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Etcetera

It's time to think about the Breeder's Cup races that will go to post after post after post, etc., the first two days of November in Los Angeles.

It seems like only a few weeks ago when we were saying of the world's best racing horses: Where did that one come from? I've seen better rides at the rodeo. How did that happen? What have I ever done to deserve this? Etc.

It is truly a weekend for etcetera: The horses and impossible winners and improbable losers and gigantic payoffs just keep on coming.

If you can't reasonably predict a race, you can't reject the possibility of familiar names and lucky numbers running 1-2.


Breeder's Cup weekend is a great gaming experience -- gaming being what you call people who bet while dressed nice -- because it is the epitome of the global gambling dream: Wager a little, win a lot. Bet a buck, win ten thousand, that kind of thing. Horse racing is one of the last bastions of long shot hope for the average person. Picking a big exotic-wager winner requires crazy luck and some handicapping skill. A Breeder's Cup race can be like a lottery with a limited amount of numbers. And it's a lot more exciting than watching somebody grab Ping Pong balls. One year I picked, in print, the exact finishers of a superfecta race, horses one through four. Another year, I picked no winners, zero for the weekend. Both feats had seemed impossible.

If you can't reasonably predict a race, you can't reject the possibility of familiar names and lucky numbers running 1-2.

A person can take a hundred-dollar bill to the Breeder's Cup races and have two days of fun. That's the worst that could happen.

So how does a person handicap a weekend of Breeder's Cup races?

Handicapping a BC grass race is one of the most difficult endeavors in the entire span of wagering. Without even seeing the fields, it is safe to say that the top finishers of a turf race involving older horses will offer payoffs that could change below average lives, or greatly improve the lives of those in the norm. Most horses in turf races have similar speed ratings, have run against others in the field with mixed results, etc. European turf horses are considered best. But it's a long haul from Europe to LA.

Retrospectives indicate that throwing out the turf horses from an entire continent, North America or Europe, works some years.

My sourpuss Breeder's Cup turf notes indicate that about the only success I have had with grass races was when I hoped for uncontested speed and got it.

It helps to go into the Breeder's Cup races with a rule or two.

Santa Anita usually plays fast. Watch some races leading up to the Breeder's Cup weekend, see what's working.


I avoid long layoffs, surface switches and pitiful handicappers.

It's true that anybody overcoming either of the first two obstacles will pay a fortune. But it usually happens against plodders at tracks in the middle of nowhere.

Horses getting ready to win are usually on an improving cycle.

Meaningful trouble in a recent race, even if it's only a bad post position, can lead you to a bet.

Santa Anita usually plays fast. Watch some races leading up to the Breeder's Cup weekend, see what's working.

You can put a price tag on bad picks. Expert handicappers who break bad usually stay bad. Anybody appearing on a screen should be required to make picks. It's not what you think. Sometimes we'll love it when you miss them all. You're providing a valuable public service by telling us which horses we can run a line through in the program. Just stay consistent. Keep picking the highest speed figures against the shortest fields, the popular trainers.

Etc.