2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

Breeders_Cup_Churchill_Downs_2018

October 31st 2018 – Updated November 3rd 2018 4:40 PM CST

Below is the starting field for the 2018 Breeders Cup Classic with post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds. The race will be aired live by NBC. Post time is 4:44 PM CST/5:44 PM EST.

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Post Position/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Thunder Snow – Soumillon/Suroor – 12-1
2. Roaring Lion – Murphy/Gosden – 20-1
3. Catholic Boy – Castellano/Thomas – 8-1
4. Gunnevera – Ortiz Jr/Sano – 20-1
5. Lone Sailor – Graham/Amoss – 30-1
6. McKinzie – Smith/Baffert – 6-1
7. West Coast – Velazquez/Baffert – 5-1
8. Pavel –  Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20-1
9. Mendelssohn – Moore/O’Brien – 12-1
10. Yoshida – Ortiz/Mott – 10-1
11. Mind Your Biscuits – Gaffliaone/Summers – 6-1
12. Axelrod – Bravo/McCarthy – 30-1
13. Discreet Lover – Franco/Lewis – 20-1
14. Accelerate Rosario/Sadler – 5-2

Also Eligibles:
15. Collected – Trainer Bob Baffert – 30-1
16. Toast of New York – Trainer Jamie Osborne – 20-1

Race Commentary:  Overall, I feel that this is one of the weaker Breeders’ Cup Classic fields we have had in awhile. But this race carries a $6 Million dollar purse and I still think this will be an exciting race that could produce a surprise winner. There is no horse in this field that I think is a lock to win it this year.

My feeling right now is that Accelerate is really the class of this field. Usually the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic has had a Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) greater than 115. Only two horses in this field have met or exceeded this standard this year: West Coast in Pegasus World Cup way back in January with a 117 BSF and Accelerate in the Pacific Classic in August with a 115 BSF. For any other horse in this field, this means that they will have to run way better than they have ever had in their career. 

Please note that Accelerate beat West Coast in their most recent race, the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (shown below), despite Accelerate having to travel the greater distance since he beat him coming from the outside.

Also note that jockey Mike Smith opted to ride McKinzie over West Coast. That tells me all I need to know. That Smith likes his chances better on a 3 year-old (McKinzie) vs the 4 year-old (West Coast).

Accelerate really has the tougher post-position starting from gate 14. If he drew an inside post or a post in the middle of the field, I would key Accelerate to win in my exotic bets. However, also note that trainer John Sadler has never won a Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trains McKinzie and West Coast, has won three.

Overall, I like big Win bets on Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race on Friday than any win bet on a horse in this Breeders’ Cup Classic field. So what I would do is place smaller Boxed Exactas on Accelerate-McKinzie (6,14 over 6,14) and Boxed Trifectas on Accelerate, McKinzie and West Coast (6,7,14 over 6,7,14 over 6,7,14). A $1 Boxed Trifecta would cost $6. 

If I had to pick one horse who I think could surprise everyone, it would be Mind Your Biscuits who won the Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in late September and earned a 108 BSF. However, note that Mind Your Biscuits has never raced further than 9 furlongs but he has finished 1st or 2nd in his last six starts.

Updates

Click on Hyperlink for each race to see Brisnet Past Performances

Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf Race #8): This race is too wide-open for my tastes. But if you want a selection for a Pick 4, I’d go with the Chad Brown trained Analyze It from post position #12. However, there are a number of unknowns in this field. So if you are playing a Pick 4 and like another horse in the field, throw them in. You might want to throw in Next Shares and Oscar Performance. So 2-5-12.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Race #9)I like Mike Smith riding on Abel Tasman from post-position #2. This one is no lock but I will take my chances with Mike Smith and the better inside post-position.

Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (Race #10): I like Enable from post position #2. Enable has won eight straight, including two prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe races. Career: 10 starts, 9 wins. This is as much of a lock as you will find for a turf race and a European shipper. But bet cautiously as Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners haven’t fared well in this Longines Turf race.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (Race #11): You have got to be concerned with trainer John Sadler’s record in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and especially with how Catalina Cruiser bombed in the Dirt Mile earlier. So Sadler’s trainee Accelerate, the morning line favorite, may end up the third or fourth favorite by post-time. I am warming up to McKinzie a bit more as my race winner. However, note that Catholic Boy was the early betting favorite for this race on Friday. I still think this race is wide-open and will be must-see TV. I still like Accelerate.

My advice, on the Breeders’ Cup Classic: Bet Small and Enjoy. It will be a fun race.

–Michael

A Lack of Superstars? Kentucky Derby Classes As 2 Year-Olds

TLuJ_PAE_400x400

August 27th 2018

One thing that I have been kind of silent about after the retirement of Justify, is that fact that this sport really lacks a Superstar right now. Why? Because it doesn’t really make good sense for anyone in the media to lament the fact because blog views will go down, TV ratings will go down, interest in the sport will wane. etc. 

Part of the problem with a lack of Superstars in the sport is due to the fact that the casual fan gets to know and develops favorite horses mostly due to exposure from the Kentucky Derby. How many of the past Derby runners from previous years are still racing and doing well in the Older Horse division? Virtually none. Although there is talent in the Older Horse division with Accelerate and Diversify, they lack name recognition with the casual race fan as a consequence of not running in the Kentucky Derby.

The other part of the problem has been the fact that the last few Derby classes have lacked depth which I will get into shortly. When the talent pool of a Derby class lacks depth, ultimately it affects the Older Horse division the next year since injuries and retirements to the breeding shed take away many budding Superstars. 

Typically in the past, before the Curse of Apollo breaker Justify, the vast majority of the time, the future Kentucky Derby winner had raced as a 2-year-old on or before Labor Day. See chart below.

Kentucky Derby Winners – # of Starts as a 2-Year-Old by Labor Day

2017 – Always Dreaming – 2
2016 – Nyquist – 3
2015 – American Pharoah – 1
2014 – California Chrome – 4
2013 – Orb – 1
2012 – I’ll Have Another – 2
2011 – Animal Kingdom – None (1st Start Sept 18th)
2010 – Super Saver – 1
2009 – Mine That Bird – 3
2008 – Big Brown – 1

Critics of Justify state that he dominated a weak Derby class to win his Triple Crown. A Triple Crown is still one of the toughest accomplishments in sports, but this criticism is warranted.

The good news, early reports are this upcoming Kentucky Derby class will be a good one. When looking at Beyer Speed Figures as 2 Year-Olds, I decided to research and find out how many from the past six classes had achieved a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 or better by September 1st.

2018 – 5
2017 – 2 
2016 – 5
2015 – 2
2014 – 10
2013 – 9

The 2013 and 2014 2 Year-Old classes were exceptional and produced Derby winners the following year in California Chrome and American Pharoah. There was little doubt in my mind before this research that American Pharoah and California Chrome both faced tougher competition in their Triple Crown runs than Justify faced this year. This makes me appreciate American Pharoah’s Triple Crown championship even more.

The 2015 2 Year-Old Class that included eventual Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist had some of the weakest Beyer Speed Figures and times. Many in the media moaned about the slow times. The 2017 2-Year-Old class showed a lot of promise but didn’t really deliver as expected as 3 Year-Olds. The poster child here was Bolt d’Oro who had many excited as a 2 Year-Old but kind of faded as a 3 Year-Old.

So when you have a number of weak Derby classes in a row and the Triple Crown Champion is retired after the Belmont Stakes, you have the situation we have right now with a lack of Superstars. But hope springs eternal with the next Derby class.

Early 2019 Kentucky Derby Favorites?

As for the 2019 Kentucky Derby class, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt Instagrand and Bob Baffert’s Roadster are the top two on my watch list. I have posted videos of both colts below. Instagrand has already posted Beyer Speed Figures of 88 and 92 in his first two starts.

Both colts are expected to square off in the Del Mar Futurity next Monday. My next blog will preview this race. Stay tuned!


Update With Some Sad News

Shortly after publishing this blog, I caught the unexpected news of the passing of John Asher, who was Vice President of Racing Communications at Churchill Downs. Asher died on an apparent heart attack early this morning. This is really sad news for our sport as John Asher was the most visible face of the Kentucky Derby and a real credit to the sport. The sport needs more people like John, not less.

A Twitter tweet from trainer Bob Baffert sums it up best: John was the warm human face of Churchill Downs. He was as Kentucky as the Derby and the Bluegrass, Bourbon and hot Browns.

Condolences to Asher’s family and friends. He will be missed.

–Michael

Catholic Boy Surprises in Travers, Updated 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

Breeders_Cup_Churchill_Downs_2018

August 26th 2018

The 149th Travers Stakes (shown below) proved to be exciting and a very humbling race for national handicappers as most experts picked Good Magic, Vino Rosso or Wonder Gadot to win. I picked Gronkowski.  Vino Rosso finished 5th. Gronkowski, Good Magic and Wonder Gadot finished 8th, 9th and 10th (last) respectively. These performances, to say the least, were head-scratchers. I think I could have drawn names out of a hat and fared better. But exotic bets sure paid out well. A 50 cent Trifecta paid back $744.25. Even better, a 10 cent Superfecta paid out $1,796.75.

Best 3-Year-Old still in Training?

It’s a no-brainer that Justify will unanimously win this year’s 3 Year Old Male Dirt Champion award by virtue of becoming the 13th Triple Crown Champion. So this begs the question, who is the best 3 Year Old still in training? It could be the filly Abel Tasman, but as far as colts are concerned, my pick would be Catholic Boy.

In a matter of seven weeks, Catholic Boy has produced a Grade 1 win on the turf in the 10 furlong Belmont Derby and a Grade 1 win on the dirt at the same distance in the Travers Stakes. In the Travers Stakes, Catholic Boy beat the Kentucky Derby Runner-up and Haskell Invitational winner Good Magic, the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational Runner-Up Bravazo and the Belmont Stakes Runner-up Gronkowski.

My Boy Jack Update

I emailed West Point Thoroughbeds CEO Terry Finley, who is a minority owner of My Boy Jack, asking him for an update. Finley said they are resting him and planning on a big 2019 campaign. Per reports found on Bloodhorse.com and the Paulick Report, My Boy Jack will likely have surgery to remove bone chips from his front ankles that isn’t anything serious but probably was affecting his performance. It was discovered after his disappointing 8th place finish in the Belmont Derby.

Below are my updated Breebers’ Cup Classic Contender rankings.

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: 1152018 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: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on September 29th. 

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 SnowAs 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). But his most recent start in the Juddamonte International turf race on August 22nd was puzzling as he finished 8th and dead last. Next Start: Unknown.

Career: 19 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: 2nd->1st–>8th
Sire: Helmet
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 – 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: Nothing announced to date. He was supposed to return to training a few weeks ago, but I cannot find any published workouts.

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
Sire: Flatter
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 

5) Catholic Boy – He has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Travers Stakes where he received a career best 104 Beyer Speed Figure. However, many believe that he is best suited on the turf and could be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf race. Next Start: Unknown. 

Career: 9 Starts 6-1-0-2   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: More Than Ready
Trainer: Jonathan Thomas
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.94 – 2018 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes 


On the Docket…

Time to switch gears a bit. My next blog will likely be a preview of the 2019 Kentucky Derby class, followed by a race preview of the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs scheduled on September 15th. The Iroquois Stakes is the first “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile. Early reports suggest that this 2-Year-Old class is a very good one.

–Michael

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

Breeders_Cup_Churchill_Downs_2018

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: 1152018 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 SnowAs 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
Sire: Helmet
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
Sire: Flatter
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.

–Michael

Justify’s biggest threats in completing the Grand Slam

Breeders_Cup_Churchill_Downs_2018

July 8th 2018

After Diversify’s impressive win in the Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park yesterday, I had to do some quick research to come up with a list the top Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders that represent the biggest threats in thwarting Justify’s bid to become the 2nd Grand Slam winner of North American horse racing.

No decision has been made yet on when and where Justify’s next start will come, but it won’t be in the Haskell Invitational scheduled for the end of this month. However, they are planning to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 3rd and a prep race before then. My guess on the prep race is that it will be the Travers Stakes on August 25th at Saratoga.

Below are the top four horses in the older horse division that I feel are the biggest threats in preventing Justify joining American Pharoah as a Grand Slam champion. Really this should be a top three list as I doubt Diversify will be entered into the Classic:

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. Next Start: The TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 18th.

Career: 19 Starts 7-5-5-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  2-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
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: 1112018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 111 – 2018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes  

2) Thunder SnowAs 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: Nothing has been confirmed to date but they are eyeing the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on September 29th.

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
Sire: Helmet
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

3) 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. He will have a different jockey than Mike Smith if both Justify and West Coast are entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Next Start: Nothing announced to date. But my guess would be the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 18th.

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
Sire: Flatter
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 

4) Diversify – The 5-year-old gelding eclipsed the $1 Million dollar mark in career earnings with his win in the Suburban Stakes. His biggest career win was the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park. 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: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 1st. 

Career: 14 Starts 9-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 7th–>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
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes


On the Docket…

I should have an article for US Racing coming out in the next few days that highlights how I became a fan of horse racing. I think you might enjoy it.

Update: Here’s the link: https://www.usracing.com/news/features/became-fan-horse-racing

–Michael

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

DelMar_2017Logo_RGB_CROP2

August 27th 2017

The Travers Stakes proved to be another exciting race that vaulted race winner, West Coast, into my Top Ten Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. 24-1 longshot Gunnevera ran a great race too as I predicted in my Travers race preview. So I will be keeping a close eye on Gunnevera’s workouts and next race entry as I feel he may be peaking at the right time. 

Below are my Top Ten 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. We still have a couple of races on the schedule that can add new contenders and change the rankings. One such race will be the Woodward Stakes next weekend.

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Gun Runner* – He’s extremely consistent and now arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last start in the Whitney Stakes, he received his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 112. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 16 Starts 9-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>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: 112 – 2017 Whitney Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Whitney Stakes

2) Collected* – He moved up in the 4th place in the latest NTRA poll. 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. – Next Start: The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

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

3) Arrogate – 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 and he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

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

4) Accelerate – The surprise San Diego Handicap winner and the only horse who has beaten Arrogate twice. Next Start: Nothing confirmed to date.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-5-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.38 (estimated) – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 110 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 110 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2017 Pacific Classic

5) Keen Ice  – He still holds the distinction of being the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes. He has a 4th place finish in the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic and a 3rd place finish in last year’s Classic. In 2017, he has a 4th place finish in the Pegasus World Cup, a 7th place finish in the Dubai World Cup, a win in the Suburban Handicap and a hard-fought 2nd place finish in the Whitney Handicap. Next Start: Nothing confirmed to date but most likely the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 7th. 

Career: 23 Starts 3-3-5-5   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: Curlin
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Jose Ortiz 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes/2017 Suburban HC
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 106 – 2017 Suburban Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes & 2017 Suburban Handicap

6) Shaman Ghost – He finished 2nd behind Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup and then went on to win the 2017 Santa Anita Derby and the Pimlico Special Handicap. In his last start, he was beaten by Keen Ice in the Suburban Handicap by 3 lengths. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 17 Starts 8-3-2-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  2-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2017 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 108 – 2017 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup

7) Cupid – The Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita (shown below). Although he is not a huge threat to win the Classic, he gives Bob Baffert a nice 1-2 finish possibility with Arrogate. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd. 

Career: 10 Starts 5-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Raphael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.89 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita  

8) West Coast – Yet another Breeders’ Cup Classic contender from Bob Baffert’s barn. His time of 2:01.19 in the Travers Stakes was impressive. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate last year (1:59.36). The other six horses were General Assembly, Honest Pleasure, Easy Goer, Thunder Rumble, Play Fellow and Loud. Next Start: Nothing announced to date.

Career: 7 Starts 5-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Flatter
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: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 

9) Neolithic  – The Todd Pletcher-trainee has two third places finishes behind Arrogate in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup and 2017 Dubai World Cup. He won in his last start, a 7 furlong claiming race at Saratoga. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 10 Starts 3-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd->3rd–>1st
Sire:  Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:04.03* (estimated from 2017 Dubai World Cup)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup

10) Girvin* – He makes my Top 10 because he has already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (shown below). However, his Travers Stakes performance was disappointing and he may be better suited for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Next Start: Uncertain.

Career: 8 Starts 4-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Tale of Ekati
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Robby Albarado (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.04.39 (estimated) – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 75 – 2017 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 98 – 2017 Ohio Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2017 Ohio Derby

Honorable Mention: Gunnevera and Hoppertunity


On the Docket…

My next blog will be a preview of the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga that is scheduled for next weekend, Saturday September 2nd. The Woodward is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’s Cup Classic. I should have this blog out by Thursday evening.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

2017 TVG Pacific Classic Preview

Challenge_home_headline

August 17th 2017 – Updated August 18th 2017 – 7:36 PM CST

Tomorrow evening at Del Mar, we have the highly anticipated next start of Arrogate after his disappointing performance four weeks ago in the San Diego Handicap. The TVG Pacific Classic is a Grade 1 “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It carries a purse of $1 Million dollars.

Below are the post-positions, jockeys and morning line odds:

TVG Pacific Classic – 1 1/4th Mile – Race #8 at Del Mar – Post-Time: Saturday August 19th at 7:45 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Royal Albert Hall – Nakatani/Muhall – 30/1
2. Collected – Garcia/Baffert – 5/2
3. Accelerate – Espinoza/Sadler – 3/1
4. Sorry Erik –  Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 30/1
5. Hard Aces – J. Ortiz/Sadler – 20/1
6. Donworth – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 15/1
7. Curlin Road – Prat/O’Neill – 20/1
8. Arrogate – Smith/Baffert – 1/1

Race Commentary: If you lost money on Arrogate in the San Diego Handicap, here is your opportunity to gain it back. I believe Arrogate’s performance in the San Diego Handicap was just a hiccup along the way and I foresee him waxing the field this time around. He will be starting off at 1/1 odds. I don’t see them dipping below 1/2 as he probably still has bettors worried.

For exotic bets, I would key Arrogate to win but I don’t have a good feel for an exact combination–yet. I do expect Accelerate will make it into the Superfecta but there are a lot of unknown quantities in this field. Collected is a Bob Baffert-trained horse who I like in my Superfecta. Collected has been on a roll this year, winning in has last three starts. I have always thought that he had a lot of unrealized potential. This race is supposed to confirm for Baffert whether he is a Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or Classic entry.

Collected is fast and you should expect that he’ll be in the lead pack or near the front very early. My concern is that he has yet to race at the 10 furlong (1 1/4 mile) distance.

Update: I like 8 over 2,3,7 over 2,3,7 over 2,3,7 Superfecta. At 1/5 odds, I wouldn’t wager on win bets on Arrogate.


On the Docket…

My next blog will be updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings. I should have this out Monday or Tuesday evening (August 21st or 22nd). 


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

Challenge_home_headline

August 14th 2017

With the Breeders’ Cup Classic coming up in less than 12 weeks, it is time for a look at the 2017 Classic contenders. With Arrogate’s surprise loss in the San Diego Handicap about 3 weeks ago, “The Classic” seems to be a bit more wide open than anticipated.

Below are my Top Eight 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. I opted for a Top Eight instead of a Top Ten at this point since it was too difficult rank #9 and #10 in my rankings. We still have four key races on the schedule that can add new contenders and change the rankings.

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Arrogate – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion and Longines #1 ranked racehorse in the world was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap in his last start. This was no doubt an unexpected clunker performance. Arrogate will likely get a chance to redeem himself in a rematch vs Accelerate this coming Saturday in the Pacific Classic. Next Start: The TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 19th.

Career: 9 Starts 7-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
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

2) Gun Runner* – He’s extremely consistent and now arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last start in the Whitney Stakes, he received his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 112. I considered him for the #1 spot in my rankings but he has already lost twice already to Arrogate (2016 Travers & 2017 Dubai World Cup). And he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 16 Starts 9-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>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: 112 – 2017 Whitney Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Whitney Stakes

3) Keen Ice  – He still holds the distinction of being the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when  he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes. He has a 4th place finish in the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic and a 3rd place finish in last year’s Classic. In 2017, he has a 4th place finish in the Pegasus World Cup, a 7th place finish in the Dubai World Cup, a win in the Suburban Handicap and a hard-fought 2nd place finish in the Whitney Handicap. Next Start: Nothing confirmed to date but most likely the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 7th. 

Career: 23 Starts 3-3-5-5   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: Curlin
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Jose Ortiz 

Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes/2017 Suburban HC
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 106 – 2017 Suburban Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes & 2017 Suburban Handicap

4) Shaman Ghost – He finished 2nd behind Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup and then went on to win the 2017 Santa Anita Derby and the Pimlico Special Handicap. In his last start, he was beaten by Keen Ice in the Suburban Handicap by 3 lengths. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 17 Starts 8-3-2-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  2-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2017 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 108 – 2017 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup

5) Cupid – The Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita (shown below). Although he is not a huge threat to win the Classic, he gives Bob Baffert a nice 1-2 finish possibility with Arrogate. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd. 

Career: 10 Starts 5-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Raphael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.89 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita  

6) Accelerate – The surprise San Diego Handicap winner and the only horse who has beaten Arrogate twice. He would rank higher in my ranking but he has yet to race further than 8 1/2 furlongs. Was his drumming of Arrogate in the San Diego Handicap a fluke? We will see this coming Saturday. Next Start: The TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 19th.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-4-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 109 – 2017 San Diego Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2017 San Diego Handicap  

7) Neolithic  – The Todd Pletcher-trainee has two third places finishes behind Arrogate in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup and 2017 Dubai World Cup. He won in his last start, a 7 furlong claiming race at Saratoga. Next Start: The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 2nd.

Career: 10 Starts 3-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd->3rd–>1st
Sire:  Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:04.03* (estimated from 2017 Dubai World Cup)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup

8) Girvin* – He qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (shown below). A win in the upcoming Travers Stakes could catapult him to the top of the 2017 3-year-old class. Next Start: The Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 26th.

Career: 7 Starts 4-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 13th–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Tale of Ekati
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Robby Albarado (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.06.71 (estimated) – 2017 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 75- 2017 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 98 – 2017 Ohio Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2017 Ohio Derby


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar this coming Saturday and potential rematch of Arrogate and Accelerate from the San Diego Handicap. The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. 


Eddie Olczyk

olcyzk

It was announced last week that NBC TV color commentator Eddie Olczyk is receiving treatments for colon cancer. His absence has been noticed from recent NBC horse racing broadcasts. Eddie is one of my favorite broadcasters as he shares two of my passions: hockey and horse racing. For a man who is a former NHL hockey player, he has developed into a respected handicapper and horse racing analyst. I first saw Eddie play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in St Louis on April Fool Day in 1989. He was a stud left winger and one of the top young American-born NHL stars at the time. Get well soon Eddie!


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

The World’s Top Ranked Horse Arrogate loses

DelMar_2017Logo_RGB_CROP2

July 23rd 2017

The world’s top rated horse Arrogate was beaten yesterday in the San Diego Handicap. The word upset doesn’t seem like a strong enough adjective. Why? Arrogate reeled off the best 6 furlong workout time (1:11) of his career just one week before this race. This was a five horse field that he should have wired. It was a tune-up race without a daunting field to beat. But as they say, this is why they don’t play the games, run the races, on paper.

Arrogate simply didn’t fire yesterday. He hung around in last early in the race with everyone fully expecting the huge plunge to the front. It wasn’t IF….but WHEN. But it never happened. Arrogate made a modest move towards the front going into the final corner. However, he lost his mojo coming out of the turn and was subsequently eased towards the end by jockey Mike Smith.

Now the interesting trivia question. Who is the only horse to have finished ahead of Arrogate twice? The San Diego Handicap winner Accelerate who wired the field by 8 1/2 lengths. Accelerate also finished ahead of Arrogate in his very first start in April 17th 2016 at Los Alamitos. 

This result sent shock waves through the sport as I witnessed on Facebook. Seriously, I didn’t think this many fans were watching this. Now who the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite will be is totally up in the air. The Classic will be run at the same track, Del Mar. Perhaps this is what the sport needed as it looked like it was a foregone conclusion that Arrogate would waltz to another Classic victory.


Saratoga Races on Fox Sports 2

Fox Sports 2 is going to air live telecasts of races at Saratoga pretty much every day (starting around 3 or 5 pm CST) all through next weekend. Tuesday July 25th is the only day that they won’t broadcast live races.  The big upcoming races next weekend are the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday July 29th and the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Sunday July 30th. I will preview both races and have this out by Friday evening.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

-Michael

Holy Bull, Robert B. Lewis and San Antonio Stakes Previews

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 3rd 2017

If you are sick of all the pre-Super Bowl shows and interviews, then tomorrow the sport of horse racing offers three interesting races, two of which are points-paying races on the Kentucky Derby trail. And the other, a very competitive race on paper in the older horse division.

I have arranged them by their scheduled post times with the first two, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Holly Bull Stakes, are 3 year-old races for 2017 Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Points will be awarded as follows: 1st place – 10 points, 2nd place – 4 points, 3rd place – 2 points and 4th place – 1 point.

The Robert B. Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #2 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 3:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Royal Mo (120) – Espinoza/Shirreffs – 5/2
2. Irap (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 3/1
3. Dangerfield (122) – Desormeaux/O’Neill – 7/2
4. Term of Art (124) – Baze/O’Neill – 9/2
5. Sheer Flattery (120) – Smith/Hollendorfer – 2/1

Race Commentary: This race should come down to Royal Mo and Sheer Flattery and their respective jockeys Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith. Royal Mo is quicker and should get out into the early lead. Whether he can hold off Sheer Flattery is very questionable. Sheer Flattery has already raced at this 8 1/2 furlong distance and is the more accomplished distance runner. So I like Sheer Flattery in this one. So weigh a straight win bet of Sheer Flattery versus a straight 5-1 exacta (Sheer Flattery over Royal Mo). Or how split the difference and make both bets?


The Holy Bull Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: 4:35 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Gunnevera (122) – Castellano/Sano -9/2 
2. Perro Rojo (116) – Juarez/Zito – 30/1   
3. Classic Empire (122) – Leparoux/Casse – 3/5 
4. Talk Logistics (116) – Lopez/Plesa – 12/1
5. Irish War Cry (120) – Rosario/Motion – 15/1
6. Fact Finding (120) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 6/1  
7. Shamsaan (116) – Saez/McLaughlin – 20/1
8. Cavil (116) – Lezcano/McLaughlin – 15/1
9. Fire for Effect (116) – Lanerie/Romans – 20/1

Race Commentary:  The 2 year-old Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire should win this one. Who rounds out the Superfecta is anybody’s guess in this 9 horse field. Gunnevera, Fact Finding and Irish War Cry seem to be the best bets here. However, I think Gunnevera will be hurt by drawing the rail. So I like an Exacta keying Classic Empire to win over two horses: Irish War Cry and Fact Finding. That is 3 over 5,6.


And finally, an older division horse race with a few horses that would have been ideal candidates for the Pegasus World Cup. Expect the top finishers in the San Antonio Stakes to be entries in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

The San Antonio Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Hoppertunity (125) – Prat/Baffert – 2/1
2. Avanti Bello (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 12/1
3. Prospect Park (120) – Arroyo/Sise – 10/1
4. El Huerfano (120) – Espinoza/Miller – 12/1
5. Mor Spirit (122) – Smith/Baffert – 3/1
6. Dalmore (122) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 8/1
7. Accelerate (125) – Baze/Sadler – 5/2
8. Hard Aces (122) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 6/1

Race Commentary: This will be a very interesting race since Melatonin wasn’t entered as previously expected. I have no idea who will win this one but I expect Hoppertunity and Mor Spirit to land somewhere in the Superfecta. Both Accelerate and Dalmore have put in good times in their workouts leading up to this race. Concerning with Dalmore was the fact that he petered out towards the end of the 8 1/2 furlong San Pasqual Stakes and lost 2nd place to Accelerate. And this race will be 9 furlongs. Victor Espinoza is riding El Huerfano but I don’t expect him to be much of a factor judging from his race history and recent workouts.

Hard Aces is a quality horse but I like him better at 10 furlongs or longer. Avanti Bello finished 5th in the Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos against California Chrome in a weak field. He finished 3rd in his last start, a claiming race at Santa Anita Park. Prospect Park finished behind Accelerate and Dalmore in the San Pasqual Stakes in his last start.

So perhaps a $5 boxed Trifecta of Hoppertunity, Mor Spirit and Accelerate (1,5,7) might be your best bet. This would cost $30. 


 On the docket…

One of my next blogs might be a preview the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 11th that is expected to include McCraken and/or updated Kentucky Derby contender rankings if I feel that they need to be updated after this weekend’s results. Stay tuned!

–Michael