Breeders’ Cup Buzz Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Biggest Handicapping Coups?

With several full fields of high-level horses over the span of two days, the Breeders’ Cup is one of the most potentially lucrative weekends on a horseplayer’s calendar every year.

In the Breeders’ Cup Buzz, we’re asking some notable Thoroughbred industry names about their experiences with the event and a few hypothetical questions tied to the races.

This week, we ask horseplayers to recall their most memorable Breeders’ Cup handicapping scores. What made them important differed from person to person, from how much a winning ticket paid out to factors that made it more about the moral victory than the financial one.

To view previous editions of the Breeders’ Cup Buzz, click here.

Rachel McLaughlin – Indiana Grand, Racing Analyst and Production Manager

“Little Mike in The Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2012 stands out to me in my mind because it was early on in my career.

“I had been an intern before that, and knowing how to read a program and handicap a race is a little different than ticket construction. With all the hats I wear during racing, I rarely ever get to slow down and make a bet. We go all-out for Breeders’ Cup, so I remember this not only for the big price, but because it was one of the first times all year (on an event day) that I really made a point to stop and put some money on a horse.

“The Turf Classic win at Churchill Downs (in May) had me watching Little Mike, and when he won the Arlington Million (in August) I thought ‘Okay, he looks a little bit like he bounces.’ So after he ran fifth at Belmont (in the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes) I decided that’s my longshot bet.

“All my degenerate gamblers (as I call them in a loving way) said I was crazy. I figured he would hit the board, but when he won, I was the queen of the degenerates that day! The new girl picked the $36 winner. It was probably beginner’s luck, but it was the biggest ticket I had ever cashed at the time.”

Barry Spears – The Sniper

“One of my most memorable Breeders’ Cup scores – by far – came in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Saturday early Pick 4.

“The day before, I had taken a really bad beat when Luck of the Kitten had lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to Hootenanny, and on Saturday, I was looking for revenge.

“Coming into the races that Saturday, I really was not too enthusiastic about the early part of the Breeders’ Cup menu. I decided to play small and go after the horse I liked the most on the day, which was Toast of New York in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. My second-best opinion that day, Bobby’s Kitten, happened to be in the fourth championship race of the day and the anchor leg of the early Pick 4.

“I looked at the early races for only a few minutes and became conflicted on whether or not I should even play an early Pick 4 ticket. I decided to play, but I did not want to play a large ticket because I had bigger aspirations for later in the card. I eventually settled in and punched a ticket for $24. The last horse I included on my ticket, Take Charge Brandi, won the first race of the sequence which was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 60-1. The next race, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, was won by Dayatthespa fairly easily at 5-1.

“I was feeling pretty good, but not expecting to hit at this point because I was two horses by a single in the final two legs of the wager. I really felt I did not have enough coverage in the third leg of the bet, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. I really had to sweat that one out as Judy The Beauty outlasted Better Lucky by a long head at 3/1.

“At this point, I really did not have an inkling of what the bet could possibly pay to my single, Bobby’s Kitten in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. I decided to check the will pays and it flashed up $32,000, and I could not believe my eyes.

“At the time, I was at home with my then 1-year-old daughter watching and playing the races. When I saw what the potential payoff was, I decided to not call my wife unless I won and proceeded to talk to a 1-year-old about how big this could pay with no embarrassment at all.

“To make a long story short, Bobby’s Kitten rallied from dead last to get up for the victory in the final jump. Despite my stake in the race financially, it was one of the best races I have ever seen. My daughter and I went absolutely crazy, screaming and yelling for a good 20 minutes. We both lost our voices. The two of us were so loud that the neighbors had called the police to make sure nothing was really wrong at the house. It most certainly was a Breeders’ Cup Day and score that I will never forget.”


Ken Rudulph – TVG Host/Racing Analyst

“I am always pumped up and emotional for big races. That feeling gets amplified when I have a runner in the race. In 2006 at Churchill Downs, I had a runner in 2005 Derby winner Giacomo and I really wanted him to win. Like, REALLY wanted him to win.

“Giacomo and me are aligned in so many ways. But, mainly, I felt we were both being overlooked, underestimated, and disregarded. I wanted my boy to show the world that he was not a one-hit wonder. I was so wrapped up in him that I forgot I was alive in the late double. In the previous race on the turf, I absolutely loved Red Rocks, not because I am a genius handicapper but because my colleagues couldn’t stop raving about how he was working leading up to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf. He was 10-1, so I made a $5 win wager and used him with Scorpion and English Channel to Brother Derek, Invasor, and Giacomo in the late double.

“The win wager got me back to even for the day but I was just waiting for redemption in the Classic – a win wager, double, and trifectas, and an ambitious superfecta all hanging in the balance.

“I am standing near the final turn coming for home so I get a great view of the horses running past me. As they load in, my chest starts to swell and I can feel it all coming up, my eyes are full of tears. Muttering softly, ‘Go get those *expletive deleted*.’ I wanted Giacomo to win so badly, or even just be competitive.

“They turn for home and Giacomo has been last most of the way, but he still comes with that classic turn of foot and Mike Smith is giving him every chance. I can tell he is no threat to the winner, as Invasor had taken over in the stretch. Giacomo runs into the superfecta, which I do not have. Premium Tap ruined that.

“I am so emotionally spent from clenching every orifice in my body that I completely forgot that I had Invasor in my late double. It paid $191, which is nothing to brag about. But, it’s one of the most memorable days of my life. It was the day I actually realized that I love horses.”


Trey Stiles – National Horseplayers Championship Hall of Famer

“My most memorable Breeders’ Cup was not a ‘big score,’ but rather the year I picked a 20-1 winner four weeks in advance of the race.

“Sure, I have had some decent Breeders’ Cup scores at the windows over the years. However, my most memorable Breeders’ Cup race came from an article I wrote for HorsePlayer Magazine for the 2011 Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.

“Because of my NHC qualification streak, I had been asked to write Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby articles for HorsePlayer for a few years. I did well, but usually landed on one of the logical favorites. The 2011 Filly and Mare Sprint was different.

“A lawyer I occasionally worked with on cases was part-owner of a horse named Musical Romance. I began to follow the horse closely in early 2011. She ran a lot that year – 14 times – but she really took her game to another level toward the end of 2011. She won the G2 Presque Isle Masters and in the last prep before the Breeders’ Cup, she lost the G2 Thoroughbred Club of America by a nose. As I noted in my analysis, she ran against a speed bias and nearly closed for the win in the TCA.

“Her rise must have been unexpected to the owners as well, as she was not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup. My article had to be submitted a month before the race for publication and distribution purposes. I decided to risk it and include a longshot that was not even Breeders’ Cup-nominated as my ‘top value pick.’ I gave her fair odds of 4-1, but correctly assessed, ‘you’ll probably get much more.’

“Fortunately, the owners decided to pay the supplemental fee and she was entered into the race. She paid $42.20 to win.

“I remember loading up on her to win and in the exotics, but I couldn’t tell you how much I won. I was much more excited about tabbing the 20-1 winner in print a month before the race. Since this time, my NHC streak has continued and I have had many opportunities to offer race analysis. This includes as co-host of the Sam Houston Race Park pre-race analysis show the past two years which I have really enjoyed. I think it all started gaining momentum for me with the 2011 Filly and Mare Sprint, making it my most memorable Breeders’ Cup race.”

The post Breeders’ Cup Buzz Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Biggest Handicapping Coups? appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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