2012 Breeders Cup Contenders

When the Breeders Cup 2012 happens on November 2nd and 3rd, many of the world's top horses will be chasing glory at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. And glory isn't the only thing they'll be chasing since millions of dollars are on the line too. This being said, a showcase of excellent talent will be on display at the Breeders Cup.

But even with all of the top-level horses that are sure to be at Santa Anita Park in early November, some ponies have better chances at winning than others. Keeping this in mind, here is a detailed look at some of the favorites for the 2012 Breeders Cup Classic and Ladies' Classic.

2012 Breeders Cup Classic Contenders

POOL PLAY (Post Position 1):

One of two 30/1 longshots in the BC Classic field, Pool Play was a surprise winner in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Trained by Canadian Mark Casse, Pool Play suffered a bowed tendon early in his career making his recent success the end result of a highly unexpected comeback. His previous victory came after a one year layoff. Nice story, but hard to see him having much success against this class.

FLAT OUT (Post Position 2):

Back for a second run at the Breeder's Cup Classic after a 5th place performance last year. Finished 1 ½ lengths behind morning line favorite Game On Dude. Most of his success has been on the East Coast, particularly at Belmont where he's three for three in his career and coming off a win in the Jockeys Club Gold Cup (G1). Jockey change in that start to Joel Rosario apparently didn't have a deleterious impact. One of three Bill Mott trained entries in this race. Has been hampered by nagging foot problems throughout his career.

ALPHA (Post Position 3):

Alpha is a decent enough horse but there's a concern that he's in over his head here. Hasn't performed well when stepping up in class against other top three year olds and there's not much to suggest he'll fare better against top tier older horses. Like Flat Out, has experienced most of his success on the East Coast. Coming off a disappointing run in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby. Recent workouts have been impressive but hard to see him being more than a mid pack finisher here.

FORT LARNED (Post Position 4):

Coming off a third place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup which has to be considered a disappointment following a win in the G1 Whitney. Some suggest that he's just not equipped for longer distances. Has been turning in good workout times at Santa Anita and trainer Ian Wilkes suggests that he may be peaking at the right time. Likes to go to the front early and should set the pace but doubtful he can outrun a field of this class at this distance.

GAME ON DUDE (Post Position 5):

In the main event of the 2012 Breeders' Cup - the BC Classic - the current betting favorite and solid choice of many horse racing experts is the Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude. Game on Dude has's been in great form of late with Beyer Speed Figures over 100 in his last three races (109, 110, 108). He's coming off of a solid win in the Awesome Again (G1) in late September at Santa Anita. Game On Dude remained undefeated in his career at Santa Anita (4 career wins). That's significant since the Breeder's Cup is being held at Santa Anita this year. Game On Dude finished 1st or 2nd in eight of his last ten races and a change back to jockey Rafeal Bejerano from Chantal Sutherland for his last race didn't seem to faze him one bit. Bejerano is one of the best at Santa Anita and Game On Dude is a deserving favorite in this race.

BRILLIANT SPEED (Post Position 6):

Brilliant Speed will try to go out in style in what will be his final career race - he's retiring to stud regardless of the outcome here. Won the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) last year suggesting that he can compete on dirt but that was on a sloppy track, in theory a preferable condition for a horse from a turf background. His presence in this race could be more of an attempt to enhance his resume for breeding purposes - there's little to suggest that he can be a contender here. Realistically, should probably be priced higher.

HANDSOME MIKE (Post Position 7):

The obvious joke is that Handsome Mike will try to get by on his 'good looks' in a field full of tough competitors. Coming off a big upset win in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby but everything suggests that this performance was a serious aberration and not a sign that he's 'raising the level' of his game. Ran a career best 96 Beyer in the Pennsylvania Derby but that's not particularly impressive in a field where all but one of his rivals (Alpha) has at least two career Beyer Figures in excess of 100. Doesn't have world class speed sufficient to run away from this field, but isn't a strong enough closer to come from off the pace. Will likely get crushed here and finish near the back of the field. Odds are a little short given his qualitative shortcomings relative to the rest of the field.

NONIOS (Post Position 8):

The Jerry Hollandorfer trained Nonios with Martin Pedroza aboard is an intriguing entry at this price. Coming off a career best 106 Beyer in his last race, a second place finish in the G1 Awesome Again behind Game On Dude, the favorite in this race. Has looked strong in his workouts at Santa Anita and this could be a case where he is getting better at the right time. Easily the best longshot in the field and one that could be a solid choice in exotics as well.

RICHARD'S KID (Post Position 9):

Finished third in the G1 Awesome Again behind two other entries in this field (Game On Dude, Nonios). Richard's Kid is the oldest (7 years old) and most experience contender in this field. Tactically, the race doesn't set up well for him - needs a brisk early pace to be a contender and Game On Dude is the only true pace setter entered. Still, he's a quality horse that could finish in the money. Probably better to use underneath in exotics as there's little to suggest that the pace of the race will put him in a position to win.

RON THE GREEK (Post Position 10):

Another Bill Mott trained horse, Ron the Greek could be his best shot at a BC Classic winner. Coming off a disappointing finish in his last race (6th in the Jockey Club Gold Cup) he looked very good in his only career start at Santa Anita, a victory in the Santa Anita Handicap. Has become a trendy pick among horse racing handicappers who expect him to bounce back from his bad outing the last time out. Prior to his out of the money finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Ron the Greek had finished first or second in nine consecutive races. A high quality entry that could be a factor if the favored Game On Dude falters.

MUCHO MACHO MAN (Post Position 11):

The four year old colt trained by Kathy Ritvo is perhaps best known for his third place finish in the 2011 Kentucky Derby but has been in very good form of late. He's finished 'in the money' in each of his last six races with four victories. He's coming off a second place finish in the Woodward at Saratoga on September 1st. Many horse racing handicappers are concerned about Mucho Macho Man's stamina and are unsure about his workload with five races in 2012. Distance is also an issue - his only shot at 10 furlongs was in the 2011 Derby and may be much better suited for 9 furlongs. Might be overvalued here due to his 'name value' with casual bettors and the mainstream public.

TO HONOR AND SERVE (Post Position 12):

The third Bill Mott trained entry, To Honor And Serve has been plagued by inconsistent performances in his most recent races. He's won five of his last ten races, but finished in the money only once in the five races he didn't win. Questions about how he'll take to the Santa Anita track and for that matter how he'll do having traveled cross country for the first time in his career. Previous to this he's never been further West than Philadelphia's Parx Racing. Could be a factor if he brings his 'A game' but if he doesn't overachieve greatly there seems to be more downside than upside with To Honor and Serve as a betting proposition.

Click here for a full list of horse racing odds in Breeders Cup Classic

2012 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic Contenders

GRACE HALL (Post Position 1):

Trained by Rick Dutrow and ridden by Javier Castellano, Grace Hall is a horse that could be 'under the radar' among Breeders' Cup bettors. She enters this race in the shadow of the two superstar fillies, Royal Delta and Awesome Feather. She's finished out of the money only once in her career and has 3 wins along with a 2nd and 3rd finish in six races as a three year old. Took second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last year. Some concern that she's not won a G1 race this year (all three wins in G2) which suggests that while a solid competitor she could be qualitatively overmatched in this talent laden field. Beaten as a favorite in the three biggest races of her career. On the flip side, you're getting a good horse at the highest price of her career.

MY MISS AURELIA (Post Position 2):

WoWon the BC Juvenile Fillies in 2011 and is undefeated in six career races. Good jockey in Corey Nakatani aboard but there's a number of reasons to be concerned about My Miss Aurelia and particularly at such a short price. Has only raced twice as a three year old and in a field with the best older fillies in the world may not be sufficiently 'battle tested'. More significantly, perhaps, the two races didn't really set her up well for this challenge with one being a short sprint and the other a tough victory over Questing in the Cotillion Stakes. Tough to do anything with her at this price - better favorites in the field along with more lucrative longshots. Have to think she's overvalued here.

CLASS INCLUDED (Post Position 3):

Biggest longshot in the field and for good reason - only two career races off the beaten path of thoroughbred racing (Seattle's Emerald Downs). Finished first and second in those races but she hasn't raced at all since 2010. A monumental step up in class and no reason to think she can handle this talented field and particularly with no prep races. This could be a case where the owner wants to have a 'Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic' veteran in hopes of demanding higher prices in the breeding shed. Realistically, shouldn't be in this race.

QUESTING (GB) (Post Position 4):

The British 'import' Questing is a very good filly but in this insanely deep Ladies' Classic field 'very good' probably won't get it done. There's definitely a lot to like about Questing in terms of her recent form - she's competed in three straight G1 races with two wins and a second place finish - and that was an impressive effort in a near miss loss to My Miss Aurelia in the Cotillion Stakes. Worth noting that both of her G1 wins were at Saratoga so there's some concern about how she'll run at Santa Anita. A quality competitor but too many strong older female horses in this field.

AWESOME FEATHER (Post Position 5):

Royal Delta's most likely challenger is 2010 BC Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather. Awesome Feather is undefeated in her racing career though there are some questions about her level of competition in many of those wins. With the exception of her 2010 Breeders' Cup win she's only competed in one other graded stakes race during her career, a victory in the G1 Gazelle Handicap last November. Furthermore, she's only raced twice in 2012 and just four times since her 2010 BC victory which is also a concern. Some trainers subscribe to the theory that its better to race an older horse lightly heading into a big challenge like the Breeders' Cup but there's a compelling argument that Awesome Feather just isn't in the same class as Royal Delta. Awesome Feather is something of a trendy choice among horse racing aficionados and her style of stalking from off the pace looks to be made to order for an upset win here.

ROYAL DELTA (Post Position 6):

In the 2012 Breeders' Cup the most salient example of the 'financial incentive' dynamic we outlined in the opening program is a filly and for that reason we'll start our rundown with the Ladies' Classic. 4 year old Bill Mott trained filly Royal Delta is the decided favorite at 2/1 odds, having been bet down from 7/1. There had been some speculation that Royal Delta's connections would let her take a shot at the big payday in the BC Classic but instead they opted to go for a repeat win in the Ladies' Classic. She's coming off an impressive win in the G1 Beldame there's no reason to think she can't be a serious contender once again. Some contrarians aren't sold on her performance when stepping up in class but the win answered some of those criticisms. On the other hand this will be her first career race at Santa Anita and there's always a chance that a horse just won't like a particular track or racing surface. Have to like the fact that Mike Smith is aboard in this situation. Other than the questions about how Royal Delta will take to Santa Anita she offers few downsides though Awesome Feather could be a better wagering value.

INCLUDE ME OUT (Post Position 7):

Joe Talamo will be aboard this very intriguing choice. Her recent form isn't nearly as good as the rest of the field - she looked incredible early in her four year old campaign but came up short in two of her last three races. Then again, a season record of four wins, a second and a third in six races - all graded stakes with four G1 starts and two G2 isn't too shabby. Some concern that she may be in over her head relative to the rest of this talented field but offers the advantage of being very familiar and comfortable with the Santa Anita track. Lots of 'bang for the buck' with this entry and one that should be considered in exotics.

LOVE AND PRIDE (Post Position 8):

Impeccable connections with John Velasquez riding and Todd Pletcher training. Bad tactical matchup - at least in theory - for a speedster horse that needs to set the pace but that could expend too much early. That could be fatal against such a deep and talented field. Then again, much of handicapping horse racing is finding entries that are on an upward progression and Love and Pride has improved every time out in her four year old campaign. Coming off an impressive win on this track in the Grade 1 Zenyatta and looks to have benefited from a recent equipment change (blinkers off).

Click here for a full list of Breeders Cup Ladies Classic Odds

Don't Just Look at the Breeders Cup Odds

When deciding which horses you're going to bet on, don't just rely on the odds to guide you. Instead, it's a better idea to do as much research as you can in order to make informed wagers. The biggest aspect that you should pay attention to is a horse's latest race performances and workouts (if you can find the latter). Recent results are the best indicator of how well a horse does in the immediate future.

Also make sure to keep up on the latest 2012 Breeders Cup news and updates so you can get a feel for which way odds could be changing. By finding the most favorable Breeders Cup odds, you'll have a much better opportunity to win big profits.