Arrogate attempts to become the richest racehorse in North American history

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March 24th 2017

Tomorrow, the Bob Baffert-trained 4-year-old Arrogate, the #1 ranked thoroughbred in the world by Longines, attempts to become the highest-earning thoroughbred in North American history in the $10 million dollar 2017 Dubai World Cup. If Arrogate wins, he will earn $6 million with a 1st place finish which will push his career race winnings to $17 million dollars. Thus, he would surpass California Chrome’s $14.75 million.in career race winnings.

The Dubai World Cup is a 2000 Meter race which is slightly less than 1 1/4th mile. NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Dubai races from 8:30 to 11:30 AM.

Besides Arrogate, the Dubai World Cup field of 14 includes a few names familiar to North American race fans: 2016 Kentucky Derby runners Gun Runner and Lani, 2015 Kentucky Derby runner Mubtaahij who finished 2nd in the last year’s Dubai World, Pegasus World Cup runners Neolithic and Keen Ice and the San Antonio Handicap winner Hoppertunity. Hoppertunity finished 3rd behind California Chrome and Mubtaahij in last year’s Dubai World Cup.

Other contenders include runners from the 2017 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 race at Dubai (shown below): race winner Long River, 2nd place finisher Special Fighter, 3rd place finisher Furia Cruzada and 4th place finisher Move Up. Note that Furia Cruzada is a 5-year-old mare.

Rounding out the Dubai World Cup are three Japanese horses:  the 2016 Tokyo Daishōten winner Apollo Kentucky and 2nd place finisher Awardee as well as the 2017 February Stakes winner Gold Dream.

Overall, I expect this to be another Arrogate romp similar to what we witnessed in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup. This is partly why I haven’t discussed this race or its expected entries on my blog until now. However, this field is much stronger than the 2017 Pegasus World Cup and it will be interesting to see what horses hit the board behind Arrogate and if anyone can seriously challenge him.

Perhaps Arrogate’s most serious challenger will be the most recent Razorback Handicap winner Gun Runner who had a sizzling time of 1:40.97 and 110 Beyer Speed Figure in that Oaklawn Park race (shown below). Gun Runner beat Shaman Ghost in his previous race, the 2016 Clark Handicap, last November. Shaman Ghost finished 2nd behind Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup.

My prediction: 1) Arrogate, 2) Gun Runner, 3) Hoppertunity and 4) Keen Ice. But usually this race always has a surprise finisher or two. From the Meydan-based horses, Special Fighter and Mubtaahij seem to have the best chance to break into the Top 4.

–Michael

 

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

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 3rd 2017

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


 On the docket…

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

–Michael

California Chrome dominates the Winter Challenge. 2017 Pegasus World Cup Contender Rankings

pegasus-world-cup-logoDecember 18th 2016

California Chrome looks ready for his next challenge in the Pegasus World Cup. He won the 2016 Winter Challenge yesterday at Santa Anita Park. And quite easily by a 12 length margin. In the process, he established a new track record at Los Alamitos for a 1 1/16 mile race at 1:40.03.

A California Chrome vs Arrogate rematch will be must-see TV. Below are who I feel are the Pegasus World Cup contenders and possible entries. Keep in mind that if a horse hasn’t worked out or raced since the Breeders Cup World Championships in early November, they are highly unlikely to be a candidate for entry in the Pegasus World Cup. Who falls into this category? Dortmund and Melatonin.

Overall, I think it is going tough to attract twelve runners this year in the Pegasus World Cup if both California Chrome and Arrogate are entered. So here is my Top 10.

Pegasus World Cup Contenders 

1) California Chrome – He will win the 2016 Horse of the Year Eclipse award to go along with his 2014 Horse of Year honors. I like his chances in a rematch with Arrogate if he draws an inside post position. His win in the 2016 Winter Challenge was against a weak field, but you can’t ignore the fact that he still set a track record. Chrome was ready to rumble no matter who showed up. I think he will fare better against Arrogate at 9 furlongs than he did at 10 furlongs.

Career: 26 Starts 16-4-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.52 – 2014 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Arrogate – Arrogate is ranked #1 in the world in the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. He will carry the torch for the older horse division in 2017 when California Chrome is retired. The sport is in good hands. It appears that he may potentially get a tuneup at Santa Anita Park before the Pegasus World Cup as he is rumored to be entered in San Pasqual Stakes on January 1st.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: Mike Smith 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.44* (estimated from 2016 Travers Stakes)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Hoppertunity – Although there haven’t been any rumblings that Hoppertunity will be entered in the Pegasus World Cup, I can’t envision Bob Baffert showing up at the richest horse race in the world with just one horse. Hopps is the best in his barn after Arrogate. He is rarely the race favorite in any race, yet he is one of the most consistent runners in horse racing. In 23 consecutive starts, Hoppertunity has finished 4th or better in every start. He has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race, something that California Chrome can’t boast. Third place in the Pegasus World Cup pays out $1 Million dollars, that is essentially what 2nd place paid out for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 24 Starts 6-6-4-7   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 9 Starts  2-4-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>4th   
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: John Velazquez/Flavien Prat 
Best Beyer in 1 1/8th Mile Race: 1:48.02 (calculated) – 2015 Hagyard Fayette Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

4) Gun Runner  –  A very consistent horse who won his first Grade 1 stakes race in the Clark Handicap and also produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 104. Up until the Clark Handicap, the Louisiana Derby winner had some nice finishes in some big races (3rd in 2016 Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Travers Stakes, 2nd in the Penn Derby and 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile). I liked how he has developed under Steve Asmussen and expect him to have a bright future racing as a 4 year-old.

Career: 12 Starts 6-2-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 4 Starts  2-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.50 – 2016 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – 2016 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2016 Clark Handicap

5) Keen Ice  – After a significant layoff and with just one prep race, Keen Ice finished a very surprising 3rd in the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic. In his most recent start, he finished 2nd behind Stanford in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. He is still a quality horse. He finished 4th in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. He is the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). 

Career: 19 Starts 2-2-5-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Curlin  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.31 (calculated) – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes

6) ConnectThe 2016 Pennsylvania Derby and Cigar Mile winner. He is another 3 year-old who has a bright future racing as a 4 year-old.

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Chad Brown
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.69 – 2016 Curlin Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  106 – 2016 Cigar Mile Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2016 Cigar Mile Handicap

7) Shaman Ghost – Owned by Stonach Stables, it has been a foregone conclusion that Shaman Ghost would be an entry in Pegasus World Cup which was created by Frank Stonach. The 2016 Woodward Stakes winner finished a disappointing 3rd in the 2016 Clark Handicap. I am not sure he was 100% having been scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to spiking a fever. I expect him to develop further under the training of Jimmy Jerkens and be a major stakes winner in 2017 as a 5 year-old.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>3rd   
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.92 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

8) Neolithic  – Another Todd Pletcher-trainee. He finished 2nd in the 2016 Discovery Stakes (shown below) in mid November but won an 8 1/2 furlong race last Wednesday at Gulfstream Park with a nice time of 1:41.58.  This was just 0.61 seconds off the track record. He received a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

Career: 7 Starts 2-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire:  Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.78 (calculated) – 2016 Discovery Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16

9) Stanford  – A nice win in the Harlan’s Holiday stakes (shown below) makes him another Todd Pletcher-trained candidate for the Pegasus World Cup. For 2016, to go along with his Grade 3 win in the Harlan’s Holiday, he has a win in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-4-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 4 Starts  1-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey:  John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.24 (calculated) – 2015 Islamorada Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – 2016 Charles Classic Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2016 Charles Classic Stakes

10) Mr. Jordan – He runs well at Gulfstream Park. He set a course record at Gulfstream Park West in the 2016 Millions Classic Preview Stakes (shown below). His career high Beyer Speed Figure of 105 came back in January in the Sunshine Millions Stakes with a 2nd place finish behind Mexikoma.

Career: 17 Starts 6-4-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Kantharos
Trainer: Edward Plesa Jr.
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.43 (calculated) – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes

Other Possible Contenders

Awesome Slew (Sire: Awesome Again,Trainer: Edward Plesa Jr.)
War Story (Sire: Northern AfleetTrainer: Mario Serey Jr.)
Hard Aces (Sire: Hard SpunTrainer: John Sadler)
Noble Bird (Sire: BirdstoneTrainer: Mark Casse)


On the docket…

My next blog will be a final 2017 Kentucky Derby contender ranking of the 2 year-old class.

–Michael

2017 Pegasus World Cup – The Field of Dreams

pegasus-world-cup-logo

December 5th 2016

With the world’s richest horse race coming up in less than 8 weeks, it is now time to speculate on who the twelve runners could be. The Pegasus World Cup Invitational is scheduled for Saturday January 28th 2017 at Gulfstream Park and will be televised by NBC. The Pegasus World Cup winner will receive a record $7 million dollars from the $12 million dollar purse.

There has been little news regarding who the potential entries will be other than California Chrome and possibly Arrogate and Shaman Ghost. So my blog will focus on who the twelve runners should be if we could get the best twelve racehorses in the world entered in this race. The 9 furlong distance, where the starting gate will be positioned so that it will give little stretch run before reaching the first turn, should even up the field and attract the best Milers and Classic distance racehorses.

Unfortunately, the creation of this race didn’t have the effect of delayed retirements that I was expecting. The race date of January 28th lends itself perfectly to a post-Pegasus World Cup retirement where the breeding season doesn’t really kick in until mid February to avoid December foals (ie. a horse born in December 2017 will be considered a 1 year old on January 1st 2018).

So if we could have a dream Pegasus World Cup field of horses who will be racing into 2017, below are entries I would include. Keep in mind the retirements of horses that would have made great Pegasus World Cup candidates: Nyquist, Exaggerator, Frosted, Beholder, Effinex, Tamarkuz, Found, Flintshire and Upstart.

My dream Pegasus World Cup field…

1) California Chrome – He is the most popular horse in North America. Chrome draws huge crowds, even for workouts. He will win the 2016 Horse of the Year Eclipse award to go along with his 2014 Horse of Year honors. I like his chances in a rematch with Arrogate.

Career: 25 Starts 15-4-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.52 – 2014 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Arrogate – Arrogate is undoubtably the top horse in North America and he is ranked #1 in the world in the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. He will carry the torch for the older horse division in 2017 when California Chrome is retired. The sport is in good hands.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: Mike Smith 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Songbird – The star filly whose only loss was on a bob to Beholder in the 2016 Breeders Cup Distaff (shown below). Great things are expected from her in the future. Although there are no plans to run her in the Pegasus World Cup, there are plans to race her against the boys at some point in 2017.

Career: 12 Starts 11-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire:  Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer:  Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.21 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

4) Highland Reel – Highland Reel and the 4 year old turf filly Found were cross-entered in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Both were scratched from the Classic and ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf race. Highland Reel won the prestigious $4 million dollar turf race while Found finished 3rd. Found was retired shortly after the Breeders Cup World Championships. Their trainer Aiden O’Brien has trained turf horses for dirt races before, doing so most recently with Gleneagles in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. I say, give it another shot!

Career: 19 Starts 7-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 7th–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Galileo
Trainer:  Aiden O’Brien
Jockey: Seamie Heffernan 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 112 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf

5) Dortmund – He was winless in 4 starts in 2016 but still ranked in the Top 25 racehorses in the world by Longines. Unfortunately, he had California Chrome as a entry in three of his four starts. His 4th place finish in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was disappointing but perhaps he is not a Miler. He seems to race best at the 8 1/2 to 9 furlong distance. He has never finished below 4th in his career, something that his Derby Trail rival American Pharoah can’t boast. Dortmund is a very talented horse that Bob Baffert plans to race as a 5 year-old in 2017. 

Career: 14 Starts 8-2-2-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts  2-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd>2nd–>4th   
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:48.06 – 2015 Native Diver Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 – 2016 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Awesome Again Stakes

6) Keen Ice  – After a significant layoff and with just one prep race, Keen Ice finished a very surprising 3rd in the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic. He finished 4th in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. He is the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). 

Career: 18 Starts 2-1-5-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 8th–>3rd–>3rd
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.31 (calculated) – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes

7) Melatonin – In 2016, he completed the elusive Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double (ie. winner of the Santa Anita Handicap and Gold Cup at Santa Anita in the same year). His disappointing 5th place finish in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic probably had more to do with a lengthy layoff. He is more of a 10 furlong runner and has only raced once in a 9 furlong race, finishing 2nd to Effinex in the 2016 Oaklawn Handicap. 

Career: 14 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts:2nd–>1st–>5th   
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans 
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.16 (calculated) – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

8) Stellar Wind – She got out of the gate poorly in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and finished 4th. However, she beat the Distaff Champion Beholder twice in four starts in 2016. In the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, she lost to Stopchargingmaria by a neck. The future is bright for her career as a 5 year-old Mare. Note that she has never finished below 4th during her career in 12 starts.

Career: 12 Starts 7-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-0-2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey:  Victor Espinoza
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.02 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

9) Hoppertunity – Although he is rarely the race favorite in any race, he is one of the most consistent runners in horse racing. In 23 consecutive starts, Hoppertunity has finished 4th or better in every start. He has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race, something that California Chrome can’t boast.

Career: 24 Starts 6-6-4-7   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 9 Starts  2-4-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>4th   
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: John Velazquez/Flavien Prat 
Best Beyer in 1 1/8th Mile Race: 1:48.02 (calculated) – 2015 Hagyard Fayette Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

10) ConnectThe 2016 Pennsylvania Derby and Cigar Mile winner. He is another 3 year-old who has a bright future racing as a 4 year-old.

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey:  Javier Castellano/John Velazquez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.69 – 2016 Curlin Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  106 – 2016 Cigar Mile Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2016 Cigar Mile Handicap

11) Gun Runner  –  A very consistent horse who won his first Grade 1 stakes race in the Clark Handicap and also produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 104. Up until the Clark Handicap, the Louisiana Derby winner had some nice finishes in some big races (3rd in 2016 Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Travers Stakes, 2nd in the Penn Derby and 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile). I liked how he has developed under Steve Asmussen and expect him to have a bright future racing as a 4 year-old.

Career: 12 Starts 6-2-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 4 Starts  2-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.50 – 2016 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – 2016 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2016 Clark Handicap

12) Shaman Ghost – The 2016 Woodward Stakes winner finished a disappointing 3rd in the 2016 Clark Handicap. I am not sure he was 100% having been scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to spiking a fever. I expect him to develop further under the training of Jimmy Jerkens and be a major stakes winner in 2017 as a 5 year-old.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>3rd   
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano/Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.92 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

Five Alternates

1) Hard Aces – The 2015 Gold Cup winner at Santa Anita Park. He finished 6th in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is better at 10 furlong distances or greater and has a closer running style.

Career: 37 Starts 7-6-9-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 10 Starts  1-1-2-2
Last 3 starts: 4th–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer:  John Sadler
Jockey: Santiago Gonzalez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.37 (calculated) – 2015 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

2) Noble Bird  Noble Bird has been hit-or-miss this year. He has nice wins in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special (110 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (106 Beyer Speed Figure). His time of 1:47.75 in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes set a new track record at Keeneland for 9 furlongs. But he hasn’t fared well in Grade 1 events this year: 6th in the Met Mile, 5th in the Whitney Handicap and 7th in the Clark Handicap.

Career: 20 Starts 7-4-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>7th
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.75 – 2016 Hagyard Fayette Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special

3) Comfort – The Todd Pletcher-trained 4 year old ran 2nd behind Frosted in the 2016 Whitney Handicap. He has 2 nice wins sandwiched in between: the 2015 State Dinner Stakes (shown below) and the 2016 Seattle Slew Stakes. He has no published workouts since the Seattle Slew Stakes in September.

Career: 9 Starts 5-1-0-4  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Indian Charlie
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.09 (calculated) – 2016 Whitney Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 State Dinner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 State Dinner Stakes

4) Mubtaahij – He ran 2nd in the 2016 Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome and 2nd behind Shaman Ghost in the 2016 Woodward Stakes. He has still yet to win a Grade 1 race.

Career: 15 Starts 4-2-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>4th
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.94 (calculated) – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

5) Texas Red  – The 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is back in training and has been working out at Santa Anita Park for the entire month of November. Admittedly, it is a tall order to have ready for an ultra-competitive 9 furlong race by January 28th. But there are prep races available in the the 8 1/2 furlong Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos on December 17th and the 7 furlong Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park on December 26th. If he is entered and performs well, he always had the talent to compete with the best. He was my very early 2015 Kentucky Derby favorite before being taken off the Derby trail due to injury.

Career: 9 Starts 3-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>5th
Sire: Afleet Alex
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey:  Kent Desormeaux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.77 – 2015 Jim Dandy Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  105 – 2015 Travers Stakes


On the docket…

My next blog will preview the upcoming 2016 Los Alamitos Futurity. I should have this posted by Thursday evening December 8th after post-positions and morning line odds are published. The race should have a few of the top 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders. Mostly notably, Mastery.

I also plan to preview the newly created Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos set for December 17th that will feature California Chrome.

–Michael

2016 Breeders Cup Classic Pre-Entries and Analysis. Arrogate a serious threat to California Chrome

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Updated October 31st 2016

We are now five days away from the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Below are post-position and morning line odds for this year’s Classic and how I would rank them. This is a very talented field. Nyquist was pre-entered for The Classic but he will be scratched due to having a puffy ankle after a workout October 27th. He has been subsequently been retired. Gunner Runner will opt for the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Found and Highland Reel will opt for the Breeders Cup Turf race.

Although California Chrome is the morning line even-money favorite, don’t discount Arrogate. Since all the money will be on Chrome, I would highly recommend a Boxed Exacta including both horses. Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith has won The Classic three times, the most of any active jockey. His trainer Bob Baffert has won The Classic twice. They will be a formidable foe for California Chrome because Arrogate has demonstrated that he has a higher closing speed. Below are California Chrome and Arrogate’s final fractions from their last 4 US races. I have included their weights for each race in parenthesis. 

California Chrome

Awesome Again Stakes – 10/1/16 (125) – 38.79 sec in final 3 furlongs = 34.08 mph
Pacific Classic – 8/20/16 (124) – 24.17 sec in final 2 furlongs = 37.24 mph, 48.91 sec in final 4 furlongs = 36.80 mph
San Diego Handicap – 7/23/16 ( 126) – 30.31 sec  in final 2 1/2 furlongs = 37.12 mph
San Pasqual Stakes – 1/9/16 (119)  – 30.37 sec in final 2 1/2 furlongs = 37.0 mph

Travers Stakes – 8/27/16 (126) – 23.84 sec in final 2 furlongs = 37.75 mph, 48.51 sec in final 4 furlongs = 37.11 mph
Del Mar – 8/4/16 (117) – 29.4 sec in final 2 1/2 furlongs = 38.27 mph
Santa Anita – 6/24/16 (118) – 30.42 sec in final 2 1/2 furlongs = 36.98 mph
Santa Anita MSW- 6/5/16 (120) – 29.87 sec in final 2 1/2 furlongs = 37.66 mph

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Entries

1)  California Chrome* (1/1) – He’s now undefeated in six starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.4 million dollars. He is currently ranked #1 in Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (SEE). His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 24 Starts 15-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 112
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 113 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate (5/2) – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 108
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin* (12/1) –  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. However, he is training very well currently. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 106.7
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Hoppertunity* (15/1) – A surprise winner of the Jockey Gold Cup race. A well earned victory for a horse who has been the bridesmaid way too often. He has finished 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career. Hopps is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. This is why I am ranking him 4th in these rankings. Some how, he always finds a way to finish in the Superfecta. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 22 Starts 6-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

5) Frosted* (5/1) –  I feel that the added rest after his disappointing Woodward performance will do him good. I still think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile but that will be a tough race as well. He set the track record in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest thus far in 2016. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). But he got off to a bad start in the Woodward Stakes and that may have cost him a win. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 111.7
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 123 – 2016 Metropolitan Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

6) Effinex (15/1) He finished 2nd to Hoppertunity in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race. He also finished 2nd to American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, it is very clear that he has slipped a bit, only capturing wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Note that Effinex has never finished below 4th in a 10 furlong (1 1/4th mile) race. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 26 Starts 9-3-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 8 Starts  3-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey:  Flavian Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.76 (calculated) – 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Shaman Ghost (20/1) – After rewatching his Woodward Stakes performance and also learning that had a post-race cough after his disappointing 5th place finish in the Suburban Handicap, I am once again a believer in this Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Ghostzapper. When you watch the Woodward Stakes race (shown below), Shaman Ghost ran one helluva race. He displayed a willingness to fight for a win and also an ability to go wide and snake through traffic. This is a very talented 4 year-old with a bright future. His jockey Javier Castellano won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on his father. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure:  99.7
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.12 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ? – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

8) Win the Space (30/1) A third place finish behind California Chrome and Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap was probably par for the course but I thought he ran a better in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita. He is also cross-entered in the Breeders Cup Turf race. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders Cup Turf race on November 5th.

Career: 14 Starts 3-1-4-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-0-0 
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>DNF–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: ?
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

9) Keen Ice  (20/1) –  The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). He also finished 4th in the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic. However, this year will be a taller order. Keen Ice is coming back from a long layoff due to injury and he finished 3rd in a mile allowance race at Belmont on October 7th. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 17 Starts 2-1-4-4   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: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Unknown
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes

10) War Story (30/1) – Although he was given 30/1 morning line odds, it really should have been 50/1. War Story has never finished in the Top 4 in a 10 furlong race and has yet to win a Grade 1 race. He finished 16th in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and 7th in the 2016 Pacific Classic. He most recent performance, a 2nd place finish in the Pa Derby Champion Stakes, is shown below.

Career: 14 Starts 3-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  0-0-0-0 
Last 3 starts: 1st–>7th–>2nd
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Mario Serey Jr.
Jockey: Scott Speith
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03.77 (calculated) – 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  Unknown
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Thistletown Allowance Race 7/30/16


–Michael

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings and Expected Entries

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Updated October 24th 2016

We are less than 2 weeks away from the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Below are the expected entries for this year’s Classic and how I would rank them currently. I will monitor their published workouts and post at least one more set of rankings before The Classic. Please note the following news bits:

  • Surprising news. Found, the 4 year old filly from Ireland, will be cross-entered into the Breeders Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Turf race. She has never raced on dirt before.
  • Keen Ice will be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His jockey will be confirmed within a few days.
  • Mubtaahij has been removed from my rankings. He hasn’t worked out since the Jockey Club Gold Cup, so he is unlikely to be a starter in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • Exaggerator qualified for The Classic but was retired to begin his stud career at WinStar Farm.
  • Nyquist will be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic and then retired after the race to stand stud at Darley America.
  • Dortmund will be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile.
  • Beholder is expected to be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
  • Shaman Ghost wasn’t entered into the Jockey Club Gold Cup race this past Saturday so that he could train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • Todd Pletcher’s Destin was thought to be a possible entry in the Classic a few months ago but he hasn’t had any published workouts since August 19th.

Although California Chrome will be the favorite in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, probably around 4/5 morning line odds, don’t discount Arrogate. Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith has won The Classic three times, the most of any active jockey. His trainer Bob Baffert has won The Classic twice. They will be a formidable foe for California Chrome.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1)  California Chrome* – He’s now undefeated in six starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.4 million dollars. He is currently ranked #1 in Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (SEE). His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 24 Starts 15-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 112
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 113 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 108
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin–  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. However, he is training very well currently. Next Start:  The  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 106.7
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Hoppertunity– A surprise winner of the Jockey Gold Cup race. A well earned victory for a horse who has been the bridesmaid way too often. He has finished 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career. Hopps is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. This is why I am ranking him 4th in these rankings. Some how, he always finds a way to finish in the Superfecta. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 22 Starts 6-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

5) Frosted  I feel that the added rest after his disappointing Woodward performance will do him good. I still think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile but that will be a tough race as well. He set the track record in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest thus far in 2016. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). But he got off to a bad start in the Woodward Stakes and that may have cost him a win. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 111.7
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 123 – 2016 Metropolitan Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

6) Effinex He finished 2nd to Hoppertunity in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race. He also finished 2nd to American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, it is very clear that he has slipped a bit, only capturing wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Note that Effinex has never finished below 4th in a 10 furlong (1 1/4th mile) race. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 26 Starts 9-3-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 8 Starts  3-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 103.3
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey:  Flavian Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.76 (calculated) – 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Shaman Ghost – After rewatching his Woodward Stakes performance and also learning that had a post-race cough after his disappointing 5th place finish in the Suburban Handicap, I am once again a believer in this Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Ghostzapper. When you watch the Woodward Stakes race (shown below), Shaman Ghost ran one helluva race. He displayed a willingness to fight for a win and also an ability to go wide and snake through traffic. This is a very talented 4 year-old with a bright future. His jockey Javier Castellano won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on his father. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st   Average Beyer Speed Figure:  99.7
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.12 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ? – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

8) Found  –  The 4 year-old turf filly from Ireland will be cross-entered in both the Breeders Cup Turf race and The Classic. But before you think this is just a publicity move, and that Found will find herself in the Turf race vs Flintshire, remember that her trainer Aiden O’Brien entered Gleneagles (also a Galileo progeny with no dirt experience) into last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. Glenegales finished 8th and dead last. Found, I think, is a better horse. She won the Breeders Cup Turf race last year (shown below). In 2016, she won the most prestigious turf race of the year–the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France. Since she is a turf horse, I would expect that she will have a closer race style. However, I don’t think Santa Anita Park dirt surface plays too kindly to closers. She is better off giving Flintshire a run for his money in the turf race. Maybe this is Euro-ego driven, but the truth is that her times in a mile and a quarter are much slower than this field and turf surfaces are generally regarded as faster than dirt. See world records at distance for proof. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf race at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career (Turf): 20 Starts 6-11-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Turf Races: 8 Start  2-5-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Galileo
Trainer:  Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore

9) Win the Space – A third place finish behind California Chrome and Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap was probably par for the course but I thought he ran a better in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita. Next Start:  Uncertain but possibly the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5th.

Career: 14 Starts 3-1-4-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-0-0 
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>DNF–>3rd   Average Beyer Speed Figure: ?
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

10) Nyquist  – Probably a better fit for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile but it was announced recently that he will be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and then retired. He has shown signs of a tired horse, finishing 5th in the Haskell Invitational and 6th and behind lesser competition in his most recent start in the Pennsylvania Derby. If it were my decision, I would rest him and bring him back in January to run at Gulfstream Park in the Pegasus World Cup before retiring him. The 9 furlong distance at Gulfstream would be a better fit for him since he won the Florida Derby there at this distance. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 11 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>6th   Average Beyer Speed Figure: 95.7
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

11) Keen Ice  –  The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). He also finished 4th in the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic. However, this year will be a taller order. Keen Ice is coming back from a long layoff due to injury and he finished 3rd in a mile allowance race at Belmont on October 7th. Next Start:  The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday November 5th.

Career: 17 Starts 2-1-4-4   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: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Unknown
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes


–Michael

2016 Awesome Again, FrontRunner and Zenyatta Stakes Previews. Will California Chrome be awesome again? Plus updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

challenge

September 27th 2016 – Updated October 1st 2016

Three very key “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are coming up this Saturday at Santa Anita Park with the FrontRunner Stakes for the Sentient Jet Juvenile race, the Awesome Again Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Zenyatta Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. This block of races will be televised live on NBC Sports.

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for all three races. 

The FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #6 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 5:00 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Gormley – Espinosa/Shirreffs – 8/1
2. Plum Daddy  – Smith/Callaghan – 6/1
3. Secret House  – Gonzalez/O’Neill – 20/1
4. Midnight Pleasure – Garcia/Ruis  – 6/1
5. Straight Fire  – Prat/Desormeaux – 9/5   
6. Klimt – Bejarano/Baffert – 6/5
7. Vibe – Desormeaux/Desormeaux  – 20/1    

Race analysis: This should be a battle between Klimt and Straight Fire. Straight Fire has the highest average Beyer Speed Figure (90) in his 3 starts of any 2 year-0ld thus far. However, he couldn’t stay with Klimt through 7 furlongs in the Del Mar Futurity so I don’t expect much will be different in 3+ weeks. But with 2 year-olds, you never know. Plum Daddy has won at 8 furlongs (1 mile). So if I were betting, I would probably place a small 6 over 2,5 over 2,5 Trifecta. But betting on 2 year-olds is risky due to their inconsistency.


The Awesome Again Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #7 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 5:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. California Chrome (125) – Espinoza/Sherman -2/5
2. Dortmund (121) – Bejarano/Baffert -5/2
3. Hoppertunity (121) – Pratt/Baffert – 6/1  SCRATCHED
4. Win the Space (121) – Stevens/Papaprodromou -20/1
5. Soi Phet (121) – Desormeaux/Powell -30/1
6. El Huerfano (121) – Pedroza/Miller – 50/1  SCRATCHED
7. Hard Aces (124) – Gonzalez/Sadler  – 15/1

Race analysis: Dortmund is training well and I expect him to give California Chrome a better battle than he did in the Pacific Classic. The 9 furlong distance puts Chrome more in his crosshairs. However, this is California Chrome’s race to lose and exotics will payout next to nothing like they did in the San Diego Handicap if Chrome wins. So this is a better race to watch and than wager on. Especially with the two scratches.


beholder-distaff-2013

The Zenyatta Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #9 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Off the Board (121) – Pereira/Mandella – 30/1
2. Beholder (125) – Stevens/Mandella – 3/5
3. Vale Dori (121) – Bejarano/Baffert – 10/1
4. Tara’s Tango (123) – Garcia/Hollendorfer – 6/1
5. Stellar Wind (125) – Espinosa/Sadler  – 8/5

Race analysis: There are handicappers out there who believe that Beholder is prime to be upset again by Stellar Wind like she was in the Clement L Hirsch Stakes back on July 30th. I tend to believe that Beholder and Gary Stevens were caught off guard by that performance and will bounce back. That being said, you are better off laying down a large 2,5 Boxed Exacta. It seems very safe with this field.

If you want to try a Trifecta bet and are looking for a horse to round one out, I like Vale Dori better than Tara’s Tango. Vale Dori has raced against the boys in the UAE Derby back in March and finished 4th.


2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic

After a very weird Pennsylvania Derby, with Nyquist and Exaggerator finishing 6th and 7th and behind Wild About Deb and My Man Sam, the 2016 Kentucky Derby class has faded down the stretch to new shooters. The only 3 year-old who is a serious threat to win “The Classic” this year is Arrogate. And note that 3 year-olds have won the Breeders Cup Classic only 9 times in 32 runnings of the race. That is only 28%. 

One thing I have been keeping an eye on is Beyer Speed Figures. 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 113.4.

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)
2006       Invasor (106)

I think it is going to take a 112+ Beyer Speed Figure to win this year’s Classic. This was the Beyer Speed Figure that Effinex received for his 2nd place finish behind American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (BCC). American Pharoah’s highest Beyer Speed Figure entering last year’s classic was 109 before he reeled off a 120 to become the first Grand Slam winner of Thoroughbred racing. Bayern’s highest was 111 before he produced a career high 113 in the 2014 edition of the BCC. So a 109 Beyer Speed Figure could be a benchmark for 3 year-olds to be viewed as serious threats to win The Classic. The highest Beyer Speed Figure a 3 year-old has produced thus far at more than a mile distance is the 122 by Arrogate.

After the Awesome Again Stakes this Saturday, there is only one more “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders Cup Classic. The Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 8th which will be shown on NBC.

And now onto the rankings. I have only ranked contenders through the Top 7 and separated them into different categories. I don’t think any of the horses outside of my Top 7 are serious threats to win at this point. Perhaps the Awesome Again Stakes and Jockey Gold Cup races may change my mind.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

The Big Three – West Coast Triumvirate

1)  California Chrome* – He’s undefeated in five starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.25 million dollars. His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 23 Starts 14-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 113 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will get that. Next Start: Bob Baffert indicated that he is going to train Arrogate up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic like he did with American Pharoah. 

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   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: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin–  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. Next Start: He will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

Slim chance of winning, top picks for your Superfecta

4) Beholder Her 2nd place finish in the Pacific Classic was a commendable performance. However, she has slipped a bit off of her 2015 form where she had the stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below) that put her #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Her trainer Richard Mandella said that he may opt for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff instead of The Classic. Until this decision is made, Beholder will stay in my rankings. Next Start:  The Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 24 Starts 17-5-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

5) Dortmund Nice performances in the San Diego Handicap (2nd) and Pacific Classic (3rd), but he still needs to prove himself beyond 9 furlongs. He has the pedigree for distance. His sire Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The rumor mill suggests that he might be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over The Classic. if Beholder and Dortmund are entered in The Classic, Gary Stevens will most likely be Beholder’s rider. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 12 Starts 8-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.29 (calculated) – 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap

6) Frosted  I moved Frosted back up 3 spots because I feel that the added rest after his disappointing Woodward performance will do him good. I still think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile but that will be a tough race as well. He set the track record in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). But he got off to a bad start in the Woodward Stakes and that may have cost him a win. Next Start: He will train up to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 123 – 2016 Metropolitan Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

7) Effinex – His 4th place finish in the Whitney Stakes was a disappointment. He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, it is very clear that he has slipped a bit, only capturing wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 25 Starts 9-2-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>4th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.04 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

Not a serious threat to win but ‘hit the board’ potential

Hoppertunity – He kept his streak alive of finishing 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career with a 4th place finish in the Pacific Classic. He is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 21 Starts 5-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race:  105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

Shaman Ghost – After rewatching his Woodward Stakes performance and also learning that had a post-race cough after his disappointing 5th place finish in the Suburban Handicap, I am once again a believer in this Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Ghostzapper. When you watch the Woodward Stakes race (shown below), Shaman Ghost ran one helluva race. He displayed a willingness to fight for a win and also an ability to go wide and snake through traffic. This is a very talented 4 year-old with a bright future. His jockey Javier Castellano won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on his father. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.12 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ? – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

Mubtaahij – This once enigmatic colt has been a fairly consistent in his last three starts. He finished 2nd in the Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome, 3rd in the Suburban Handicap and finished 2nd in a photo finish for the win in the Woodward Stakes. He appears to be a rail-runner which limits his options down the stretch and he has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 14 Starts 4-3-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

Qualified for ‘The Classic’ but would be longshots

Exaggerator The Slopmeister is dependent on a fast pace and an off track. If it rains in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, his odds will shorten.

Career: 15 Starts 6-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>11th–>7th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

Bradester*  Rumored to be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He has never raced further than 9 furlongs.

Career: 25 Starts 10-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  101 – Stephen Foster Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

3 Year-Olds who could be big Classic contenders next year

American Freedom  He will be entered in either Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Las Vegas Dirt Mile.

Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.52 (calculated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2016 Travers Stakes

Connect  The surprise winner of the Pennsylvania Derby. He makes up for a disappointing 6th place finish in the Travers Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 4-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>6th–>1st
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.84 (calculated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ?? – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Pennsylvania Derby

Gun Runner  – A very consistent runner who could star as a 4 year-old. He is rumored to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Career: 10 Starts 5-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes

Nyquist  – Probably a better fit for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at this point since he has faded down the stretch in two 9 furlong races.

Career: 11 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>6th
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

–Michael

Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

bcsantaanita_2016logo-657x1081

September 6th 2016

After the Woodward Stakes this past Saturday, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic contender picture has come more into focus and now appears to be a two horse battle between California Chrome and Arrogate. However, we still have three key remaining races (shown below) that can spring new challengers. The “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races are in bold font. 

September 24th – Pennsylvania Derby – PARX – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – TVG
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC

And now onto the rankings. Bradester drops out due to a poor performance (8th place finish) in the Woodward Stakes. He will likely be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile.

Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1)  California Chrome* – He’s undefeated in five starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.25 million dollars. His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita October 1st.

Career: 23 Starts 14-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will get that. Next Start: Bob Baffert indicated that he is going to train Arrogate up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic like he did with American Pharoah. 

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   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: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin–  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Beholder Her 2nd place finish in the Pacific Classic was a commendable performance. However, she has slipped a bit off of her 2015 form where she had the stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below) that put her #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Her trainer Richard Mandella said that he may opt for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff instead of The Classic. Until this decision is made, Beholder will stay in my rankings. Next Start:  The Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park on October 1st.

Career: 24 Starts 17-5-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

5) Dortmund Nice performances in the San Diego Handicap (2nd) and Pacific Classic (3rd), but he still needs to prove himself beyond 9 furlongs. He has the pedigree for distance. His sire Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The rumor mill suggests that he might be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over The Classic. if Beholder and Dortmund are entered in The Classic, Gary Stevens will most likely be Beholder’s rider. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 12 Starts 8-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.29 (calculated) –  2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap

6) Effinex – His 4th place finish in the Whitney Stakes was a disappointment. He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has two wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 25 Starts 9-2-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>4th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.04 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Hoppertunity – He kept his streak alive of finishing 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career with a 4th place finish in the Pacific Classic. He is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. Next Start:  Unknown but probably the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 21 Starts 5-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

8) Mubtaahij – Mubtaahij moves back into my Top 12 because this once enigmatic colt has been a fairly consistent in his last three starts. He finished 2nd in the Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome, 3rd in the Suburban Handicap and finished 2nd in a photo finish for the win in the Woodward Stakes. He appears to be a rail-runner which limits his options down the stretch and he has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 14 Starts 4-3-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

9) Frosted  Frosted falls down six spots after his disappointing Woodward performance. Note he is ranked below Mubtaahij who has finished ahead of him in their last two starts. In 2015, Frosted finished ahead of Mubtaahij in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The Tapit gray colt has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old and has qualified for both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile. He set the track record in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). Next Start: He will train up to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

10) Nyquist  – Not a good “off-track” runner as we witnessed from him in the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational. Nyquist likes dry, fast tracks. The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner needs a big win down the road if he wants to win the 2016 Eclipse 3 Year Old Male of the Year award. Next Start:  The Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

11) Exaggerator The Slopmeister. It is now evident after his disappointing finishes in the Belmont and Travers Stakes that Exaggerator is highly dependent on a fast pace and a sloppy track. With wins in the Santa Anita Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational (shown below), Exaggerator is in the mix for an Eclipse award for the best 3-year-0ld colt in 2016. But he needs a great dry track performance somewhere down the line. Next Start: He is a rumored entry against Nyquist and Gun Runner in the Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 14 Starts 6-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 11th–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

12) Gun Runner  – The Louisiana Derby winner. He has achieved two 3rd finishes in two of the major 1 1/4 miles races for 3 year-olds in the Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes. And he received his best Beyer Speed Figure of his career (102) in the Travers Stakes. I like the upward trend and this is Steve Asmussen’s best Classic contender after Creator bombed out in the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes. Some may want to insert American Freedom in this spot but Baffert has Arrogate, Dortmund and Hoppertunity as BCC contenders. Next Start: The Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 9 Starts 5-0-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>3rd
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes

–Michael

Arrogate dominates the Travers Stakes with a new track record. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

August 30th 2016

Just when I was lamenting the fact that this year’s 3 year-old crop was slow when looking at their Beyer Speed Figures… and that none posed a huge threat to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic…enter the Bob Baffert-trained late-bloomer Arrogate. He stunned the Saratoga crowd this past Saturday with a performance that spectators are still buzzing about (shown below). He received a 122 Beyer Speed Figure for this incredible effort. The highest Beyer Speed Figure ever earned by a 3 year-old is 124 set by Sunday Silence and Easy Goer in 1989.

Arrogate won by 13 1/2 lengths and his winning time of 1:59.36 set a Travers Stakes record and Saratoga track record for a mile and a quarter. The previous record for the Travers at 1 1/4 mile distance was 2 minutes flat. Saratoga is one of the oldest horse racing venues in North America and has never been considered a “fast track”.

Spectacular Bid holds the world record on dirt for a 1 1/4 mile at 1:57.80 but he accomplished this feat as a 4 year-old. For 3 year-olds, a horse named Quack holds the world record on dirt for 1 1/4th mile at 1:58.20 set in the 1972 Hollywood Gold Cup race.

Just when I thought California Chrome was a virtual lock to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Arrogate muddies up the picture with a freakish performance. And if he draws an inside post, it could toast for Chrome in The Classic. Below is my updated Breeders’ Cup contender rankings:

Updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1)  California Chrome* – He’s undefeated in five starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.25 million dollars. In the San Diego Handicap, California Chrome displayed a fight that we have never seen before since he has usually won with ease. His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita October 1st.

Career: 23 Starts 14-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – He lands at #2 in my rankings despite the fact that he has produced a mile and a quarter time faster than any other active horse on dirt. However, color me a slight bit skeptical until he can replicate anything close to his Travers Stakes performance. As a 3 year-old, Albert the Great ran a 1:59.24 mile and a quarter in the 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup race and finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year. Then he finished 3rd in the BCC the following year. There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate and he will get a 4 pound advantage over Chrome and Frosted in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one awesome performance to elevate him higher. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will get that. Next Start: Bob Baffert indicated that he is going to train Arrogate up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic like he did with American Pharoah. Although I think Arrogate would benefit from another start before The Classic, it is hard to argue with a strategy of one of the top trainers in the world.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   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: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Frosted  With his win in the Whitney Stakes, he received a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. Next Start: the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 3rd. Then he will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 17 Starts 6-6-1-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

4) Melatonin–  He is undefeated at a mile and a quarter. He is a legitimate threat to California Chrome. The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

5) Beholder Her 2nd place finish in the Pacific Classic was a commendable performance. However, she has slipped a bit off of her 2015 form where she had the stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below) that put her #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Her trainer Richard Mandella said that he may opt for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff instead of The Classic. Next Start:  The Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park on October 1st.

Career: 24 Starts 17-5-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

6) Dortmund Nice performances in the San Diego Handicap (2nd) and Pacific Classic (3rd), but he still needs to prove himself beyond 9 furlongs. He has the pedigree for distance. His sire Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The rumor mill suggests that he might be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over The Classic. Next Start: Unknown.

Career: 12 Starts 8-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.29 (calculated) –  2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap

7) Effinex – His 4th place finish in the Whitney Stakes was a bit of a disappointment. He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has two wins in the Oaklawn Handicap and the Suburban Handicap. Next Start: Unknown but I am guessing the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 25 Starts 9-2-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>4th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.04 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

8) Hoppertunity – He kept his streak alive of finishing 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career with a 4th place finish in the Pacific Classic. He is extremely consistent and probably would finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. Next Start:  Unknown but probably the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 21 Starts 5-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

9) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner needs a big win down the road if he wants to win the 2016 Eclipse 3 Year Old Male of the Year award. Next Start:  The most recent news is that Nyquist will stay at San Luis Rey Downs through the entire month of August and is being pointed towards the Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

10) Exaggerator The Slopmeister. It is now evident after his disappointing finishes in the Belmont and Travers Stakes that Exaggerator is highly dependent on a fast pace and a sloppy track. With wins in the Santa Anita Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational (shown below), Exaggerator is in the mix for an Eclipse award for the best 3-year-0ld colt in 2016. But he needs a great dry track performance somewhere down the line. Next Start: Unknown but he has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 14 Starts 6-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 11th–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

11) Bradester* With his most recent win in the Monmouth Cup, Bradester now has won three races in three starts in 2016. Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. It appears that he is being pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Mile rather than The Classic. He finished a disappointing 9th in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. 6 of his career 10 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. Next Start: Woodward Stakes at Saratoga September 3rd.

Career: 24 Starts 10-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>1st–>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1092015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Gun Runner  – The Louisiana Derby winner. He has achieved two 3rd finishes in two of the major 1 1/4 miles races for 3 year-olds in the Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes. And he received his best Beyer Speed Figure of his career (102) in the Travers Stakes. I like the upward trend and this is Steve Asmussen’s best Classic contender after Creator bombed out in the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes. Some may want to insert American Freedom in this spot but Baffert has Arrogate, Dortmund and Hoppertunity as BCC contenders. Next Start: The Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 9 Starts 5-0-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>3rd
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes

Note: Horses who have qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic have an asterisk next to their name.


Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

September 3rd – Woodward Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 – NBCSN
September 24th – Pennsylvania Derby – PARX – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – TVG
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
*****

November 5th – Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita  – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000 – NBC


I will have a Woodward Stakes preview by Friday evening September 2nd. Then another updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings list by Tuesday evening September 5th. After that, I will focus on the 2 year-old 2017 Kentucky Derby class for which I like Classic Empire, Straight Fire and Klimt thus far.

–Michael

2016 Pacific Classic Preview – California Chrome vs. Beholder vs. Dortmund. Updated Breeders Cup Classic Contender Rankings

challenge

August 17th 2016 – Updated August 20th 

If you have followed my Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings the past couple of months, a special treat is in store for you this coming Saturday evening. An unexpected “Clash of the Titans” at Del Mar in the Pacific Classic that matches California Chrome, Dortmund and Beholder. Need I say more? Below is the starting field and it resembles a Breeders’ Cup Classic Lite. The winner gets an automatic entry into The Classic.

Note that 6 of my Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders are entered. And the 3 year-old Desormeaux brothers colt Dalmore is a potential “board-hitter” after producing a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start at Santa Anita Park in the Affirmed Stakes (shown below). He didn’t have the most perfect trip, was forced wide and showed a willingness to battle and fight for a win.

Dalmore’s sire Colonel John won the Travers Stakes in 2008 and then finished 6th in a 12 horse field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year as a 3 year-0ld. Colonel John finished 5th as a 4 year-old in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This is a good horse and his winning time in the 1 1/16th mile Affirmed Stakes was 1:40.84, the same time California Chrome had in the 1 1/16th mile San Diego Handicap. And he will race 6 pounds ligther than Chrome.

Dalmore is very unlikely to win in this heavy-hitter older talented field but you should consider him for you exotic bets and you could be seeing a new star for next season. He may be, at this stage, a better dry fast track runner from the Desormeaux brothers stable than Exaggerator. At least at 8 1/2 furlongs. We will see how well he stretches out to 10 furlongs.

Here are the post-positions and morning line odds:

The Pacific Classic – 1 1/4th Mile – Saturday August 20th – Race #9 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 8:15 PM CST. Televised by TVG.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. California Chrome (124) – Espinoza/Sherman – 8/5
2. Hoppertunity (124) – Pratt/Baffert – 8/1
3. War Story (124) – Mejas/Greenman – 30/1
4. Hard Aces (124) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 15/1
5. Win the Space (124) – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 15/1
6. Imperative (124) – Arroyo/Baltas – 20/1
7. Beholder (119) – Stevens/Mandella – 7/2
8. Dortmund (124) – Bejarano/Baffert – 5/2
9. Dalmore (118) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20-1

My prediction: I think California Chrome wins a hardly contested battle against Dortmund and the surprise new shooter Dalmore. War Story will finish last. Imperative will finish 7th or 8th. What happens in between is guesswork with this good of a field and much of this depends on what type of performance we see from Beholder. If she is healthy and 100% ready to rumble, she can win this race.

Hoppertunity‘s streak of finishing 4th or better in every graded stakes race of his career could be in jeopardy. Hard Aces is a closer and he should get the early speed his style is looking for. Win the Space will have to race with 6 more pounds than he had to in the San Diego Handicap and he never really challenged California Chrome or Dortmund in that race. Ultimately, this is a better “sit back and watch” race rather than one to bet on.  But if you nail a few of the “unexpecteds” (anybody beats Chrome, the 20-1 Dalmore wins or finishes 2nd) this could be very nice payday.

Also, there is a Cross-Country Pick 4 today between Saratoga and Del Mar. Here are my X-Country Pick 4 Picks: Race #1 Fourstardave Handicap (2-6-8–Grand Arch, Ring Weekend, Tourist), Race #2 Alabama Stakes (6–Songbird), Race #3 Del Mar Handicap (4-8–Metaboss-Ashleyluvsugar), Race #4 Pacific Classic (1-7–California Chrome, Beholder). $1 bet would cost $12. If you like a longshot and a potential huge payout, put Dalmore #8 into your Race #4 for $4 more dollars.


Breeders’ Cup Classic

As I said in my last blog, I don’t think the 2016 Kentucky Derby class has any serious threats yet to win “The Classic” this year. 3 year-olds have won the Breeders Cup Classic only 9 times in 32 runnings of the race. That is only 28%. I think an older horse will win it this year. But we have a few months more to go and these young horses can make huge strides as the year goes on. Exaggerator appears to the best of this 2016 3 year-old class.

Beyer Speed Figures

One thing to keep an eye on is Beyer Speed Figures. 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 113.4.

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)
2006       Invasor (106)

I think it is going to take a 112+ Beyer Speed Figure to win this year’s Classic. This was the Beyer Speed Figure that Effinex received for his 2nd place finish behind American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (BCC). American Pharoah’s highest Beyer Speed Figure entering last year’s classic was 109 before he reeled off a 120 to become the first Grand Slam winner of Thoroughbred racing. Bayern’s highest was 111 before he produced a career high 113 in the 2014 edition of the BCC. So a 109 Beyer Speed Figure could be a benchmark for three year olds to be viewed as serious threats to win The Classic. The highest Beyer Speed Figure a 3 year-old has produced thus far at more than a mile distance is 103 (Exaggerator, Nyquist and Arrogate).

Updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1)  California Chrome – He’s undefeated in four starts in 2016. With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time North American leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. In the San Diego Handicap, California Chrome displayed a fight that we have never seen before since he has usually won with ease. He is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup next January. Next Start: The Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 22 Starts 13-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  With his win in the Whitney Stakes, he received a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. Next Start: the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga  on September 3rd. Then he will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 17 Starts 6-6-1-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Melatonin– The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic this coming weekend but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1st.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Dortmund Despite Dortmund’s impressive battle with California Chrome in the San Diego Handicap, he still needs to prove himself beyond 9 furlongs. He has the pedigree for distance. His sire Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby. However, Dortmund has only raced once at the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter. That came in the 2015 Kentucky Derby where he finished 3rd behind American Pharoah and Firing Line. Next Start: The Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>1st–>2nd
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) –  2015 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap

5) Effinex – His 4th place finish in the Whitney Stakes was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe he needs to skip a start. He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has two wins in the Oaklawn Handicap and the Stephen Foster. Next Start: Unknown but I am guessing the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 25 Starts 9-2-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>4th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.04 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

6) Exaggerator The Slopmeister. With wins in the Santa Anita Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational (shown below), Exaggerator has probably moved ahead of Nyquist as the best 3-year-0ld colt in 2016. Next Start:  The Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 27th. Then onto the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5th with roughly the same layoff as American Pharoah had. 

Career: 13 Starts 6-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>11th–>1st
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

7) Beholder Her lost to Stellar Wind in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes was a surprise since she hadn’t lost a race in over 2 years.  Her time and Beyer Speed Figure in this year’s Clement L. Hirsh was higher than last year’s. However, one big difference, she didn’t have to battle for the win in the 2015 edition where she won by 7 lengths. I think she has slipped a bit off of her 2015 form where she had the stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below) that put her #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. But she has been training well at Del Mar the past two weeks, so maybe she will bounce back into form. Next Start: She will defend her title in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 23 Starts 17-4-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

8) Win the Space  A third place finish behind California Chrome and Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap was probably an expected result. However, I thought he ran more competitively in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita. Perhaps he prefers 10 furlongs or the Santa Anita track surface? Or Gary Stevens as his rider? We will see soon. Next Start: The Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 12 Starts 3-1-3-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 

9) Nyquist  – It should be plain as day after the Haskell Invitational that Nyquist just doesn’t like wet, sloppy tracks. The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner needs a big win down the road if he wants to win the 2016 Eclipse 3 Year Old Male of the Year award. Next Start:  The most recent news is that Nyquist will stay at San Luis Rey Downs through the entire month of August and is being pointed towards the Pennsylvania Derby at PARX on September 24th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

10) Hoppertunity – He finished 4th in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert admitted before the race that he wasn’t sure that he had him completely ready. Previous to this start, he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and probably would finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field because he has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. Next Start: The Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 20 Starts 5-6-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

11) Bradester* – With his most recent win in the Monmouth Cup, Bradester now has won three races in three starts in 2016. Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 6 of his career 10 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. Next Start: Unknown.

Career: 24 Starts 10-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>1st–>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Hard Aces – Still competitive as a 6 year-old, he won the Cougar II Handicap (shown below) a couple of weekends ago. He finished 6th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic after qualifying with a win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He is a closer and performs best when the opening fractions are fast. And he is running well this year at Santa Anita–producing a 2nd place finish in both the Santa Anita Handicap and California Stakes to go with his most recent 3rd place finish in the Gold Cup race. The 105 Beyer he received in the Gold Cup was a career best. He will throw a clunker in along the way and is not an early Vegas favorite to win The Classic but he has “hit the board” potential if the race sets up well for his closing style. Next Start: The Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 33 Starts 9-6-5-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer: John Sadler 
Jockey: Mario Pino
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.15 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

Note: Horses who have qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic have an asterisk next to their name.


Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – TVG
August 27th – Travers Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000 – NBC
September 3rd – Woodward Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 – NBCSN
September 24th – Pennsylvania Derby – PARX – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – TVG
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
*****

November 5th – Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita  – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000 – NBC

* – 3 year olds only


–Michael