The 40th Breeder’s Cup is being held this Friday and Saturday, with 14 major races and plenty of betting opportunities. One of the top horse racing events each year, the top race is the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, which features a $6 million payday. Although it’s been held at other venues in the past, the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California in 2023.
FanDuel TV personality Simon Bray has an intriguing background when it comes to horse racing, growing up around horses and transitioning from training to TVG, the go-to channel for racing. TVG has since rebranded to FanDuel TV, and the platform has plenty of content planned for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. LINEUPS.com spoke with Bray about different strategies for betting the Breeders’ Cup, specific horses he has his eye on, how FanDuel TV is covering the event, and why Santa Anita Park is his favorite track.
Biggest Breeder’s Cup Storyline
Simon Bray: “It’s probably a young horse called Tamara in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies that runs on Friday. The Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday is the marquee race for the Breeders Cup, and it ebbs and flows throughout the years. You get a marquee name in there that usually everybody knows around the country. It’s one of those years where we don’t have that.
We’ve had a couple of horses scratched through injury. They won’t be able to make the race. So that’s kind of a wide open race. So I think looking ahead to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, she’s got a great story behind her. Her mother won three Breeders’ Cup races. She won this race herself and then came back and won the Distaff the following year. And three years after that won the Distaff again.
It’s very rare that you see these good race horses produce a potential superstar as their offspring. And that’s the case with Tamara. She’s undefeated and trained by the same trainer, Richard Mandella, and she will be no hands down the shortest price favorite Breeders’ Cup weekend.”
Longshots To Watch For In The Breeder’s Cup
Simon Bray: In the Breeder’s Cup Classic marquee race with Arcangelo coming out… It’s opened up that race a little bit. I think White Abarrio would probably be my selection there, but he’s going to be around four to one. I think as far as if you’re looking for a big long shot in that race, I would go with a horse called Zandon at 12 to one. Great story.
Chad Brown is a very good trainer here. Lanfranco Dettori is riding, arguably one of the best riders in the world. He just retired from race riding after 35 year career, he’s ridden all over the world now. He came out of retirement about a month after he announced it, and he’s going to ride in the US for the rest of his career. So he gets them out there. He’s won a Breeder’s Cup classic. So in the marque race Zandon at 12 to one would be my long shot if I’m looking for a horse to upset or use underneath.
Is USHBA TESORO the horse to beat in the @BreedersCup Classic?
— TVG (@TVG) October 29, 2023
Breeder’s Cup Classic Picks
Simon Bray: With Arcangelo out, that opportunity has become a little easier for me. Zandon will be my price in there. If I’m having a straight win bet in that race, I would go with the three horse White Abarrio. There are two horses that are going to get attention. There’s White Abarrio for trainer Rick Dutrow, who was suspended from the sport for 10 years. Remarkable comeback. He paid his penance. He is now back and back only for the last eight months with a legitimate chance to win one of the country’s biggest races. He’s won this race before with the horse Saint Liam.
I should remark that this is an international contest and over the last 10 to 15 years, the Japanese thoroughbred breeding industry has become one of the global powerhouses. They’ve figured out how to breed great horses, travel them all the way around the world, and win big races. There’s a horse called Ushba Tesoro, the number eight horse, that won the Dubai World Cup. And he’s looked phenomenal this week on our Breakfast shows. He’s looked tremendous training. But I’d give the edge, if you were telling me to pick one, it would be White Abarrio for Rick Dutrow.
Favorite Exotics Bets
Simon Bray: The wagering menu in horse racing is so extensive. I mean it’s kind of like sports wagering where they come up with all these prop bets. There’s wagering within a race, like a win bet, a trifecta, a superfecta. And then the analogy would be like a parlay bet in sports. There’s wagering across a series of races, whether it’s three in a row, four in a row, five in a row.
I tend to like a pick four, which means you’ve got to pick the winners of four consecutive races. And the strategy there is to find a horse that you really like because the cost of the ticket to play that goes up exponentially with obviously more horses you use in each race, it’s going to get very expensive and your return on investment is not that productive.
So what I try to do is find a horse that I like in one of those four race sequences, where even if it’s a heavy favorite and then you want to try and structure some prices around it. But if you like a horse that’s four, five to one, go ahead and single that horse in that particular race, just key him. And that can be a separator.
If you get a single when everyone else just going deep, that kind of separates you from the rest of the field. Again, it’s a parimutuel wagering system. You’re playing against everybody in the pool. So that’s what I like. I like pick fours, pick fives, the same principle, five races in a row. For a nominal investment, the return can be very, very big indeed. Obviously, there’s much more element of you’ve got to be right because you lose one race, the wager is done.
But if you like a horse, if you find one horse that you really like in horse racing, that’s the key to a successful day because you can key that horse in, pick fours around that race in pick threes around that race in pick fives, you can single him, you can play a win bet, you can key him on top in an exact trifecta.
So what they say in horse racing, you only have to be right once in the afternoon. It’s easy to handicap. The real thing you have to do is structure the tickets around that one correct selection.
It's the Super Bowl of horses this weekend on FanDuel TV
— FanDuel TV (@FanDuelTV) November 1, 2023
What To Expect From FanDuel TV Coverage
Simon Bray: A lot has changed since we transitioned from TVG to Fanduel TV. We’ve got a new partnership with Churchill Downs and so we’ll be at the Kentucky Derby next year, obviously a marquee event. And our partnership with the Breeders’ Cup over the last couple of years has really, really got stronger and stronger.
We have Breakfast at the Breeders’ Cup. That’s a morning show. It’s kind of like going into the training camp, it’s like Hard Knocks for horse racing. We get to show viewers what happens behind the scenes in the barn area of training, something that you don’t get to see ever at all. I mean, you’ve got to be licensed personnel to get back there.
So we put cameras, we have reporters everywhere, and we give you the insights of these horses training. And then we are part of what’s called a Breeders’ Cup Players’ Show that will be broadcast around every racetrack, international simulcast feed. And we’re going to be putting that on FanDuel TV as well, both championship days.
And that’s more of a wagering-centric program. It takes away from more of the behind-the-scenes, it’s more dedicated to wagering specifics, giving people ticket structure, what to play, who to play. So yeah, hours upon hours of endless coverage. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.
Santa Anita Park vs. Other Horse Racing Tracks
Simon Bray: I’m based out here in the West Coast and live close to 30 minutes away from Santa Anita. I would say it’s number one. The Breeders’ Cup is holding its 40th running this year and it’s going to be the 11th time at Santa Anita. The idea was originally to start the Breeders’ Cup and move it around different venues around the country. Obviously, the tracks have to be on board and some tracks don’t want to participate in hosting it for logistical reasons, et cetera. But Santa Anita has been very on board with it. And there are a couple of reasons.
If you’ve ever been out here or if you’ve ever watched it on TV, the backdrop is just phenomenal. People love it out here. I think one of the most important things is the guarantee of good weather, especially when we’re dealing with grass racing.
You start holding big races like this in New York this time of the year, you’re all susceptible to rain. The turf is not going to be ideal conditions. Very, very soft. And for the Europeans… they really relish coming here. They love it because of the guarantee of good conditions. They know what horses to bring for exactly what conditions.
Breakfast at the Breeders’ Cup presented by FanDuel https://t.co/JrdKFnaLoT
— Breeders' Cup (@BreedersCup) November 1, 2023
The Future of Horse Racing
Simon Bray: Horse racing has been in a little bit of an uphill battle as far as attracting newer and young customers. And I think that’s the key. The attendance numbers have dropped at tracks considerably over the last several years, but that’s because the advent of television wagering at home and our races on a daily basis run Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. And not a lot of people have the ability to go to the track on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
So we’ve had trouble with that. But I think the advent of sports wagering and passing legislation for sports wagering in states, and hopefully that’s going to continue to grow. We might find a new customer that likes to bet sports. There’s that void during the day, but horse racing for them is what I call the nine-to-five wagering opportunity. We run during the day and then the sports take over in the evening and the primetime hours. So I think we need to try and get some sports betting customers to cross over into horse racing and make it more palatable that way. It’s a tough task, but hopefully Fanduel TV can be a big part of that.
I mean during Covid, we were literally the only live sport racing, and hats off to these racetracks and all these trackside workers that take care of the horses. We managed to keep it going and we noticed a huge uptick in people that didn’t have the option to wager or watch mainstream sports that we were the only offering and we ended up going on NBC Sports and NBC and filling some viewing hours there. And the uptick was huge. And I think some of those customers have stuck. Obviously, some have gone back to what they previously did prior to Covid, but we’ve managed to grab and keep some of those customers and I think that’s what we have to do going forward.
Personal History With Horse Racing
Simon Bray: I grew up where horse racing is more of a mainstream sport. You’ll see it on the front page of newspapers now and then. So I grew up there, came to the United States and was a trainer for several years, and had some success, then made the transition into broadcasting. Similar to an ex-NFL player as an analyst.
So that’s my background. I’ve been around it all my life. My father owned horses back in England as a hobby and a part-time business. It was more of his hobby and that’s how I really got into it. But everybody on our team and I would say throughout horse racing usually has a deep-rooted interest in it and I love it. I’ve been involved in the sport for over 30 years now.