Home of the Louisiana Derby

FREE Wizard's Breeders' Cup race analysis with wagers!

Wizard's Major Stakes Analysis for Friday's MARATHON, the first Breeders' Cup event Breeders' Cup Marathon Santa Anita Race 3 - 1 3/4m Non-graded 3yo and up, Purse: $500,000. Post Time: 3:35 ET 

Race Synopsis

Black Astor will be sent right to the front and try to wire the field. Nite Light should be making 1st run on the pacesetter with Father Time and Mastery closing from off the pace. I expect the pace to be a lively one, which should set it up for my top 2 selections to be closing strongest in the late stages of the race.


 First Selection: (6) MASTERY (Suroor Saeed Bin/Dettori Lanfranco) There is no barn in the world that possesses the quality and quantity of regally bred and dominant racehorses than Godolphin. Most are trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Mastery was always considered the second string behind several of their long distances runners, but that changed quickly when he defeated the more fancied Godolphin runner Kite Wood in his last start, providing the stable a fifth win in the prestigious Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at a similar distance as the BC Marathon.

Mastery was bred by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable and was transferred to Godolphin after his smart effort at Kempton. He had never run beyond 1 1/8 miles. This was about to change for his new connections. In 5 starts for the stable, Mastery has raced from distances of 1 3/8 miles up to 2 miles indicating that he has tremendous stamina.

As a 3 year old, Mastery will be facing older for the first time, but that is no concern to me, as he has proven to excel at marathon distances against top flight opposition, in contrast to the American’s who have shown spotty form against lesser competition than what the Euro shippers will face in the Marathon. Mastery enters the race off a 55 day rest. He has been training great and is a deserving favorite to take down top honors.

 Second Selection: (5) FATHER TIME (Cecil H R A/Ahern E) Like Mastery, Father Time is a 3 year old who exits the same race as Mastery in the St Leger Stakes. He experienced a good inside trip that day with dead aim on the leaders through the stretch, but had to settle for 4th, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Mastery. Father Time was bumped slightly nearing the wire, but this minor incident would not have resulted in a closer finish.

It’s amazing that his trainer Henry Cecil has never won a Breeders Cup race, but that could change with Father Time who would be no surprise if he were to turn the tables on his rival Mastery, who has defeated him twice in both their encounters.

One important factor that should not go unnoticed is the fact that Father Time broke his maiden in his debut over polytrack at a minor track in Great Britain. The question that must be answered is if Father Time can make up the difference in his lose at Doncaster to Mastery in the Marathon. I am going to speculate that Santa Anita may suit him better than 1 3/4 miles at Doncaster.

 Third Selection: (3) NITE LIGHT (Pletcher Todd A/Velazquez J R) Nite Light is my choice of the Americans to make the most impact on Mastery and Father Time. In 15 career starts, Nite Light has proven to be a gem of consistency, winning 6 times and placing 6 times. He has proven to be a quality long distance performer with 2 victories at 1 ½ miles. Nite Light is a very versatile 5 year old who can set all the pace from the outset or sit back in pursuit of the leaders and pounce on the far turn.

With speedball Black Astor in the field, the latter tactics will most likely be employed. He has only raced on polytrack once, and that was a decisive 5 ¾ length victory in a Grade 3 stake at Turfway Park on Sept 12. Nite Light got away with murder on the front end, setting “snail” like fractions against far weaker than what he will face in the Marathon. He will be tested sternly for class against Mastery and Father Time, who have a lot more upside than Nite Light despite spotting him racing experience and age.

Nite Light has only won one race since Feb 16 2008, and has been a beaten favorite in 4 of 6 starts since that victory. Despite the negatives I have presented, the fact that he can stay the 1 ¾ mile distance, is consistent and trained by the always dangerous Todd Pletcher, Nite Light must be included in your wagers.

 Fourth Selection: (4) CLOUDY'S KNIGHT (Sheppard Jonathan E/Homeister R B Jr) Trainer Jonathan Sheppard and long distance performers have proven over the years to go hand in hand. Not only is Sheppard a master at developing runners on the flat as the distances increase, but the same can be said with his jumpers. This 9 year old, who is not only the elder statesman of this year’s Marathon, has also raced more times than any in the field, especially when you compare him to Mastery and Father Time, who have a combined 15 starts amongst them.

When Sheppard took over the training of Cloudy’s Knight following his eight place finish to end a very disappointing 2008 campaign, it was clear that much work had to be done to get him to regain some semblance of his excellent 2007 ledger, capped off with a nose victory in the Grade 1 Canadian International. Sheppard sent Cloudy’s Knight to the farm to enjoy a respite in the pasture. Last August it was time to start preparing him for a fall campaign.

First stop was in Kentucky Downs in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Classic. Despite having to wipe off months of rustiness, Sheppard had Cloudy’s Knight ready to win at 1 ½ miles. He did not disappoint with a decisive 2 ½ length victory. Very few trainers could accomplish this task with a 9 year old, but Sheppard is on a very short list of horseman who could do so. Next stop was the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland. Most horses usually regress in their 2nd start off a long layoff, but that did not hinder Cloudy’s Knight, as he eked out a head decision over the classy Winchester and Yates Black Cat.

The question in the Marathon is if Sheppard and Cloudy’s Night have 1 more powerful effort to conquer Mastery and Father Time. I feel a good showing is in the cards but a victory would be a mild surprise. The Marathon was never really the target when he returned off the layoff. A matter of fact, Sheppard was going to enter him in the Red Smith at Aqueduct, but when he found out that the race was not at Belmont Park, which he thought it was, the decision to enter here was a better option according to him.

I’m not sure what the difference is running at Aqueuct or Belmont, but he certainly knows more than I do. I expect Cloudy’s Night to launch his rally on the far turn, but I do not feel his late kick will be enough to get the job done.

 Wagering Strategy
In addition to the Superfecta and Pick 3 wagers in this race, it is also the first leg of the Pick 6. For those interested, I have given a recommendation for a ticket that wouldn't require a huge investment. The Pick 6 on Breeders' Cup days is usually even harder to hit than on normal racing days, so I would strongly caution against playing it unless you have a large budget and feel comfortable with that kind of investment in this wager that is hit at a very low frequency.

* Dime Superfecta: 5-6 / 3-4-5-6 / 3-4-5-6 / ALL = $8.40 for a dime wager * Dime Superfecta: 5-6 / 3-4-5-6 / ALL / 3-4-5-6 = $8.40 for a dime wager (These two wagers can be played multiple times, based on your personal budget) .

* Start a Pick 3 wager with three tickets: Ticket 1: 6 / 3-4-7-8-9-11 / 3-4-6-7-10-11 = $36 for a $1 wager Ticket 2: 6 / 4-8 / ALL = $24 for a $1 wager Ticket 3: 6 / 4-7-8 / 3-4-7 = $9 for a $1 wager .

*$2 PICK 6 TICKET: 6 / 4-7-8 / 3-4-7 / 2-4-5-6 / 9 / 7 = $72

Take the Wizard to the Breeders' Cup with You!

"Once again, the Breeders’ Cup is upon us. As we all know, handicapping the World Championships is an extremely difficult and somewhat trying task to say the least. There is a plethora of information available for you to purchase, and that does not even take into account the statistics and info that can be found in each horses’ past performance record. Factor in that virtually everyone has opinion; and, is willing to share it, which further complicates your goal to select winners and make money. Bottom line, the difference between winning and losing sometimes boils down to how you construct your wagers. With a vast array of bets that will confront you on Friday and Saturday, a wagering strategy will be paramount to your success. What separates my Breeders’ Cup products from the pack is my detailed wagering strategies which I employ myself for each race. It is possible for me to NOT to select the winner of a race, but still make money in the because of the way I have laid-out my wagers. Suffice it to say, I don’t hit or make money on every race I bet. But, having a well-thought out plan of attack in place makes for a more enjoyable and hopefully profitable Breeders’ Cup."

The following are the Wizard products available for the Breeders' Cup. 

*Stakes package for both Friday (now online) and Saturday with wagering strategies

*Pick of the Day which is my one strongest play for Friday and Saturday - NOW ONLINE!

*Pick 3 / Pick 4 / Trifecta / Pick 6 selection sheet. Coming Friday

*Wizard's daily selection sheet for Friday and Saturday (does not include wagering strategies)

* Wizard's Dime Superfecta Play - NOW ONLINE!