August 19th 2018
Below, are what I believe, are the four of the top Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders at this point of the racing season. As you can see, I don’t have any 3 year-olds ranked in my top four. Aside from Justify who was retired, this year’s 3 year-old class hasn’t performed up to the expectations I had of them based upon their 2 year-old times and speed figures. They have been a bit disappointing and I’m not the only handicapper who feels this way.
However, the upcoming Travers Stakes this Saturday is an opportunity to change my mind. Working in this 3 year-old class’s favor, is the fact that most of the remaining older horses still in training have yet to dazzle anyone to date either. Accelerate and Diversify are the top two North American horses still in training. They both appear to be trending upwards, so we could be dazzled in the coming months.
2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders
1) Accelerate –Accelerate completed the Big Cap-Gold Cup double this spring having been victorious in the Santa Anita Handicap in March and Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes on May 26th. He followed up this effort with a win and career high Beyer Speed Figure of 115 in the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar (shown below). Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on September 29th.
Career: 20 Starts 8-5-5-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts 3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.38 – 2018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic
2) Diversify – The 5-year-old gelding eclipsed the $1 Million dollar mark in career earnings with his win in the Suburban Stakes. In hsis next start on August 4th, he won the Whitney Stakes with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. He runs great in the state of New York and especially at Belmont Park. The question is, can he transfer this form to another track? Last year, he finished 4th in the 9 furlong Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Next Start: Unknown.
Career: 15 Starts 10-2-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bellamy Road
Trainer: Richard Violette
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:59.84 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 110- 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes
3) Thunder Snow – As a 3-year-old, many fans will remember his “I’m outta here” start in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. However, he bounced back from that performance to win a couple of Group 1 races: The 2017 Prix Jean Prat (on turf) and the 2018 Dubai World Cup (beating the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast). Next Start: The 2018 Juddamonte International turf race at Newmarket on August 22nd.
Career: 18 Starts 7-5-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd-–>1st
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup
4) West Coast – Another Breeders’ Cup Classic contender from Bob Baffert’s barn. West Coast finished 3rd in last year’s Classic. This year, he has two 2nd places finishes in the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. He has never finished off the board in 11 career starts and has the highest Beyer Speed Figure this year (117) of active horses still in training. Next Start: He will be resuming training soon. Nothing announced to date.
Career: 11 Starts 6-4-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts 1-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>2nd
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: 2:01.19 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup
On the Docket…
My next blog will be a race preview of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga scheduled for this coming Saturday August 25th. The Travers Stakes entries should include a 3 year-old filly, Wonder Gadot, taking on Good Magic, Gronkowski and Bravaso. In my opinion, the Travers Stakes is the 2nd best 3 year-old race behind the Kentucky Derby. The Travers will be televised by NBC, so you won’t want to miss it.