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Bettors Get Breeders' Cup Saturday Right

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.