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Time to Start Handicapping the Breeders' Cup

by Johnny D

October 20, 2017

Now is the time for all good men (and women) to prepare for Breeders’ Cup. I hear you, BC Friday is two weeks away. What’s the rush? Well, you go right ahead and procrastinate. Wait until the night before to crack open Friday BC past performances. Then spend the day playing the races. And then get to work on nine head-banging Saturday BC heats. Go ahead. I dare ya!

If you can pull that off and make money playing the races, I salute you. I’m more of a ‘Six P’s’ kind of guy: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Have to handicap beforehand and then tighten the screws just before the races. Increases confidence to provide my feeble noggin’ a head start (no pun intended). When horses reach the paddock I’m ready to make last minute observations and calculations based on factors like: odds, post parade appearances or track biases.

Preparation’s not for everyone. Some can quickly scan months-old past performance lines and instantly recall races in 4K Ultra HD video. That’s not me. I need to stew a bit, ponder assorted scenarios, graffiti the page with unintelligible notes before I’m ready to commit.

Consequently, my BC handicapping begins soon after Labor Day, when I create a spreadsheet for each division listing possible contenders. Then, in the next two months, I revise information by adding and deleting runners, updating comments to include prep race observations, quotes from jockeys, trainers, respected handicappers and media members, etc. By the time pre-entries are produced I’ve already got ideas about which horses I’m interested in betting.

Also, extensive pre-race analysis ultimately enhances my enjoyment of the two-day extravaganza. Make no mistake, cashing tickets is nice but, as Trevor Denman once exclaimed, “Zenyatta…What a performance! One we’ll never forget!”

The Internet provides horseplayers valuable access to a wide assortment of handicapping information. Below are some resources yours truly finds most helpful in formulating Breeders’ Cup opinions.

A rich resource for Breeders’ Cup information is XBTV.com. There you will find workouts, analysis, rankings, interviews and a whole lot more. Beginning Friday, Oct. 20, XBTV Control kicks off live from Santa Anita daily at 8 am ET. The broadcast will feature Zoe Cadman, Millie Ball & Richard Migliore with analysis of workouts and training at Santa Anita and Belmont. The same day, XBTV’s outstanding Breeders’ Cup Xpress will shift from weekly to daily. Laffit Pincay, Jeff Siegel, Millie Ball, Richard Migliore, Zoe Cadman and Aaron Vercruysse cover the scene. Finally, Monday, Oct. 23, Del Mar opens for training and Millie Ball will report morning madness live from ‘Where the Turf Meets the Surf.’

At the Races with Steve Byk is mandatory daily listening. Byk’s guests include owners, trainers, jockeys, handicappers and other insiders as he broadcasts live from Del Mar during BC week. Connections of BC entrants unfailingly ‘like their chances,’ but a sharp-eared Byk listener can pluck out a mutuel gem or two along the way. At the Races with Steve Byk can be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Sirius Premier 219; XM 206; Sirius Online 964; SXM On Demand). It’s also available on SteveByk.com live 9 am – 12 pm ET weekdays and as a podcast.

DRF.com is the place for the most in-depth reporting on BC happenings. Daily Racing Form reporters and handicappers compile BC divisional rundowns that includes last 3 Beyer figures, estimated odds, comments and more. Plus, alert readers can successfully pan for gold in each divisional report.

Thoro-Graph sheets are an outstanding way to evaluate performance lines for each Breeders’ Cup runner. Accurate speed figures represent an assessment of each race and are plotted on a calendar-style graph so horseplayers readily can identify a horse’s form cycle and evaluate whether a recent performance might have been too strenuous or a hint of bigger things to come. Anyone interested in improving their handicapping game should visit Thorograph.com and access the plethora of available information.

Finally, Xpressbet’s Free Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide will be available Friday, Oct. 27 and will include expert picks, analysis and suggested wagering strategies. Plus, the guide contains oodles of stats and trends you won’t find anywhere else.

Now is the time to prepare for Breeders’ Cup. That is unless you prefer to procrastinate. Go ahead. I dare ya!

Race On!