The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge was, yet again, a losing proposition for me. And I don’t have the energy to go bet by bet and give you a complete rundown of the weekend. But who does’t love a good “almost” story? I think you’ll like this one.
You might say this story began in 2010, with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. I had posted this to my Facebook wall just days before that event…
(It just so happens that it’s November 3rd as I write this, and that popped up as one of my Facebook memories just today.)
That weekend, Shared Account would win the Filly and Mare Turf at over 50-1, and I cashed big.
Fast forward almost nine years, to July 21, 2019. I was sitting in one of Chicago’s Hawthorne OTB locations with my good buddy and multiple NHC prize-winner Steve Decaspers competing in an NHC qualifier. As I looked over that day’s Saratoga past performances, there were two horses that jumped out at me, and would form the basis of my plays that day. One of them was Golden Award in the Shuvee (Race 13). The other was Sharing, a Graham Motion-trained daughter of the aforementioned Shared Account, in Race 7. My plan was simple in this contest, which merely required contestants to wager their entire $400 bankroll anyway they wanted. I was going to put $100 to win and place on Sharing, and then wheel the winnings on Golden Award. Should Sharing lose, I’d still have $200 to bet on Golden Award, and would then have to check the leaderboard to see how much I needed to win in order to grab one of the two NHC seats being offered in the contest.
As Race 7 approached, Sharing was hovering around 10-1. Steve suggested that day’s 5.5 furlong distance might be too short. I said “Yeah, I have a feeling we are going to see this one in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. But she might win today and I like the price. Her momma won me a lot of money.”
Long story short, Sharing took too long to get into the clear that day, and her furious late charge came up just a neck short. But she was much the best. And when the photo revealed she didn’t even get up for the place spot, I said to Steve, “She isn’t just going to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. She’s going to win it.” Steve will vouch for this. I absolutely said it.
Later that day, Golden Award won, adding salt to the wound of Sharing’s loss. I wasn’t able to make something meaningful out of those winnings, however, and I left Chicago without an NHC seat. Sharing would go on to win her next two starts leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.
Fast forward to this past weekend. I had a couple of key horses in mind as I set my strategy for the Breeders Cup Betting Challenge. I wrote about some of them here on LoneSpeed. But in short, my plan was to try to make a huge score on Friday while using only the absolute minimum funds ($1,800) then make a big wager on Bellafina in Saturday’s Filly and Mare Sprint, add to the bankroll with Giant Expectations and Ollie’s Candy, and then win the contest with McKinzie. I liked two horses in the Juvenile Fillies on Friday- KP Dreamin and British Idiom. I bet on KP Dreamin to win, and I used her and British Idiom in doubles to Sharing in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. That way, I thought I might be able to cash on Sharing without having to use much of my bankroll on her. When British Idiom won, I saw I was alive to about $3,000 in the double if Sharing won. So instead of making one of my required $600 plays on the Juvenile Fillies Turf, I decided to save that $600 for the Juvenile, and just spend $100 on Sharing in the form of two $50 doubles. One to Scabbard, and the other to top pick Anneau d’Or.
When Sharing won the Juvenile Fillies Turf, things got interesting. My starting BCBC bankroll of $7,500 was now up over $9,000 thanks to the $3,000 double payout ending with Sharing combined with some earlier losses. And I was now alive to $20,000 thanks to my $50 double on Anneau d’Or, and roughly $4,500 if memory serves to Scabbard
Nearing post time for the Juvenile, since I was alive to a big payout on top choice Anneau d’Or with the live double, I settled on a $200 win/place wager on Wrecking Crew and a $40 exacta box of my top three (Anneau d’Or, Wrecking Crew, and Scabbard). A review of the probables and will-pays showed that an Anneau d’Or win meant $20,000, and should Wrecking Crew manage 2nd, it was another $13,000 plus whatever Wrecking Crew paid to place x 100. A Wrecking Crew win would also have been nice.
As I was putting in my bets, I did not notice this exchange on a group text between Steve Decaspers and 2019 NHC 5th-place finisher Steve Simonovic.
According to a fellow BCBC participant in the Director’s Suite at Gulfstream Park, Trackus would reveal that Anneau d’Or traveled 52 feet farther than Storm the Court by the time they hit the wire a neck apart. I could have used about three of those 52 feet. At the top of the lane, I thought I was roughly twenty seconds or so from seeing my name atop the BCBC leaderboard with a score of about $55,000. Because it looked like Anneau d’Or was going to romp, and that Wrecking Crew would sail past the stopping Storm the Court, giving me $20,000 for the double, $13,000 for the exacta, and God-knows-what for the $200 to place on Wrecking Crew, in addition to the $8,400 on my bankroll after the Juvenile bets were placed.
But it was not to be. I cashed for nothing and went back to the hotel.
Bellafina just could not catch Covfefe in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Giant Expectations and Ollie’s Candy both didn’t run a step. And as well as he ran, the concerns about McKinzie’s distance limitations may have been affirmed (or maybe not. Who knows?). My best and most honest guess is that had Anneau d’Or won the battle with Storm the Court and given me a bankroll of about $28,000 heading into Day 2, I would have bet big on Bellafina and McKinzie and likely headed home with $10,000 and no prize. Had Storm the Court stopped and I crushed the Juvenile with Wrecking Crew running 2nd, I’d probably have played things very safe after the Bellafina loss on Saturday and ended the contest with something around $40,000, a second NHC seat, and a few extra bucks in prize money.
I turned my $7,500 bankroll into $25,000 in the 2017 BCBC. I’ve gone bust the other three years. Do I regret it? Do I regret even one second of any of it. F*ck no I don’t. I’d do it all over again tomorrow. I live for this shit and it’s in my blood. It’s been in my blood since I was a kid and my parents told me I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and that Louisville was known for a big damn horserace that you could bet on.
Three months ’til Vegas. Does anyone know if we can bet on ourselves in the NHC at the Bally’s Race and Sportsbook? Do they even HAVE a sportsbook?