The Breeders’ Cup’s biggest storyline undoubtedly is the role it will play in deciding Horse of the Year, but there are many other things to watch out for during the two-day, 15-race World Championships worth $25.5 million to owners and breeders and more than $150 million to bettors.
The action begins Friday afternoon at Santa Anita Park and concludes Saturday night with the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic in primetime on NBC with coverage beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. NBC Sports and HRTV will carry the other races throughout the two days.
For those wondering what to zero in on during the more than 8 hours of racing coverage, here are the five topics that have people buzzing ahead of this year’s World Championships.
The Mile featuring Wise Dan, Excelebration, and Moonlight Cloud
U.S.-based horses on turf are often viewed as inferior to their European counterparts, but that might not be the case this year, as Wise Dan is widely viewed to be America’s best racehorse on any surface, and his runs in the Woodbine and Shadwell Turf Miles even had some people wondering how he would fare against the mighty Frankel.
Well, Frankel is retired, but Wise Dan will face off against the next-best thing in Excelebration, who since getting out of Frankel’s shadow has won two Group 1 victories. Moonlight Cloud is also interesting in this race because she came up just short against Black Caviar at Royal Ascot.
The Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic
An event that self proclaims itself the “World Championships” is probably going to be prone to hyperbole, but the Ladies’ Classic is likely to live up to the hype, as it brings together last year’s winner Royal Delta facing off against undefeated champions Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia. Throw in multiple Grade 1 winners Include Me Out, Love And Pride, and Questing, and it’s no stretch to say this is among the best races over the two days and maybe in the history of the Breeders’ Cup depending on what happens. For free past performances of the Ladies Classic & Classic, click here .
East meets West
Fans of racing are used to the East meets West theme when it comes to the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, but it’s just as prevalent at Breeders’ Cup as the winners of major prep races on both coasts converge for Thoroughbred racing’s biggest purses.
East Coast-based horses have something to prove this year after failing to win a main track race the last two years the Breeders’ Cup was at Santa Anita. Of course in 2008-2009 that main track surface was synthetic in nature and now it’s dirt.
The Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby has a new scoring system to determine who can start in those prestigious races should the fields oversubscribe, and both the Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile are scoring races for the Oaks and Derby, respectively. For free past performances of both of these races, click here .
There are winners and losers in every race, and that counts for the bettors too, who will wager more than $150 million over the two days with about $120 million of that being returned to punters.
Those looking for riches are most likely to target the Pick 6 on Saturday. The bet requires bettors to select the winners of six consecutive races and ends with the Classic. Last year’s sequence was so difficult that no one picked 6 and just having five of six was worth about $96,000 per $2 wagered.
And if picking 6 is too daunting, you can still get paid well for just picking one. Court Vision paid $131.60 to win last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, and four different Pick 3s over the two-day period paid more than $5,000 per $2 wagered.
So that’s what I’ll be watching for, and I hope you’ll be watching at the track or on NBC.
Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom was unable to go out a winner, fading quickly in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday in his last race before retirement.
Ramon Dominguez, a three-time Eclipse Award winner as the leading jockey in North America, retired on Thursday due to a head injury suffered in a fall earlier this year.