Commentary

Breeders' Cup remains fit and trim

Updated: October 23, 2008, 6:55 PM ET
By Jeremy Plonk | Special to ESPN.com

There are no short, fat kids in the Breeders' Cup.

Any of us who ever spent any time on the playgrounds and ball fields of America waiting to be selected in a pick-up game know what I mean.

When the 25th Breeders' Cup World Championships convene two days of racing gluttony Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita, fans and handicappers alike can look down the row and say, "I'll take that one ... and that one ... and that one ..."

So deep and wondrous are the 14 Breeders' Cup races that defending champions could be as low as the third choice in the wagering, like Ginger Punch in the Ladies Classic, Kip Deville in the Mile and Midnight Lute in the Sprint. Past champions like Red Rocks and Better Talk Now almost possess an after-thought presence in the Turf.

And we haven't even talked about the Classic.

The Travers winner comes off a 106 Beyer Speed Figure, but Colonel John figures to get few salutes from the betting public. Duke of Marmalade won five straight Group 1 races in three different European countries this season, and he won't warm up the toteboard of public opinion.

If I told you there was a horse who ran one-two in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic in the same season, and this year's Classic was in California, wouldn't you think we'd be talking about the chalk? Nada. Go Between is his name, and 6-1 or 8-1 is his game.

Forgot to mention the two best milers in all of Europe, Henrythenavigator and Raven's Pass.

Oops, another oversight, I didn't mention perhaps the two best-bred horses in the world, Champs Elysees and Casino Drive, who are direct kin to more famous relatives than the Kennedys.

Truth is, the past performances for this weekend's Breeders' Cup madness will probably be the second-most scrutinized pieces of paper in America this week, trailing only Joe the Plumber's resume. There's a lot of work to do in the next few days when you consider about $150-$175 million is about to be passed around the horse-playing world.

The beauty of it all is that it took me 364 words to mention the name Curlin, and the Breeders' Cup is so deep you didn't miss it. What's been so remarkable over the past quarter-century is that this is not unique. It's every year at the Breeders' Cup.

The moral to the story is that no one should talk you off a Breeders' Cup price stab. On no other day in American racing will so many good horses go off at such fat prices. This is one case where fat is good, very good.

Lending a Hand ... and a Mouse
For those of you watching and playing the Breeders' Cup from home this Friday and Saturday, please join me online at Breederscup.com for live, interactive analysis throughout both days. I'll be anchoring the coverage of all the trends, toteboard analysis and late-breaking wagering strategies. I'll also be taking your questions in real-time about anything that's on your mind, race-by-race.

Meanwhile, my Horseplayerpro.com cohorts Toby Turrell and Donald Harris, who have been clocking the contenders every morning, as well as reporter Joe Kristufek, will be providing live, up-to-the-minute reports on how horses look in the paddock and post parade, what jockeys are saying after the races about how the track is playing, and more.

For a free copy of our Horseplayer Pro Works horse-by-horse a.m. workout report for Saturday's Breeders' Cup races, simply send an E-mail to staff@horseplayerpro.com and I'll see that you get hooked up.

Jeremy Plonk has been an ESPN.com contributor since 2000. You can E-mail Jeremy about this topic or anything racing-related at Jeremy@Horseplayerpro.com.

In addition to being a longtime contributing writer to ESPN.com's Horse Racing section, Jeremy Plonk is the editor of The HorsePlayer Magazine.