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A 'Cup of Fog

by Johnny D

October 11, 2018

Right now. Today. At this very moment. I’m excited about Breeders’ Cup. I can’t wait until the first Friday and Saturday in November. It’s going to be fun wagering on full fields of quality horses through huge mutuel pools. Invariably, a few BC payoffs will require more digits than an auto sticker price. I plan to cash at least one of those. As the kids say, it’s gonna be epic!

However. Right now. Today. At this very moment. With Breeders’ Cup Friday and Saturday three weeks away. I have no clue about which races or horses I’m wagering on. I know that under the new format I’ll be playing 2-year-olds on ‘Freaky Friday.’ That’s when I wake up in Chad Brown’s body. Saturday’s menu features older runners. That much is clear. I’m not sure, though, which specific event will deliver the goods. Which pick four, five or six sequence will come up all dollar signs for the jackpot? I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Why not me?

Truth is, currently, I’m trapped in a ‘Cup of fog. Forget ‘forest for the trees.’ I can’t see an inch front of my face. It’s all a blur. Like if white noise were a color.

Breeders’ Cup participant names, ages, sexes, trainers, jockeys and past performances swirl in my brain like cream stirred into coffee. I can’t decipher between Sprint, Dirt Mile and Classic divisions. Neither can some owners and trainers. In fact, the incredibly versatile Mind Your Biscuits has briefly been mentioned as a possible starter in all three races! Not in the same day, of course. He’s most likely headed to the Classic. But who knows? Same with Seeking the Soul. Classic or Dirt Mile? How about the speedy Promises Fulfilled? Trainer Dale Romans is eyeing the Sprint and Dirt Mile. So are the connections of Limousine Liberal and Firenze Fire.

And don’t get me started on the Euros. Who’s coming and for which races? What are their chances? Don’t ask me any of that now. I watched what happened in France at Longchamp on the Arc de Triomphe card and still can’t tell the difference between Sea of Stars and Cloth of Stars. Or how 3-year-old fillies over there consistently defeat older males, or how a 2-year-old can race against elders in a Group 1 and finish third! When it comes to European racing I’m not completely daft. I’d recognize Frankie Dettori or John Gosden. However, I honestly couldn’t pick Oisin Murphy or Charlie Appleby out of a lineup. In fact, I just had to Google how to spell ‘Oisin.’

Euros are going to win at least one Breeders’ Cup race. Probably more than that. And, if I plan on collecting a bundle, I’ve got to have the correct Euros on my tickets. But right now I’m still trying to figure out the difference between a Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp and a Prix Marcel Boussac (Criterium des Pouliches).

The past two weeks have included a whirlwind of Breeders’ Cup ‘prep’ races. Actually, I hate calling them ‘prep’ races because most of them are stand-alone Grade 1 events with rich, glorious histories. They deserve better than to be treated as mere stepping stones toward scaling of a larger rock. Winning one of those ought to be enough of an accomplishment without a ‘Win and You’re In’ label.

The Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ program is great. Arrive first in a designated race and Breeders’ Cup picks up the shipping and entry tab for an appearance in that particular division. It amounts to generous purse supplement. What’s happened, however, through the miracle of marketing, is that historic ‘Win and You’re In’ events have inadvertently surrendered a bit of individuality. For example, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, established in 1919, ought to stand on its own instead of merely serving as piece to a larger puzzle.

Thankfully, participants still share reverence for historic Grade 1 events. Televised post-race interviews with winning connections following such races the past two weekends have featured owners, trainers and jockeys with deep appreciation for what had just happened instead of feigned optimism about what might happen in a few weeks.

When will this ‘Cup of fog clear? Soon, I hope. I’m working toward that end by compiling my trusty spreadsheet with a page for each division. Xpressbet’s popular Free Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide is in production and that process also will help to clear the fog. While expert analysis isn’t due for a few weeks, arranging statistical material is enlightening.

For example, I’m reminded that in the BC F&M Turf California-based runners are 0-43! That’s incredible! A circuit that has included Charlie Whittingham, Bobby Frankel, Richard Mandella, Ron McAnally, Bob Baffert et al, shouldn’t be o’fer anything. But, there it is, in the guide in black and white.

What if I told you that trainers John Sadler, Christophe Clement and Ken McPeek are a combined zero for 105 in BC races? Say what? And it’s not as if their BC starters haven’t raced well. They’ve got a combined 14 second-place finishes and have earned nearly $9 million!

If you’re looking for help navigating any BC race…like, for example, the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Xpressbet Wager Guide can help. In that decade-old event, no California-based filly has ever finished in the exacta. Amazing! Also, European-based favorites are 6: 0-1-1. That’s ‘favorites!’ Chad Brown, on the other hand, is 17: 4-2-0, but he’s only had entrants in 8 editions, that means he’s actually won 50% of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf events he’s entered!

The Free Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide will be available to everyone online at Xpressbet.com beginning Friday, October 26. Guide experts will offer race analysis, selections and suggested $100 Wager Strategies for each BC race. Contributors include Jeff Siegel, Dick Jerardi, Steve Byk, Nick Luck, Millie Ball and many more. Eddie Olcyzk and Brent Musburger will add insights to an updated guide version available online Thursday, November 1.

Right now. Today. At this very moment. I’m fogged-in but unconcerned. Xpressbet Wager Guide info, deep dives into past performances, Thoro-Graph numbers and patterns, video replay reviews and more eventually will evaporate the fog. The November forecast calls for unlimited visibility!

Race On!