Merry Horseplayer Christmas! Your cash gift is waiting for you at a mutuel window or in your HPIbet account. You just need to do some smart wagering in tomorrow’s nine Breeders’ Cup races to make the gift to yourself huge.

I want to help – just as I did by suggesting in a column last month that you play a five-horse superfecta box in the Prince of Wales Stakes and the result was a $1 superfecta paying $2,020.

Regular readers of this column know I’m all about rules and I have specific ones for Breeders’ Cup races gleaned in decades of BC play. I’m also going to unleash a betting angle no one anywhere has ever mentioned as far as I know.

I’ll get back to that later, after reminding you of tried-and-true rules:

When you see the race is on the turf, look for horses that have been racing recently for the highest purse. That’s the most important angle in Breeders Cup turf route races. (Discount the purse values of races that were run at Woodbine or in Japan because the values are a bit inflated compared to European races.) You require an Equibase program to see all turf values; the DRF doesn’t list all purses for stakes races.

In-the-money finishes are next to consider, not only in turf races but in all races. What horses have the best record? That’s a quick way to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

You also know that 7-furlong races favour horses with the highest speed figure at 7-furlongs and that 5-furlong sprint races are often chaotic. Last year’s Sprint was won by an $86 horse.

THE RACE 9 CLASSIC: Okay, how shall we apply those rules to the nine Breeders’ Cup races? Let’s start with the biggest race of all, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is race 9. It has a distance of 1 ¼-mile which means you calculate 1 1/8-mile fractions of horses in the race. (That was the rule that won you a $200 triactor in last year’s 1 ¼-mile Queen’s Plate.) #3 White Abarrio (4-1) had the best closing fraction followed by longshot #9 Senor Buscador (30-1).

But there’s another important element to consider. DRF clocker Mike Welsch has shown through the years he’s a sharp spotter of horse talent during workouts. In his Breeders’ Cup Clocker Reports posted on YouTube he had lots of praise for not only White Abarrio but also Japanese shipper ##8 Ushba Tesoro (4-1). He also said to beware of 20-1 longshot #7 Clapton whom he called “under the radar” because of a noteworthy workout.

So what are my suggested wagers on the Classic? For a superfecta, wheel 3,8,12/3,8,12/9/all and 3,8,12/3,8,12/all/9. And in the 60-cent High 5: 38/38/9/2,6,7,10,12/2,6,7,10,12. Move #9 down to fourth for a second wheel.

YOUR TOP HORSES TO KEY: Okay, now let’s evaluate the other eight races and consider what bets to make. Take particular note of races 3,6 and 11 because the top horses in those races, along with White Abarrio and Ushba Tesoro in the Classic, appear to be the most likely winners on the card and may be keys in your horizontal wagers (pick-4s, pick-5s, etc.)

RACE 3 Dirt Mile: “Breathing fire” is the way clocker Welsch described #3 Cody’s Wish (4-5) in morning gallops. Cody is obviously a key in 60-cent pick-5 and other wagers.

RACE 4 Filly & Mare Turf: Highest purse: #6 Inspiral (5-2). Best 1 1/8-mile closing fraction (because this race is 1 ¼-miles): #4 Moira with 35 seconds (12-1) then #9 Didia (8-1) and #1 In Italian (4-1). Note, too, In Italian is 13 for 13 in in-the-money finishes. Others with high in-the-money finishes: #2 Warm Heart is 6 for 8 (3-1), #7 Lindy is 7 for 8 (12-1), #10 McKulick is 12 for 13 (15-1). Wheeling #6 first and second with the other six horses in tris or supers may be the way to go.

RACE 5 Filly & Mare Sprint: This is easy. #1 Goodnight Olive (6-5) and #7 Society (5-2) have the highest 7-furlong speed at this specialty distance. “Society really, really, really wanted to do more,” clocker Welsch said of her workout. “I love everything about her.” What about playing a 60-cent High 5 since it’s only a nine-horse field?
RACE 6 Mile: Highest recent purse: #10 Songline $2.4 million in Japan (5-2) and #14 Master of the Seas $1 million in North America (7-2). Quickest closing fractions in this mile turf race: #2 Gina Romantica (12-1) followed by #13 More Than Looks (15-1) who is 6 for 7 in in-the-money finishes. And beware of #6 Mawj (4-1) who is tops in the field for in-the-money finishes at 8 for 9.

RACE 7 Distaff: Calculating in-the-money finishes has been the most effective through the years. Two fillies have been perfect: #3 Pretty Mischievous is 10 for 10 and #4 Idiomatic is 11 for 11. After that, #6 Search Results is 15 for 16, #8 Randomized is 5 for 6, #5 Adare Manor is 11 for 13 and #7 Wet Paint is 8 for 10. Is a six horse superfecta box the way to go?

RACE 8 Turf: Highest purse: #2 Onesto (8-1) then #11 King of Steel (4-1) who is also 3 for 3 in the money and #9 Mostahdaf (5-2). Besides #11, the best in-the-money finishes at the specialty 1 ½-mile distance are #13 War Like Goddess 9 for 9 (12-1), #1 Shahryar 4 for 5 (15-1), #5 Auguste Rodin 2 for 3 (3-1). Obviously this is a race with big-money possibilities. Maybe a 20-cent superfecta box will land you a handsome payoff.

RACE 9 Classic: Discussed above.

RACE 10 Turf Sprint: The 5-furlong sprint is the most chaotic race condition on the ‘Cup card with a 42-1 horse winning last year’s edition. So the recommendation is to take “all” horses in horizontal wagers. Strongest possibilities: #5 Live in the Dream (9-2) has the highest pace number of 149 in the field which means a possible wire job, especially since he’s cutting back to 5f from 5 1/2f. Best closer: #12 Arzak (6-1) who has a 114 E speed. Suggested triactor box: 5-7-11-12.

RACE 11 Sprint: After listening to clocker Welsch, I’ll be surprised if #7 Speed Boat Beach (3-1) doesn’t beat likely favourite #8 Elite Power. Said Welsch: “He’ll be a handful to run down if he can break clean and make the lead.” Also, said Welsch, #2 Dr. Schivel “galloped out extremely easily.” Doesn’t that lend itself to this superfecta or even High 5: 7/28/28/all and 28/7/28/all.


Boxing horses in a superfecta tomorrow whose odds IN THEIR LAST START were under 5-1 could land you a big score.

What? Just to back up a bit. After my betting group at Assiniboia Downs lost the pick-6 on Kentucky Derby Day in May (which paid $1 million to two winning tickets) I tried to come up with some way to have added two bombs-away winners to our ticket. And, lo and behold, it became evident that if the group had simply wheeled only horses with low odds in their previous start, the group would have shared in the $2 million pool. (For instance, the 38-1 winner in the first leg of the Derby Day pick-6—the longest shot in the field–had gone off at 6-1 and 3-1 IN HIS PREVIOUS TWO RACES so he qualified to be on the ticket.)

The cost of that ticket containing only horses with low odds in their last start would have been about $630 and would, of course, have been entitled to one-third of the $2 million pool. The group had spent $550 on their losing ticket anyway.

After this observation, the obvious question then became: Would this angle work to produce winning superfectas on other big race days such as the Breeders’ Cup? Imagine my excitement when I dug up a 2016 Breeders’ Cup program from Santa Anita and, in race 3, discovered that boxing only horses with odds under 5-1 in their previous start (seven horses in all) resulted in a superfecta paying $15,000? And, in the very next race, a $1 box of the six horses with odds under 5-1 in their previous race resulted in a superfecta that paid $25,000. What a dizzying revelation that was!

So you know where this is heading. Will that “under 5-1” rule work in 20-cent superfecta boxes in tomorrow’s races? Let’s find out. Here are the “under 5-1” horses in five races. (I left out races where you’d have to box more than seven horses.) In race 3 if you think prohibitive favourite #3 Cody’s Wish is vulnerable you might box 3,4,5,6,7,9 at a cost of $72. In race 5—1,2,3,7,9 ($24). In race 8—3,5,8,9,11,13 ($72). In race 9—2,4,6,8,11,12,13 ($168). In race 10—1,2,3,5,7,9,10 ($168). In race 11—1,2,5,6,7,8,9 ($168).

Maybe my betting group will decide to play all of them. We’ll see. At any rate, good luck in all your plays. One more thought about tomorrow’s card: Watch out for entrants from Japan. Japanese horses won two races last year so they know what’s required to win so that’s likely the quality of horses they shipped to this year’s ‘Cup.