Beating Zenyatta: a Punter's guide to the Breeders Cup Classic

Joe NixonCorrespondent INovember 7, 2009

ARCADIA, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Jockey Mike Smith atop Zenyatta pose with owners and trainers in the winner's circle after winning the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic during the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park October 24, 2008 in Arcadia, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images



Zenyatta is a dangerous horse and liable to finish as the winner. However, as the name favorite she is likely to be over bet considerably.  Still even Zenyatta has some drawbacks. She can be beaten. Don’t read to much into her workouts at this distance she could become gassed. Especially consider most of her 13 wins have been close. She will be the public favorite so if you do take her the odds will be low. It will be your job to beat her with a smart bet that will bring in more favorable odds.


Also bear in mind Zenyatta isn’t the only favorite. That’s because British bookmakers have their favorite son, Irish racehorse Rip Van Winkle as their favorite. This will be Van Winkle’s first time on the sythetics. The biggest question about him is that he has been plagued by foot problems overseas and it is hard to tell if this horse is ever 100%. If I’m going to give a horse my money, I want to be sure he’s going to be able to give it his all at post time. If you want to spend money on showy imports: save it for designer sunglasses and watches.


The true contender to Zenyatta is Summer Bird. The three year old who disappointed in the Kentucky Derby was last seen winning a Grade 1 race at Belmont by a length in October. We know Summer Bird ships well and has the best speed figures at this distance (1 and 1/4th Mile). Odds will be close on this surefire contender.


Quality Road also has a strong upside. He has faced strong competition before perhaps most famously when he upset Dunkirk in the Florid Derby.  He has the highest speed ratings in this one. He can win on the dirt and is a horse you have to take seriously. He was second in his last race and third before that. Both of which were Grade 1 races at the distance of today’s race. Hard to find a knock against this horse.


Where can a punter find the best value in the tight Breeders Cup field?


A horse worth noting is Gio Ponti. Ponti tried a mile and a half G1 race at Belmont and came in second at the beginning of October. This is not a bad horse though he lost badly his only trip on the synthetics. More recently he was second in a  race that was a mile and a half. He produced a very high speed figure in that one if that means anything to you.


I like Einstien whose morning line will be 12-1. This talented horse hasn't really run a bad race in his career. Sure he hasn’t run in two months though this is in keeping with the pattern of his career. It should not be a concern. He was second by a neck in a G-1 race in September. I say he finishes in the money.