This year has been fairly poor in terms of wagering numbers. Some tracks like Kentucky Downs and Woodbine have been up, others like Churchill Downs have been getting killed, but the downs, so far, have beaten the ups. It's blah out there.
What will happen this weekend at the Breeders' Cup? Will they beat last year's handle?
I have handicapped the races, with more work to do, but I have come to the opinion that handle will be good this season, surpassing last years numbers. The fields are much more interesting, field size is quite good, with a breadth from top to bottom that breeds confidence in having to go deeper. Sure there are potential keys, like for example a Shared Belief or Dank, but those potential keys have some serious holes (Dank's form is terrible and Shared Belief isn't faster on paper than several in the Classic). The fields seem so decent this year that even the scratch of American Pharoah does not change the dynamic much; instead of using he and Daredevil, smaller players will look to Carpe Diem, others will go deeper looking at the excellent Upstart, Calculator or Texas Red, should the pace still be hot.
This year there are contingency's almost at every turn. That makes for a good handle.
My opinion stems from the fact that although racing handle looks dead - and you can say it is - it is not dead because players have left in droves. It's deader because we have not been able to find good bets, and that leads us to do something else. When you give us some decent races to bet, like on a Derby card, the Belmont card etc, we tend to send it in just fine.
Bigger meets have been hurt, some of it self inflicted, like field size issues at Keeneland. The signal fee nonsense and takeout hikes kills the game in a slow burn. But when racing gives us big days with deep fields, they stand out. Folks who have cut their handle return, and handle tends to increase, even in this environment.
Have a good Wednesday everyone.
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