My man Turk said it best, "Go big or go home," that is playing at least one big bet in hopes of hitting a four-figure or better pay out, instead of nickel and diming yourself with a bunch of small bets that either have little chance or promise too small of a return given the risk. I'm actually going to give a big bet, for me, in Churchill's early Pick Four. Playing big is relative; I'm no whale, but I'm also not a $2 better either.
Before I get to the bets, let me provide two simple insights, which I hope will help with all your Breeders' Cup wagers.
- This is going to sound too simple, but...over the last three Breeders' Cup days, 17 out 20 winners either won or finished second in their previous race. The only exceptions were Shared Account, 2010 Filly and Mare Turf, who finished fifth in her previous race; Chamberlain Bridge, 2010 Turf Sprint winner, fourth; and Dakota Phone, 2010 Dirt Mile winner, third.
- Up close on both dirt and turf is paying dividends to horses, jockeys and bettors at Churchill during its first four days of racing. Most horses that are within a few lengths of the lead along the backstretch, turning for home and through the stretch are coming in the money. The only caveats were the Filly and Mare Turf and two turn races on the dirt, which have been equally open to stalkers as well as front runners. What does this mean? Give those pace-setters and pace-pressers a little more of a look.
Starting with Race 4 - Juvenile Turf, I have fashioned an $80, 50-cent Pick 4. It would have been more because my first thought was to hit the ALL button in the first leg. But given the two points I just provided and watching how the Churchill tracks have been playing, I pared the first leg down to half the field and singled in the last leg, which may come back to haunt me.
In the Juvenile Turf, runners 2-4 all fit the close to the pace scenario and two out of the three finished first or second in their last start. After handicapping and then looking at the morning line, Shkspeare Shaliyah really jumped out at my at 15-1. He's run three solid races on three different types of turf and has room for improvement. Coalport gets in with lots of upside and also due to Wayne Catalano's recent hot hand. Majestic City deserves to be chalk, if his synthetic form translates well to the turf. And to even things off, I'll include all three of the outside runners, 12-14. Look I'm playing more than half the field, so I'm trying not to bore you too much with analysis.
In the Sprint, I'll again only keep a few runners off my slip. Those in the bet include defending champ, Big Drama because, well, he's the defending champ. It's hard to keep a horse with a six-race winning streak off the ticket, so Giant Ryan is on. The triumvirate of Jackson Bend, Force Freeze and Amazombie are included because it scares me too much to leave them off.
DRF writer Steve Crist says these races give him fits and ESPN.com's Jay Cronley says he can't pick winners of the turf sprints even after seeing the replay. No doubt, they are hard to handicap and get right. I'm going to take three that should be up front early, hoping at least one of them hold: Holiday for Kitten, Hoofit and Regally Ready. I'll toss in the closer, Perfect Officer just in case the pace-setters back up drastically.
In total contradiction to its title, there is only horse in this field who has won at the one-mile distance, Jersey Town, and that was almost a year ago. In convoluted fields just like this, it's either pony up to include the entire field - we can see here that I can't afford that - or single. If I'm alive, I'll be hoping Wilburn extends his consecutive win streak to four and brings me home just a small fortune.
So the 50-cent Pick Four ticket goes like this: 2-3-4-6-10-12-13-14/2-5-6-7-8/2-4-6-7/5