Peter Fornatale's Breeders' Cup Diary

In his Wednesday update from Lexington, Peter Fornatale talks to respected US horseplayer Sean Boarman about his views on the feature races at Keeneland.

  • Wednesday 04 November
  • Blog
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This is the rare year where the Breeders’ Cup occurs a week into November and this causes a number of knock-on effects. I already wrote about being able to spend Halloween with my family. That falls into the positive category. In the negative category, it also means that this the U.S. Presidential election occurs before the Breeders’ Cup.

There is an old cliché I’m about to trot out now, but this time I swear it’s the God’s honest truth: this is the most important election of my lifetime. I’m not going to get into the politics, but let’s just say it’s a result that tens of millions of Americans are heavily emotionally invested in and I am not immune.
 

Watch the 2020 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November.

 
Dinner last night should have been relaxing – a local chef friend created a special menu for a small group of us. The whiskey list was fantastic, the company sublime. Normally, I’d have been in my element. But I was a total drag, staring at my phone and frantically texting friends and relatives.

Over the years, my go to for up-to-the-minute info on elections are the betting markets. I’ve never seen a market like this. At the start of the meal, Biden was 1-2 favorite. When the amuse bouche arrived, he was 2-5. Things got interesting as we nibbled our starters and the price began to drift. We ate our mains as Trump went favorite and by dessert the incumbent was the 1-2 jolly.
 

Donald Trump
By the time Peter's dessert arrived, Trump was hot favourite to win the US Election.

The stress levels were high, and got higher as a good night of sleep wasn’t really on the cards – whenever I woke up I’d look at the market. By the morning, the prices were right back where they were at the start of dinner. I was supposed to be out on the backside at 6am. I decided to go back to bed. When I did eventually get motivated, I got my coffee and called a car.

“What do you think about this election?” were the driver’s first words to me.

I carefully considered my response. “Is that today?”

Cracking the Cup with Sean Boarman

Instead of hitting the track, I decided to go visit my friend Sean Boarman, a professional horseplayer friend in his office. He’d been up since the wee hours of the morning playing Hong Kong.

We chatted election of course.

“This is going to be like the longest photo finish in history,” was his line.

We quickly pivoted to the Breeders’ Cup, noting the big news of the day – that Vekoma spiked a fever and is out of the Sprint. “I don’t really know what to do in there now,” he said. “I was going to bet against him. Yaupon looks better now but I still can’t really get behind him because he doesn’t really finish his races. I’ll probably end up playing C Z Rocket and maybe Hog Creek Hustle.”

He shared a few stronger opinions. In the Juvenile, where I am on record as being an unabashed Jackie’s Warrior supporter, he agreed and disagreed.

“He’ll probably win,” said Sean. “He does look like the dominant pace horse and he might be too good for them. But there’s enough other pace that I think it will set up well for the Romans's horse, Sittin On Go. And there might even be enough pace to soften up Jackie where Sittin On Go can win. I like that as a box exacta, and I like the idea that Mike McCarthy’s horse, Rombauer, can come running to third or fourth.”

Sean is fascinated by the Classic. “There’s not a lot of pace in there, and I can see a bunch of different scenarios playing out,” he said. “If the track plays like it did during the Fall meet where the rail wasn’t good, but speed was good in the two and three paths, that could mean trouble for Tiz The Law and be great news for Authentic. He might just be able to wire them and I’ll press him as the likely best of the speeds.”
 

Tom's D'etat
Tom's D'etat is an interesting contender in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

 He is with me in seeing Tom’s d’Etat as the interesting horse. “I loved his last race and think he should be ready to run huge here,” he said. “Al Stall knows how to prepare a horse for this race and I think he’ll get a good trip, midpack, two to three wide on the good part of the track. Joel [Rosario] is good at judging pace and he’ll start his move on the turn and come running in the stretch. I’ll play him first and second with Authentic and Improbable. I’ll use By My Standards and Tiz The Law as well.”

OK, that’s it for now. I’ll be back tomorrow from the grounds of Keeneland.

Watch the 2020 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November.

Peter Fornatale's Breeders' Cup Diary
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