Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anxious for 2012 Breeders Cup

Racing now through the end of 2011, in my opinion, is the equivalent of turning the TV on a snowy night in January or February to Dominican winter league baseball, where maybe the enthusiast stops to watch an inning or two just to whet the appetite for what is to come in spring training and the "real" MLB season.  It is more or less a curiosity or to fantasize in the dead of winter about a scorching summer afternoon of baseball.

TVG is rife with Penn National and bottom-of-the-barrel harness action on this Tuesday night, and really little of significance or quality in thoroughbred racing seems to happen the next few months, save for a few late-season stakes ahead of January's Eclipse Awards and, for the handicapping contest player, the National Handicapping Championship's (NHC) 13th edition - the $2 million brass ring.

Already pining for 2012
Watching a claimer from Penn while folding laundry a few hours ago got me yearning for more recap on the 2011 edition of the Breeders Cup and reminded me of the scribbled and earmarked past performances on my desk, begging for one final look and some note taking in advance of the 2012 Breeders Cup (at Santa Anita, much to the chagrin of Belmont Park officials and East Coasters like me) before hitting the recycle bin.

As blogged in advance of this year's Breeders Cup, I have been more disciplined about keeping notes specifically about the event, hopefully to help me play or avoid certain angles leading up to Breeders Cup, and the exercise paid off this year with a 200%+ ROI over the course of the two-day event.  Granted, the notes proved helpful with the Breeders run at the same track (Churchill Downs) for a second year in a row, but without further adieu, here are a few useful notes to myself for 2012.
  • Show more respect to European shippers, specifically to the Breeders Cup Turf:  This came to a head for a second-straight year, where I stuck to my guns and summarily dismissed Euro shippers who lacked a prep race in the States, but lost on my multi-race wagers with St. Nicholas Abbey's (Ire) impressive win.  I still do not know, even after watching the race a half-dozen times, how Brilliant Speed weakened in the stretch turning for home with the lead and seemingly separating, but clearly Abbey's win, combined with Dangerous Midge's in 2010 and two straight by Conduit in 2008-2009, suggest my logic is flawed, at least on the turf.
  • Pay close attention to Woodbine shippers on turf:  Perhaps this is pure coincidence, or the Churchill turf plays a lot like Woodbine's, but take a look at the evidence from 2011's Breeders races on grass:
    • Perfect Shirl -- 1st in the Emirates Filly & Mare Turf at nearly 28-to-1; finished second in the Grade 2 Canadian in her prior effort
    • Excaper -- 2nd at 33-to-1 in the Juvenile Turf two races removed from a close second in a first-time turf effort two races prior in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine
    • Regally Ready -- DOMINANT 1st in the Turf Sprint, though at a less savory 5-to-2, off a victory in the Grade 1 Nearctic over a yielding course
    • Court Vision -- 1st in the Breeders Cup Mile at a whopping 64-to-1, this time getting the best of my top selection, Woodbine Mile champ Turralure at 11-to-1, in a head-bob. 
  • Continue to watch Calder shippers on dirt: This angle might not be applicable to Santa Anita in 2012 based on the surface, but heeding my own notes from the 2010 Breeders gave me the confidence to include Musical Romance (20-to-1) in my winning daily double ($253.60) and Pick 3 ($270.40 for $1 base wager) combinations in 2011. Perhaps we'll have to save this one in the event that Belmont is granted the 2013 Breeders Cup.
  • Stay bullish on Dullahan in 2012.  I watched the Breeders Cup Juvenile a number of times, convinced that Union Rags was the best horse in the race, but knowing that promising two-year-olds rarely translate to top-flight three-year-olds, sought others in the field that offer promise with a winter of maturing and seasoning.  Dullahan is a horse I will be watching closely at the outset of 2012.  At first I thought Dullahan blew the first turn, but the full chart shows the horse was bumped and had to be steadied - the second straight race this horse has had trouble into the first turn (the horse fell way behind in the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in October before winning at nearly 18-to-1). From out of another zip code, and evidently unable to navigate the final turn, Dullahan came on with gusto to finish fourth by a neck.  I just think this one will do well with seasoning and working on his turns, and am anxious to see where he'll run in his first start at a 3YO in 2012. 

Now I can finally put my PPs from the Breeders Cup to rest.  Off to the recycle bin for them, but in a little less than a year I'm hoping to recycle some of these ideas for hefty profits.  Time will tell. 

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