The Breeders’ Cup Is A Strategic Playground For Horse Bettors

Written By Dave Bontempo on November 5, 2021 - Last Updated on November 29, 2021
A horse runs alone on the Del Mar track at dark.

The Breeders’ Cup brings diverse betting strategies into play. This two-day wagering feast presents races that appeal to certain betting methods.

One good overall approach is to start on the win line and move outward to exactas, trifectas and superfectas, depending on circumstance. These bets will be determined by the betting odds of different wagers and how strongly a bettor feels about an outcome.

The $6 million Classic makes a strong argument for two wagering tools — the win bet and exacta combinations.

Given the nine-horse field with several star horses in the 5-2 to 4-1 range, the win line represents excellent value.

Here’s how that works:

Bet types to consider for the Classic

Win: Your horse must finish first. Requirements are rigid, but this has the highest payout.
Place: Your horse finishes first or second. Reduced payout, better chance to collect.
Show: Your horse finishes in the top three. This provides more chances to collect at even lower odds. Often not recommended for a favorite. The cutoff to make a good-size wager on one horse is win and place. If you are betting a long shot, the show bet can make sense.

Exacta wagering

This means hitting the first two horses in the right order. Bettors can even anticipate this payout. Projected exacta payouts will be listed on the screens, and gamblers can decide whether that’s worthwhile. These horses are so evenly matched that betting multiple exacta combos is likely not wise. Instead, hone in and hit it.

Trifecta box: 50 cents

Take four horses to finish in the top 3 spots, in any order, for $12. This makes sense because Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Medina Spirit and Hot Rod Charlie are hard to separate. So take four, three have to come in, and the payout will likely turn a profit.

It pays even more if there are some long shots that come in. The principle is sound: Bet four horses, with three needing to take the top three spots. It’s insurance against one horse running badly.

Other betting strategies apply to the $4 million Turf Classic

This is a 14-horse field. Multiple betting entries. An ideal place for some razzle-dazzle. First, the win bet isn’t awful. Tarnawa won this race last year and opened at 9-5.

However, look at the exactas. The lowest odds, Tarnawa and 4-1 shot Domestic Spending, would be OK, especially if a gambler has a $5 or a 10 box. This is a big field.

It gets better if some long shots like Yibir at 12-1, Rockemperor at 15-1 and Gufo at 8-1 participate in a winning exacta combination. This field is ripe for some long shots to run well.

This race also projects a handsome trifecta payout. Bettors must hit the first three horses in exact order to collect the trifecta. A $1 trifecta box costs $6 and gives the bettor three horses in any finishing order. (e.g., a 12-1-3 trifecta box is a winner with 12-1-3, 12-3-1, 1-3-12, etc.)

Let’s say a bettor was convinced that Tarnawa and Domestic Spending would finish in the top three. They are the 13 and 3 horses. A bettor can put them in as many $1 trifecta boxes as desired, with a different third horse in each ticket.

Taking Tarnawa, Domestic Spending and Rockemperor, the 13-3-1 box, costs $6. Change out the 1 for the 10, Yibir, in another ticket. The 13-10-3 box costs another $6 for the $1 box.

And on it goes.

The key to this bet is feeling that the 13 and the 3 will be in the top three finishers. This is also an excellent time to take a 50-cent trifecta box for $12 and cover four horses.

If you have an unshakeable sense that you have the winning horse, the trifecta key entry also can work well. A key entry means “keying” a specific horse in a certain position with several others. The horse must finish exactly in that spot, with the other horses filling the other slots.

Example: A $1 trifecta key with Tarnawa winning and five others occupying the second and third positions costs $20.

It could look like: A $1 trifecta key, 13 with the 1, 3, 10, 7 and 11. The payout is well over $20 if you hit that combo, but the 13 must win. Once the 13 does win, the gambler has five different horses to finish second and third. Good percentage there.

A gambler also can hone it down and take Tarnawa on top of four horses for $12 in the $1 trifecta key. And then for another $12, the player can put Tarnawa second with the same horses. So for a $24 total, you have the favorite running first or second with four other horses.

This principle makes sense if one believes that midpriced or long-shot horses will finish in the top 3 with Tarnawa.

The possibilities are endless. That makes the selection difficult, but the payouts are going to be rewarding. This is a superb betting race.

Regional betting strategies a consideration for Friday’s Dirt Juvenile

The $2 million Dirt Juvenile on Friday presents a unique situation: a regional betting angle.

Corniche, at 5-2, has good California form. Jack Christopher, at 9-5, also has strong form but ships in from the East Coast. Will that give California horses an edge at Del Mar?

Pappacap, at 15-1, finished second in the same excellent California race that Corniche won. So if you believe the California angle is strong, Corniche and Pappacap are a playable exacta box, for a price.

Gamblers can also put Corniche, Pappacap, Command Performance and Jack Christopher, the best recent performers from the East and West coasts, on one ticket. A 50-cent trifecta box with those four (12-4-1-10 are the numbers) would pay well enough to bet.

These are just some of the many betting strategies bettors can employ this weekend and in the future.

Good luck!

Photo by AP | Jae C. Hong
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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