By Kevin Martin

Game on Dude is the most accomplished horse in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and will be the betting favorite when the gates open on Saturday at Santa Anita Park in California. In last year’s Classic, Game on Dude ran poorly and finished seventh in a race that seemed a perfect setup for the son of the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again. This year, with memories of his flop in 2012 against a similarly tough field, and the potential for a contentious early pace, the smart play is to bet against the likely short-priced favorite.

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Mucho Macho Man is my pick to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has been a consistent performer in top company for his entire career, winning seven races and finishing in the top three in eighteen of twenty-two starts. He scored his greatest victory to date at Santa Anita Park in his most recent start in winning the first Grade 1 of his career. He has run his two best races at Santa Anita Park including his second place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. The addition of veteran jockey Gary Stevens, who rode him for the first time in his last start, further enhance his prospects. He has been training in California since September preparing for Saturday’s Classic and appears poised to win America’s richest race.

Mucho Macho Man will likely be the second choice among the bettors and will hopefully hover around 4-1 come post-time which is good value considering his chances. I will use $60 of my bankroll on Mucho Macho Man to win. I will also play him with Will Take Charge, the best of the 3-year-old entries, in an exacta.

The $100 Bet

$60 to win on Mucho Macho Man

$20 exacta: Mucho Macho Man over Will Take Charge

$20 exacta: Will Take Charge over Mucho Macho Man

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If Game on Dude wins the Classic, I win nothing, but will tip my hat to a cool horse who could clinch the 2013 Horse of the Year award with a victory.

Top four selections in order of preference:

1) Mucho Macho Man

2) Will Take Charge

3) Game on Dude

4) Palace Malice

To see a full rundown of all the entries in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic check out the Cheat Sheet at Hello Race Fans. You can also learn about handicapping with Hello Race Fans Beginner’s Corner.

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Kevin Martin is the founder of the thoroughbred racing history site Colin’s Ghost and a contributing editor at Hello Race Fans.