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The 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita will provide great betting scenarios. Whether your play is the exacta, trifecta, superfecta or something else entirely like the Pick 4, Pick 5 or Pick 6, the Classic offers plenty of horses to key in on. This race is the richest in America at $5 million and will be contested at the 1 1/4 miles distance.
The horse that will draw the most attention is GAME ON DUDE (Awesome Again x Worldly Pleasure by Devil His Due). Chantal Sutherland rode him to a second place finish in this race one year ago. Many thought he had peaked with that effort, but he has only gotten better in 2012. Among his four wins this year are the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes and the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. The Awesome Again saw him team up with leading rider Rafael Bejarano for the first time. Trained by Bob Baffert, this gelding has never lost at Santa Anita.
Trifecta and superfecta players might want to take a long hard look at POOL PLAY (Silver Deputy x Zuri Ridge by Cox’s Ridge). The seven-year-old Mark Casse pupil likes to take back and come with one run late in the game. The dark bay has never lost in two dirt tries, which is quite impressive considering those starts came in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap and the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. Keying him in the third spot of the trifecta and spreading in the first two spots is a good idea.
The up and coming NONIOS (Plesantly Perfect x Stylish Manner by Touch Gold) is the best three-year-old in the Classic. He came on strongly with a career best effort to be second to Game On Dude in the Awesome Again Stakes when last seen. He has a good running style that gives his jockey the option of having him mid pack or closing from the back. If he improves off of his last race he should be marching home strong late in the race.
DULLAHAN (Even The Score x Mining My Own by Smart Strike) is an easy toss. All of his best wins have come on synthetic surfaces, including a two back score in the Pacific Classic. When push comes to shove, this colt is not going to pick up his hooves on a dirt surface against the best horses in the world.
I have never been a fan of RON THE GREEK (Full Mandate x Flambe’ by Fortunate Prospect), but the horse must be respected. He grinded out a win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap at this track and distance earlier in the year. Albeit in the absence of Game on Dude, that was still a good win. Since then he has won the Stephen Foster Handicap (traffic trouble for others set it up for him though!) and finished second in the Whitney Handicap.
FLAT OUT (Flatter x Cresta Lil by Cresta Rider) will be dismissed by many as a Belmont specialist due to the fact that half of his wins came there. That isn’t a fair assessment given that he has also won at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds as well as finished second in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap (Game on Dude was third in that race). Bill Mott has the horse doing well and he should be finishing with a flourish.
TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini x Pilfer by Deputy Minister) is the final horse from the Bill Mott barn that is likely to run in the Classic. He posted a good win in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes two back, but my main concern with that race is that he inherited the lead. I’m not confident in his ability to pass horses and in the end that will be his undoing.
Ian Wilkes’s FORT LARNED (E Dubai x Arlucea by Broad Brush) has put together a stellar campaign this year. His season culminated with a win in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. He has the class and pedigree to be competitive in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I like that he didn’t win in his last start, the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was third that day and it’s good to know he didn’t leave his best effort at Belmont Park. Look for him to run the race of his life at Santa Anita.
A massive pace meltdown would likely put RICHARD’S KID (Lemon Drop Kid x Tough Broad by Broad Brush) in the winner’s circle. The seven-year-old is now trained by Doug O’Neill after winning two Pacific Classic’s for Bob Baffert. The dark bay Maryland bred has all the stamina in the world and his form is as sharp as ever as verified by two stakes win this year.
MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno x Ponche de Leona by Ponche) will not be without support. The multiple Grade 2 winner has won three of his five starts this year. My main concern is that he hasn’t shown us he can beat top horses yet. Combine that with the fact that he could struggle at the distance and I’m going to avoid him.
ALPHA (Bernardini x Munnaya by Nijinsky II) is probably not good enough to impact this race. The three-year-old won the Travers merely by attrition. Think about it; all of the best sophomores were retired by the time the race rolled around. Combine that with the fact that he only dead heated for the win and he is a bad option. A loss in the Pennsylvania Derby only verifies that. Toss Alpha with confidence.
Kentucky Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill brings HANDSOME MIKE (Scat Daddy x Classic Strike by Smart Strike) to the Classic. He probably doesn’t stand a chance to win, but his presence is significant due to his early speed. Look for him to make it just a little bit faster early on in the race.
BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer x Speed Succeeds by Gone West) is a turf horse and thus will struggle in this spot. He wasn’t beaten far in the Belmont Stakes when third in 2011, but hasn’t done well in three other dirt starts.
Learn more about 2012 Breeders Cup Picks.