Finding vulnerable favorites in the 2022 Breeders' Cup

November 1st, 2022

A primary key to handicapping the Breeders' Cup successfully, or any race card for that matter, is finding and eliminating vulnerable favorites. I've attempted to do just that for the Breeders' Cup in recent years, though I have to say my 3-for-5 record in 2020 and 1-for-3 strike rate in 2021 could have been better.

While some horses pegged as morning line favorites for this weekend's races might not actually wind up as the actual public choice, they still figure to attract a significant amount of attention. Taking a stand against some of them, especially in multi-race wagers, will reduce expenditure and potentially boost the value of your tickets should you be right.

HANSON: Lukewarm Breeders' Cup favorites typically ones to avoid

Here are several morning line favorites I'll be looking to beat:

The Platinum Queen: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1)

American-based runners have dominated this race in its brief history, though Europeans have done well filling out the minor slots. The Platinum Queen is different from most Europeans as she's done extraordinarily well already against older rivals in select races like the Nunthorpe (G1) and Prix de l'Abbaye (G1), which are open to highly precocious two-year-olds.

A strong second to Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) candidate Highfield Princess in the Nunthorpe at York, The Platinum Queen most recently landed the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp, becoming the first juvenile to do so since the late 1970s.

Besides having to overcome the seemingly inherent home field advantage, The Platinum Queen has drawn widest in post 12 and will be running around a bend for the first time in her career. She's clearly dangerous, but 7-2 or thereabouts seems a touch short.

MUCCIOLO: Breeders' Cup: Two-year-old trends

Meditate: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)

A lukewarm choice on the morning line at 4-1, Meditate is certainly not without a chance based on her recent form, in particular her clear second-place effort to the exciting Tahiyra in the Moyglare Stud (G1) two back.

However, the historical trend in this race is to lean on the Americans. Since this race was inaugurated in 2008, only two European-based fillies have won, and those occurred back in 2012-13. For whatever reason(s), the colts and geldings sent over for the Juvenile Turf have been far more effective on average than the fillies imported for this race.

Given the competitive nature of the race, I'll bet on that trend continuing Friday.

Goodnight Olive: Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1)

Eminently logical with a 5-for-6 record, including a decisive win in the Ballerina (G1) last time, Goodnight Olive might actually be a steal at 3-1 if she runs back to her recent form.

The main sticking point is that soundness issues have limited her to only six career starts. While there is no evidence to suggest she's been affected by them at all this season, there's always little margin for error at short odds, and this field will be nearly twice the size and tougher than the one she dispensed with at Saratoga.

Two others I'm taking a cautious view toward, but not firmly standing against, are two-time Breeders' Cup winner Golden Pal, the 2-1 favorite to repeat in the Turf Sprint, and 4-5 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) favorite Jackie's Warrior, who has lost as a short-priced favorite at the previous two Breeders' Cups. While I do not sense the same kind of vulnerability with them as I do the above three, neither has "wowed" me during the second half of the season.

SCULLY: Jackie's Warrior pursues elusive Breeders' Cup win

Golden Pal is freakishly fast out of the gate and might run away from them again, but there are some legitimate threats in opposition. Jackie's Warrior looks every bit of his morning line price given who is lining up against him (and who isn't), but my gut feeling is that he might not be the overwhelming standout he was, say, six months ago.