5-1) is the second choice, followed by McKinzie (6-1), Mind Your Biscuits (6-1) and Catholic Boy (8-1), so it’s a pretty strong and balanced Classic field.

My value pick on top and other horses to include:

#2 Roaring Lion (20-1): Are we really going to get 20-1 on Roaring Line? If so, it’s the value price of the weekend as he comes in with four straight wins over the pond, though all have been on turf. He hasn’t raced on dirt, but he is one-for-one on an all-weather track, so I’m confident he’ll be fine no matter what the surface.

#7 West Coast (5-1): He’s finished second in three straight races (including the Dubai World Cup and second to Accelerate in the Grade 1 Awesome Again), so it makes sense to place him second here as well.

#14 Accelerate (5-2): He’s just too good to think he’ll run out of the money, however, note that he hasn’t race outside Southern California in a very long time.

Longshot: #8 Pavel (20-1): This was my value play last year in the Classic and he finished a well-beaten 10th. There is cause for hope as he won the Grade 1 Stephen F. Foster over this track back in June and was second (albeit 12 lengths back) to Accelerate in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. If he pulls the upset, I’ll be bummed that I didn’t put him on top, but I think the big payoff will help me get over it.

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