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

Updated 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

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October 11th 2017 – Updated November 1st 2017 4:15 PM CST

This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to be wide-open. Gun Runner will the likely favorite but he does his best work at 9 furlongs (1 1/8th mile). Last year’s Breeders’ Cup champion Arrogate has been less than impressive in his last two starts. Add this up and we may have a surprise winner in The Classic.

Below are my top 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders with the morning line odds.  

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and now 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. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

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

2) 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. – 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 (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 and he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. The most recent news is that the defending Pegasus World Cup champion won’t be defending his title. He will be retired after the Breeders’ Cup Classic. 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) West Coast (6/1) – The recent winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (107 Beyer Speed Figure).  His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate last year (1:59.36). Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 8 Starts 6-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
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: Javier Castellano (2004 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 

5) Mubtaahij* (12/1) – The recent winner of the Awesome Again Stakes (shown below). Mubtaahij has historically been sort of an enigma but appears to have blossomed and matured under the training of Bob Baffert. Although he is not a huge threat to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he does have “hit the board” potential with a 2nd place and 4th place finish in the last two Dubai World Cup races. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 18 Starts 5-4-1-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 (estimated) – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 102- 2017 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

6) Gunnevera (30/1) – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a closer’s chance of hitting the board. There is no doubt that he has improved since his 7th place finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby. – Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.01.71 (estimated) – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes

7) Pavel (20/1)– Coming off a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont. He has just four career starts but could surprise in The Classic. – Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Creative Cause
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.01.24 (estimated) – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup

8) War Decree (30/1) – Primarily a turf horse, he did win a Group 3 (Grade 3) race on a Polytrack surface in Ireland in his last start at distance 150 yards longer than the Classic distance of 10 furlongs (1 1/4 mile). So there are no questions that he can go the distance.  Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 3rd or the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 6th–>5th–>1st
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Donnacha O’Brien?
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

Other Breeders’ Cup Classic entries: Win the Space (30/1) , War Story (30/1) and Churchill (15/1). Win the Space and War Decree have been cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Churchill has also been cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf). War Story has been entered in the Breeders’ Cup Turf race.

Keen Ice was pre-entered in the Classic but was retired after suffering an ankle injury

Note: An asterisk * indicates horses who have qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by virtue of winning a “Win and You’re In’ race.


On the Docket…

My next blog will focus in on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contenders.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael

Updated 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

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October 4th 2017

Below are my top 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. We still have one remaining “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic coming up this Saturday with the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont.

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 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. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

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

2) Collected* – 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) West Coast – The recent winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (107 Beyer Speed Figure).  His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate last year (1:59.36). Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 8 Starts 6-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
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 

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: 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  2-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 7th–>1st–>2nd
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) Mubtaahij* The recent winner of the Awesome Again Stakes (shown below). Mubtaahij has historically been sort of an enigma but appears to have blossomed and matured under the training of Bob Baffert. Although he is not a huge threat to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he does have “hit the board” potential with a 2nd place and 4th place finish in the last two Dubai World Cup races. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 18 Starts 5-4-1-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 (estimated) – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 102- 2017 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

7) Cupid – The Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita (shown below). He had a disappointing 4th place finish in his last start, the Awesome Again Stakes. He was right where he needed to be going into the stretch but didn’t have closing speed to match his competition in the last furlong. Not inspiring since the Breeders’ Cup Classic will have be a furlong longer than the Awesome Again Stakes. Next Start: Presumably the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th but don’t be surprised if he is entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile instead.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
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) Gunnevera  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a closer’s chance of hitting the board. There is no doubt that he has improved since his 7th place finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby. – Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.01.71 (estimated) – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes

9) 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 11th place finish in Travers Stakes was disappointing and he followed up that performance with another disappointing effort in the Oklahoma Derby (5th place finish). Girvin may be better suited for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Next Start: Uncertain. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is retired.

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


On the Docket…

I was planning on writing a preview of the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park that is scheduled for Saturday October 7th. However, I will be out of town and this year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup really only has two name-horse in Keen Ice. This race will be the last “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’s Cup Classic. I will post updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings sometime next week along with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile rankings.


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

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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

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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

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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

Gun Runner – The 2nd best in the world?

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June 18th 2017

In the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings that came out on June 4th, the Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner ranked 4th and tied with three other horses. After his impressive win in the Stephen Foster Handicap yesterday (shown below), there is little doubt that Gun Runner will move up in the next Longines rankings because he’s the best racehorse in the world behind Arrogate. Sorry Winx fans!

Gun Runner’s time in the 9 furlong Stephen Foster was 1:47.56, just 3 tenths off a track record and the fifth-fastest running of the race. Gun Runner received a Timeform rating of 139 for his 7 length victory. This is the third best Timeform rating this year and his jockey Florent Geroux glided him home in the final 100 yards. The 139 Timeform rating is outstanding when you consider that there have only been about 15 horses (both turf and dirt) to receive a Timeform rating of 140 or greater. One of which was Arrogate back in March in the Dubai World Cup when he received a 141 Timeform rating. Arrogate received a 139 Timeform rating in the Pegasus World Cup in late January.

With the win, Gun Runner receives an automatic entry in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. And rematch with Arrogate provided both remain healthy. The Louisiana Derby winner finished third in last year’s Kentucky Derby, He was consistently good but not spectacular as a 3-year-old. However, he has really blossomed as a 4-year-old and seems to be getting better with each start. I had previously thought that Arrogate would likely romp again in this year’s Classic. But if Gun Runner keeps progressing, this year’s Classic could be one of the great showdowns.


2017 Breeders Cup Classic Contender Rankings

With the 2017 Breeders Cup World Championships less than five months away, here is a short list of top contenders for the Classic. The next “Win and You’re In” race for the Classic will be the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30th. This race will be for 3-year-olds only.

  1. Arrogate
  2. Gun Runner*
  3. Shaman Ghost
  4. Cupid
  5. Neolithic

*Clinched a starting spot in Breeders Cup Classic


–Michael

Arrogate – Is he really the greatest racehorse since Secretariat?

Arrogate-BCC2016-1

March 27th 2017

In a post-race interview, trainer Bob Baffert called Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate “the greatest racehorse since Secretariat.” At that moment, I wasn’t prepared to disagree. That is quite a statement but Bob Baffert IS one of the greatest trainers in the world. 

Now that I have had more time to think about this, I think Arrogate could possibly be the greatest racehorse on dirt since Secretariat. He is the #1 ranked horse in the world and he confirmed his ranking with his brilliant come from behind win in the Dubai World Cup. With the Dubai win, Arrogate is also the highest earning racehorse in North American history with over $17 million in career winnings.

For comparison purposes, I prepared career summaries of Arrogate along with four other horses that I generally feel were the best since Secretariat. These are Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew, Affirmed and American Pharoah as well as Spectacular Bid who came up short on his Triple Crown bid. No I didn’t forget about Forego, John Henry, Ghostzapper, Curlin, Zenyatta and a number of other great horses we have seen since 1973. I just feel the four horses below generally are considered to be best since Secretariat was retired.

Among the pertinent stats, I have listed each horses career earnings and also provided an inflation adjustment conversion into 2017 dollars. I used the year each horse retired as a starting point for the inflation adjustment. Obviously, there is no inflation adjustment necessary for Arrogate.

Arrogate  – In 2016, he was the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, 3-year-old American Male Champion and IFHA World’s Best Racehorse. 2017 Pegasus World Cup and 2017 Dubai World Cup.

Career: 8 Starts 7-0-0-0 (87.5% win percentage – 4 Grade 1 wins)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:46.83 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best 1 1/2th Mile Time: N/A
Career Earnings: $17,084,600
Earnings per start in 2017 dollars: $2,135,575

The Four Best Racehorses Since Secretariat

In chronological order

Seattle Slew* 1977 Triple Crown Champion and Horse of the Year. The only Triple Crown winner to finish the series undefeated. He beat 1978 Triple Crown Champion Affirmed and three-time Horse of the Year Forego in the 1978 Marlboro Cup Invitational. He also finished ahead of Affirmed in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Bio Video

Career: 17 Starts 14-2-0-1 (82.4% win percentage – 8 Grade 1 wins)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:45.801979 Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:58.60 – 1978 Woodward Stakes
Best 1 1/2th Mile Time: 2:27.21* (estimate-lost by a nose) – 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Career Earnings: $1,208,276 ($4,515,412 in 2017 dollars)
Earnings per start in 2017 dollars: $265,612

Affirmed*  1978 Triple Crown Champion, 22 wins in 29 career starts. Finished in the Top 3 in all but one start. Horse of the Year in 1978 and 1979. Bio Video

Career: 29 Starts 22-5-1-0 (75.9% win percentage – 14 Grade 1 wins)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.80 – 1978 Jim Dandy Stakes
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:58.40 – 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup
Best 1 1/2th Mile Time: 2:26.80 – 1978 Belmont Stakes
Career Earnings: $2,393,818 ($8,032,249 in 2017 dollars)
Earnings per start in 2017 dollars: $276,974

Spectacular Bid Eight times in his career he either matched or set a track record. He holds the North American record for 1 1/4 mile races on dirt with a time of 1:57 4/5. He was the last horse to be named American male dirt champion at age 2, 3 and 4. He won Horse of the Year honors in 1980. He may have won a Triple Crown in 1979 had he not stepped on a safety pin at Belmont. Bio Video

Career: 30 Starts 26-2-1-1 (86.7% win percentage – 12 Grade 1 wins)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:45.801980 California Stakes
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:57.801980 Charles H. Strub Stakes
Best 1 1/2th Mile Time: 2:27.40 – 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Career Earnings: $2,781,608 ($8,223,398 in 2017 dollars)
Earnings per start in 2017 dollars: $274,113

American Pharoah 2015 Triple Crown Champion, the very first winner of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing. American Champion 2-Year-Old Male (2014) and American Champion 3-Year-Old Male (2015), 2015 Horse of the Year and IFHA World’s Best Racehorse in 2015. Since most Triple Crown winners and even those who nearly miss are immediately retired to the stud farm, you have to project out how you think they would fare in the future. Considering that he produced a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 120 in his last start in Breeders’ Cup Classic, I think he would have been even better as a 4 year-old.

Career: 11 Starts 9-1-0-0 (81.8% win percentage – 8 Grade 1 wins)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.95 – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:00.07 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best 1 1/2th Mile Time: 2:26.652015 Belmont Stakes
Career Earnings: $8,650,300 ($8,890,666 in 2017 dollars)
Earnings per start in 2017 dollars: $808,242

*-indicates Triple Crown Winner

The Verdict

I don’t believe that Arrogate can be considered as the best racehorse since Secretariat at this point. He is certainly talented enough and could very well be when all is said and done. However, we still need to see more. All the above horses have won at least eight Grade 1 races, Arrogate has four Grade 1 wins. Arrogate was a late bloomer, his legs needed time to catch up to his big body much like Zenyatta. Therefore he didn’t go through the rigors of a Triple Crown run–something I highly value in determining greatness in a thoroughbred– because he wasn’t physically mature enough.

Unfortunately, I doubt that we will ever see Arrogate run a 1 1/2 mile (12 furlong) race due to a insufficient purse sizes. The Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont in June would be Arrogate’s best bet but it only carries a $400,000 purse. So probably will never be able to compare him at the 12 furlong distance to Secretariat and other greats who raced in the Belmont Stakes.

Last year, Arrogate won the IHFA Best Racehorse in the world but lost to California Chrome North American Horse of the Year honors. American Pharoah, whom Baffert trained, was able to win both awards in 2015 and the very first Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.

Overall, I would rank Arrogate in the Top 20 greatest North American racehorses of all-time right now due to the simple fact that he is the highest earning racehorse in North American history. However, Arrogate still has more work to do to be considered the greatest since Secretariat. His times through 9 and 10 furlongs don’t rival Seattle Slew or Spectacular Bid. I think he needs to win at least four more Grade 1 races as all the above four horses have accomplished. He also needs to sweep Horse of the Year honors in 2017. 

For now, its plenty OK to just be the best racehorse in the world. And the sport of horse racing in North America has been extremely blessed to have great horses like Arrogate, American Pharoah, California Chrome and Songbird the past few years. Arrogate’s future race entries will make it an extremely interesting year after the Triple Crown races are over.

–Michael 

Arrogate – spectacular in the Dubai World Cup

DWC Logo

March 26th

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the transitive verb Arrogate: “to claim or seize without justification.” It makes a great name for a racehorse. But I am not sure it applies to the Bob Baffert-trained horse named Arrogate. 

Lost in this weekend national college hoops frenzy was a totally impressive performance yesterday by the #1 ranked horse in the world–Arrogate–in the Dubai World Cup (shown below). Arrogate got off to a poor start. When I initially saw this, I thought he surely would get beat today because he is going to have to win with a closer race style that he was unaccustomed to. But Arrogate proves once again to be a very special horse and Mike Smith a great jockey.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who trained the first Grand Slam Champion of thoroughbred racing in 

American Pharoah, hinted in a post-race interview that Arrogate is possibly the best racehorse since Secretariat. As someone who was would normally want to attack such a claim, I was not totally prepared at that moment to disagree. The first thing that popped into my head was the fact that Man o’War and Secretariat were both reddish chestnut colts. Arrogate is a gray or roan colt. That is extremely weak, I know, but its the best I had at the moment.

Arrogate’s last four starts have resulted in a Travers Stakes track record, a Breeders’ Cup Classic championship, a Pegasus World Cup and a Dubai World Cup with Beyer Speed Figures of 122, 120, 119 and 115. He is now the highest earning racehorse in North American race history, already earning over $17 million dollars, in 8 career starts.

Overall, I would like to see him race at least three more times before I am sold on the fact that he’s the best since Secretariat. But for now, he’s undeniably the best racehorse in the world.

–Michael