Breeders’ Cup Best Score: A Race for Place
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

In honor of this year’s Breeders’ Cup video series, 30 Scores in 30 Years, we’re sharing our Breeders’ Cup Best Scores to help you get in the mood to score your own this November. Big race days can mean big payouts, and we hope that your biggest and best score is yet to come!

This week’s contribution is near and dear to my heart. Fellow Hello Race Fans co-founder Adam Wiener recounts one of my fondest handicapping memories, the 2007 Breeders’ Cup. Of course his story ends with a giant score and mine ends with a “learning opportunity” (and a free seafood dinner courtesy of Adam!).

I learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2007. The first was not to fall in love with a horse. The second: believe in your handicapping.

The night before each of the Monmouth races that October, Dana Byerly and I hunkered down to debate each and every race.

As we pored over the past performances, it became crystal clear to me that, regardless of the poor weather forecast, Curlin could not lose this race. He had proven himself a winner in tough spots, while his connections learned from mistakes in key losses.

For me, it became a race for place.

The experts were focused on two other horses: Lawyer Ron and Street Sense. As with Curlin, these others each scored two critical Grade 1 victories in 2007. But Curlin had beaten them both when it mattered.

Mid-summer’s Haskell Stakes at Monmouth was the key for me. Curlin was a well-beaten third to Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun, who would both be in the Classic. When assessing the race, this was where most handicappers would begin to doubt Curlin’s chances.

I wasn’t buying it.

Curlin had come back seven weeks later to catch “superhorse” Lawyer Ron at the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was getting stronger and his connections knew it. His works showed it.

I believed the Haskell outcome set up a bettor’s dream for the Classic. Curlin was doubted over this specific track and against some of the other horses. He was the fourth choice at 9-2. I was salivating. After this race, we’d never see Curlin at odds like that again.

It was time to lay my money down. I keyed Curlin on top of a few big (for me at the time) exacta bets, including Hard Spun (8-1), whose front-running speed I still believed in.

Street Sense folded as they came into the stretch, and Curlin moved to overtake Hard Spun. Nobody else came close as Hard Spun dug in to hold ground behind Curlin.

Until then, I hadn’t even considered what 9-2 on top of 8-1 would pay.


Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

Looking back, I shot some video in the tunnel as the horses headed to the track and Curlin looked great. Larry Jones, trainer of Hard Spun, later said that Curlin looked the best of all the horses in the paddock. Well, he looked even better in the winner’s circle.

What was your Breeders’ Cup Best Score? Share your bragging rights in the comments!

Watch this week’s E Train installment of 30 Scores in 30 Years

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