Breeders’ Cup to ungraded stakes is a big class drop

December 13th, 2023

The Breeders’ Cup is the pinnacle of the U.S. racing calendar, pitting the best horses in the country against international challengers in 14 Grade 1 races.

We know when a horse descends from a Grade 1 stakes into an ungraded stakes, it’s a big class drop. But since the Breeders’ Cup races are a cut above typical Grade 1 races, the drop from a Breeders’ Cup race into an ungraded stakes can be monumental.

There’s an important takeaway here: in the weeks and months after the Breeders’ Cup is contested each year, keep an eye out for Breeders’ Cup starters coming back in ungraded stakes. Even if they finished nowhere in the Breeders’ Cup, the class drop can send them to the winner’s circle.

A pair of examples popped up shortly after the 2023 Breeders’ Cup. The $100,000 Pulpit S. for two-year-olds traveling 7 1/2 furlongs over the Gulfstream Park turf course appeared ripe for conquest by Noted, the ninth-place finisher from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on dirt. He’d previously finished second by a nose in the Bourbon (G2) on turf, so Noted figured to be dangerous while returning to turf and dropping sharply in class for an ungraded stakes. That was indeed the case, as Noted rallied to victory at odds of 6-5. Every $20 win bet returned $44.

A similar outcome unfolded in the $100,000 Cary Grant S. taking place over seven furlongs on dirt at Del Mar. The Chosen Vron, coming off a fifth-place finish in a deep renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), was making an even larger class drop than first appeared since the Cary Grant was restricted to California-bred horses.

Under the circumstances, The Chosen Vron’s post-time odds—1-2 while facing four rivals—could have been viewed as generous. They seemed especially so after The Chosen Vron beat logical second choice Big City Lights by 2 3/4 lengths, triggering payoffs of $30 (for every $20 win bet) and $56 (for the perfectly logical $20 exacta).

You might not find horses like Noted or The Chosen Vron starting at double-digit odds, but if you’re looking for horses to single in multi-race wagers (or key on top in exacta and trifecta wagers), Breeders' Cup alumni tackling ungraded stakes can be an excellent choice.