Using history to handicap the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity

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The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues this weekend at Keeneland in Kentucky with four “Win and You’re In” qualifying races, including the $500,000 Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” prep race, broadcast live on NBCSN on Saturday starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

What does it take to win the Breeders’ Futurity? A good horse, that’s for certain. Four of the last five winners have gone on to finish first, second, or third in the prestigious Grade 1 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so there’s a good chance you’ll see a serious Breeders’ Cup contender (and a potential division champion) in the Keeneland winner’s circle on Saturday.

But how can you identify the Breeders’ Futurity winner before he’s an established star? These tips and trends based on the last ten editions of the Breeders’ Futurity can help point you in the right direction:

Any running style can win (but maybe favor speed horses)

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen front-runners and deep closers alike prevail in the Breeders’ Futurity. The race has drawn 11 or more starters every year since 2009 and over time large fields can produce just about any kind of result.

Since Keeneland transitioned from a Polytrack racing surface to dirt in 2014, the Breeders’ Futurity has generally favored horses with tactical speed. Four of the last five winners were racing within three lengths of the pace after the opening half-mile, with the lone exception being Brody’s Cause, who rallied from far behind to win over a muddy track in 2015.

Assuming the Keeneland main track comes up dry on Saturday, look for horses with tactical speed to perform best in the Breeders’ Futurity. By securing forwardly placed positions, they’re better able to stay out of traffic and receive clean trips.

Year Winner Position after first 1/2-mile 1/2-mile & 3/4-mile (track condition)
2018 Knicks Go 1st by 1 length (13 starters) 47.59, 1:12.68 (fast)
2017 Free Drop Billy 5th by 3 lengths (11 starters) 47.11, 1:12.66 (fast)
2016 Classic Empire 3rd by 1.5 lengths (12 starters) 46.63, 1:11.17 (fast)
2015 Brody’s Cause 10th by 7.25 lengths (11 starters) 47.33, 1:11.66 (muddy)
2014 Carpe Diem 2nd by 0.5 lengths (12 starters) 48.09, 1:12.16 (fast)
2013 We Miss Artie 9th by a 5.5 lengths (12 starters) 46.84, 1:11.94 (fast)
2012 Joha 1st by 0.5 lengths (13 starters) 48.41, 1:12.86 (fast)
2011 Dullahan 9th by 10.25 lengths (13 starters) 46.15, 1:11.03 (fast)
2010 J. B.’s Thunder 1st by 1 length (11 starters) 48.64, 1:13.40 (fast)
2009 Noble’s Promise 3rd by 1 length (14 starters) 47.73, 1:12.18 (fast)


Saratoga shippers hold an advantage

Some of the best young two-year-olds compete at Saratoga each summer and when they ship down to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Futurity, it’s wise to pay attention. Seven of the last ten Breeders’ Futurity winners prepped at Saratoga, along with 14 of the last 30 trifecta finishers. More specifically, two of the last three Breeders’ Futurity winners (Free Drop Billy and Classic Empire) exited the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

Churchill Downs has also been a productive prepping ground for Breeders’ Futurity contenders. Since Churchill Downs introduced its September meet in 2013, the track has produced eight of the 18 trifecta finishers in the Breeders’ Futurity, including 11-1 winner Brody’s Cause in 2015.

Favor stakes-experienced runners

While maiden winners occasionally step up in class and emerge victorious in the Breeders’ Futurity, it’s more common for experienced stakes runners to come out on top. Seven of the last ten Breeders’ Futurity winners (Knicks Go, Free Drop Billy, Classic Empire, We Miss Artie, Joha, Dullahan, and Noble’s Promise) contested a stakes race in their previous start. Also noteworthy? Six of the seven were defeated in their stakes effort.

The other three Breeders’ Futurity winners (Brody’s Cause, Carpe Diem, and J. B.’s Thunder entered the race off maiden victories.

Longshots often prevail

Although three favorites (Free Drop Billy, Classic Empire, and Carpe Diem) have won the Breeders’ Futurity in the last decade, the large fields tend to produce upset winners. Six of the last ten Breeders’ Futurity winners started at 8-1 or higher, including 70-1 shocker Knicks Go in 2018. Furthermore, 17 of the last 30 trifecta finishers started at 8-1 or higher. If you like betting longshots, both on top and in the exotic wagers, the Breeders’ Futurity is a great race to play!

Classic-winning trainers Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher have enjoyed ample success in the Breeders’ Futurity. Romans has saddled three winners over the last ten years (Free Drop Billy, Brody’s Cause, and Dullahan), while Pletcher has saddled two winners (Carpe Diem and We Miss Artie) plus two runners-up during the same timeframe.

Among jockeys, watch out for John Velazquez. He doesn’t ride in the Breeders’ Futurity very often, but he’s nevertheless gone 2-for-2 over the last decade, winning aboard Carpe Diem and We Miss Artie.


On paper, the horse to beat by most measures is By Your Side. Winner of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, By Your Side failed to fire when trudging home fifth in the Hopeful Stakes, but the Hopeful has been a productive prep for the Breeders’ Futurity, and By Your Side has the tactical speed to secure a clean trip at Keeneland.

But By Your Side will face some formidable opponents in the Breeders’ Futurity, including Todd Pletcher’s Gouverneur Morris. With John Velazquez in the saddle, this son of Constitution won his debut at Saratoga by nine eye-catching lengths, a sharp performance that has marked Gouverneur Morris as a very promising prospect.

With his tactical speed, strong connections, and big maiden win at Saratoga, Gouverneur Morris’ form resembles that of 2014 Breeders’ Futurity winner Carpe Diem. If Velazquez travels to Keeneland to retain the mount, watch out – another victory could be in the offing.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with Fall Stars Weekend from Keeneland on October 5 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and October 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Canucks vs Golden Knights picks and predictions for Game 1


Perhaps no team has been more fun to follow during the NHL playoffs than the Vancouver Canucks, and hockey bettors can still get the Canucks at +1,300 to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup. Vancouver is coming off a thrilling series win against the defending champion St. Louis Blues, but now a much more difficult challenge awaits. The Vegas Golden Knights are +350 favorites to win it all, and they’ve certainly looked the part while dropping only one playoff contest.

Game 1 of this series gets underway Sunday, so we’re here to bring you our NHL picks and predictions in this Western Conference semifinal showdown.

Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights betting preview

Starting Goalies

Canucks: Jacob Markstrom – playoffs – 7-3, 2.44 GAA, .929 SV% (season – 23-16, 2.75 GAA, .918 SV%)

Golden Knights: Robin Lehner – playoffs – 5-1, 2.44 GAA, .904 SV% (season – 19-10, 2.89, .920 SV%)

If this game was actually played in Las Vegas, then Markstrom could easily spend a few hours performing with Cirque du Soleil. The 30-year-old dazzled against Blues with an eye-opening array of acrobatic saves and an impressive 7-3 record. He’ll need to provide more of the same against a dangerous Vegas squad.

The Knights will likely roll with Robin Lehner, who has taken over the spot as Vegas’s starter in the crease—and rightfully so. Still, the Knights have the luxury of having Marc-Andre Fleury as their “backup.” The five-time All-Star matched an NHL record this season with his 14th consecutive playoff appearance.


Vancouver: Tyler Myers D (out), Tyler Toffoli RW (out), Micheal Ferland LW (out), Josh Leivo LW (out)

Vegas: Tomas Nosek LW (out)

Betting Trend to Know

Canucks are 0-6 in their last six Sunday games. Find the latest NHL betting trends for Canucks vs. Golden Knights.


The Canucks have been a force with the extra man during the postseason, converting 26.2% of their power plays. While the Knights are known for their offensive firepower, it’s their stingy defense that allows them to suffocate opponents—as evidenced by an 86.4% penalty kill during their playoff run. Vancouver is the only team in the league to never beat Vegas in regulation, going 0-11 all time. That’s something I just can’t ignore.

PREDICTION: Vegas ML (-175)


Each team is filled with loads of offensive talent. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller have combined for 11 goals thus far. Elias Pettersson has racked up 13 points, tied with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the playoff lead.

The Knights can match Vancouver’s scorers, but they’re more balanced—Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Mark Stone have each lit the lamp four times during the postseason. The difference is on defense, where Vancouver has allowed the most high-danger chances of all remaining playoff teams.

PREDICTION: Over 5.5 (-110)


Though I like Vegas to win, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks kept it close and continued their offensive success. I’ll take a flyer on Vancouver scoring at least three goals.

PREDICTION: Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)

Canucks vs Golden Knights Betting Card

  • Vegas ML (-175)
  • Over 5.5 (-110)
  • Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)
NHL Parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed today’s NHL Canucks vs Golden Knights picks, you could win $104.93 on a $10 bet?

Use our NHL parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

Verlander injury shuffles Astros’ MLB futures odds

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MLB betting got a shake-up Sunday afternoon, specifically on World Series odds and AL pennant odds, with news that Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander could miss the rest of the season – or at least a significant chunk of it – with an arm injury.

Initial reports suggested Verlander had an elbow ailment, but both he and manager Dusty Baker quickly denied that. Baker called it a forearm strain and said that Verlander would be re-evaluated in “a couple of weeks.” The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched a solid six innings in an 8-2 Opening Day rout of the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Verlander’s injury led oddsmakers to shuffle futures book odds on the defending AL champions. Covers checked in on the MLB odds moves with a couple of Las Vegas sportsbooks.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ World Series odds?

At CG Technology books, risk analyst Rich Zanco said the Astros quickly moved from +1,200 to +1,800 in World Series futures. The SuperBook at Westgate also had Houston pegged +1,200 prior to Sunday’s news and initially went to +1,600, then dialed it a little further to +1,800.

However, there were apparently buyers on the Astros at that point, prompting the SuperBook to reel the price in to +1,400.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ American League odds?

In AL pennant futures, the Astros initially moved from +600 to +800 at The SuperBook, then ticked back to +700.

World Series odds

Team Odds to win
Los Angeles Dodgers +350
New York Yankees +350
Houston Astros +600
Atlanta Braves +1,600
Minnesota Twins +1,600
Tampa Bay Rays +1,800
Washington Nationals +2,000
Cleveland Indians +2,000
New York Mets +2,000
Chicago Cubs +2,000
Oakland Athletics +2,000
St. Louis Cardinals +2,500
Cincinnati Reds +2,500
San Diego Padres +2,500
Philadelphia Phillies +3,000
Chicago White Sox +3,000
Los Angeles Angels +3,000
Milwaukee Brewers +4,000
Boston Red Sox +5,000
Arizona Diamondbacks +6,000
Colorado Rockies +8,000
Toronto Blue Jays +10,000
Texas Rangers +10,000
Pittsburgh Pirates +20,000
Detroit Tigers +20,000
San Francisco Giants +30,000
Seattle Mariners +30,000
Miami Marlins +30,000
Baltimore Orioles +30,000
Kansas City Royals +30,000

Odds courtesy The SuperBook