Jason Beem's Thursday Column for October 20, 2022

October 20th, 2022

A good Thursday morning to you all! Continuing my slow journey across America as I write to you now from beautiful New Mexico! The drive from Vegas was very good, and it’s interesting how different Northern Arizona is from the Phoenix area that I think many of us think of when we think of Arizona.

Northern Arizona has lots of trees and extremely high elevation. Even here in New Mexico, I did a quick workout and was feeling low on air even after just a few sets of weights and a few flights of stairs. I’m choosing to blame the elevation and not my general physical health.

As I was prepping for my Thursday podcast, I noticed that a lot of racing websites were already featuring Breeders’ Cup stories and thoughts. Some handicappers are already doing Breeders’ Cup work and teasing their various packages you can buy. After noticing this, I looked at the date and realized we’re just over two weeks away from the big weekend at Keeneland. So what does that mean for us as horseplayers?

Well, my initial inclination was nothing. I’m way more interested in what will happen this weekend at the tracks I follow all the time. Good betting scores can come from anywhere and everywhere, not just on big days, so why get so far ahead of myself and start looking at Breeders’ Cup stuff.

I do find it interesting that so often horseplayers (I’ve been so guilty of this) will put extra time, effort, and money into the big days and yet will just do the basic work the other 50 weeks of the year. Even though, obviously, the total bet during the other 50 weeks dwarfs what will be bet in just this one weekend. Why do we so often change our approach and work level just because it’s a big day? What is it about big days that make us so often stray against our strengths and better opinions?

I think part of it is that the Breeders’ Cup is awesome, with huge fields with monster pools and some really exciting wagering prospects. On Breeders’ Cup weekend, you can often find horses that will go off over 20-1 and have extremely legitimate cases to be made for them. Now, sure, 20-1 shots win everyday races all the time, but it sure does seem like you can find some more convictive longshot opinions on Breeders' Cup day. But a 4-1 shot pays the same on Breeders' Cup day as it does a Tuesday in November at Zia Park.

I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t bet more or do more work on the Breeders' Cup than other days. I realize for many of us, this "work" is fun. It’s fun to really dive into the replays and do the handicapping that maybe you just don’t have the time or energy to do on a regular basis.

I suppose I’m more just curious why we do that and wanted to think out loud about the subject. I’ve talked with several friends who have mentioned that sometimes big days can be leaks for them because they’re betting more money than normal, often at a track they maybe don’t follow on a regular basis. I think you always want to increase your bets when the odds are the juiciest on your best opinions — not necessarily because the race everyone is talking about is coming up.

Food for thought, I hope. I feel like next week I’ll really start feeling the excitement for Breeders’ Cup. I’ll get swept up in the hype and happily overdo my handicapping. It’s a fun time of year to be a horseplayer and a racing fan.