Breeders’ Cup betting tips for horse racing newbies

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Everyone has heard about the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and just about every adult (that I know, at least) has made a bet on the Derby. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are just as much of a spectacle, and the two-day event offers even more opportunities to cash big tickets on premier horse racing. If you’ve never bet on the Breeders’ Cup before, we’ve put together an introductory guide for how to approach the wagering opportunities that await on Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2.


Never is it tougher to stick to a fixed budget than on Breeders’ Cup weekend but you’ve got to try to do it. It’s so tempting to take shots on any number of races because you’ll find that horses that would normally race at odds of 2-to-1 (+300) running at Breeders’ Cup at odds of 5-to-1 (+600) or higher, depending on the race. But realistically, you’ll be lucky to catch two or three winners on the weekend and if you don’t save your bankroll for the races you like best, you’ll be out of ammo to take your best shots. That’ll leave you in a position where you’re frantically searching for an ATM; it’s not a good look — trust me, I’ve been there. As the old saying goes; bet with your head, not over it.

Pick your spots

Just about every race is a great betting race at Breeders’ Cup. You’re going to find full fields in all 14 Breeders’ Cup races which will each provide a potential opportunity to make a big score. But if you end up chasing race after race, you could find yourself in a hole and in a hurry. What has worked best for me in the past is identifying two or three horses on the day who have a solid chance to win at a big price. Rather than throwing an equal amount of money on a dozen or so races in which you don’t feel as confident (either in a particular horse or that the race winner will provide the value that you’re looking for), it makes more sense to set aside a large chunk of your budget for betting on the two or three races you’re most locked in on.

Bet small, win big

As already alluded to earlier, you’re going to get great value on just about every horse you might want to bet on at Breeders’ Cup. Therefore, you don’t have to bet hundreds of dollars to make a nice score. I’ve played $6 Pick 3s (a bet that requires you to predict the winners of three consecutive races) in past years at Breeders’ Cup and hit for more than $2,500. Pick 3s can be tough but there are lots of wagers that don’t require a major investment that could also pay big money. Even doubles (winners of two consecutive races) often yield incredible returns. For example, the early Breeders’ Cup Saturday double in 2018 (Shamrock Rose in the Filly and Mare Sprint with Stormy Liberal in the Turf Sprint) paid $540 for a $2 bet!

Bet types

We’ve touched on a few bet types that you might want to consider. Multi-race bets are always fun and potentially very rewarding but there are other bets you should consider, especially when you like a horse at odds higher than 6-to-1 (+700). Depending on how wide open you perceive the race to be (and if you think the favorite or favorites might finish outside the top three), a traditional win, place, and show bet is always a sound move. I’d suggest that for horses above 10-to-1 (+1100) always bet win, place, and show. If the odds are around 5-to-1 (+600) or shorter, I’d bet only win and place. If you’ve got some extra money to play with in a wide-open race and think a major longshot might round out an exacta with the horse you’ve selected, you can always “wheel” a horse with “all”, as in all runners in the race. What that means is that you’ll cash nicely if your horse finishes first or second, and if the other runner who completes the exacta is also a longshot.


This is going to sound obvious but be sure to handicap or analyze any race that you’re betting on … or find someone who has! You’ll be able to find all sorts of previews and analysis pieces on in the weeks leading up to Breeders’ Cup. Read those pieces. Also, if you’ve got the time, watch a lot of replays of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, also known as “Win and You’re In” races. In watching replays, you’ll find horses who experienced adverse running conditions (who were perhaps blocked in or had to steady in a race) and who might be coming into the Breeder’s Cup under the radar because of a poor finish in their previous race or two. Identifying a horse or horses who figure to improve with a better trip is often the secret to unlocking huge payouts. Along the same lines, don’t simply dismiss any horse’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup because of one or two recent races in which they finished poorly. Oftentimes trainers and the people who manage horses will try to gradually work a horse up to a peak performance at the Breeders’ Cup. This is especially true for horses who’ve run well at the Breeders’ Cup or in major stakes races earlier in their careers.

Have fun!

At the end of the day, it’s always great to win a ton of money but it’s important that you enjoy the process of handicapping and watching the races at the Breeders’ Cup. As I alluded to earlier, there’s no shame in leaning on a friend or a group of friends to do the analysis required, and then partnering with them (or pooling your money) to bet the races. Betting “show parlays” can be a lot of fun. That involves everyone at your watch party or at the track with you to chip in a few bucks, bet a horse to show and then roll over winnings from race to race – assuming your horse(s) finishes in the top three. It’s a light-lift that’ll keep everyone in your group engaged while also allowing you to go off and grab a drink, socialize and then tune back in when it’s race time.

Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships on NBC Sports. Coverage begins on Friday, November 1 from 4-8 p.m. ET and continues on Saturday, November 2 starting at 3:30 p.m. The Breeders’ Cup Classic hour is that night from 8-9 p.m. ET.

Running up the points with Rockets, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 12

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Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.


The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.

An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.


The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.

Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.


Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.

Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.


The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.

The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.

Too late to start fading the Fins, and the NFL bets you need to make in Week 11

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This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more. 


The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.

This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.

Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.

As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).

Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.


No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.

The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.

Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.


If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.

Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.


The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.

We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.

The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.

Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.