2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings and Expected Entries

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Updated October 24th 2016

We are less than 2 weeks away from the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Below are the expected entries for this year’s Classic and how I would rank them currently. I will monitor their published workouts and post at least one more set of rankings before The Classic. Please note the following news bits:

  • Surprising news. Found, the 4 year old filly from Ireland, will be cross-entered into the Breeders Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Turf race. She has never raced on dirt before.
  • Keen Ice will be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His jockey will be confirmed within a few days.
  • Mubtaahij has been removed from my rankings. He hasn’t worked out since the Jockey Club Gold Cup, so he is unlikely to be a starter in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • Exaggerator qualified for The Classic but was retired to begin his stud career at WinStar Farm.
  • Nyquist will be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic and then retired after the race to stand stud at Darley America.
  • Dortmund will be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile.
  • Beholder is expected to be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
  • Shaman Ghost wasn’t entered into the Jockey Club Gold Cup race this past Saturday so that he could train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • Todd Pletcher’s Destin was thought to be a possible entry in the Classic a few months ago but he hasn’t had any published workouts since August 19th.

Although California Chrome will be the favorite in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, probably around 4/5 morning line odds, don’t discount Arrogate. Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith has won The Classic three times, the most of any active jockey. His trainer Bob Baffert has won The Classic twice. They will be a formidable foe for California Chrome.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1)  California Chrome* – He’s now undefeated in six starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.4 million dollars. He is currently ranked #1 in Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (SEE). His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 24 Starts 15-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 112
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 113 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 108
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin–  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. However, he is training very well currently. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 106.7
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Hoppertunity– A surprise winner of the Jockey Gold Cup race. A well earned victory for a horse who has been the bridesmaid way too often. He has finished 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career. Hopps is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. This is why I am ranking him 4th in these rankings. Some how, he always finds a way to finish in the Superfecta. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 22 Starts 6-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

5) Frosted  I feel that the added rest after his disappointing Woodward performance will do him good. I still think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile but that will be a tough race as well. He set the track record in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest thus far in 2016. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). But he got off to a bad start in the Woodward Stakes and that may have cost him a win. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 111.7
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 123 – 2016 Metropolitan Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

6) Effinex He finished 2nd to Hoppertunity in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race. He also finished 2nd to American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, it is very clear that he has slipped a bit, only capturing wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Note that Effinex has never finished below 4th in a 10 furlong (1 1/4th mile) race. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 26 Starts 9-3-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 8 Starts  3-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey:  Flavian Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.76 (calculated) – 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Shaman Ghost – After rewatching his Woodward Stakes performance and also learning that had a post-race cough after his disappointing 5th place finish in the Suburban Handicap, I am once again a believer in this Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Ghostzapper. When you watch the Woodward Stakes race (shown below), Shaman Ghost ran one helluva race. He displayed a willingness to fight for a win and also an ability to go wide and snake through traffic. This is a very talented 4 year-old with a bright future. His jockey Javier Castellano won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on his father. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure:  99.7
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.12 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ? – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

8) Found  –  The 4 year-old turf filly from Ireland will be cross-entered in both the Breeders Cup Turf race and The Classic. But before you think this is just a publicity move, and that Found will find herself in the Turf race vs Flintshire, remember that her trainer Aiden O’Brien entered Gleneagles (also a Galileo progeny with no dirt experience) into last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. Glenegales finished 8th and dead last. Found, I think, is a better horse. She won the Breeders Cup Turf race last year (shown below). In 2016, she won the most prestigious turf race of the year–the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France. Since she is a turf horse, I would expect that she will have a closer race style. However, I don’t think Santa Anita Park dirt surface plays too kindly to closers. She is better off giving Flintshire a run for his money in the turf race. Maybe this is Euro-ego driven, but the truth is that her times in a mile and a quarter are much slower than this field and turf surfaces are generally regarded as faster than dirt. See world records at distance for proof. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf race at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career (Turf): 20 Starts 6-11-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Turf Races: 8 Start  2-5-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Galileo
Trainer:  Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore

9) Win the Space – A third place finish behind California Chrome and Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap was probably par for the course but I thought he ran a better in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita. Next Start:  Uncertain but possibly the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5th.

Career: 14 Starts 3-1-4-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-0-0 
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>DNF–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: ?
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

10) Nyquist  – Probably a better fit for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile but it was announced recently that he will be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and then retired. He has shown signs of a tired horse, finishing 5th in the Haskell Invitational and 6th and behind lesser competition in his most recent start in the Pennsylvania Derby. If it were my decision, I would rest him and bring him back in January to run at Gulfstream Park in the Pegasus World Cup before retiring him. The 9 furlong distance at Gulfstream would be a better fit for him since he won the Florida Derby there at this distance. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 11 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>6th   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 95.7
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

11) Keen Ice  –  The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). He also finished 4th in the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic. However, this year will be a taller order. Keen Ice is coming back from a long layoff due to injury and he finished 3rd in a mile allowance race at Belmont on October 7th. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 17 Starts 2-1-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Start  1-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 7th–>8th–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Unknown
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes


–Michael

One comment

  1. Anonymous · October 29, 2016

    Great race

    Like

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