Commentary

Breeders' Cup mazes

Updated: October 29, 2012, 4:20 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

The Breeders' Cup set of horse races is the toughest gambling situation on the books.

People go bust trying to pick the winners of football games, which have only two betting interests.

The Breeders' Cup two-day racing action features row after row of look-alikes, horses coming together after running on different surfaces at differing distances in faraway places, other countries, even.

What worked 50 miles this side of nowhere doesn't apply at the Breeders' Cup.

In all of sports wagering, there's nothing as mesmerizing as a Breeders' Cup turf race. Watching the horses run around the course in something like the Juvenile Turf contest is like watching roulette balls spin around the wheel before finding a lucky number. Most horse players know what the turf race top finishers will pay. The exacta will be $350. The super will be $9,500. Somebody with hot birthday numbers will collect.

It has been my experience to note that if you go into the Breeders' Cup with strategy that worked in the sticks, headaches will follow. What worked 50 miles this side of nowhere doesn't apply at the Breeders' Cup. If your game depends on eliminating likely losers, that will only get you down to eight or nine horses per race here.

What we need here is a plan or two, if not a rule, at least a strong thought, something to help get through the mazes that are the races.

Here are some fields of debate where correct answers could highlight a winner.

East versus west: Lots of big number runners are coming from New York. That's some road trip.

Fake dirt to a real surface: Throwing out all if not most fake-to-real switches is a real time- and mind-saver. If a horse is good enough to be able to run on anything and win, paying up like an adult is not that difficult because you had a good reason for having gotten obliterated.

Layoffs: Depends on the trainer.

Short fields: Here's what having defeated four and five horses can mean going into a Cup race: not as much as you might think.

I've saved the best thing about the Breeders' Cup races for last: A small correct wager will get you all you need.

Some Cup picks will be here Wednesday.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.