The biggest race on the Breeders’ Cup card, and one of the two or three biggest in the world, will crown the second day of racing’s biggest festival. This year’s version might not have the depth that other year’s has had, but it has all the star power at the top anyone could want. Curlin has won more money than any horse ever has, and he has beat top horses on tracks around North America and in Dubai. He has lost just once since the Haskell last year, and that was a game second in his first and only try on the turf. He’s racing royalty – the best of hs generation.
Handicapping this race comes down to just one thing – do you want to believe in Curlin or not? The price for the favorite will be so low – likely even money or lower by post time – that you won’t be able to both back him and hedge him with other horses. In my book he’s a sound bet, and my money will be on him. In fact, I expect a big win from him over a solid but not overwhelming field. There are several reasons, not the least of which is the emotonal attachment I have had to the horse since before the Derby last year, that I will be backing him. Among them:
1. He just wins. Distance, track, competitors – it doesn’t matter. Even on the turf, a surface he clearly didn’t take to, he fought as hard as he could. We will get a full effort from him tomorrow, and that full effort should be more than enough.
2. The surface. Curlin has never run on a synthetic surface, and there has been some concerns that he might not be suited to it. I don’t buy it at all. His sire, Smart Strike, has proven to be very good at producing synthetic runners. He has trained very well over the Santa Anita surface, and I don’t expect it to be an issue at all.
3. The field. Who’s going to beat him? There are a lot of nice horses in the race – Tiago, Colonel John, the Euro’s, Student Council and so on – but none of them on their best day can touch Curlin on his. He’s run in bigger races than the others and he has won them. This is the current Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup champ. That’s no fluke.
I’ll have Curlin to win, and perhaps on top of a few exotics. Those won’t be as attractive as they could be, though, since the low price and the fact that everyone will have hm eyed on top will limit the return. In the end, a straight win bet might be the best way to maximize return while minimizing risk.