Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beaten Favorites

As I mentioned in the Weekend Review it was quite a formful weekend. Favorites and short priced horses dominated the 16 grade 1 and 2 races this weekend. Favorites won 50% and finished in the money in 75% of the races. All the winning favorites will likely be well covered on Breeders' Cup day. It doesn't take much imagination to stick with the horses who have big reputations and are coming in off a win.

There is usually much better value to be found if you focus on the favorites who lost their last prep races. As I mentioned a few months back, beaten favorites in prep races do splendidly well on their returns to the Breeders' Cup. With just a few refining criteria you could have made 110% ROI since 1996 just from betting these horses to win.

Let's take a look at the 8 losing favorites this past weekend and speculate a bit on their chances.

Regal Ransom - Beaten in 8th in the Norfolk, he was a bit of a false favorite and is unlikely to run in the BC Juvenile.

Stalingrad - Finished second as the favorite in the Kelso. If he goes to the BC Mile he would surely be 20/1 or more but he is not without a chance. He has never won a stakes race so one might question his class but two starts back he ran Red Giant to a neck and obviously that's as good a form reference as you could ask for these days. He has only run a two turn mile once and he won it easily. Interestingly enough it was also his only start in California.

Mauralakana - She still might be the favorite for the BC FM Turf depending on which Europeans come over but at least now the price will be better. She along with Wait A While are definitely America's best hopes in the FM Turf. Anything resembling a decent price on her must be taken.

Ginger Punch - She may be as high as 4 or 5/1 and I think it'll represent very good value. Of course she's up against it when attempting to beat Zenyatta but she has decent form on synthetics and is a very good horse on her day. Her loss in the Beldame isn't really that bad. She has never been ideally suited to wiring a field. The last time she tried it Zenyatta beat her handily. Here she lost it late to Cocoa Beach. If she can sit behind a few horses she's a much better filly. Don't dismiss her.

Lucky Island - He ran a dull 6th in the Vosburgh and will definitely skip the Breeders Cup. We all know he's a better horse than he showed on Saturday. There might be some value down the line with him.

Honest Man - He put in a rather dull effort in the KY Cup Classic. It would be a surprise to see him try synthetics again so soon. The BC Dirt Mile would be his target if any but I don't expect him.

Street Boss - Like Mauralakana he is still likely going to be the favorite for his BC race despite the loss but for those who really want to back him the good news is that he is no longer in danger of being odds on. He really is the best horse in the Sprint so obviously he's got a massive chance.

Spring House - One of the most disappointing performers of the weekend when 4th in the Clement Hirsch. His participation in the BC turf has to be in real doubt but he may offer some value in the BC Marathon. His connections had considered it as an alternate target and perhaps now it'll become his primary target. There are some tough horses like Sixties Icon and Fairbanks pointing to this race but if Spring House likes synthetics he should fit in very well.

Henrythenavigator - Okay so he didn't run in any American stakes races but he was a beaten favorite in a G-1 and he is most likely headed to the Breeders' Cup. Which race he contests is the real question. He was always going to be a price in the Classic because of the quality in that race and because of the questions surrounding him. The reality is that his chances are no worse in the Classic because of the loss. If he chooses the Mile he might not be favored which was an unthinkable prospect a few months ago. The reality is that he's got a fabulous chance in the Mile and is certainly capable of beating any miler in the world.

It's possible that as many as 6 beaten favorites will be running in the Breeders' Cup in a months time. They will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.

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