So without further Adieu, my (regrettably hypothetical) $80 on the Breeder's Cup goes as follows:
Ground rules first: when I pick winners, I'm looking for talent, but when I bet, I'm looking for value. I'd rather lose my $$ chasing a good payout than put $10 on the favorite to place and earn fifty cents for my trouble. Eight races to the Breeder's Cup; I spend $10 each, and even if they all lose, I've had my day at the theatre.
Folklore and Adieu have earned their status as favorites, and Original Spin would be a nice longer shot, except that I've seen her touted as a longer shot so many times that she'll probably be 4-1 by race time. So I'll take a flyer on the Exploit filly Knight's Templar. Nice old bloodlines and three bullet works in a row! She threw in a clunker two back, but that was on the turf. $2 across and two $1 exacta boxes with Folklore and Adieu equals $10.
Hard to argue with First Samurai--I think he's the real thing. But we're looking for longshot money here, and I like Stream Cat, Leo and Brother Derek. Any resemblance of the last two to my cat's name and Derek Lowe are purely coincidental... not. ;) $1 across on each of them for a $9 total (and I'm saving a dollar for the Distaff).
FILLY AND MARE TURF
Oh, Riskaverse. I wager on you, you lose; I don't, you win. But you are the only horse I like who won't be in the favorites. I've seen Intercontinental put away the field at Belmont. Will the great Ouija Board like this turf course and revert to her old form? What about Megahertz, on top of her game right now? Over/under $1 exacta box with Riskaverse and Intercontinental/Megahertz/Wonder Again/Film Maker/Ouija Board, for another $10.
The list of horses on whom I've lost money grows longer. Lifestyle (I RUSHED to Belmont to be there in time for his race on Belmont Day 2004 so I could lose money on him...). Gygistar (at Suffolk Downs no less!). Anyway. My head (most of it) and my heart (ALL of it) say Lost in the Fog. But so will most of the Belmont bettors... so let's look for longshots in the win pool. Taste of Paradise and Silver Train have last-out wins at Belmont; Wildcat Heir off a break; Imperialism with a change in distance philosophy (and a win at 7 furlongs); Elusive Jazz because, well, he beat a horse last time out named Premium Saltine, and sometimes you take inspiration where it comes. $2 on each of those five to win--and I hope I don't collect and Lost in the Fog is Horse of the Year.
Tough call. I like the probable favorite, Leroidesanimaux, but that outside post worries me a smidge. I think Host and Funfair are very live longshots; if I'm still near the computer before this race goes off I might revise my bet. But for now I'll settle on an over/under $1 exacta on Leroidesanimaux with Host/Funfair/Singletary/Artie Schiller, and for the hell of it, a $1 exacta box on Host/Funfair. (Dinner's on me if that last one comes in!)
Ashado will be tough to beat and priced accordingly. Stellar Jayne has to get some of my money just for her broodmare sire, Relaunch, sire of local star Waquoit. One thing about this race in the past performances--a lot of these girls are picking up 5-8 pounds from their usual imposts, so keep that in mind. I'm looking for fillies and mares who have won at Belmont and carried close to race weight, and I'm coming up with Nick Zito's In the Gold. $2 exacta boxes on Ashado/Stellar Jayne and Ashado/In the Gold, and a dollar across on In the Gold.
The big question in the Turf is the wet, yielding turf course. Azamour, for one, probably won't like it. Shirocco will, but that's been pretty widely reported and will likely drive his price down. So my longshots here are Silverfoot and Gun Salute, both of whom have won over varying types of courses. $1 across on each of them, plus $1 exact boxes on Shirocco/Silverfoot and Shirocco/Gun Salute for $10 total.
Not much not to like about Saint Liam--he's a terrific horse, he likes the track, and he's done just fine off longer layoffs. But with Rock Hard Ten out, he'll have a low, low price. What to make of the rest of the field? I like Starcraft as a longshot... if he stays a longshot. Oratorio, too, though neither has run on dirt. Perfect Drift is due to pull a Cat-Thief-like surprise excellent race. Is Borrego the real thing, or does his success reflect the decimation of the ranks via injury this year? (I think the latter--and it'll serve me right if I'm wrong, since I liked this horse for the Derby back when he was running behind Smarty Jones in Louisiana.) Okay--let's make this simple. $5 to win each on Starcraft and Oratorio.