While it went down to the wire this year, the Breeders’ Cup wagering angle of looking for value in European starters again finished in the black, well in the black as it turns out.
In a blog post before this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, I encouraged readers to look for value among horses who had made their previous starts in Europe. I noted that since 2000, a flat wager on every horse that made their previous start in Europe and was sent off at odds of 5-1 or higher in any of the five Breeders' Cup turf races contested at one mile or longer had delivered a profitable ROI.
Going into 2014, there were a total of 104 horses who qualified under these requirements, which would have cost the bettor $208 (104 $2 win bets) in the 55 races involved, and returned $313. Although there was drama involved this year, the angle again finished in the black and in fact outperformed the ROI established in the previous 14 years.
Things started with a winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) when Hootenanny, the morning-line favorite, drifted up to 6-1, making him a play and returning $14. Granted, Hootenanny is trained by U.S.-based Wesley Ward, but on this angle the play has been on any horse entered in the Breeders’ Cup off a European start. If you strictly go with European-trained horses, you’d have missed out on this winner but you eventually would still hit the angle’s biggest winner of the weekend.
Hootenanny, the morning-line favorite in the Juvenile Turf, won at 6-1 - Skip Dickstein Photo
There were three other qualifiers in the Juvenile Turf, for an $8 investment and a $14 return.
That small profit would vanish in the next three turf races played. The Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) saw four horses qualify and no winner, for an $8 loss as the angle finished $2 in the red after Breeders’ Cup Friday.
On Saturday, things would start slow with two qualifiers failing to secure victory in the Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) as well as two more in the Longines Turf (gr. IT), putting the angle $10 in the hole for the weekend. (At this point a certain writer wondered if he picked a bad year to discuss this angle in his blog.)
But that would all change with a final four $2 wagers on qualifying horses in the Mile (gr. I), where Karakontie saved the angle, and the day, with a victory at 30-1 and a return of $62. Players so bold as to box exactas on all qualifying horses (not something I’ve looked into in terms of ROI), in this instance would have picked up $331 on a $1 exacta box.
Karakontie won the mile at 30-1 - Skip Dickstein Photo
At any rate, this year’s European win angle saw an investment of $32 on 16 qualifying horses and a return of $76 on two winners. In the 15 years examined, the angle is now at $240 wagered and $389 paid in winnings.
Interestingly, four of the five favorites in this year's races made their previous starts in Europe but none of them secured a top-three finish. War Envoy, at 7-2, finished 12th in the Juvenile Turf. Dank, off at 2-1 in the Filly & Mare Turf, finished fourth; as did 8-5 Turf favorite Telescope. Toronado was sent off at 2-1 in the Mile and placed eighth.