Breeders’ Cup Turf Trends
Level: Intermediate
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Updated for 2012

The Breeders’ Cup is one of the best betting events on the racing calendar. While the Kentucky Derby is the most over-analyzed race in the United States, the Breeders’ Cup might be the most over-analyzed series of races. You’ll find no shortage of trends to assist in your betting. Here at Hello Race Fans!, we’d like to make a contribution to the information overload with a little analysis of our own. This article will identify trends for the two longest running Breeders’ Cup turf races: the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Breeders’ Cup Mile.

One of the often-repeated ideas about handicapping the BC turf races is to focus on the Europeans. In Europe, turf is the dominant surface, unlike in America, where dirt dominates. Of course, finding the right Euro, especially if you are unfamiliar with the racing scene there, can be difficult. Both the Mile and the Turf are guaranteed to have a good number of runners from across the pond.

For the numbers here, I focus specifically on the final prep before Breeders’ Cup and not where horses were bred or where they have spent the majority of their career. These trends regarding performance and location of the final prep leading to BC day will help you narrow your betting focus. The percentages below will more likely help you eliminate runners than identify the winner, but if you ask any handicapper, eliminating horses on Breeders’ Cup day, when all the of the competitors are top class, can be a daunting task.

Breeders’ Cup Mile
Of the 28 winners of the BC Mile, 12 (43%) had their final prep in Europe, 8 (29%) had their final prep at Belmont or Keeneland.

Of the 56 horses that finished first or second in the BC Mile, 18 (32%) had their final prep in Europe, 11 (20%) had their final prep at Santa Anita.

Of the 28 winners of the BC Mile, 12 (43%) won their final prep.

Of the 56 horses that finished first or second in the BC Mile, 25 (45%) won their final prep.

Of the 28 winners of the BC Mile, 25 (89%) finished in the top three in their final prep. The outliers are Miesque’s Approval (2006), who finished fourth in his final prep, Cozzene (1985), who finished sixth, and Court Vision (2011), who finished seventh. Court Vision had the worst prep performance of all BC Mile winners, which might explain why he paid $131.60 to win.

Of the 56 horses that finished in the top two in the BC Mile, 51 (91%) finished in the top three in their final prep.

Replays of All Breeders Cup Mile Races

Breeders’ Cup Turf

(Note that there have been 28 winners of the Turf in 27 races. How? In 2003, Johar and High Chaparral finished in a dead heat for first, making them both winners.)

Of the 29 winners of the BC Turf, 15 (52%) had their final prep in Europe, 7 (24%) had their final prep at Belmont Park.

Of the 56 who finished first or second in the BC Turf, 24 (43%) had their final prep in Europe, 16 (30%) at Belmont Park.

Of the 29 winners of BC Turf, 14 (48%) won their final prep.

Of the 56 who finished first or second in the BC Turf, 22 (39%) won their final prep.

Of the 29 winners, 22 (76%) finished in the top three in their final prep. Five finished fourth, two fifth, and Daylami, the 1999 winner, finished ninth in his European prep.

Of the 56 who finished first or second, 40 (71%) finished in the top three in their final prep.

Replays of All Breeders’ Cup Turf Races

From these numbers, the idea of European dominance doesn’t come into play if we consider those horses who make their final prep in Europe. In the Turf 52% of winners and in the Mile 43% of winners made their final prep outside of North America. More important than the location of the final prep is the performance in the race prior to the Breeders’ Cup. While winning the final prep isn’t of overwhelming importance, finishing in the top three in the final prep is. Last year was a bit of an anomaly with neither winner of the two major BC turf races finishing better then fifth in their final prep. However, historically, finishing in the top three of the final prep race matters. In the BC Mile, 89% of the eventual winners finished in the top three before racing in the BC and 76% did the same before winning the BC Turf.

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3 comments

  • Turf racing is all about being able to get good position and then having a late, two fraction move down the lane….Euro’s have to have been either grade one or two performers to be close

  • Stats schmats. Zoffany is the only horse to even get close to one of the greatest milers of all time, a horse which timeform has only four milers from the annals of history rated above him. 3/4 L off Frankel will do for me.

  • It is somewhat notable to take a look at the winners of all the BC Miles that took place in Southern California (Santa Anita & HP). If you isolate those winners it underlines a very heavy handed European dominance with only one real domestic winner, Lure (I consider Royal Heroine to be more of a Euro than domestic when looking at this).

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