A COUNTRY BOY’S GUIDE TO BETTING THE BREEDERS’ CUP
I think once upon a time Hank Jr. sang a little song about a country boy can survive. Between whiskey drinks, old Bocephus told us all about the resourcefulness of a man from rural America. So with the world’s greatest sporting event drawing ever so near and nestled in the Kentucky countryside, how does a hick from the sticks make a little moonshine money at the Breeders’ Cup?
We know from the lyrics he can plow a field all day long and catch catfish from dusk til dawn. Question is, while skinning a buck and running a trot line, can a country boy find a way to make a little hay at the windows during the biggest Thoroughbred event of the year? Opportunities to cash big will be more plentiful than beer cans in cousin Joe Bob’s truck bed. The beauty of the Breeders’ Cup is all the runners have a chance and some really good horses can go to post at a very nice price. It’s like my pal Dale Romans says, “back a horse and get paid”. Dale trained Court Vision (65 to 1) to a huge payoff in the 2011 Mile at Churchill Downs.
So here goes with some selections made relative with the use of a few hillbilly terms. Because we were a little shy on the three R’s (reading, riting, rithmatic) at the schoolhouse, we will stick to a few of the races run on October 31.
Shotgun-One of the integral parts of any hick’s home place is his trusty shotgun. Whether it be a 12 gauge pump or sweet 16 automatic, it fires with reliability. All of the races come up tough here, but we are going with the Songbird in the Juvenile Fillies as our Mossberg. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, this undefeated daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup wins, Mike Smith, in the irons. The morning line favorite at 7-5, Songbird may not offer up a tremendous payoff, but cashing tickets is the name of the game here. Race 3, take the 10 horse, Songbird.
Uncle Henry-One of the more trusty things in the overalls usually is your pocketknife. Long known for keeping a good edge and having the ability to both field dress and cut a stick of bologna, the Uncle Henry at this year’s Cup comes in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Judy the Beauty loves the Keeneland course and has won four times in five lifetime starts at what is considered her “home” track by trainer Wesley Ward. Her lone defeat at Keeneland came this year on October 3 and that has put this 6-year old daughter of Ghostzapper at 6 to 1 on the morning line. But wait a minute, didn’t she win this race last year? In fact, Judy was as pretty as a freshly sharpened blade in 2014 and should be sharp here with veteran Frankie Detorri in the irons. Go Beauty, the 11 horse, across the board in race 5.
Pickup Truck- A man loves his truck. It can haul a rick of firewood, take momma to the Dollar General, then act as the limo when heading out to the bonfire at the boat dock. Bottom line, the Dodge delivers. Let’s look for our 4 wheel drive in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Pizza Man has indeed delivered in 2015 as this six-year old son of English Channel has three wins and a second in four starts. With rising jock Florent Geroux in the irons and at 15-1 on the morning line, take the Pizza Man across the board. With a big closing kick, the 10 horse in the 10th race might be better than a King Ranch F150.
Hound Dog- The one thing that completes every hillbilly is his best friend. If the country boy is lucky he may even have more than one. A pack of beagles or a pair of coon dogs might be laying up on the front porch just waiting for a chance to please their master. So here is where we are going with this. The Classic has many top notch horses in the field of ten so perhaps a trifecta box is the way to land some cash for that corn in a jar. We don’t have to pick the winner, we just need to pick the top three and however they finish doesn’t matter as the box means you still get paid. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has to be there. Despite a very taxing year, he still appears to be in top form. Two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Beholder is likely the top threat to topple the Pharoah as her turn of foot and intelligence is amazing. Yes we said “her”, but as history tells us, a girl can often be the undoing of a boy’s biggest plans. The third member of our box is three-year old Keen Ice. Eager to prove his win over American Pharoah in the Traver’s Stakes was no fluke, this maturing colt is fresh and as his trainer Dale Romans says “getting better every day”. That means our hound dog bet is box the 2 (Keen Ice), 4 (American Pharoah), and the 10 (Beholder) in a trifecta for race 11.
What we have to remember about all this is the Breeders’ Cup is a glorious coming together of the best Thoroughbreds in the world. The competition here is unbelievable and even if these tickets are only good for fire starting…a country boy can survive!