Breeders' Cup undercard spot plays for Friday and Saturday

November 4th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares spot plays for the Breeders’ Cup undercard races on Friday and Saturday at Keeneland, including a 15-1 longshot in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2).


Keeneland, Race 4: $100,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (seven furlongs, 1:40 p.m. ET)

#9 Arabian Lion (7-5) was a sharp gate-to-wire debut winner sprinting six furlongs at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. His three-length victory produced a lofty 91 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in Friday’s field.

Arabian Lion will drop blinkers for his second start, a move Baffert has executed in the past with such high-profile runners as Triple Crown winner Justify and champion Game Winner. After breezing a fast six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 at Santa Anita last week, all signs suggest Arabian Lion is sitting on a winning run.

We’ll single Arabian Lion to kick off a double wager, then add the stoutly bred Churchill Downs debut winner #11 Tres Soles (5-1) for second place in an exacta.

  • $20 Double: 9 with 2
  • $10 Exacta: 9 with 11
    Total: $30

Keeneland, Race 5: Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2, 1 5/8 miles, 2:15 p.m. ET)

The short-lived Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2) carries on as the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2), a 1 5/8-mile dirt race that travels from track to track with the Breeders’ Cup.

The three-year-old #1 Rattle N Roll (5-2) is favored to win this long-distance prize after rallying to victories in the St. Louis Derby and Oklahoma Derby (G3), but he’s never run farther than 1 3/16 miles and hasn't competed against older horses.

#4 Heywoods Beach (4-1) might be a more trustworthy play. The long-winded California raider counts victories in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II (G3) and 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Cup (G3) on his accomplished resume. The latter victory came by a neck over the consistent and improving three-year-old #9 Win the Day (6-1), who thrived in his first start over 1 1/2 miles.

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But we’ll aim to beat all these runners with longshot #2 Next (15-1). The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) participant absolutely freaked when stretching out over 1 1/2 miles for the Cape Henlopen S. at Delaware Park two months ago, tracking a slow pace before drawing off with complete authority to dominate by 18 1/4 lengths.

Next was full of run down the homestretch, running his final quarter-mile in a sensational :23.54 to record a track-record 2:30.25. That effort marked Next’s first dirt run since being claimed by high-percentage trainer William Cowans, so there’s a good chance Next can replicate his Cape Henlopen performance while stretching out over another furlong in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Let’s bet Next to win and play him on top in the exacta and trifecta.

  • $24 to win: #2 Next
  • $7 Exacta: 2 with 4, 9 ($14)
  • $2 Trifecta: 2 with 4, 9 with 1, 3, 4, 9 ($12)
    Total: $50


Keeneland, Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 10:30 a.m. ET)

Trainer Bob Baffert has gone 11-for-32 (34%) debuting two-year-olds this season, which suggests there’s a roughly 1-in-3 chance of Baffert’s unraced juvenile #4 Arabian Knight (2-1) winning the Saturday opener at Keeneland. Arabian Knight’s 2-1 morning line odds likewise represent a 1-in-3 chance at victory, so if those odds hold up, Arabian Knight is a fair price.

Truthfully though, Arabian Knight probably has better than a 1-in-3 shot to win. The $2.3 million auction acquisition enters off fast workouts at Santa Anita (including six furlongs from the starting gate in 1:12) and has Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez named to ride. Sire Uncle Mo won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and is responsible for a solid 14% winners from first-time starters, so Arabian Knight has the breeding to factor from an early age.

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We’ll use #12 Regan (4-1) and longshot #9 Aerator (30-1) for second place in the exacta.

  • $20 win:  #4 Arabian Knight
  • $7 Exacta: 4 with 12
  • $3 Exacta: 4 with 9
    Total: $30

Good luck!