Commentary

Breeders' Cup early touts

Updated: October 11, 2011, 12:35 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

What wins at the Breeder's Cup?

It's not always the best horse.

It's usually the best handicapper.

Here are some thoughts about winners and losers from previous BC notes -- it's never too early to think about these eight things.

1. Short fields

Eliminating horses from a Breeder's Cup race is considerably more difficult than throwing out mummies in a claiming race in the sticks.

As most Cup runners are fit, you have to look for more subtle reasons to pass on a horse, five-horse fields at major tracks east and west being prime candidates for possible tossing tactics. Qualifiers in short fields seldom experience traffic trouble and gain inflated Beyer numbers as a result. Big winners in short fields also show up small on the betting boards.

Horses in a crowd for a change are gambles.

2. Supplementary entries.

Horses whose owners didn't pay a relative pittance to become eligible for the Breeder's Cup races can get in late with a supplementary tab that amounts to a percentage of the purse, usually around a couple of hundred thousand dollars, a stiff price to pay to join the party.

Eight supplementary entries have won the Classic.

They're sound physically and are usually ready to roll.

I almost bet on one that won and have bet on most supplementary entries ever since, as the prices are always up there.

3. Stalkers

This style wins at Churchill on the dirt; extremes lose.

4. Layoffs

Everybody needs a rule or two to follow now and again.

I seldom bet a long layoff.

What's a long layoff?

Races tend to be more spread out before a Breeder's Cup weekend. A long layoff is more than a month and a half. Patterns could matter. Horses or trainers need a successful track record with layoffs before you should look seriously at them.

5. Trips over the track

As with running styles, successful races over the surface matter greatly at Churchill; bad finishes over the track, not so much.

6. Hot pickers

Never bet against a streak, horse handicappers included.

There's nothing more consistent than a bad picker. There's no time to back away, to regroup, to catch your breath, to soak your head, slumping pickers just keep throwing off losers. The only way out of a losing streak is to get completely away. But at the Breeder's Cup two-day marathon, there's no where to hide.

You can eliminate selections by a rotten picker with a joyful hand.

A picker's hot streak at the Breeder's Cup is one win, and up.

A winner's subsequent picks can be trusted slightly more than usual.

Last year at the Breeder's Cup, I hit a superfecta cold, 1-2-3-4, just like that. Whereas bad streaks can last for weeks, this hot burst lasted an hour-and-a-half. Such are the rushes of the game.

7. Fake dirt to real dirt

Here's my money. Take it. I throw out most fake-to-real runners on sight. Everybody needs a thoughtless moment or two.

The only exception is if the horse has successfully overcome the unnatural fake dirt bias that stops speed like a school zone.

8. Grass races

I can't pick grass races. The Europeans make it easier because they win them all, running 1-2 in many instances.

A friend of mine boxes the top two choices with a deep closer and a front runner, prays, and doesn't lose too much.

A number of people I know say they have had success studying the final fractions of grass races and siding with the quickest of the late numbers, which makes as much sense as the turf strategy I have been using: See the race. Be the race.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.