For those of you who aren't aware the same people who host the popular Road to the Roses Fantasy Game are also hosting a brand new Road to the Breeders' Cup game.
I personally am a big fan of Fantasy Games. I think they improve a sports popularity immensely. They generate a rooting interest where there otherwise may not have been one. I do my best to support contests like the Road to the Roses, TVG Fantasy and Godolphin's Seven Stars. This new Breeders' Cup game is definitely worth playing even if the total prize list has not been created yet. We do know two things, the game will be loads of fun and you'll get a $100 win wager at the Breeders' Cup for leading the weekly standings. That's enough incentive for me.
There is of course a Pay to Play option that allows you to compete for the pool of money donated by all the other players who selected that option.
Since the game is new there is an opportunity for the select few who get the strategy correct right from the start. I've been looking over the game timeline and rules looking for ways to get an edge. Here are a few things I've come up with.
Overview - The game requires you to start out with 12 horses. 3 from each division, Classic, Turf, Mile, Ladies Classic (Distaff). There is one supplemental draft period during the middle point of the game and then one more right before the Breeders' Cup. You also get to select jockey's and trainers for the BC.
Be Patient and Consistent - This is the first key to any fantasy games. Learn the deadlines and wait until those deadlines before making your moves. Also be consistent in not missing activation or supplemental windows. The first scoring race is June 14, entries open June 9th. There is no reason to make an entry until June 13th. With the supplemental draft always wait until the last day of the window. No sense bearing the risk of injury during that period if you don't have to.
Notice the specific races on the eligible list - You only get points for your horses performances in these specific races. Make sure you pay close attention to the list because it's not as straightforward as it seems. There are slightly more Turf races than there are dirt races, there are 4 races run in Europe, and there is a shocking lack of Californian races through the summer. No Hollywood Gold Cup, Clement Hirsch or Vanity.
Glean through the news everyday - It's usually very tough to find stated campaign's for older horses. It's not like the Triple Crown where trainers set a path and generally follow it. Older horses generally take it one start at a time and you have to be sharp to catch the intentions of the connections.
Find horses who can win preps - The way the points are structure it is more beneficial to win a G-3 than it is to finish second in a G-1. Look for standouts in smaller races if you have to. It might be better than taking good horses in tough G-1's. Also since one supplemental draft happens after all the preps are run it means you don't need to worry as much about a horse that would win the BC race itself. You want them to get points all summer and fall.
Shy away from Californians in your initial selection - I don't hate west coasters, in fact I think they'll dominate the BC itself but I noted above that many key Californian races were missing. During the initial phase of the game there are just 4 races run in California and none in the Ladies Classic Division. You may want to avoid Californians altogether in the Turf division as just the Sunset and Del Mar Handicap are included. There are more Turf stakes restricted to 3yo's than there are Californian turf stakes.
Watch the timing of the supplemental window - And don't take horses who aren't supposed to run prior to it. Ideally you could find some horses who will get two starts in the first window. There won't be many but there should be a few.
Now down to the specific tips for the first phase in each division.
Curlin is a must use, he runs on the opening weekend of the contest in a G-1 and may run in the Whitney as well. Forget that he might not run in the Classic. You can two or three G-1's out him beforehand. Colonel John should run in the Swaps and right now he might be one of the few Classic horses you can count on aside from Curlin.
Don't use 'em
Big Brown is not scheduled to run again until the Travers that's in the second window. Heatseeker and Tiago are not likely to contest the San Diego Handicap but both may be aimed at the Pacific Classic. You may have to take one early in order to have them both in the second phase. Or you could choose to go against one of them.
Meal Penalty has little to no chance in the Breeders' Cup Turf as it looks now but he might be the best Turf 3yo at Arlington and that could see him rack up some points. Watch the Coronation Cup this weekend very closely. If Getaway wins like he should and his connection target the King George he is a must use.
Don't use 'em
Champs Elysees is a suckers horse and he runs this weekend in the Whittingham. You may see him come east for the United Nations or Man O'War but he's a bet against for me.
Cosmonaut may not be the first horse on everyones list but I suspect he'll get a full campaign. You might even get 3 or 4 races out of him before the Breeders' Cup.
Don't use 'em
Kip Deville is the current favorite for the race but is not supposed to run until the Woodbine Mile in Sept. Daytona is a tough call, he wins virtually everywhere he goes but he'll have to leave his home state to get in any eligible races in the first phase.
Ginger Punch is likely to contest either the Ogden Phipps or the Fleur de Lis on opening weekend. She is also likely to wheel back in a race like the Go For Wand. Spring Waltz was a revelation at Gulfstream early in the year. Don't be surprised to see her running in the races that Ginger Punch doesn't common ownership will likely keep them apart. Can anyone beat Proud Spell at a distance? It's likely worth betting they can't in the CCA Oaks.
Don't use 'em
Zenyatta may be the best older female in the nation but she's a poor bet here unless you think she's going to ship to New York. I tend to think she won't.