2018 Pegasus World Cup Preview

Pegasus

January 24th 2018 – Updated January 27th 4:30 PM CST

Below are the official entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the upcoming 2018 Pegasus World Cup scheduled for Saturday January 27th at Gulfstream Park. Post time for the richest horse race in the world is 4:45 PM CST.  The race will be televised on NBC with coverage beginning at 3:30 PM CST. All horses will carry 124 lbs weight except for the mare Stellar Wind who will carry 121 lbs.

2018 Pegasus World Cup – 1 1/8th mile – Purse: $16.3 Million

1) Singing Bullet (30/1) – One of the last official entries for the Pegasus World Cup. Dale Romans is a great trainer but I think this field is way too much of a step-up in class for this 4 year-old colt. In his last start, he finished 4th in an Allowance Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream Park on December 29th (shown below).

Career: 10 Starts 3-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>4th
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 – 2017 AllowOC race at Churchill Downs 11/26/17

2) West Coast (8/1) – The winner of the Pennsylvania Derby.  He finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 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 in 2016 (1:59.36).

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.65 – 2017 Los Alamitos Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 107 – 2017 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – Breeders’ Cup Classic 

3) Stellar Wind (30/1) – The only filly/mare to be entered into the Pegasus World Cup. She’s coming off a very disappointing 8th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Does she have a chance of winning against this field? Sure but she will have to get out of the gate well and bring her “A” game and run the best race of her career. It’s a tall order but should make this race more interesting.

Career: 16 Starts 10-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.02 (estimated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

4) Sharp Azteca (6/1) – The Cigar Mile winner with a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 115. Sharp Azteca has pretty much raced 7 and 8 furlong (1 mile) races during his career. It is not a stretch for him to race an extra furlong which is the beauty of this 9 furlong Pegasus World Cup race.

Career: 16 Starts 8-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Freud
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115  – 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap

5) Collected (8/1) – Although he had a disappointing third place finish in his last start–the 2017 San Antonio Stakes–Collected will probably be the 2nd race favorite behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus. He finished 2nd behind Gun Runner in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 8-2-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Jockey)
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.73 – 2017 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 California Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

6) Gunnevera (15/1)  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a chance of hitting the board. He’s a closer and I would like his chances better in a 10 furlong race. He finished tied for 5th with Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Luis Saez
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Fear the Cowboy (30/1) – The Harlan’s Holiday Stakes winner at Gulfstream Park back in mid December. He will be one of the longshots

Career: 27 Starts 9-7-2-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Cowboy Cal
Trainer: Efran Loza Jr.
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.59 (estimated) – 2016 Lukas Classic Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  105 – 2017 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes

8) War Story (25/1) – In his last three starts, all Grade 1 races, he has finished 4th each time including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He finished 5th in last year’s Pegasus World Cup. He’s not likely a contender for the win but a horse to include in your Supefecta bets.

Career: 25 Starts 5-3-3-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.95 (estimated) – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Toast of New York (20/1) – Although Toast of New York has never won a Grade 1 race, the recently turned 7 year-old does have two career 2nd place finishes in Grade 1 races: the 2014 Pacific Classic and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below). After a three year layoff due to a soft tissue injury, Toast of New York was entered and won the Condition Stakes in the UK at Lingfield Park back in early December. It is good to see him back racing.

Career: 9 Starts 4-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Thewayyouare
Trainer: Frankie Dettori
Jockey: Lanfranco Dettori
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

10) Gun Runner (4/5) – He’s extremely consistent and the top racehorse in the world on dirt. He produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in his last start–the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately for race fans, Gun Runner will be retired at the conclusion of the Pegasus World Cup race where he will undoubtedly be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 11-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.43  – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

11) Seeking the Soul (25/1) – The Dallas Stewart-trained surprise winner in the Clark Handicap. He earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 with the win.

Career: 17 Starts 5-3-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.88 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap

12) Giant Expectations (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2017 San Antonio Stakes in a small but talented five horse field that included Collected, Accelerate and Hoppertunity.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>6th–>1st
Sire: Frost Giant
Trainer: Peter Eurton
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2017 San Antonio Stakes

Also Eligible: Game Over, Jorge Navarro, Jose Ortiz

Race Analysis: I didn’t like the post-position draw for Gun Runner. I don’t think that trainer Steve Asmussen was thrilled with #10 post either. But Gun Runner is still the horse to beat in this field. However, with his post-position draw I expect his odds to move from 4/5 to up to 1/1 or higher. I like Collected, West Coast, Sharp Azteca and Gunnevera to round out the Trifecta. 

So right now, my gut feeling is that I like 10 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6. But I may key two horses to win. I will have to do some more research and think about it. I am fighting off flu remnants so my energy level is a bit drained. So check back later as I will update this blog with any scratches and more analysis.

Update:  Here’s what I am doing for the Pegasus World Cup: $1 Superfecta that costs $24: Keying Gun Runner to win – 10 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6. That’s Gun Runner winning with any combination of West Coast, Sharp Azteca, Collected and Gunnevera finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Then a $1 Trifecta that costs $7: 2,10, over 2,5,10 over 2,5,6. That’s Gun Runner or West Coast finishing 1st or 2nd with Collected as a candidate to finish 2nd or 3rd and Gunnevera as an option for 3rd. Then a $3 Boxed Exacta of #2 West Coast and #10 Gun Runner that costs $6. So $37 total wagered.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes scheduled for February 3rd as well as the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers scheduled for the followingweekend.

–Michael

2018 Pegasus World Cup Contenders

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January 15th 2018

We are 12 days away from the richest horse race in the world–the 2018 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. The total purse was raised from $12 million for the inaugural race last year to $16 million dollars this year. The field will be limited to 12 entries. Below are profiles on 10 of the 12 that are expected to be entered.

1) Gun Runner – He’s extremely consistent and the top racehorse in the world on dirt. He produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in his last start–the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately for race fans, Gun Runner will be retired at the conclusion of the Pegasus World Cup race where he will undoubtedly be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 11-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.43  – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Collected – Although he had a disappointing third place finish in his last start–the 2017 San Antonio Stakes–Collected will probably be the 2nd race favorite behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus. He finished 2nd behind Gun Runner in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Career: 13 Starts 8-2-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Jockey)
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.73 – 2017 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 California Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

3) West Coast – The winner of the Pennsylvania Derby.  He finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 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 in 2016 (1:59.36).

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.65 – 2017 Los Alamitos Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 107 – 2017 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – Breeders’ Cup Classic 

4) Sharp Azteca – The Cigar Mile winner with a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 115. Sharp Azteca has pretty much raced 7 and 8 furlong (1 mile) races during his career. It is not a stretch for him to race an extra furlong which is the beauty of this 9 furlong Pegasus World Cup race.

Career: 16 Starts 8-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Freud
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115  – 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap

5) Seeking the Soul – The Dallas Stewart-trained surprise winner in the Clark Handicap. He earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 with the win.

Career: 17 Starts 5-3-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.88 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap

6) Giant Expectations – The surprise winner of the 2017 San Antonio Stakes in a small but talented five horse field that included Collected, Accelerate and Hoppertunity.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>6th–>1st
Sire: Frost Giant
Trainer: Peter Eurton
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2017 San Antonio Stakes

7) Toast of New York – Although Toast of New York has never won a Grade 1 race, the recently turned 7 year-old does have two career 2nd place finishes in Grade 1 races: the 2014 Pacific Classic and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below). After a three year layoff due to a soft tissue injury, Toast of New York was entered and won the Condition Stakes in the UK at Lingfield Park back in early December. It is good to see him back racing.

Career: 9 Starts 4-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Thewayyouare
Trainer: Jamie Osborne
Jockey: Lanfranco Dettori
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

8) Gunnevera  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a chance of hitting the board. He’s a closer and I would like his chances better in a 10 furlong race. He finished tied for 5th with Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Stellar Wind – The only filly/mare to be entered into the Pegasus World Cup. She’s coming off a very disappointing 8th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Does she have a chance of winning against this field? Sure but she will have to get out of the gate well and bring her “A” game and run the best race of her career. It’s a tall order but should make this race more interesting.

Career: 16 Starts 10-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.02 (estimated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

10) War Story – In his last three starts, all Grade 1 races, he has finished 4th each time including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s not likely a contender for the win but a horse to include in your Supefecta bets.

Career: 25 Starts 5-3-3-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.95 (estimated) – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic


Mourinho wins the Smarty Jones Stakes

The Bob Baffert-trained Mourinho picked up 10 Kentucky Derby points with a win in Monday’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park with a nice time of 1:37.25 and 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Finishing second was the Steve Asmussen trained colt Combatant.

Bob Baffert now has three colts with at least 10 Derby points: McKinzie (20), Solomini (14) and Mourinho (10). St Patrick Day, the full brother to American Pharoah, has yet to resume training.

Steve Asmussen’s top 3 year-old point earner thus far is Combatant (8). Perhaps the best colt in Asmussen’s barn is Copper Bullet who resumed training January 5th. Chad Brown’s Good Magic leads the Derby point standings with 24.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Pegasus World Cup with all confirmed entries and odds.  After this, I will preview the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes scheduled for February 3rd.

–Michael

Looking Forward To 2018

pegasus-world-cup-logo

December 28th 2017

With 2017 coming to a close, its time to look ahead to another interesting season of thoroughbred horse racing. To put it mildly, 2017 wasn’t one of my favorites as it was marred by inconsistency and the retirement of two great stars of the sport: Songbird and Arrogate. And another star, Gun Runner, will be retired after the Pegasus World Cup that is coming up in 5 weeks.

The sport seems to be heading into an era with no huge star. We’ve had a great run the past four years with California Chrome, American Pharoah, Beholder, Arrogate and Songbird.

Where will the next star of the sport come from? Most likely the 2018 Kentucky Derby class that appears to be a better crop than last year. Who are the leading candidates for stardom? Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, Copper Bullet, McKinzie and St Patrick’s Day.

But perhaps the next star will be born in the Pegasus World Cup. Along with Gun Runner, the confirmed entries are West Coast, Collected, Gunnevera, Toast of New York, Seeking the Soul and the 6 year old mare Stellar WindWest Coast seems to be the most likely candidate to take a huge leap forward.

At any rate, I will preview and provide updates for the Pegasus World Cup as well as major races on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail in weeks ahead. The Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on January 6th will most likely be the next race I preview but I will keep an eye on entries for the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day.  The Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn is scheduled for January 15th. All three of these races are point-paying races for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

Have a great New Year!

–Michael

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

DelMar_2017Logo_RGB_CROP2

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 Woodward Stakes Preview – Gun Runner


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August 31st 2017 – Updated September 2nd 5:00 PM CST

This Saturday at Saratoga, Gun Runner vies for his fourth career Grade 1 win in the Woodward Stakes. The race carries a $600,000 purse and is another “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gun Runner was rated as the third best racehorse in the world in the last Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings on August 6th.

After Arrogate’s losses in the San Diego Handicap and Pacific Classic, Gun Runner will probably assume the #2 spot in the rankings behind the Australian turf mare Winx if he wins. However, there is one caveat.

Winx, a paternal half-sister to Zenyatta, hopes to tie Zenyatta’s streak of 19 straight wins this Saturday in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes race. A win by Gun Runner and loss by Winx could catapult Gun Runner to #1 in the world. 

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning lines odds. The race will be broadcast live by NBC Sports Network.

The Woodward Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday September 2nd at 5:46 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Neolithic (118) – J.Ortiz/Pletcher – 6/1
2. Gun Runner (124) – Geroux/Asmussen – 2/5 
3. Rally Cry (120) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 5/2
4. War Story (120) – Ortiz Jr/Navarro – 8/1
5. Discreet Lover (118) – Franco/St. Lewis – 20/1

Race Analysis: This is a disappointing Woodward field with only five horses. Last year’s Woodward Stakes had nine runners, the year before eight. With a 5-horse field, this isn’t going to be a great betting race for exotics. At 2/5 odds, wins bets won’t pay out very much for Gun Runner.  A $100 win bet will only pay back $140 and I would not be surprised if Gun Runner’s odds move to 1/5.

Do you try to beat him with one of the Pletcher horses in Rally Cry or Neolithic? It seems foolish but it has been a strange year for upsets. And they don’t call Saratoga the “Graveyard of Champions” for nothing. At any rate, I have reviewed this field, hoped to find something in the field’s recent races and workouts that would make me want to take a shot at beating Gun Runner. I am not seeing it yet.

My race prediction orderGun Runner, Rally Cry, Neolithic, War Story and Discreet Lover.  

Update: I am doing a $10 Trifecta 2 over 1,3 over 1,3. And a $5 straight Superfecta 2-3-1-4


Songbird Retired 😦

Sad news. It was announced today that the sensational filly Songbird was retired due to damage to her hind suspensories and a severe bone chip. She won in 13 of 15 of her career starts and retires with over $4.6 million in race winnings. Mike Smith on the retirement of Songbird “She was everything you’d want in a racehorse: the balance, the speed, the stamina.”

Her most thrilling race in my opinion is one I saw in person, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (shown below). 


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and the Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds that is scheduled for this coming Monday, Labor Day September 4th. These two races will give us an idea of who the leading Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contenders might be and an early look at 2018 Kentucky Derby class. I should have this blog out by Sunday 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 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 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

2017 Whitney Stakes Preview

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August 3rd 2017

This coming Saturday we have another high-profile “Win and You’re In” race with the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Inaugurated in 1928, the Grade 1 “Whitney Handicap” carries a $1.25 million dollar purse. A field of seven horses are vying for an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gun Runner is the morning odds favorite at 4/5. 

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

“The Whitney”

The Whitney Stakes  1 1/8th Mile – Race #9 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday August 5th at 4:46 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. War Story (121) – Castellano/Navarro – 6/1
2. Breaking Lucky (117) – Contreras/Baker – 8/1
3. Cautious Giant (117) – Bracho/Quartarolo – 30/1
4. Tu Brutus (117) – I. Ortiz Jr./Contessa – 8/1
5. Keen Ice (121) – J. Ortiz/Pletcher – 3/1
6. Gun Runner (124) – Geroux/Asmussen – 4/5
7. Discreet Lover (117) – Franco/St. Lewis – 25/1

Race Analysis: Gun Runner is the deserved favorite and you could make a great case that he is now the top thoroughbred in the world on dirt with the surprising recent loss by Arrogate in the San Diego Handicap. I am very high on Gun Runner and normally I would recommend placing a nice, big fat win bet on him here. However, Saratoga has lived up to it’s name as the “Graveyard of Champions” with the number of upsets that the track has seen here already this year.

Keen Ice is the second favorite at 3/1 odds and he holds the distinction as the only living horse to beat a Triple Crown champion when he upset American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Is another Keen Ice upset in store? Closers have fared well at Saratoga, but I feel that the son of Curlin prefers 10 furlongs over 9.

I am very interested to see how the Chilean-bred horse Tu Brutus performs in this race. He has produced the highest Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) for in this field (and third best in 2017) when he earned a 118 BSF with his 2nd place finish in the Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct back in early April. However, in his North American racing career, he has raced a the following distances: 1 1/4 mile, 1 3/8th mile and 1 1/2 mile. So I am not sure how he will take to cutting back in distance. 

War Story and Breaking Lucky have never won a Grade 1 race. From looking at their workout history, Breaking Lucky seems to be training better of the two. However, he has been beaten by Gun Runner twice in the Clark Handicap last November and in his most recent start in June in the Stephen H. Foster Handicap. I don’t see an upset coming from either of these horses or the two longshots: Discreet Lover and Cautious Giant.

At any rate, Gun Runner is a fighter and I think a nice Place bet on him would be the safest bet to make here since strange things have been happening at Saratoga. Betting aside, this should be an interesting race and “must-see” TV.


On the Docket…

My next blog will rank the Top Ten 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders and then I will preview the 2017 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar which is scheduled for Saturday August 19th. Arrogate and Accelerate are expected entries. If both are entered, this would provide a rematch of Arrogate vs Accelerate from the San Diego Handicap.  Like the Whitney Stakes, the TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. 


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael