2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide & Picks: Best Bets, Longshots and Exotics (Friday, Nov. 6)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky Derby winner Authentic.
- The 2020 Breeders' Cup is under way at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
- Every race over the two-day event is loaded with talent so Mike Conti is here to help you find value in the biggest races on Friday, including the 2020 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
One of the biggest weekend’s on the betting calendar has arrived. The 2020 Breeders’ Cup — horse racing’s All-Star weekend — will take place on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7 with two full days of racing at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
There are five huge races on the board today featuring some of the most talented two-year-old horses in the world, so let’s get to the picks.
But first, a quick refresher if you’re looking to brush up on how to bet the ponies.
New to Horse Racing?
For those of you that might be new to horse racing, the wagering pools are pari-mutuel, which means that, unlike in sports betting, you aren’t trying to beat the house but rather the public at large. The key to long-term success in betting the ponies is being disciplined in identifying value in the pools.
Speed Ratings and Beyer Speed Figures
Speed ratings are relative performance indicators that allow us to compare performances across tracks where not all factors are even. Some tracks might be naturally faster like Gulfstream or Santa Anita, where the surfaces are harder, compared to a track like Belmont or Aqueduct, where the surfaces are generally a bit deeper.
They also account for the condition of the track as most horses will travel slower over softer ground. This means that simply comparing times is ineffective as they need some kind of leveling factor.
That’s what is built into speed ratings and they give a nice, although imperfect indicator of relative performance and ability.
A relative strength index for the field of a specific race. This gives you an idea of the level of the competition the horse was facing, as it can vary wildly from track to track even with the same win conditions.
How often do favorites win in horse racing?
Generally speaking, the favorite in horse racing wins at about a 35% rate but that number varies depending on the number of horses in the field. Armed with that knowledge you might want to just pick the favorites, frequently known as the chalk, but a closer look at the implied odds shows that you’d need average odds of 2-1 or better to break even on “win” bets.
So, in order to profit horseplayers must pick and choose the horses that they feel have a better chance to win than their implied odds, which is known as positive expected value (+EV). Expected value is not unique to horse racing and something that all bettors should get familiar with if they want to succeed.
Race 6: The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
2:30 p.m. ET
We kickoff Breeders’ Cup weekend with the G2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Everyone is talking about there being one big single all weekend, and that’s No. 14 Golden Pal (8-5).
He hasn’t run a bad race in three career starts and was geared down late last time out. It’s encouraging to see that trainer Wesley Ward opted to run him in stakes races even though he hadn’t yet broken his maiden. Ward is great with 2-year-olds, winning at 28% and won this race last year with Four Wheel Drive.
Ward has three others entered in this race, No. 8 Amanzi Yimpilo (15-1), No. 9 After 5 (6-1), No. 11 Into the Sunrise (15-1) and all three also-eligibles, so pay attention to the board! If another Ward horse is taking money, listen to the board and go in that direction. That’s what happened last year with Four Wheel Drive and Kimari.
Other than the Ward horses, I looked at No. 12 Dirty Dangle (20-1) as a price horse who could figure in the outcome of this race. She’s a filly running against the boys and was a private purchase for trainer Mark Casse who has had a strong year at Keeneland winning at 20% and is 16% with first-time starters in his barn.
She has shown she can sit up close without needing the lead and we know there will be a number gunning for the front.
Bet: Pick 5: 9,12,14/2,3,6,8/1,5,6,7/3,4,5/5,6,7,9
Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
3:10 p.m. ET
Next up we have the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. As with most of the races this weekend, we have a deep field of 14 that will be lining up in the gate for the one-mile event.
I ended up on No. 3 Abarta (12-1) as my top pick. He had a weird trip/bad ride last time out, where he was rushed up into the middle of the field, encountering significant traffic which put him in last going into the turn for home. Jockey Umberto Rispoli then tipped wide and he was able to finish second.
Abarta gets blinkers here, indicating they would like him to be more forwardly-placed from the get go. Rispoli is one of the best turf riders in the world and the fact that trainer Brad Cox stays with him after the trip and ride last time, gives me confidence to put him on top.
Just to Abarta’s inside is one of the Euro invaders, No. 2 New Mandate (12-1). He’s won three in a row coming into today and keeps Frankie Dettori aboard, after he piloted him to his last two victories. If you listen to the handicappers in Europe, they speak highly of him.
No. 6 Mutasaabeq (5-1) comes in after winning last time out, his first turf try, which was right here at Keeneland. Similar to his last race he will need pace to run into. Trainer Todd Pletcher is 21% with last-out winners and 18% with 2-year-olds. Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez are winning at 43% this year at Keeneland.
In the Turf Sprint I mentioned all of the Ward runners. No. 8 Outadore (8-1) is another Ward runner. He comes in undefeated in two career starts. While jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. opts for No. 4 Public Sector, Outadore picks up his brother Jose. Outadore is one that you have to include simply because he’s a two-year-old Ward horse who has talent.
Bets: No. 3 Abarta to win; 2,3,5 exacta box
Race 8: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
3:50 p.m. ET
The first Breeders’ Cup race for the fillies is the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. This is the smallest Breeders’ Cup field on today’s card with only seven runners going a mile-and-a-sixteenth over the main track.
There was a lot of buzz about No. 7 Princess Noor (9-5) right after her first start. She’s 3-for-3 out West and is a Bob Baffert trainee. While she’s been dominant, she hasn’t faced competition anywhere near what she will face today.
That said, Baffert is 30% with 2-yea-olds, 26% with winners last time out and 23% in graded stakes races. In multi-race exotics you have to use her, but she’s not my top choice.
No. 1 Simply Ravishing (5-2) is also 3-for-3 coming into Keeneland. This filly started her career on the turf for trainer Kenny McPeak and after her second start was rained off the turf, she won last time out right here at Keeneland, which is a big advantage.
She got a easy lead in that race, which doesn’t appear likely today, but has three sharp workouts leading up to this spot. The biggest concern I have for her in here is the rail post.
As I just mentioned, there are a few horse in here who are going to be forwardly placed. If they go push one another and go too fast up front, look for No. 5 Girl Daddy (5-1) and No. 6 Crazy Beautiful (20-1) to be sitting just off the pace and pick up the pieces late.
Girl Daddy is coming in off a two-month layoff, but has been working well and Crazy Beautiful ran second to Simply Ravishing last time out.
Bet: No. 1 Simply Ravishing to win
Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
4:30 p.m. ET
The ninth race is the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
We’ve all had a horse or two that we loved and then forgot to bet. Well, that’s the case here with with No. 5 Aunt Pearl (3-1). My friend Chris called me before her last race, raving about this horse, telling me it didn’t matter how far down she got bet that I needed to bet her. The irony is he forgot to bet her.
Aunt Pearl comes with wins in both of her career starts for trainer Brad Cox and while she’s won both of those outings from the front end, Cox said she doesn’t need the lead to win. Jockey Florent Geroux and Cox are winning at 34% at Keeneland with their 53 runners. She’s my top pick.
Just to Aunt Pearl’s inside is No. 4 Plum Ali (4-1) who is a perfect 3-for-3 over three different tracks, proving she ships well. Jockey Joel Rosario is one of the best at timing trips and getting his horses up late. My only concern is her post position; in a deep field, Rosario cannot let her get pinned in down on the rail.
No. 3 Alda (12-1) is a closer that I just couldn’t leave off my tickets. She clearly wanted more distance than the 5F she got in her first start. She won next time out before shipping up north to Woodbine.
Jockey John Velazquez gets back aboard in her return to the States. Alda will get the pace she needs and Velazquez knows the turn of foot she has so he will allow her to settle in early and use her long stride late.
Bet: 3,4,5 exacta box
Race 10: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
5:15 p.m. ET
The last and feature race is the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. There are 20 Derby points on the line for the winner.
While we have a field of 14 there is a heavy favorite in No. 7 Jackie’s Warrior (7-5). There’s a lot to like about him, including his undefeated record in four starts, his improving Beyer Speed figures, the fact that his trainer Steve Asmussen is 20% with 2-year-olds and 22% with last-out winners. All of that said, he’s never gone the distance, and more importantly, never around two turns. While I’m not going to lose to him in multi-race exotics, I’m playing to beat him.
No. 5 Essential Quality (4-1) won the prep here at Keeneland last month, going this distance. In that race, he showed his ability to sit just off the pace and make his run when asked. If he can work out a trip similar to that, he stands a big chance in here. Trainer Brad Cox is 25% with 2-year-olds, 28% with last out winners and 26% in graded stakes races.
The two longshots I’m using in here are No. 6 Keepmeinmind (30-1) and No. 9 Sittin On Go (12-1). Keepmeinmind had a tough trip last time out, but when he was able to get through the traffic late, he showed he has late kick with a long stride. Blinkers and the addition of Jockey Jose Ortiz should help him here. Sittin on Go is a true deep closer who will need pace to run into, which it appears he should get. If he gets the right trip and the pace is too hot and fall apart look for him to be picking up the pieces late.
Bets: No. 5 Essential Quality to win; 5,6,9/5,6,7,9 exacta; 5,6,9/5,6,7,9/5,6,7,8,9 trifecta