2021 Breeders Cup Serves As Betting Paradise for CO Horse Racing Fans

Written By Dave Bontempo on 11/03/2021 - Last Updated on March 21, 2024
2021 Breeders Cup betting preview

Colorado horse racing fans are in for a jam-packed weekend.

The Breeders Cup, a 14-horse spectacle sporting $31 million in purses and awards, stretches across Friday and Saturday from Del Mar Race Track in California.

Colorado online horse racing bettors can access the action all weekend. Some races have 14 starters, which create enormous betting value.

The $6 million Breeders Cup Classic, headlining the menu at 6:40 p.m. MT on Saturday, features the biggest names from the 3-year-old thoroughbred racing circuit in 2021.

2021 Breeders Cup Classic odds

Here’s how the big race shapes up, with nine entries. The odds are subject to change.

Post position, horse, trainer, jockey, morning-line odds

  1. Tripoli, John Sadler, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1
  2. Express Train, John Shirreffs, Victor Espinoza, 20-1
  3. Hot Rod Charlie, Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat, 4-1
  4. Essential Quality, Brad Cox, Luis Saez, 3-1
  5. Knicks Go, Brad Cox, Joel Rosario, 5-2
  6. Art Collector, Bill Mott, Mike Smith, 8-1
  7. Stilleto Boy, Ed Moger Jr., Kent Desormeaux, 30-1
  8. Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, John Velazquez, 4-1
  9. Max Player, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 8-1

Field overview

Knicks Go was established as the early favorite. He set a Keeneland Race Course record of 1:33.85 in winning the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile last year. His last three efforts, all at 1 1-8 miles, produced victories.

The unknown variable for Knicks Go is whether he can win at 1 1-4 miles, a distance he’s never gone.

Two of the three Triple Crown race winners are entered here. Medina Spirit captured the Kentucky Derby and Essential Quality outlasted a stubborn Hot Rod Charlie in a thrilling Belmont Stakes stretch duel.

Essential Quality, fourth in the Derby, later notched impressive victories in the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He has won at distances of 1 1-4, 1 1-8 and 1 1-2 miles in the past several months.

Hot Rod Charlie won the Pennsylvania Derby and initially earned the Haskell at Monmouth Park in NJ. But he was disqualified for clipping heels with Midnight Bourbon.

Medina Spirit had an impressive effort in the recent Awesome Again stakes and could be primed to run a big one. Stilletto Boy was second at 50-1 and will likely gain betting support in the exotics (exactas, trifectas, superfectas).

Pace factor key to Breeders Cup

Knicks Go is expected to go to the lead. Essential Quality is projected as the best late runner. Medina Spirit and Hot Rod Charlie like to run from the front. The question is whether they will pressure Knicks Go and set the race up for a closing horse.

It is interesting that Brad Cox trains both Knicks Go and Essential Quality. One of his horses is the best early speed, the other a prominent closer.

Types of Breeders Cup wagering

The deep fields and live longshots set up both for “across the board” betting and “exotics.”

  • Across the Board — Win, Place and Show wagering
  • Win — The bettor’s horse must cross the line first
  • Place — The horse finishes second or higher
  • Show — The horse finishes third or higher
  • Exotics — Exactas, Trifectas, Superfectas
  • Exactas — Pays out for the first two finishers, in exact order. Make sure to take exacta boxes. In the case of a 3-5 exacta box, for example, a $2 box costs $4. It pays whether the race order is 3-5 or 5-3. (Some big bettors have a different take and may slam a one-way exacta when they feel the price will be short, i.e, taking a $20 straight exacta 3-5. The risk is that they lose if it comes out 5-3).
  • Trifectas — Must get the first three finishers in exact order. Will be a prominent wager with sizable payouts in these big fields.

Breeders Cup betting tips

A $1 trifecta box costs $6 and provides three horses in any of the first three spots.

A trifecta KEY is a nice wager in a big field.

For $6, a bettor can “key” his/her favorite horse with three others in the trifecta.

Example: In a $1 trifecta key, the bettor takes the 3 horse in the first position with the 4-5-6 “underneath.” The 3 must win and the others can take up the second and third positions in any order.

For an additional $6, the bettor can put the 3 in the second spot, with the 4-5-6 having to fill up first and third. This is an excellent strategy if one favors longshots and has a strong feeling about which horse could run first or second.

Superfectas — the top four finishers in exact order. Requires a deep bankroll, but often pays a huge amount.

Race schedule

The Breeders Cup weekend culminates a year-long circuit for sprinters, distance horses, turf specialists and juveniles throughout the United States and Europe. Their owners have pointed to, and qualified for, this high-profile stage.

Numerous Horse-of-the-Year honors will emerge from this weekend.

Here is the rest of the Saturday lineup:

  • The $4 million Turf Classic at 1 1-2 miles on the turf. Tarnawa returns to defend her 2020 victory against the boys in a terrific battle on the grass.
  • The $2 million Distaff at 1 1-8 miles on the dirt
  • The $2 million Fan Duel mile on turf
  • The $2 million sprint at six furlongs on dirt.
  • The $2 million filly and mare turf at 1 3-8 miles.
  • The $1 million Dirt Mile
  • The $1 million turf sprint at 5 furlongs
  • The $1 million filly and mare sprint at 7 furlongs on dirt.

Friday’s races are all for 2-year-olds. They are headlined by the $2 million Juvenile Dirt Mile. This is a chance to glimpse the stars of tomorrow at a price you may not believe next year.

In 2020, Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie ran 1-2 in this race. The exacta paid just shy of $600 because Hot Rod Charlie was a 94-1 longshot. Several months later, the same two horses crossed the line first in the Belmont Stakes and paid $15.

The Juvenile is indeed the last race under the radar for next year’s Triple Crown hopefuls.

Budgetary Advice: Hone in on a couple of situations in which you are going to make your move and stick with that strategy. There are too many selections to play every race.
Good luck with the wagers. Even the races you watch without betting will be enjoyable.

Photo by AP / Darron Cummings
Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is PlayColorado's resident horse racing and combat sports betting expert whose work can be found regularly around major races and bouts. He is a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer and also authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.

View all posts by Dave Bontempo