Breeders' Cup Santa Anita 2012: Long Shots with the Best Odds to Win
Long shots are a big part of the Breeders' Cup history. With so many leveled fields and some horses just not firing their best race after a long and tough season, any horse can sneak up and pull off the upset.
Arcangues scored the biggest upset in Breeders' Cup history when, under last-minute replacement jockey Jerry Bailey, he overtook Bertrando in the stretch and won the 1993 Classic.
His $269.20 payoff for a $2 wager is still the record for the Breeders' Cup to date.
Every year we see favorites drop like flies and the not-so-favored taking over the winner's circle. So it's important that you do your homework and start handicapping the fields.
If you haven't done your homework and started studying your past performances, it's never to late to start.
I suggest you pickup your favorite website to get your past performances and start getting familiar with the fields. But if you need a head start, do not despair: I've already done my handicapping.
Let me take you through a quick look at which horses could sneak under the radar, win and won't be favored.
Juvenile Sprint: Hazardous (8-1)
Record: 3-2-0-0 ($24,380)
Jockey: Edwin A. Maldonado
Trainer: Carl O'Callaghan
This horse seems to be outclassed because he is a claimer stepping up in class here.
But do not be fooled by this: the true quality of the horses in this field is unproven, and at this point in their careers, a big move forward can be expected.
In his last he won ridden out by 13 lengths after coming out slow from the gate and finishing with a time of 1:10.3 for the six furlongs here at Santa Anita. This is the best time for the distance of anyone on the field.
Marathon: Commander (15-1)
Record: 23-8-3-2 ($328,397)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Troy Taylor
This will be the first Breeders' Cup starter for 81-year-old trainer Troy Taylor, who has his horse in prime form right now.
He gelded him earlier in the year and since then Commander hasn't lost a race.
His last race, a hard-fought 11-furlong win at the Grade III B.C. Premier’s Handicap, was the sixth win in a row for him and his first graded stakes win.
Expect him to go for the lead here. While it's a long way to go for 14 furlongs, with Mario Gutierrez aboard and being the only true speed in the race, he could get him to relax and play catch-me-if-you-can.
Juvenile Fillies Turf: Flotilla (8-1) and Flashy Ways (10-1)
Record: 4-1-0-0 ($42,219)
Jockey: Christophe P. Lemaire
Trainer: Mikel Delzangles
This filly hasn't had luck by her side on her last two races, where she was not able to reach the leaders after being compromised by traffic.
In her last start, a Group 1 race in Longchamp, she was stuck in traffic on the rail and never got a chance to make her run and still lost by only 1.5 lengths.
Prior to that in a Group 3 race in Chantilly, she again was stuck in traffic. When she got to an opening on the outside, the wire was there, losing by 2.5 lengths.
She just needs a good trip, and now with Lemaire aboard, that is a great possibility.
Record: 2-2-0-0 ($81,600)
Jockey: Joseph Talamo
Trainer: Richard Baltas
This filly is unbeaten in two starts winning with sizzling times, including a 1:34.45 for the mile on her last over the Santa Anita course.
Her workouts for the race show he hasn't regressed and seems ready to fire off another big race here.
The Talamo-Baltas jockey-trainer combination is a potentially rewarding one; keep it in mind and get this filly in all your bets.
Filly and Mare Turf: In Lingerie (12-1)
Record: 7-4-2-1 ($712,265)
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
This rapidly improving filly will try the turf for the first time after undressing her opposition in her win at the Grade I Juddmonte Spinster over the Keeneland Polytrack course.
With that win she stays a perfect 3-for-3 over the artificial track. If she carries that form to the turf, she will be on tough customer with a great chance to win.
Take into consideration that the jockey-trainer combination is the winningest of any other in the Breeders Cup: John Velazquez-Todd Pletcher.
Ladies Classic: Grace Hall (10-1)
Record: 10-6-2-1 ($1,281,360)
Jockey: Javier J. Castellano
Trainer: Anthony W. Dutrow
Up to this point in her career, she has not been able to beat the best in the division.
But she has shown in her races that she has the ability to take that step forward and finally beat the top of her division.
He last race was an easy hand-ridden win over an inferior field in the Indiana Oaks, where she blitzed the 8.5 furlongs in 1:41.8.
This filly is ready to roll; she has been zipping through her workouts and can benefit from her recent form here with a forward move.
Javier Castellano, the nation's second jockey in the money list, has the mount.
Juvenile Turf: Gervinho (15-1)
Record: 2-2-0-0 ($102,000)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Trainer: Carla Gaines
This colt is unbeaten in two starts, both of which were impressive wins.
He hasn't romped but the way he has come from just off the pace and taken control of the race to win, along with his times, makes it impressive.
In his last start he won the ungraded Zuma Beach Stakes here in Santa Anita. He saved ground, chased the leaders and after coming to the outside at the eighth pole, he made his move with ease to win.
Rafael Bejarano, is red hot and happens to be the top jockey on the West Coast. He retains the mount, which makes him a must-play.
Filly & Mare Sprint: Switch (12-1)
Record: 23-6-7-4 ($1,380,562)
Jockey: Garrett K. Gomez
Trainer: John W. Sadler
Switch hasn't been sharp this year ,and most of his starts signal she is just not on her top form anymore.
But she has been the runner-up in this race the last two years. On those two occasions she had been working out extremely well toward the race.
She has two blistering workouts for this race that indicate she looks ready to take a move forward and make her a dangerous contender once again.
Add to this the mount of Garrett Gomez, and you have to take a look at her and at the very least include her in your exotics.
Turf Sprint: Mizdirection (20-1)
Record: 11-6-4-1 ($374,621)
Jockey: Mike E. Smith
Trainer: Mike Puype
This filly is unbeaten over this course (Downhill Turf) and at this very same this distance (about 6.5 furlongs) in two tries.
The only thing that could work against her is that she is coming off a rather long layoff, but has plenty of works building up to this race. Her last time of 59.2 for five furlongs over the turf here was the best among the nine in the field and shows she is ready to fire a big race.
As an added value, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who has won twice with her (including a win here in Santa Anita at this distance), will be the jockey. He is the BC all-time co-leader in BC wins of all time.
Turf: Optimizer (20-1)
Record: 16-3-2-1 ($428,714)
Jockey: Jon K. Court
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Optimizer has been on a nice roll with two consecutive wins over turf courses, including his last start while winning the Grade III over the Delaware course.
His pedigree suggests the switch to turf should be permanent and supports this choice. His sire, English Channel, won this race in 2007 and won the American Turf champion award that same year.
He steps up in class here, but if you are looking for a possible surprise, this is a horse that has been moving forward. His workouts for this race back his recent form.
Sprint: Fast Bullet (12-1)
Record: 2-2-0-0 ($55,800)
Jockey: Joseph Talamo
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Fast Bullet has run only twice. His last race was over a year ago and he will be running in a stakes race for the first time.
But the Zayat Stables protege has shown plenty of talent in his only two starts, and that deserves taking him into consideration for this race.
His only two races have been outstanding sprints with blazing times.
Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat are not people that will run horses in a race like this just for fun; they are here with him to win it.
He is working out like he never left. He has been scorching the track in the mornings; if he runs like he is working out, he will be tough to beat.
Mile: Animal Kingdom (8-1)
Record: 8-4-3-0 ($1,967,500)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Trainer: H. Graham Motion
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner comes from an eight-month layoff but trainer Graham Motion has him very well-prepared for the task at hand.
It looks like a daunting task to come from such a layoff and face a world-class field like this one at a distance that might not be his best and expect a win.
But Animal Kingdom is not your average horse. His turn of foot is as good as anyone here, and if he can manage to be close, he could factor in the final result.
With Johnny Velazquez aboard Wise Dan, the mount of Rafael Bejarano helps to minimize the loss.
Classic: To Honor and Serve (8-1) and Richard's Kid (12-1)
To Honor and Serve
Record: 16-8-1-3 ($1,798,840)
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Trainer: William I. Mott
To Honor and Serve has been inconsistent to say the least this year. When he is on, he beats the best in the nation, but when he is off, he is way off.
His last effort at the Kelso was dull and never seemed to have done anything during the race. But he has been working great since, and those workouts point toward him firing a big race.
John Velazquez knows him better than any other jockey and has an excellent record aboard him (7-5-0-1).
Expect him to use to his advantage on the outside post, from where he can watch everything unfold inside him and have the horse on the clear, get a clean trip and ready for the move at the right time.
Record: 37-11-3-9 ($2,136,360)
Jockey: Garrett K. Gomez
Trainer: Doug F. O'Neill
Richard's Kid was compromised by the pace on his last race, but overall it was still a solid effort on his part.
He has a 4-1-0-2 record at Santa Anita, and while it's not the perfect 5-for-5 that Game on Dude has, he has experience over the track.
He has the ability and quality to win here; he just needs an honest pace up front and an alert ride.
Garrett Gomez was aboard on his last race and now has a better grasp for the horse. With a different pace scenario here, expect Gomez to be prepared for a different approach and give his horse the best chance to pull off the upset.