2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview. Will Arrogate go out a winner?

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November 2nd 2017  – Updated November 3rd 2017 5:15 PM CST

As many already know, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the last race of Arrogate’s career. The all-time leading money earner in North America with $17.3 Million in career earnings will be retired at the conclusion of the race. Will he go out victorious and ride off into the sunset? That’s the Six Million Dollar question. 

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 & 1/4th Mile – Race #12 at Del Mar – Saturday November 4th at 7:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC 

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Arrogate – Smithre/Baffert –2/1
2. War Decree – Heffernan/O’Brien – 30/1
3. Win the Space – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 30/1
4. War Story – J.Ortiz/Navarro – 30/1
5. Gun Runner – Geroux/Asmussen – 9/5
6. Mubtaahij – Van Dyke/Baffert – 12/1
7. Churchill – Moore/O’Brien  – 15/1
8. West Coast – Castellano/Baffert – 6/1
9. Gunnevera – Zayas/Sano – 30/1
10. Pavel – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20/1
11. Collected – Garcia/Baffert –6/1

Race Commentary: From research I have done for previous Breeders’ Cup Classic races, the consensus I came to is that a race winner really needed to have a career Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better for me to believe that they has a serious chance of winning. Why? Because the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner has raise their game and usually produces a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better.

Below is the Beyer Speed Figures for the last ten runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The average Beyer Speed Figure for this 10 year period was 113.8.

2016 – Arrogate (120)
2015 – American Pharoah (120)
2014 – Bayern (113)
2013 – Mucho Macho Man (112)
2012 – Fort Larned (117)
2011 – Drosselmeyer (104)
2010 – Blame (111)
2009 – Zenyatta (112)
2008 – Raven’s Pass (110)
2007 – Curlin (119)

With this in mind, here are profiles on the only three horses in this field who have eclipsed a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 during their career:

Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last two starts in the Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, he produced his two best career Beyer Speed Figures of 112 and 115. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. However, he has an ideal post-position (#5) in the starting gate.

Career: 17 Starts 10-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.76 (estimated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes

Collected* (6/1) – He’s a perfect 4 for 4 in 2017. His surprise win in the Pacific Classic answered any questions you might have had about his ability to stretch out to 10 furlongs. Unfortunately, he drew an outside post (#11) for this race. So he’ll have more traffic to deal with and a longer trip than he had with post-position #2 in the Pacific Classic.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.70 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

Arrogate (2/1) – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap and then by Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic. There is no doubt that his has lost some closing speed. Worst yet, he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. He will have to get out of the gate in good order in this race starting from post-position #1. If he does, he has the ability to wire the field if the Arrogate of old shows up. If not, he could get hemmed in along the rail.

Career: 10 Starts 7-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 119 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes

My Pick: Although I hope Arrogate wins, I like Gun Runner in this one. He is fast, consistent and has the better starting post in the middle of the starting gate. My feeling is that if Bob Baffert and his ownership group were confident that Arrogate was the Arrogate of late 2016 and early 2017, they wouldn’t announce early retirement before the richest horse race in the world–the Pegasus World Cup.

Collected is a talented horse but he had his own way in the Pacific Classic with a great starting position (post #2). This time he will have to come from the outside post. I just didn’t like that draw for him.

Update: The way front runners and favorites have been going down at Del Mar thus far, I’d stick with win bets on Gun Runner or Collected.

–Michael

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