Finding Breeders’ Cup Overlays

Court Vision rallies to defeat Turallure and Goldikova in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile (from www.horse-canada.com)

By Derek Simon

One of the things that makes handicapping the Breeders’ Cup races so challenging is that practically all the entrants are good horses and have a chance to win (we’ll ignore Rick’s Natural Star in 1996). As a result, smart Breeders’ Cup betting is not solely about picking the likely winner of each star-studded event, it’s about knowing what represents a fair price — and what does not.

Understanding this simple principle led to one of my biggest Breeders’ Cup scores ever.

In addition to Goldikova, the brilliant race mare who was seeking an unprecedented fourth straight Breeders’ Cup win, the 2011 BC Mile included Prince of Wales champion Byword, Shadwell Turf Mile winner and 2010 Mile runner-up Gio Ponti, as well as Woodbine Mile victor Turallure and 2009 Mile bridesmaid Courageous Cat.

Also entered was Court Vision, an also-ran in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Mile (fifth) and the 2009 Mile (fourth).

Now I’m not going to insult anybody’s intelligence by saying that I liked Court Vision on Nov. 5, 2011 — he was coming off a seventh-place finish in the Woodbine Mile and hadn’t won all year — but I did think the six-year-old son of Gulch was slightly better than his 30-1 morning-line odds… and a whole lot better than his post-time odds of 64-1. In fact, I sent out an e-mail to those who had purchased my fair odds (Win Factor) report, urging them to use Court Vision along with a few others in all their wagers.

And, of course, I followed my own advice.

When Court Vision rallied from second-to-last in the early going to narrowly — and I do mean narrowly — defeat Turallure and pay a whopping $131.60, I cashed a very nice exacta ticket, making my entire Breeders’ Cup a very successful one… by the hair of Court Vision’s chinny chin chin.

Over the years, playing Win Factor Report morning line overlays, like Court Vision, has proven to be very profitable in the BC in general — especially when said overlays started at least five times prior to the Breeders’ Cup (my Win Factor ratings are performance-based and, thus, are more reliable when there is more data to be analyzed). A meager $20 win wager on all qualifying animals since 1998 would have netted a tidy sum of $4,689.

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This year, there are 44 potential plays — four in the Dirt Mile, six in the Distaff, one in the Juvenile Fillies, six in the Turf Sprint, four in the Filly & Mare Sprint, seven in the Filly & Mare Turf, three in the Sprint, six in the Mile, four in the Turf and three in the Classic.

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A note of caution: If you choose to play any of these horses, remember there have been some lean years. WFR morning line overlays were winless in 1999 and 2006 and produced only a single ticket-casher in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2013.

Still, the overall results have been very positive and I would definitely use these horses in your horizontal wagers.

Who knows, you might just cash on another Court Vision.

Derek Simon
Derek Simon is the Senior Editor and Handicapper at US Racing.