UPDATED 10/31/2015 4PM CST – Biggest news Beholder will be scratched from the Classic
Below are what I feel are the really key “starpower” races during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this coming weekend at Keeneland. I will be there in attendance both days and will provide updates as time permits. I will also edit this blog with more detail and insight later. And remember that if any of these races are a wet races, you can throw most of this advice out the window.
Friday October 30th – All races televised on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) 2 to 5 PM CST
Race #5 – Hagyard Fayette – 1 1/8 Mile – $200,000 – 1:47 PM CST
This is not a Breeders’ Cup race but a good race to open the day since it has some decent horses like Hoppertunity, Commissioner, V.E. Day, Protonico, Race Day and Departing.
My Projected Winner: I like Hoppertunity but would only make a Show or Place bet here. He has never finished below 4th in a Graded Stakes race in 11 career starts. I see no reason why he would finish below 3rd in this field.
My Projected Winner: #3 Liam’s Map. I think Liam’s Map wires this field. He is 1/1 Morning Line Odds. Red Vine is 6/1 Morning Line odds and Wicked Strong is 5/1 Morning Line odds. I like a Straight Exacta (#3 Liam’s Map-#1 Red Vine) in this one. I like Wicked Strong but not at this short of distance. Tapiture is another good horse. So consider both for rounding out your Trifectas and Superfectas. I am not sure how much a Trifecta would pay out in this scenario with Liam’s Map on top as I expect his odds to lower from 1/1, so you may have to key him to win in a Superfecta over Red Vine, Wicked Strong and Tapiture. I think I am going to key Liam’s Map to win #3 over 1,5,8,9 (Red Vine, Lea, Wicked Strong and Tapiture). This $1 Superfecta would cost $24. I may place $50 on Liam’s Map to win.
Race #9 – Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff – 1 1/8 Mile – $2,000,000 4:35 PM CST
Formerly known as the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, this is the top race for fillies and mares.
My Projected Winner: #7 Wedding Toast. She is best horse in the field. Last year’s Champion, Untapable, has already been scratched due to spiking a fever. Sheer Drama, Got Lucky, Stopchargingmaria and I’m a Chatterbox are all really good horses. So I am going to place $50 on Wedding Toast to Place. if I have done well in the other races, I may change this to a Win bet.
Saturday October 31st – NBC will televise from 3-5 PM CST. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will televise from Noon to 3 PM CST
Race #3 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – 1 1/16 Mile – $2,000,000 11:05 AM CST
The top race for 2-year-old fillies. Points are awarded for entry into the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. This is a great crop of fillies this year.
My Projected Winner: I am a fan of #9 Rachel’s Valentina (7/2 Morning Line odds) and hopes she wins.But #10 Songbird(7/5 Morning Line odds)is the better horse right now. I may place a 10-9-2 (Songbird, Rachel’s Valentina and Tap to It) Straight Exacta.
My Projected Winner: #5 Runhappy. He is 3/1 Morning Line odds while Morning Line race favorite Private Zone is 5/2. I think Runhappy is on a roll and like his post position better than Private Zone.
Race #9 – Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile – 1 1/16 Mile – $2,000,000 3:10 PM CST
The top race for 2 year-old colts and geldings. These horses are a part of the Kentucky Derby Trail and will earn points for entry into the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Points awarded to this year’s top four finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile have been doubled and will be 20-8-4-2.
My Projected Winner:Nyquist, who is undefeated in four starts and my early 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite,will probably be the live race favorite. Brody’s Cause is the Morning Line Favorite at 7/2 odds. However, I likeGreenpointcrusader at 4/1 Morning Line oddsin this race. I generally feel that Greenpointcrusader is the fastest horse in the field but Brody’s Cause is a tremendous closer. If this pace is fast, this will play right into Brody’s Cause strength. If you want to play this one safe, place a Boxed Exacta with 3 horses (#3 Greenpointcrusader, #7 Brody’s Cause and #13 Nyquist). But remember my personal rule, never bet more than $50 on a race for 2 year-olds.
Race #10 – Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – 1 ½ Mile – $3,000,000 3:50 PM CST
The best turf race in North America, that carries a $3 Million Dollar purse. It routinely draws some of the top turf horses from Europe.
My Projected Winner:The British-bred Golden Horn will probably be the race favorite. #10 The Pizza Man is a tremendous closer and I think this distance (1 1/2 mile) suits his running style the best. He has 15-1 Morning Line odds so I may make a big Place bet on him. The turf should be softer than normal due to the rain and this works against the European horses who like firmer surfaces.
Race #11 – Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 ¼ mile = $5,000,000 4:35 PM CST
The Super Bowl of Thoroughbred Racing as this race draws the very best horse 3 years-old and older.
Breeders’ Cup Classic 2015 Post Positions & Morning Line Odds
1. Tonalist – Jockey John Velazquez – 6/1
2. Keen Ice – Jockey Irad Ortiz 12/1
3. Frosted Jockey Joel Rosario – 15/1 4. American Pharoah – Jockey Victor Espinoza – 6/5
5. Gleneagles – Jockey Ryan Moore – 20/1
6. Effinex – Jockey Mike Smith – 30/1
7. Smooth Roller – Jockey Tyler Baze – 15/1
8. Hard Aces Jockey Joe Talamo – 50/1 9. Honor Code – Jockey Javier Castellano – 6/1 10. Beholder 3-1 – Jockey Gary Stevens -3/1 SCRATCHED
My Projected Winner: I correctly predicted Bayern would win last year’s Classic but I feel less confident about the outcome of this one. Now that Beholder has been scratched, I think this race comes down to Tonalist and American Pharoah but Honor Code and Keen Ice all have the ability to win this race. If Tonalist runs like he did in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race, and he is pressed up on the pace, I think he wins this one. So I am leaning towards Tonalist but my question is: will he be tired and be able to repeat his last performance? He will have to be pressed up on the pace as opposed to his normal closing style or he won’t win. Will drawing the dreaded rail hurt his trip? I don’t think this is a race sets up well for closers like #9 Honor Code. As far as betting, I am liking a big Boxed Exacta of (#1 Tonalist and #4 American Pharoah). I also like a $10 Boxed Trifecta of (1,4,9) that would cost $60.
With the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race coming up in less than two weeks on October 31st, it is time to take a closer look at the favorites for that race as well as next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. Yours truly will be there. Here are eleven 2-year-old colts to keep an eye on. I don’t feel that they can really be ranked at this point but I generally feel that Nyquist and Brody’s Cause are the top two thus far. Greenpointcrusader if you want a third.
In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, this appears to be the worst crop since 2006 because we have yet to see a 2 year-old colt or filly eclipse the 100 Beyer Speed mark thus far. But the 2006 2 year-old class eventually produced Curlin who didn’t race until his 3 year-old campaign but generated $10.5 million dollars in career earnings. So this could be the late-bloomer class and some of these horses race to their level of competition. I bet we see a horse produce a 100 Beyer in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Below are short bios on the top 2 year-olds who have been pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. My pick to win the race is Greenpointcrusader:
Nyquist* – Winner of two Grade 1 Stakes: The Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist is undefeated. However, it is concerning that his Beyer Speed Figures are on a descending plain (89->82->79). But his stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. Definitely, a 1st Saturday in May horse provided he isn’t on the downward spiral. He will likely win the Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award provided he finishes in the top 3.
Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.89 – FrontRunner Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79,82 Average: 80.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Best Pal Stakes
Brody’s Cause* – Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. On closer inspection, this horse has excellent closing speed. No matter what happens in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he looks to be a 1st Saturday in May horse.
Greenpointcrusader* – Winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Curiously enough, his time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. Excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Greenpointcrusader’s 94 Beyer Speed figure in the Champagne Stakes is the top Beyer Speed figure for a 2 year-old colt for a distance 1 mile or greater. And it appeared that he will have no problems stretching out a couple more furlongs. He is my pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile provided that he doesn’t draw the rail.
Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyers: 94,82 Average: 88
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 –Champagne Stakes
Riker– The Canadian colt is undefeated after wiring the Grey Stakes field. But note that he has only competed at Woodbine which uses a synthetic surface. His grand sire Candy Ride still holds the track record (1:59.11) for the Pacific Classic. His sire Twirling Candy had a decent career, winning 7 out 11 races.
Career: 4 starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.31 – Grey Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84,79 Average: 81.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Colin Stakes
Exaggerator – A Desormeaux brothers colt, Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). Exaggerator finished 2nd in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Ralis – Another promising colt from Doug O’Neill’s stable, winner of the Hopeful Stakes with a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. However, he had a disappointing 6th place finish in the sloppy Champagne Stakes. I won’t judge him too harshly for that.
Career: 6 Starts 2-1-0-1
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:38.65 (calculated) – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 66,93 Average: 79.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 –Hopeful Stakes
Conquest Big E– A Mark Casse trained colt, his sire was Tapit (champion sire in 2014 and leading sire in 2015). A half-brother to Tonalist and Frosted, he will like distance. He was purchased as a yearling for $700,000.
Two horses not entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that you should keep an eye on:
Gift Box – Consider in just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. Call me curious to see what this colt will do in his next start on a dry, fast track at a distance of a mile or more. As was his challenger in his last start, Matt King Coal.
UPDATED 10/21/2015 – Only 10 horses (all of my most recent Top 10) were pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic today (Wednesday 10/21/15).
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will without a doubt be “The Greatest Race of the 21st Century.” Never before has the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred Racing had a Triple Crown Champion competing in it in an attempt to win the first Quadruple Crown (Triple Crown + Breeders’ Cup Classic). Or the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing as it has also been called.
Overall, my thoughts are—this race will have a talent-packed field and I expect the finish to resemble a shootout at the OK Corral. I expect the finish to be a chaotic mess much like the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below) when Zenyatta won.
With such a star-studded field for this year’s Classic, I am placing more emphasis on horses who are *hot* and ones that have demonstrated speed in the final 1/2 mile of a 1 1/4 mile race. This may surprise many but my new #1 and the horse that I think should be the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is (long pause)….Tonalist. Yes, Tonalist.
Why? His performance in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race (shown above) was more impressive than the 109 Beyer Speed Figure he received. Let me explain:
At the 3/4 mile mark, Constitution led the way with a fraction time of 1:12.48 and Tonalist went on to win on a sloppy track with a final time of 2:02.16. That is just 0.04 seconds off his winning time in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (2:02.12) on a dry fast track. When you subtract the final winning time of 2:02.16 from the time at the 3/4th mile mark (1:12.48)–that equals 49.68 seconds. When you consider that Tonalist was three lengths behind Constitution and Wicked Strong at that point (roughly 0.48 seconds), this means that Tonalist ran the last half mile in roughly 49.2 seconds.
Show me a horse this year that has run that fast in the last 1/2 mile of a 1 1/4 mile race on a fast dry track let alone a sloppy wet track? You can’t. I have crunched the numbers already and this will be a subject in a future blog. Beholder ran the last 1/2 mile in roughly 49.45 seconds in the TVG Pacific Classic on a dry fast track. Yes, Beholder won that race by 8 1/4 lengths comfortably but jockey John Velazquez never even had to show Tonalist the whip in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race either. In the Travers Stakes, American Pharoah ran the last 1/2 mile in 50.09 seconds. And I estimated the Keen Ice ran it in 49.35 seconds. This was on a dry, fast track with both runners hustling to the wire.
Bayern won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic running the last half mile in 49.66 seconds. And Bayern’s winning time of 1:59.88 was the 6th fastest in Breeders’ Cup Classic history.
In my opinion, if Tonalist runs as well as he did in this year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup race, he will win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I correctly predicted Bayern to win last year’s classic. Tonalist should be the race favorite and in all of your Exacta bets.
My updated Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings:
1) Tonalist*– An impressive win on a sloppy track in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race moves him up to #1. Last year’s Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. For 2015, he now has two wins, two 2nd places finishes and a 3rd place finish. His 3rd place finish in the Whitney Handicap produced a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. He produced a 108 Beyer in the Suburban Handicap and a 111 Beyer in the Met Mile. And he performs better in races 1 1/4 mile or longer. He finished 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year. His next start will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Career: 14 Starts 6-4-2-1, Win Pct: 42.9%, Top 3 Pct: 85.7%, Top 4 Pct: 92.9%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.1 (calculated) – 8/8/15 (2015 Whitney Handicap)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.69 (calculated) – 11/1/14 (2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2014 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 110 – 2015 Whitney Handicap
Last Two Beyers: 109, 110 Average: 109.5
Career Earnings: $3,097,000
2) American Pharoah*– I truly believe that American Pharoah thought he had the Travers race won when he shook off Frosted. He has never experienced battling and separating from a horse only for another to come from the outside like gangbusters that late in the race. I think the added rest will do Pharoah well as he produced his best Beyer Speed Figure in the Haskell Invitational coming off a 2 month layoff. His next start of course will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31st.
Career: 10 Starts 8-1-0-0, Win Pct: 80%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 90%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.95 – 8/2/15 (2015 Haskell Invitational)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.69 (calculated) – 8/29/15 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 109 – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Last Two Beyers: 105, 109 Average: 107
Career Earnings: $5,900,300
3) Beholder* – She dropped below American Pharoah as I was expecting a better performance in the Zenyatta Stakes in which she produced the worst time of her three Zenyatta Stakes career wins (1:42.83 vs 1:42.19 in 2014 and 1:42.11 in 2013). Her Beyer Speed Figure hasn’t been published yet but it had to have been under 106. Yes, it was warmer than usual at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Yes, she won comfortably and by a bigger margin than the previous Zenyatta Stakes races. And yes, Gary Stevens never asked her to go so she had a little more left in the tank. However, she has legitimate concerns, acknowledged by her trainer Richard Mandella, on how well she will travel. She has never won outside of the state of California and her two most recent losses came at Belmont Park in the Ogden Phipps (4th) in June 2014 and the Kentucky Oaks (2nd) in May 2013. Nevertheless, she has reeled off six straight wins. And Beholder’s times are all faster than Pharoah’s at the 1 1/16 mile (1:41.67 vs 1:41.95), 1 1/8 mile (1:47.77 vs 1:47.95) and 1 1/4 mile (1:59.77 vs 2:01.69) distances. The 114 Beyer Speed Figure she received for her TVG Pacific Classic win is the top Beyer Speed Figure recorded in 2015 for races longer than 1 1/8 mile (source). Her next start will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31st even though she has also qualified for the Longines Distaff. She arrived at Keeneland October 19th so this bodes well for history of not traveling well.
Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.77 – 11/1/13 (2013 Breeders Cup Distaff)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.77 – 8/22/15 (2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 114 – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Last Two Beyers: 99, 114 Average: 106.5
Career Earnings: $4,436,600
4) Keen Ice – The only living horse that has beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He finished 7th in the Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Belmont Stakes and 2nd behind American Pharoah in the Haskell Invitational (105 Beyer Speed Figure). Then finally beat the Triple Crown winner in the Travers Stakes. His Beyer Speed Figure for the Travers Stakes was 106. He is an improving horse. His owner, Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing, recently said: “We believe that (Keen Ice) is the fastest, best-bred 3-year-old in the world today.” Note that Keen Ice’s sire Curlin, won the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His next start should be Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Career: 10 Starts 2-1-3-2, Win Pct: 20%, Top 3 Pct: 60%, Top 4 Pct: 80%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.31 (calculated) – 8/2/15 (2015 Haskell Invitational)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 8/29/15 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Last Two Beyers: 106,105 Average: 105.5
Career Earnings: $1,490,395
5) Honor Code* – I dropped him two spots due to a disappointing 3rd place finish in the Kelso Handicap. I don’t want to drop him more as a wet, sloppy track doesn’t favor his speed. However, he still should have had this field covered. He has produced some great Beyer Speed Figures: a 112 for his winning effort in The Met-Mile. He produced another sizzling 113 Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney Handicap. He has a nice pedigree, the son of A.P. Indy and the grandson of Seattle Slew. He has yet to race longer than 1 1/8th mile but I think he will fare even better in a 1 1/4 mile race–he is bred for distance. His next start will be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Career: 10 Starts 6-2-1-0, Win Pct: 60%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 90%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.82 – 8/8/15 (2015 Whitney Handicap)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 113 – 2015 Whitney Handicap
Last Two Beyers: 103,113 Average: 108
Career Earnings: $2,018,260
6) Frosted – He has a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, a 2nd place finish in the Belmont Stakes, a 3rd place finish in the Travers Stakes and a win in the Pennsylvania Derby. With the Penn Derby win, he has now eclipsed over $2 Million in career earnings. He is a quality horse who has never finished below 4th place in 11 career starts. He shares the same sire (Tapit) as does Tonalist. I think he will have a great 4-year-old campaign. His next start will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Career: 12 Starts 3-6-1-2, Win Pct: 25%, Top 3 Pct: 83.3%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.85 (calculated) – 8/1/15 (2015 Jim Dandy Stakes)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 8/29/2015 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 3rd – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby
Last Two Beyers: 106,102 Average: 104
Career Earnings: $2,062,800
7) Smooth Roller*– The surprise winner of the Awesome Again Stakes in just the 4th start of his career, it is hard to rank him much higher due to lack of experience. However, he did beat Bayern, Hoppertunity and Hard Aces and produced a eye-opening 111 Beyer Speed Figure in less than favorable weather conditions at Santa Anita. That speed figure is tied for the 5th best for races more than a mile. With the win, he has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and likely will be a longshot. He will have to race 7 pounds heaver in the Classic than he did in the Awesome Again stakes.
Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.08 – 9/26/15 (2015 Awesome Again Stakes)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 111 – 2015 Awesome Again Stakes
Last Two Beyers: 111,93 Average: 102
Career Earnings: $261,810
8) Effinex– Finished 3rd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race. A temperamental horse with talent at the 1 1/4 mile distance. He acted up in the starting gate in the Woodward Stakes and finished 4th. Previous to this he had the weird run in the Brooklyn Handicap where he veered away from the rest of the pack coming around a turn and DNF’d. But the 2015 Suburban Handicap winner still has two of the top four Beyer Speed Figures this year for races 1 1/4th mile or longer: 107 Beyer at Aqueduct on April 25th and his 107 Beyer on July 4th at Belmont. His next start is uncertain but should be the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Career: 17 Starts 6-1-2-3, Win Pct: 35.2%, Top 3 Pct: 52.9%, Top 4%: 70.5%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.44 (calculated) – 9/5/15 (2015 Woodward Stakes)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.55 – 7/4/15 (2015 Suburban Handicap)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 107 – 2015 Excelsior Stakes
Last Two Beyers: 95,103 Average: 99
Career Earnings: $812,250
9)Hard Aces* – After two consecutive 6th places finishes, Hard Aces doesn’t appear to be a serious Classic contender but he hangs in my rankings due to having qualified for The Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. No word yet on whether he will be entered.
Career: 24 starts 6-3-7-2, Win Pct: 25%, Top 3 Pct: 66.7%, Top 4 Pct: 75%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.37 (calculated) – 5/30/15 (2015 Californian Stakes)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.01 (calculated) – 8/22/15 (2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 99 – 2015 Gold Cup
Last Two Beyers: 93,93 Average: 93
Career Earnings: $592,395
10) Gleneagles – After a 6th place finish in his last start–The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes–he drops to last in my rankings. The 3 year-old colt from Ireland has only raced on turf and never further than 1 mile. I wouldn’t normally consider such a horse a threat in 1 1/4 mile dirt races in the US because you never know how a horse will respond on that surface and how they will react when they get dirt kicked up in their face. However, he is being pointed towards the Classic because his trainer feels that he has great tactical speed that will translate well on dirt. Remember that the British-trained turf horse Raven’s Pass won 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic with the third fastest time (1:59.27) in Breeders’ Cup Classic history. So a few make the transition very well. But I am not guessing Gleneagles will. I feel he should be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile.
Career: 10 starts 7-0-1-1, Win Pct: 70%, Top 3 Pct: 80%, Top 4 Pct: 90%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Top Two Beyers: N/A
Career Earnings: $1,404,108
* Indicates a horse who has already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic
Liam’s Map – Was be entered into Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and should be the favorite for that race.
Coach Inge – won’t be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic
Catch a Flight– sidelined due to body soreness that prevented him from entering the Awesome Again Stakes
Dortmund– He is entered in the Big Bear Stakes Saturday Oct. 24th at Santa Anita.
Noble Bird*– Although he has qualified for the Classic, his trainer Mark Casse has decided to rest him for a couple of months with plans to bring him back next year.
Texas Red– He is sidelined for the rest of 2015 with a cannon bone bruise. Another setback for an extremely talented and promising horse.
Below is a ranking by Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Times for 2015 Breeders’ Cup Contenders. For calculated times of non-winning horses, I used the official race time of the winner and the following to compute an estimated time [One length is equal to 0.16 seconds, three-quarters of a length is equal to 0.12, a half-length equals 0.08, a neck is equal to 0.04, a head is equal to 0.02 and a nose is 0.01].
1) Beholder – 1:59.77 – 8/22/15 at Del Mar (1st in 2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
2) Tonalist– 2:00.69 (calculated) – 11/1/14 at Santa Anita (5th in 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
3) Effinex– 2:01.55 – 7/4/15 at Belmont Park (1st in 2015 Suburban Handicap)
4) Keen Ice – 2:01.57 – 8/29/15 at Saratoga (1st in 2015 Travers Stakes)
5) American Pharoah* – 2:01.69 (calculated) – 8/29/15 at Saratoga (2nd in 2015 Travers Stakes)
6) Hard Aces* – 2:02.01 (calculated) – 8/22/15 at Del Mar (6th in 2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
7) Frosted – 2:02.05 (calculated) – 8/29/15 at Saratoga (2nd in 2015 Travers Stakes)
Honor Code, Smooth Roller and Gleneagles have never raced at the 1 1/4 mile distance.
Top Beyer Speed Figures in 2015 for races 1 1/4 Mile
Doug O’Neill’s Ralis is the best horse in this field but he is not as consistent as his stable mate Nyquist. I would only make a Place bet on Ralis but if you are feeling aggressive, I do *think* he will win. With 2 year-olds, they can be unpredictable and there could be a new star emerge in this race.
3) The Jockey Club Gold Cup (1 1/4 Mile). Belmont Race #10. Post time: 4:28PM CST. This guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic that has four of my top 14 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders: #5 Tonalist, #8 Effinex, #9 Coach Inge, #14 Wicked Strong. As well as the Todd Pletcher-trained Constitution who has been in my Top 14 in the past.
In a six horse field, Trifectas and Superfectas won’t pay out much unless you make bigger bets. The only way to make money on this one is a large Exacta bet. I like a $25 Exacta 2 over 4,6 (Tonalist over Coach Inge and Effinex) which would cost $50. If you are willing to potentially lose $100, make it a $50 Exacta bet. Coach Inge is my potential upset favorite here. My prediction: Tonalist, Coach Inge, Effinex, Wicked Strong, Constitution and Looks to Spare.