by Jeremy Plonk
November 4, 2019
The public didn’t miss by much at the 2019 Breeders’ Cup. While the pick six didn’t go quite as scripted on Saturday as it did a year prior – when first or second public wagering choices won each race – it was not far off. And overall favorites on Saturday performed awfully well given the competition level, where few toss-outs appear in any field.
Saturday’s chalk went 9: 2-5-1 with only 7-2 shot Pure Sensation in the Turf Sprint missing the money (and he had an extremely troubled trip when fifth, beaten just over 3 lengths). Shockingly, the only other favorite to finish outside the exacta was 4-5 hammer Sistercharlie in the Filly & Mare Turf. She wound up third and almost universally was respected as the favorite with the least questions to answer in the entire Breeders’ Cup.
Favored Covfefe delivered at 3-2 in the Filly & Mare Sprint to open Saturday’s action. And Bricks and Mortar likely sealed a Horse of the Year campaign in the Turf as the even-money chalk. Favored runners-up included Omaha Beach (1-1) in the Dirt Mile, Shancelot (3-2) in the Sprint, Got Stormy (3-1) in the Mile, Midnight Bisou (1-1) in the Distaff and McKinzie (5-2) in the Classic.
With the favorite running second five times on Saturday, you’d hope those were chances to find a price. But those five were beaten by two public second choices, two third choices and a fourth choice. All five were single digits, topped by 9-1 Spun to Run as fourth choice in the Dirt Mile.
The two price shots on Saturday came in the races where the favorites delivered the worst performances. The $31.60 return on Belvoir Bay in the Turf Sprint came in the event where Pure Sensation missed the superfecta altogether. Iridessa paid $28.40 in the wake of Sistercharlie’s lackluster, one-paced F&M Turf performance while not threatening in third. Outside of catching a big win mutuel on that pair, in order to take down the exotics you had to stand pretty hard against the favorites. But even without Sistercharlie in the F&M Turf, the $2 exacta paid just $130 to Vasilika. If you caught the pair of Peter Miller trainees (both virtually 15-1) from posts 12-11 in the Turf Sprint, the $2 exacta was worth $267.40.
Yes, the public had this Breeders’ Cup pretty well dialed in for the second straight year. It may not feel that way as you’re swimming through difficult race after difficult race. I cast my line and came back without a bite on a seemingly endless pattern over the weekend, so I know how you feel.
The public also didn’t misread much on Saturday. Come Dancing underperformed at 2-1 in the F&M Sprint, but that was hardly a bettors’ underlay; Old Persian beat just one runner in the Turf as the 7-2 second choice, joining a long list of second-off-the-plane runners who just regress for some reason; and Code of Honor didn’t factor at all when seventh in the Classic as the 7-2 second choice. And throughout Saturday's 9 championship races, only 2 horses 20-1 or more lit the trifecta, the closer Dawn the Destroyer in the F&M Sprint who was very usable underneath, and Richard Mandella's 51-1 Turf runner-up United.