Breeders’ Cup 2012: Handicapping The Breeders’ Cup Classic

There are two schools of thought about Saturday’s running of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Scenario one–despite a deep and versatile field of quality horses the ‘cream will rise to the top’ and favorite Game On Dude will outclass his rivals. There’s not really a viable challenger at an overlay price so if you’re not getting much value why not get the class of the field? In other words, the race will go much the same way as Friday’s BC Ladies’ Classic won by Royal Delta. Scenario two–with so many good horses in the race anything can (and probably will) happen. Assuming this if you’re going to bet on Breeders’ Cup 2012 the smart play is to find the most viable contender at a price.

The official Breeder’s Cup website makes a compelling case for the former scenario and they may actually ‘pull some punches’ in interest of promoting the potential of a competitive race. Other than his price (9/5) there’s little not to like about Game On Dude. In other words, the reality may exceed the hype when considering Game On Dude. Trained by Bob Baffert–who has more wins at Santa Anita in the past decade than any trainer in the sport–and expertly ridden by jockey Rafael Bejerano you could make a compelling case for Game On Dude based on his connections alone. He came up just short in last year’s BC Classic and has posted four wins and one second place finish in 5 2012 starts. In his last three races he fired insane Beyer Figures (109, 110, 108) and racing on his home track there’s little to suggest a drop off. Realistically it would take a bizarre set of circumstances for Game on Dude to not be a factor.

So we’ve got the best horse in the field and now we need to find the best horse at a price to use in exotics. Many handicappers are big on the speedster Flat Out. He’s fast and should set a quick pace but we’ve got our reservations. He’s coming off a smoking performance in the Jockey’s Club Gold Cup at Belmont (109 Beyer) but prior to that put up undistinguished performances in several races. Most of success has been on the East Coast and he’s been bothered by nagging foot problems. May set a pace and get caught late.

Instead of following conventional wisdom we’re going to look at a longshot who–unlike the other horses in the price range–isn’t a complete throwaway. The Jerry Hollandorfer trained Nonios with Martin Pedroza aboard is coming off a career best 106 Beyer in his last race where he took second in the G1 Awesome Again behind Game On Dude. That race was also at Santa Anita and he’s looked good in his pre race workouts. His stalking style may be even more effective if Flat Out sets a brisk pace.

Breeder’s Cup Classic predicted order of finish:

5–Game On Dude
2–Flat Out

For the latest Breeders’ Cup 2012 handicapping information tune in to my ‘Morning Rundown’ podcast on Saturday.

David Glisan has received recognition over the years in Las Vegas for Sports news coverage. He is also featured in various sports radio shows and offers his views on sports.

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