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Breeders Cup Classic Betting Picks

This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic is one of the most wide-open runnings we have seen in quite some time. Sure, Game On Dude is the 8-5 morning line favorite, but is would be no surprise to see any of about six or seven others win the race.

Game On Dude was the betting favorite last year but tossed in a clunker in a seventh place finish, beaten 15 lengths by the upset winner Fort Larned, who paid $20.80 as my top pick last year.

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Ron the Greek gets the call this year and to be honest I cannot recall the last time I backed this guy and I certainly did not last out when he was an impressive winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), a race that four of the last six Classic winners used as their final prep. He stalked the early pace can came up the inside with a  good run and drew away to win by 6 3/4 lengths while catching a racing strip that was kind to speed that day.

[ BREEDERS CUP ODDS AND PROPS INCLUDING 2014 TRIPLE CROWN ODDS AND MORE ]

He caught a sloppy track two back in the Woodward (G1) where he also made his way along the rail but flattened out in the stretch, again over a surface that was more favorable to horses on or near the lead and a few paths off the rail. In last year's Classic he was off awkwardly and after being outrun early made up some ground late to finish fourth over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed.

Today the Bill Mott trainee should get an honest pace to run at and while Fort Larned wired the field last year, the previous five Classic winners were at least 10 lengths back at the half-mile pole and rallied for the win. We should get a fair price on this guy and it never hurts to have Hall of Famer Mott in our corner, the trainer has eight BC wins including a pair of Classics with Cigar and Drosselmeyer. (Also get odds and rebates from one of the best US racebooks on the web.)

Palace Malice tracked the early pace and was no match for Ron the Greek in the stretch in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The colt tracked the early pace while three wide over the speed friendly racing strip and ended up 6 3/4 lengths back of our top pick while 1 3/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field.

Two back in the Travers (G1) he stumbled coming out of the gate and mounted a good late run to finish a close up fourth behind Will Take Charge, who returned to win the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) in his next outing. Speed did very well early in the Travers Day card and it is battled whether the bias continued through the late races. He earned a career top three back winning the Jim Dandy (G2).

The colt should get a good tracking trip form mid pack and may get the jump on the closers and that may come in handy if the surface is kind to speed. Three-year-olds have fared well in the Classic, winning nine times in 29 years, the last being Raven's Pas here in 2008 when the surface was Pro-Ride.

Declaration of War ships in from overseas for the Aidan O'Brien barn and I was tempted to make this guy my top pick. Euro invaders have won this race just twice, won being the improbable Arcangues ($269.20) in 1993 and Raven's Pass ($29.00) in 2008 over Pro-Ride, and we have seen plenty crash and burn like Rip Van Winkle in 2009.

However, this guy does have a dirt-oriented pedigree, and is coming off a win in the Juddmonte International (G1) at York. Previous winners of the race include Giant's Causeway and Sakhee, who ran second in the Classic in 2000 and 2001 respectively. This O'Brien runner is by War Front out of a Rahy mare and he won all three of his starts on synthetic surfaces and four of nine on turf including a pair of Group 1 races.

Two back he ran a decent fourth in the Jacques Le Marois (G1) behind the highly regarded Moonlight Cloud, who came back to win the Prix de la Foret (G1) next out. If he takes to dirt as I think he will he should be flying late at a generous price.

Game On Dude is coming into this year's Classic as well as ever. The gelding came into last year's running off a win in the Awesome Again (G1) and he clunked home seventh as the beaten favorite. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert decided to skip the Awesome Again this year and bring him to the race fresh.

The gelding has won seven of his eight trips over the main track here and has been working sharply since winning the Pacific Classic (G1) in his last start. He is perfect in five starts this year, but his price is going to be on the light side.

Will Take Charge should be running late and it is hard to knock his last two starts although he does take on older for the first time today.

Fort Larned was my top pick last year and we were rewarded with a nice $20.80 payoff, but he did catch a speed friendly racing strip last year and this year finds himself one of several with early zip. He disappointed in the Whitney (G1) but bounced back with a good prep in the ungraded Homecoming Classic. I just cannot get to him this year.

Michael Dempsey’s Breeders’ Cup Report $34.95 (Fri-Sat)

Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the Friday and Saturday card from Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2.

The Breeders’ Cup offers 14 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Santa Anita Park.