Second Look Horses

LoneSpeed contributor Steve Decaspers is back with more valuable Breeders’ Cup insight…

It is both valuable and maddening that you have two weeks to handicap the Breeders’ Cup races. In that sense, there is no other race card like it – and your opinions of horses can go through a number of phases – infatuation, doubt, searching:

  • Day 1: This filly that’s the favorite can’t lose!
  • Day 3: You know, I think this filly is vulnerable.
  • Day 6: The favorite is my A, but I’ve got 3 B’s and 7 C’s.
  • Day 10: I’ve constructed a brilliant Pick 4 using 3A’s and making the favorite a B.

This is insanity, but its par for the course for most horseplayers, including myself! A more productive approach is coming up with what I call “Second Look Horses” – the ones you glossed over in mid-October, but are able to discover in the late stages of your handicapping.

Typically, these are longer-priced horses that aren’t getting much attention in the hours of media discussion that I love to listen to. Often, they’re from lower profile connections. Late discoveries that have benefitted me in recent years include Trinninberg at Santa Anita in 2013 and Mongolian Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. But they don’t always have to be winning longshots, as the Breeders’ Cup is legendary for having inflated payoffs from longshots in the 2nd and 3rd hole.

Here are my “Second Look” horses for Friday and Saturday:

  • Derby Date did a lot of running while wide in the Breeders’ Futurity, but at all the wrong times. A more patient ride and a better trip could have landed him in the money. I’ll be rooting for Coach Lukas to crash the trifecta behind Game Winner on Friday.
  • Shamrock Rose has the right running style to hit the board in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Although being here might be an afterthought, she dominated the 14-horse Raven Run and will get an outside trip here behind a bunch of speed. I’d love to bet a Head-to-Head between her and Selcourt!
  • Giant Expectations broke slowly, raced wide and tired late to finish a good 3rd in the Ack Ack H. over this track and distance last time – which is exactly what you’d expect from a horse making his first start off a six-month layoff. This is a talented horse who can sit just off the pace and finish well. His Pat O’Brien win at Del Mar last year is good enough for second or third here at a huge price.
  • Lightning Spear has had a pretty good year running exclusively in Group 1 mile races. Sure, he didn’t show up on Champions Day at Ascot, but trainer David Simcock knows how to ship to North America and win – he’s 4 for 11 in the last five years and he ran 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Mile with Trade Storm in 2014.
  • Monomoy Girl is probably going to be the co-favorite, so putting her on the “Second Look” chart may seem dumb, but after going over her bad-rail trip at Parx, she may deserve a lot more attention than I was previously paying to her. All second looks can’t be longshots, right?

It’s easy to keep going over the horses you thought could win and convincing yourself that your opinion of three, five or eight days ago is infallibly right, but it’s a lot harder to keep analyzing, open your mind and let your second look horses creep into your consideration set. Go ahead and give it a try!

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