2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide, Odds & Picks: Longshots, Exotics & Best Bets for 9 Races on Saturday
- The Breeders' Cup will take place in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday.
- Our horse racing staff has broken down nine races and shared their favorite bets, exotics, and longshots for the event.
- Check out our staff's full betting analysis with their picks below.
One of the biggest days on the betting calendar has arrived. The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic, perhaps the deepest race of the year, will take place at 5:13 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
There are plenty of noteworthy races on the board today featuring some of the most talented 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.
12:02 p.m. ET
First up we have the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint going seven furlongs on the main track. There’s a ton of speed in this race between No. 2 Gamine (7-5), No. 4 Inthemidstofbiz, No. 6 Venetian Harbor (8-1) and No. 7 Serengeti Empress (3-1). While Serengeti Empress is the most proven and decorated of the bunch and Gamine had all of the hype and buzz going into the Kentucky Oaks, I’m going in a different direction.
It must be noted that while the track looked to have a speed bias early in the day on Friday, it evened out late, as we saw the Juvenile winner, Essential Quality close well.
With the amount of pace, I looked to No. 3 Come Dancing (8-1) with jockey Irad Ortiz, who should should sit a nice stalking trip. She comes in fresh off a two-month layoff and came down to get her last work in over the Keeneland track, which I always like. She has been steadily improving all year from a Beyer perspective all year.
The other horse that I’d be remiss not to mention is No. 9 Bell’s the One (6-1). She has 2 wins and a third from 4 career starts here at Keeneland and has 2 wins, 2 second and a third from 6 career starts at the distance. She is a deep closer and will need the four speed horses to go gangbusters early to give her a chance to close.
Pick 4: 3,9/3,7,10,14/3,5/6
12:39 p.m. ET
Next up we have the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, going 5 1/2 furlongs. This is a loaded field of 14, with runners of all types.
I ended up on No. 3 Impris (4-1) as my top choice. He has 8 wins and 2 thirds from 15 career starts and has 1 win and 1 third from 2 starts on the Keeneland turf. After being on the bench for most of the year, he’s come back strong, winning his only two starts of the year.
He will need pace to run into, but that shouldn’t be an issue. The biggest concern is can jockey Irad Ortiz work out the right trip? If he does, Impris will be headed to the winners’ circle.
No. 7 Leinster (4-1) is the horse for the course. He loves Keeneland as he has 3 wins and 1 second from 4 career starts here. He will be sitting up closer to the pace, in a stalking position before looking to make his move at the top of the stretch. He’s beaten a number of these runners before and is one to use in horizontal and vertical wagers.
If you’re looking for one who can steal things from the front end, look no further than No. 10 Bombard (15-1). He only lost by a neck to Impris and No. 4 Front Run the Fed (12-1) last time out at Kentucky Downs, but that was 6 furlongs and over a much different turf course. Jockey Flavien Prat is one of the best turf riders in the country and if he gets loose up front, watch out.
The other price horse that I like was No. 14 Extravagant Kid (15-1). He’s just missed in his last two starts and you can find excuses for him in each of his last three races. With his deep closing style he’s going to have to navigate the traffic, but he’s more than capable of winning this race as big odds.
1:18 p.m. ET
The sixth race is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Honestly, I didn’t love this race, but I landed on No. 5 Knicks Go (7-2). Trainer Brad Cox’s barner is on fire and he picked up two more Breeders’ Cup victories yesterday with Aunt Pearl and Essential Quality (both of whom were also No. 5 in their respective races).
After moving over to the Cox barner earlier this year, Knicks Go has looked like a different horse, albeit against much lesser competition than he is going to race today. His post position should help as it’s a short run into the first turn. He has 2 wins and 1 second from 4 career starts at Keeneland, which is always a positive.
My longshot play in here is No. 3 Silver Dust (30-1). While he hasn’t seen the winners’ circle since January, he always seems to be in the mix late. He’s shown the ability to sit just off and stalk or come from further back and close, which will be to his benefit here with his post position. He’s also run well at Keeneland with 2 seconds from 2 starts.
I’m against the morning line favorite No. 10 Complexity (2-1) for trainer Chad Brown. The two main reasons I’m against are two turns and the post position. His success has come from one-turn races and drawing towards the outside with the short run into the first turn could prove to be the achilles heel for a horse who wants to be close to, if not, in front.
Pick 4: 3,5/6/6,10/3,11,13
1:57 p.m. ET
Next we have the G1 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf going 1 mile and 3/16ths. It’s a Breeders’ Cup race on the turf and Chad Brown has four out of the 14 horses…no surprise there.
If we get anywhere close to the morning line odds of No. 6 Rushing Fall (5-2), I’m going all in. She LOVES this Keeneland turf course, with 5 wins from 6 starts.
Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano are winning at an incredible 50% at Keeneland this year. Similar to the G1 Diana she will be sitting just off of No. 4 Mean Mary (7-2) and again just like in the DIana will wear her down late in the stretch.
For those of you who have followed me through the year, you know that No. 4 Mean Mary has been my girl all along, but after seeing how Rushing Fall was able to wear her down last time out and the fact that Keeneland is Rushing Fall’s favorite track, I went in a different direction.
That said, Mean Mary is still an amazing horse who in 7 turf starts has 5 wins and 2 seconds. She’s one you have to include in horizontal wagers and use underneath in vertical wagers.
The two Euros that I like the most are No. 7 Terrebellum (20-1) and No. 14 Cayenne Pepper (8-1). Terrebellum’s last race was over a boggy turf course, which she clearly didn’t appreciate. Before that though, she was has shown great form.
She gets one of the best European riders in Frankie Dettori and she gets Lasix for the first time. Cayenne Pepper on the other hand is owned by Americans who have been pointing her towards this race for a while. She’s coming in off a win and has finished second to Magical and Tarnawa, both who we will see later.
Win: 6 (my favorite bet of the day)
Pick 6: 6/6,10/3,11,13/9,10/1,2,3/3,4,8,9
2:36 p.m. ET
The eighth race is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint going 6 furlongs over the main track. No. 10 Yaupon (7-2) is my top pick.
Trainer Steve Asmussen chose to run Nashville in Race 1 instead of here against Yaupon, which says to me he thinks Yaupon is the better horse or that Yaupon isn’t going to be beat. This is the first time he will be facing older horses, but you can’t argue against his perfect 4 for 4 record.
No. 6 Frank’s Rockette (10-1) is the filly taking on the boys. While she’s been impressive this year, notching 5 wins and 1 second from 6 starts, this will be the first time she’s taking on the boys. It’s also worth noting that Trainer Bill Mott decided to run her here rather than the Filly and Mare sprint. She’s one to include.
The Bets: Pass
3:15 p.m. ET
The G1 Fanduel Breeders’ Cup Mile is a fully stacked field of 14 runners. I landed on No. 13 Factor This (8-1).
As I mentioned earlier, the Brad Cox barn is on fire and he has another nice one here in Factor This. He has 5 wins, 1 second and 1 third from 7 starts this year and has a win over the Keeneland turf course.
One of his biggest obstacles is going to be his post position, but as long as he gets away clean, he should be able to move over going into the first turn. There will be a number coming at him late, so it will be crucial that jockey Florent Geroux gets him to settle on the front end to save enough coming for home.
I also like No. 11 Ivar (4-1). He ran a huge race last time out in the Shadwell Turf Mile right here at Keeneland. He took the blinkers off last time and jockey Joe Talamo made one big sweeping run to go by the others. There appears to be enough speed for him to run at and if he can put it together like he did last time, watch out for him charging late.
The European that I liked most was No. 3 Lope Y Fernandez (30-1). While trainer Aiden O’Brien is one of the bet in Europe, he hasn’t had success States side. I don’t think that Lope Y Fernandez is a win contender, but he’s one that could be in the mix late at a huge price. Include him in your vertical wagers.
Exacta box: 3,11,13
3:54 p.m. ET
Next up is the G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. This is the matchup everyone’s been talking about between No. 5 Swiss Skydiver (2-1) and No. 10 Monomy Girl (8-5).
I’m going against Swiss Skydiver for a few reasons today, this is the first time against older horses, she ran her absolute hardest and won the Preakness last time out and finally, this is her 10th race of the year. I think we will finally see she is tired, and rightfully so.
No. 10 Monomy Girl has been training really well for Brad Cox leading up to this spot and I’ve already mentioned a few times about the success his barn has seen. She’s a perfect 1 for 1 at Keeneland and 3 for 3 at this distance. She will be able to sit a nice stalking trip and make her move at the top of the stretch.
For a longshot, look no further than just to Monomy Girl’s inside, No. 9 Ollie’s Candy (10-1). She is always right in the mix and seems like there’s always an excuse for her. While she’s never faced the likes of Monomy Girl, she will be sitting a similar stalking trip and will try to go with her coming out of the far turn.
4:33 p.m. ET
Race 11 is the G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf going 1 1/2 miles. This is a tough field of 10 with six shipping in from Europe.
No. 1 Arlow (5-1) looked like the Arklow of old last time out. Trainer Brad Cox put blinkers on him for the first time and keeps them on today. A number of the European horses are going to be tough to beat, but the fact that Arklow is the only horse that has won over this Keeneland turf course, I’m making him my top pick.
While there seems to be a lot of hype around No. 2 Magical (5-2), she comes from the Aiden O’Brien barn. As I mentioned earlier, he hasn’t had a winner in his last 30 turf starts in the U.S. That said, I’m not going to lose to her in this spot.
Just to Magical’s outside is No. 3 Tarnawa (6-1). I mentioned her earlier during the Filly and Mare Turf race. Her connections opted to put her in this spot against the boys, most likely because they wanted the extra distance. The fact that they put her in this spot, speaks volumes of what they think of her. The word is that she’s coming in better than ever.
Exacta box: 1,2,3
5:13 p.m. ET
Finally we get to the main event, the G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. This is one of the deepest Classic fields in recent memory. As racing fans, we are in for a real treat to finish out the greatest two days of the year in horse racing.
The buzz is all about No. 4 Tom’s d’Etat (6-1). Yes you read that right, Tom’s d’Etat. Not No. 2 Tiz the Law (3-1), No. 8 Improbable (5-2), No. 9 Authentic (6-1) or No. 10 Maximum Security (7-2).
After all Tom’s d’Etat is the only horse over those six to have won over Keeneland. While I’m not counting Tom’s d’Etat out by any means, we are not going to get anywhere near his 6-1 price based on the hype, buzz and will pays from the Juvenile Classic double.
Prior to his last race where he stumbled at the start and couldn’t recover, he had rattled off four straight wins. If he breaks clean, he’s as good as any of the others in here. One to include.
My top pick, not one of the other five horses I listed earlier. It’s No. 3 By My Standards (10-1). If you’ve followed along this year, you know I love this horse. He came back off a long layoff earlier this year and has not disappointed at all. This is clearly the deepest, toughest field he’s faced and his only two losses, both of which were second place finishes, this year were to Improable and Tom’s d’Etat, so he will need to flip the tables. That said he’s been training exceptionally well leading into this spot and at the price, he’s too good to pass up.
The other two horses that I like in here are two that I mentioned previously, No. 8 Improbable and No. 9 Authentic, both coming out of the Baffert barn. Improbable has been a different horse this year and is showcasing the talent he has. As for Authentic, he is facing older horses for the first time and I don’t think he will get the easy lead that he likes, but he ran a great race to win the Derby and ran really well, just never got by Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness. He’s been training well and Baffert said he’s only gotten better and stronger since the Derby.
Exacta box: 3,4,8,9
Full Breeders’ Cup Card
Pick 4: 3,9/3,7,10,14/3,5/6
Pick 4: 3,5/6/6,10/3,11,13
Win: 6 (favorite bet of the day)
Pick 6: 6/6,10/3,11,13/9,10/1,2,3/3,4,8,9
Exacta box: 3,11,13
Exacta box: 1,2,3
Exacta box: 3,4,8,9