It is that time of year again, when horseplayers around the world focus on two (should be one) days of championship horse racing. For me, it is eenie meenie minie, moe time, more or less.
I feel much more comfortable handicapping races where at least one third to one half of the field have raced against each other recently, and at least three quarters of the field are circuit regulars. Needless to say, this isn't the case when it comes to the Breeders Cup.
I'm going to admit it now, this year, I actually put in some time handicapping. I spent half of yesterday trying to figure out the cards at Santa Anita for both Friday and Saturday. I usually handicap cards a half hour or less before post time, so yes, I'm taking things seriously this time out.
Still, handicapping these races are very difficult because of all of the chaotic factors associated with things like polytrack, recency, big fields, European shippers, etc.
In the Classic, I really like Quality Road. He looks like he is on the improve. Sloppy tracks cloudy his form. He is nearly undefeated on a fast track, and he is undefeated on artificial surfaces (OK, he is zero for zero on poly but Elusive Quality sired horses are no slouches on plastic).
He looks like he is made for this race. He'll be close enough to the pace, and is also capable of very good late pace numbers. 35 days off is my only concern.
Here is the 2009 Jockey Club Gold Cup:
Summer Bird got a better trip, and was under urging for a good chunk of the race as well. Quality Road just came up short. He might not come up short on Saturday.
A horse familiar with the track, Colonel John, cannot be overlooked. He is very similar in style to Quality Road, but the 126 pounds may hurt him at this distance, though that wasn't the case in the Travers.
I really don't like Zenyatta. I even doubt she will hit the board. Her figures are inferior to at least 3 of the known horses, and there are a couple of European invaders who, if they transfer their numbers to the poly, will be very tough as well.
If you bet on favourites on either day this year, you better love them, and I mean love them. I'm expecting the payouts to be large in most Breeders Cup races. Click here for long shot plays worthy of having on your exotic tickets.
The following are what I believe are vulnerable favourites:
I really think Rachel Alexandra (how is that for stating the obvious?) would have jogged in the Ladies Classic, and Zenyatta will probably have wished she went there instead.
Click here for picks by members of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance.
Canadian Breeders Cup Bettors Beware
If you bet at Woodbine, through HPI, or at a track that is affiliated with HPI, you better expect lower than track payoffs if you hit a triactor or Pick 3, etc.
Woodbine Entertainment is no fan of lower takeouts, and California has some of the lowest takeouts in horse racing (15.43% on WPS and 20.68% on all other bets). Woodbine has deemed that their takeout on triactors, supers, Pick 3's, Pick 4's, etc. are totally unacceptable, so they ramp up the takeout for their valued customer to reflect a 25% takeout.
Here are payoffs for yesterday's (November 4th) 8th race at Santa Anita Woodbine's payoff first, and Santa Anita's real payoff in parenthesis. The payouts were small so you need to appreciate the percentage differences:
$2 Daily Double $6.90 (6.80)
$1 Super High 5 $127.95 (136.20)
$2 Exactor $12.70 (12.60)
$1 Pick 3 $17.85 (19.00)
$1 Pick 4 $216.85 (230.90)
$1 Pick 5 $706.45 (752.10)
$1 Superfecta $65.80 (70.00)
$2 Triactor $19.90 (21.80)
You'll notice that Woodbine actually paid higher for the exactor and double. This is because in Ontario, prices are rounded down to the dime on $2 based payoffs. In most of the states, prices are rounded down to the nearest 20 cents on every 2 dollar based payoff. So one out of two times roughly, you can actually get a better payoff at Woodbine by a dime on exactors, doubles and WPS winning bets.
But the horrendous part is that if you are fortunate enough to cash something else, and something that pays real money, you will get around 93.9% of the actual payout if you cash through HPI.
Yeah, I've heard the argument that Canadians don't have to pay withholding and that horse race winnings are tax free in Canada. But how many people win in the long run anyway? Not many, especially those who play without substantial rebates.
Canadian tax laws are no excuse for Woodbine's pompous disdain and larcenous behaviour it has for its customer.
If Woodbine can't justify paying track odds, they shouldn't take the signal. They are ripping off, for the most part, an unsuspecting public, and showing absolutely no respect to those who know the scoop.
If you hit a triactor that pays $3000 for a buck at Santa Anita on a Breeders Cup race on Friday or Saturday, you will receive only around $2817 through HPI or at Woodbine or one of their affiliated teletheatres, etc. That is a complete rip off, and I don't understand how they get away with it, but they do.
Another ridiculous rule that hasn't been rectified is the fact that if you bet through a Canadian ADW or at a Canadian track you can't bet 10 cent, 20 cent, or 50 cent bets when that is in fact the minimum for certain bets at almost every track. If you want to play, you have to make the base bet at least a dollar.
But don't think this is just affecting Canadians. If you bet through a US ADW on a Canadian track offering bets that have less than a dollar base, you can't take advantage of the lower minimums in this case either.
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