Million Dollar Finish: Lone Speed Key to Foster

By Peter Rotondo, Jr., @retro411
The first Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race of the year in the Classic division kicks off with the Stephen Foster from Churchill Downs.

It’s a competitive field with a lot of question marks.

Is Commissioner as good 1 1/8 miles as he is at longer distances?

Will Lea come back to his 2014 form after his trip to Dubai?

Will Hoppertunity be ready to fire off the layoff?

All good questions and, of course, will be answered on Saturday night at Churchill Downs (TV coverage: 8:00 pm-10:00 pm ET on NBCSN).

The answers:

While on paper it appears there could be a a lot of pace, I’m sensing something a bit different. With Commissioner coming off a longer race and Lea off a layoff, I just don’t think they’ll send to the lead. I see the longshot, Paganol, alone early up front with Commissioner laying second and Noble Bird and Lea third and fourth. The wise Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey once told me: Be careful of lone speed longshots as the other jocks think the longshot simply isn’t good enough to keep going and they sometimes wait too long!

The selections:

#5 - Hoppertunity — The “Hopper” is working great for his return and I think he’ll get a perfect trip with the patient HOF’er Mike Smith aboard. I see Paganol on the lead with Commissioner/Noble Bird/Lea all making their moves at him on the turn. While Mikey keeps Hopper relaxed behind the top four until he makes his move at the top of the stretch to run them all down in the lane.

#3 - Paganol — I see the longshot with just 114lbs as lone speed, Paganol, holding on for second. Again, lone speed is always dangerous especially when the two favorites have tactical speed but allow a horse on an uncontested lead. These long shots sometimes “get brave” and at 20-1, he’s a must use.

#1 Commissioner, #2 Lea, and #4 Noble Bird — I could see these three running 3rd-5th in any order.

$100 Betting Strategy

$2 Superfecta Key: 5 w/1-2-3-4 = $48
.50 Superfecta Part wheel 1-2-3-4/5/1-2-3-4/1-2-3-4 = $12
$1Trifecta key: 5/1-2-3-4 = $12
$1 Trifecta: 3-5/3-5/1-2-4 - $12
$1 Trifecta: 3-5/1-2-4/3-5 = $6
$1 Trifecta key: 3/1-2-4 = $6
$1 Exacta box 3-4 = $2
$1 Exacta box 1-3 = $2

Million Dollar Finish

1. Hoppertunity
2. Paganol
3. Noble Bird
4. Commissioner
5. Lea
6. Cat Burglar
7. Majestic Harbor