The Breeders’ Cup is one of the most anticipated events on the horse racing calendar. This year’s event, taking place Nov. 4-5 at Keeneland in Kentucky, provides both avid and casual bettors with innumerable wagering opportunities.
In an interview via email with CDC Gaming Reports, FanDuel TV horse racing analyst Todd Schrupp said that “almost any horse can win because they didn’t get to the Breeders’ Cup by being average; you have to be exceptional to make it to this event.”
With so many wagering opportunities, and the best horses, jockeys, and trainers competing, Schrupp thinks it’s best for handicappers to be true to their regular betting regimens.
“While handicapping the Breeders’ Cup is the equivalent of a horseplayer’s Final Exam, what should not change is how someone bets the Breeders’ Cup,” says Schrupp, who will be part of FanDuel TV’s Breeders’ Cup coverage team Friday and Saturday. “If you are a horizontal player – Daily Doubles, Pick Threes, Pick Fours, Pick Fives or Pick Sixes — that shouldn’t change. If you are a vertical player — Exactas, Trifectas, Superfectas — these are the pools you should stay in. Throughout the Breeders’ Cup, there is the potential for a significant score whatever your wagering preference might be. Simply put, the Breeders’ Cup represents two of the best betting days all year.”
Schrupp, one of the original members of TVG’s (now FanDuel TV) broadcast team, has been with the network for over 20 years. A Minnesota native, Schrupp’s seen many iconic moments in the sport, including Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup Classic victory in 2009, one of his favorite moments in racing.
Here are some of Schrupp’s thoughts on this year’s Breeders’ Cup:
CDC: The Breeders’ Cup Classic has only nine entrants. Is that due to Flightline being the prohibitive favorite at 3-5?
Schrupp: Flightline, as an overwhelming favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has limited the field size this year and altered the plans of other horses, sending them to other races rather than taking on the best horse in the world. I have never been part of the lead-up to a big race where it’s unanimous, from the connections of Flightline to the connections of his competitors. The universal feeling is that he will not only win, but put on a show. From his most recent race, winning the TVG Pacific Classic by a record 19 1/4 lengths, through his preparations leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, I haven’t seen anything to suggest we are going to see anything other than brilliance by Flightline.
CDC: What race on the card sets up as the best opportunity for bettors? Are you targeting any race as a prime wagering opportunity?
Schrupp: Having prepared for the Breeders’ Cup with my own handicapping and what I’ve learned through all our programming on FanDuel TV in the run-up, I obviously have an opinion on all 14 races. However, my best betting opportunity surrounding one horse is in Race Five on Saturday, the Dirt Mile. No. 6 Laurel River improved at the end of his 3-year-old season and took another step forward this year. He will be a pivotal horse for my betting at the Breeders’ Cup this year.
CDC: Which race will be the hardest to handicap, and why?
Schrupp: The hardest race to handicap but maybe providing the best reward is Race Eight on Saturday, the Turf Mile. This division has been wide-open in America all year, and the European shippers don’t seem to have a distinct edge over their European counterparts. I expect chaos in this race.
CDC: The Distaff on Saturday sets up to be perhaps the best race on the card (despite only having 8 entrants), with Nest and Malathaat, both trained by Todd Pletcher, as favorites. Thoughts on this race?
Schrupp: The Distaff is a phenomenally deep field and might be the strongest field over the two days on talent. This race has been billed as a showdown between Pletcher’s entrants, Malathaat and Nest. I would argue the two horses trained by Steve Asmussen are just as deserving of your wagering attention: Clairiere and Society. Clairiere beat Malathaat in back-to-back races before she fell apart before the start of the Personal Ensign Stakes (August 27 at Saratoga) in her most recent start. Her stablemate Society has really improved late in her 3-year-old season and will be the one to catch.
CDC: Channel Maker is making his sixth Breeders’ Cup appearance in the Turf Classic. Because the best horses have limited careers due to being retired early to take advantage of lucrative stud fees, do you think it’s harder for casual race fans to stay engaged other than the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Derby?
Schrupp: The Breeders’ Cup Classic is an example of the difficulty horse racing has in marketing its equine stars. Everyone who follows horse racing knows Flightline could be one of the all-time greats. However, there is little doubt the general sporting public knows Rich Strike much better after his 80/1 upset in the Kentucky Derby this year. I believe that will change after Saturday as Flightline will be watched by horse racing’s biggest audience outside of the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby may be horse racing’s most recognizable race, but it doesn’t mean the best horses run there. Getting the general sporting public to watch beyond the First Saturday in May and discover horses like Flightline, who never competed in the Triple Crown, is a constant challenge. It becomes even harder when those ‘familiar’ horses are whisked off to the breeding shed. Hopefully, we will get another year of racing with Flightline.
CDC: You go to almost any other sporting event, spend a few hundred dollars, and maybe come away with a few souvenirs. That same money can be doubled, tripled or more at a racetrack. Is that part of the sport’s appeal that should be emphasized?
Schrupp: There are innumerable selling points for horse racing. To me, the biggest is fan participation. When you go to any other sporting event, you watch and cheer. In horse racing, when you bet on a horse, that horse is yours for that two minutes. Additionally, you could leave the track with more money than you came with. Advantage horse racing!