2016 Woodward Stakes Preview and the looming Armageddon in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

September 1st 2016

Horse racing is very much a “What have you done for me lately” sport. California Chrome and Arrogate have laid down gauntlet with great performances the past few weekends, raising the bar for the looming Armageddon this fall in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It’s the Met Mile record holder Frosted’s turn to impress us once more, to assure us that this is more than a two horse battle. Frosted is the 1/2 odds favorite in the upcoming Woodward Stakes this Saturday at Saratoga. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network between 4-5 PM CST.

Last month, Frosted won the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga by two lengths with a time of 1:47.77 (107 Beyer Speed Figure). It was a nice win but somewhat disappointing coming off his 123 Beyer Speed Figure and track record (1:32.73) that he set in the Metropolitan Mile (aka Met Mile) back in June.

The Woodward Stakes is the same 9 furlong (1 1/8th Mile) distance as The Whitney. For Frosted, any time higher than 1:47 flat on a dry, fast track should be viewed as a disappointment. I really think he needs to run in the mid 1:46 range to be still considered a huge threat to beat California Chrome and now Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The track record for the Whitney Stakes is 1:46.64 set in 2007 by Lawyer Ron. The Woodward Stakes track record is 1:45.80 and is shared by two horses: Forego (1976) and Dispersal (1990).

The Tapit gray colt’s biggest opponent in this race will be himself and time.

The Woodward Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Saturday September 3rd – Race #10 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:46 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

Post Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Shaman Ghost (120) – Castellano/Jerkens – 12-1
2. Breaking Lucky (120) – Contrejas/Baker – 20-1    
3. Frosted (124) – Rosario/McLaughlin – 1-2  
4. Bradester (122) – Bravo/Kenneally – 6-1 
5. Catholic Cowboy (118) – Saez/Zito – 20-1
6. Samraat (118) – J.Ortiz/Violette – 10-1
7. Tale of Verve (118) – Velazquez/Stewart – 30-1
8. Tapin Mojo (118) – Franco/Chatterpaul – 50-1  
9. Mubtaahij (118) – I.Ortiz/McLaughlin- 5-1

My Prediction: Frosted draws a favorable inside post but has early speed next to him in Bradester. I don’t think this one will be close. The real battle will be for 2nd place between Bradester, Samraat and Mubtaahij. My projected order of finish: 1) Frosted, 2) Bradester, 3) Samraat, 4) Mubtaahij, 5) Shaman Ghost, 6) Tale of Verve, 8) Catholic Cowboy, 9) Tapin Mojo


Looming Armageddon at Breeders’ Cup Classic

Unless Frosted dazzle’s us in the Woodward, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to be two horse show between California Chroma and Arrogate. One thing that I want to address is this willingness to discount Arrogate’s recent performance in the Travers Stakes. Sure, Arrogate could be a “flash in the pan,” never capable of replicating his awesome feat last Saturday where he set Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record with a time of 1:59.36 in a mile and a quarter race.

Don’t be so foolish enough to not believe Arrogate is a huge threat to California Chrome in the BCC. Arrogate drew the rail in the Travers. Yes, he had a near perfect trip. But remember that he had never raced further than 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile) and what I thought he would do, he didn’t. I thought he would have to get out into the lead early to avoid getting hemmed in along the rail and then he would tire and fade down the stretch in the final furlong.

Arrogate did exactly what I thought he would do early on (get off to a good start and take the lead early) but then he did something few horses can do. And that is run final quarter mile fraction that was almost as fast as the fast opening fraction he laid down. Arrogate’s opening quarter mile fraction was 23.61. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84!

Show me one horse still in active training that can run a final quarter-mile fraction that fast in a 10 furlong (1 1/4 mile) race. Guess what? You can’t. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. California Chrome’s best final fraction is 24.44 accomplished in the Pacific Classic a couple of weekends ago. Melatonin did a 24.27 in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita back in June. Beholder did a 24.65 in the 2015 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate may never be able to replicate his performance in the Travers Stakes, fair enough. But all he would have to do is be close and he may have the Breeders’ Classic field covered. I’m in the camp that it is easier to accomplish something you’ve accomplished before than to accomplish something you have never accomplished.

–Michael

 

California Chrome and Dortmund set to clash in the upcoming San Diego Handicap. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings

July 17th 2016 – Updated July 21st 2016

California Chrome is at the Del Mar Fairgrounds working out in preparation for the San Diego Handicap this coming Saturday July 23rd. His most recent workout is shown below. 

Although the San Diego Handicap only carries a $200,000 purse, California Chrome will receive some stiff competition. Below is the starting field, post-positions and the mornign line odds.

San Diego Handicap – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #9 at Del Mar – Post-Time: Saturday July 23rd 8:10 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer
1. Hard Aces (118) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 8-1
2. Dortmund (121) – Stevens/Baffert – 2-1
3. Soi Phet (115) – Desormeaux/Powell – 12-1
4. Crittenden (114) – Garcia/Harty – 20-1
5. Follow Me Crev (116) – Quinonez/Cerin – 20-1
6. California Chrome (126) – Espinoza/Sherman – 4-5
7. Win the Space (116) – Smith/Papaprodromou – 8-1

Chrome’s stiffest competition may come from Dortmund who has won 8 out of 10 career starts and was originally in my 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic watch list. However, Dortmund hasn’t raced since November 28th of last year. He may be a bit rusty coming off a long layoff but will have Gary Stevens as his jockey instead of Martin Garcia.

I will post a blog by Friday analyzing the race. Below is my updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings.


Updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup next January. He is training extremely well and is set to return to racing in the San Diego Handicap.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  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  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. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>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. 

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 After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
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) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap, a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster but bounced back with a big win in the Suburban Handicap (shown below).

Career: 24 Starts 9-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>6th–>1st
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) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine, back in training and probably will be an entry in the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
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

7) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th. But since he excels on a sloppy, off-track, I would love to see him entered in a turf race because usually these type of horses make great turf runners. And his closer style would fit well there too.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>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

8) Win the Space  He has bounced between dirt and turf and finally has found a home on dirt. His 2nd place Gold Cup performance proved that this 4 year-old colt was a diamond in the rough and is extremely talented. He produced a 2 minute mile and a quarter (very uncommon) and did so in 90 degree heat. In his start previous to the Gold Cup, he produced a lightning quick 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16th mile) time of 1:41.55 as a closer. But in the Gold Cup race, Gary Stevens pressed him up on the pace and it paid off. So he proved that he is versatile in running style as well as fast. 

Career: 11 Starts 3-1-2-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
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) 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. 

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

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He opened up his US racing campaign in 2016 with a 3rd place finish in the Suburban Handicap.

Career: 13 Starts 4-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 (calculated) – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – 2016 Suburban Handicap

11) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He is 2-for-2 in 2016. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A (Estimate from Stephen Foster projected out: 2:01.53)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Hard Aces – Still competitive as a 6 year-old. 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.

Career: 32 Starts 8-6-5-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 7th>2nd–>3rd
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


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Songbird – Songbird drops out of my rankings, not due to performance reasons, but due to the fact that her ownership no plans to race her against the boys this year. Right now, she is being pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff this fall. She is expected to be an entry in the 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th. A great performance in that race may change their minds but it appears to be highly unlikely. The good news, they do plan on her racing next year. And if she performs well, they will probably take a shot at the boys somewhere along the way. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

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

July 23rd – San Diego Handicap – Del Mar – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $200,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational* – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
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
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

2016 Suburban Handicap Preview and Race Analysis

Kelso – Suburban Handicap Winner 1961

July 8th 2016 – UPDATED 7/9/16

Coming this Saturday afternoon on NBC are two very intriguing races in the Suburban Handicap and the “Win You’re In” Belmont Oaks featuring the young filly turf star Catch a Glimpse. She beat the boys in her last start in the Penn Mile and that field included Kentucky Derby runner Oscar Nominated. NBC’s Saturday race coverage at Belmont Park spans and hour and half from 3:30 PM to 5 PM CST.

The Suburban Handicap was inaugurated in 1884 and has been won by some of greatest thoroughbreds in the history of the sport such as Kelso, Dr Fagar, Forego and Tom Fool. This year’s Suburban Handicap offers a $500, 000 purse and has the most depth of older division horse race run this year outside of the Dubai World Cup.

It features a match-up between 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Runner-up Effinex and the 2016 Dubai World Cup Runner-up in Mubtaahij. Other notable entries include Noble Bird (winner of last year’s Stephen Foster Handicap and this year’s Pimlico Special with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure), Shaman Ghost (winner of last year’s Queen’s Plate Stakes and this year’s Brooklyn Invitational), Eagle who is an extremely consistent horse who has hit the board in all 10 of his career starts at distances 1 1/16th mile or greater and Samraat a 2014 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runner.

The Suburban Handicap – 1 1/4th Mile – Race #9 at Belmont Park – Post-Time: 4:13 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Noble Bird (117) – Leparoux/Casse – 4-1  (SCRATCHED)
2. Mubtaahij (118) I.Ortiz/McLaughlin – 7-2
3. Shaman Ghost (120) – Rosario/Jerkins – 5-1
4. Eagle (119)Hernandez/Howard – 5-1
5. Effinex (122) – Smith/Jerkens – 5-2
6. Turco Bravo (116) – Castellano/Contessa – 20/1
7. Samraat (115) – J.Ortuz/Violette – 12-1
8. Tapin Mojo (109) – Franco/Chatterpaul – 50/1

Handicapping Advice: Remember in 2014 when a $2 Superfecta in the Suburban Handicap paid out $94,277? It is not going to happen this year. That was an 11 horse field. This one is an 8 horse field with no promising longshots. So I wouldn’t plunk down big money on this race as I don’t expect very big payouts across the board. There is really no clear-cut race favorite that you can depend upon. I think as many as four horses have the potential to win this race (Effinex, Mubtaahij, Eagle and Shaman Ghost). I hit a 50 cent Superfecta in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita a few weeks ago that paid out $945.15. That was due to the 24-1 longshot Win the Space hitting the board in 2nd place. As I said earlier, I don’t like the longshots in this race.

**Noble Bird was scratched and expected to be a pacesetter in this race.

Effinex is coming off a disappointing 6th place finish 3 weeks ago in the Stephen Foster Handicap. This was in part due to getting out of the gates poorly and getting shuffled wide. He also had a different jockey in Gary Stevens and Mike Smith seems to have better chemistry with trainer Jimmy Jerkins’ temperamental horse.

Mubtaahij has been enigmatic throughout his career but picks up Kiaran McLaughlin as a trainer for his US campaign. He finished 2nd in the Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome, narrowly edging out Hoppertunity who finished 3rd. This was a 2000 Meter race which is 38 feet shorter than 1 1/4 mile. If Hoppertunity had another 38 feet to work with, I feel he would finished 2nd and Mubtaahij 3rd. See below

Shaman Ghost has hit the board in each of his last 7 starts and is coming off a convincing win and a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 99 obtained in the Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont Park (shown below). Could he be prime for a breakout race? He is the son of Ghostzapper, the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner who was an extremely fast late-bloomer whose celerity produced some of the most eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures ever recorded. The jury is still out if this 4 year-old colt is a chip off the old blocks but his sire started turning heads at the end of his 3 year-old campaign in sprint races.

Samraat is a smallish horse who finished 5th in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. But historically his best distance has been 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile). 

Eagle has never raced further than 1 1/8th mile but I have little concern that he can go the distance. He is by far the most consistent horse in this field but he is somewhat like Hoppertunity–extremely consistent but rarely hits the wire first. I will note that Eagle has finished ahead of Noble Bird in 2 races this year already–the Ben Ali and Alysheba Stakes

And finally Turco Bravo and Tapin Mojo. They are 20-1 and 50-1 for a reason. Turco Bravo is a 7 year old Gelding who seems to like a mile and a half distance. Tapin Mojo hasn’t raced in a year and I feel that he  really needed a prep race before tackling this deep of a field.

Summary: Effinex gets reunited with jockey Mike Smith, so I expect Effinex to be back on form. Whether it is good enough to win, we will see. Mubtaahij is coming off a significant layoff and it takes a couple races for him to hit his stride. Could this race be the one where “The Eagle has landed?” Quite possibly. However, Effinex is the type of horse that as soon as you give up on him, he bounces back like he did in the Oaklawn Handicap to beat new rival Melatonin whom he lost to in the Santa Anita Handicap. Effinex likes the Belmont. Mike Smith is the best jockey in this race.

If I had to guess the exact finishing order in this race based upon talent, recent performance history and where these horses are in training, I think they would finish like this: 1) Effinex, 2) Eagle, 3) Shaman Ghost, 4) Mubtaahij, 5) Samraat, 6) Turco Bravo and 7) Tapin Mojo.

Right now, I like a 50 cent Superfecta 3,4,5 over, 2,3,4,5 over 2,3,4,5,7 over 2,3,6,7 which would cost $32.50.

–Michael

Melatonin Wins The Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Standings

MelatoninBigCap

June 26th 2016

Back in March when I attended the Santa Anita Handicap, there was some grumbling how this year’s Big ‘Cap had a dearth of talent since many of the top horses had traveled to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup. Then the 16-1 longshot Melatonin won the prestigious race and a number of bystanders groaned “Melatonin?”

Let’s just say, the lines for returning winning tickets that afternoon was rather short. But nobody is saying “Melatonin?” today or feeling shorted by their Big ‘Cap attendance because you can make a strong case that Melatonin is top horse in the world on dirt at the Classic distance of a a mile and a quarter. Why?

First, Melatonin’s winning Gold Cup time of 1:59.79 (shown below) is a time that California Chrome has never eclipsed at that distance. The only active horse who has produced a better time through 1 1/4 mile is Beholder who whose winning time in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last August was 1:59.77. And Melatonin didn’t have the mild, near perfect San Diego weather to run in. He ran in extreme 90 degree heat yesterday at Santa Anita Park.

Secondly, Melatonin has consistently produced three 100+ Beyer Speed figures in a row: 107 in the Santa Anita Handicap, 104 in the Oaklawn Handicap and a 109 for his Gold Cup winning performance. That is a 106.67 average and only two other horses thus far this year (Noble Bird 110, Mexikoma 107) have produced a 107 or better Beyer in races more than a mile.

So this explains why he rocketed up from 9th to 3rd in my Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings below.

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is training extremely well and is expected to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  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  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. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>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. 

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 (107.5 average Beyer)
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 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) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 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

5) Songbird – Undefeated in 8 career starts. Songbird missed the Kentucky Oaks due to a fever but proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th. It appears her schedule after this will be the 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th and the 1 1/16th mile Cotillion Stakes at PARX on September 17th. An entry in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff entry seems more likely this year than The Classic.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

6) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
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

7) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th. But since he excels on a sloppy, off-track, I would love to see him entered in a turf race because usually these type of horses make great turf runners. And his closer style would fit well there too.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 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

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back.  He had Gary Stevens as his jockey in the Stephen Foster but Mike Smith seems to have more magic on him.

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Win the Space  He has bounced between dirt and turf and finally has found a home on dirt. His 2nd place Gold Cup performance proved that this 4 year-old colt was a diamond in the rough and is extremely talented. He produced a 2 minute mile and a quarter (very uncommon) and did so in 90 degree heat. In his start previous to the Gold Cup, he produced a lightning quick 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16th mile) time of 1:41.55 as a closer. But in the Gold Cup race, Gary Stevens pressed him up on the pace and it paid off. So he proved that he is versatile in running style as well as fast. No word as to where his next start will be. 

Career: 11 Starts 3-1-2-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 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) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th. He’ll be the race favorite in that field.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

11) 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. No word on when or where his next start will be.

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

12) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He is 2-for-2 in 2016. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A (Estimate from Stephen Foster projected out: 2:01.53)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes


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

July 9th – Suburban Handicap# – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000 – NBC
July 23rd – San Diego Handicap – Del Mar – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $200,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational* – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
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
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
#- 4 year olds and up


–Michael

Updated Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

June 19th 2016

Bradester became the first horse to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his surprise win in the Stephen Foster Handicap yesterday (shown below).

Coming this Saturday is another “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park. This race will be shown live on NBC Sports Network with coverage starting at 7PM CST. Rumored entries are: Melatonin, Hard Aces, Imperative and Second Summer. The 2016 Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin should be the race favorite.

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

June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 9th – Suburban Handicap – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
*****
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is rumored to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  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
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  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. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>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
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Songbird Now undefeated in 8 career starts, Songbird proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and unfortunately wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

5) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. She is the only horse in this group to have won with a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
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
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

6) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

7) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. No word on when or where his next start will be.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back. 

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He should be the race favorite for the upcoming Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

11) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic as noted above. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career:23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>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) Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner drops out of my Top 12 due to the fact that he hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos and his next start is rumored to be in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

Noble Bird – After an impressive win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), Noble Bird followed up this effort with a disappointing 6th place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap. Although he qualified for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, he still hasn’t raced at the Classic 1 1/4 mile distance.

Career: 16 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>1st–>6th
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes

–Michael

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

May 25th 2016

With the Breeders’ Cup Classic “Win and You’re In” challenge races starting in less then 4 weeks, it is time to look ahead to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders. I expect this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to be the deepest in talent thus far. This is largely due to the creation of the $12 million dollar Pegasus World Cup scheduled in January of 2017 that will keep many of the top thoroughbreds in action. Below are my Top 12 Contender Rankings and the “Win and You’re In” race schedule.

June 18th – Stephen Foster Handicap – Churchill Downs – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $500,000
June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 31st – The Haskell Invitational– Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $5,000,000

Here are my Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  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: 2:01.57 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. She was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. Otherwise she would have been 2nd favorite in that race behind American Pharoah and probably would have given him a great battle. She is the only horse in this group to have run a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes.

Career: 21 Starts 16-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 9
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
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
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner spiked a fever after his 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes and will not be entered into the Belmont Stakes. But his fever is gone and he is expected to make a full recovery after treatment with antibiotics. I generally feel that he would have won the Preakness on a dry, fast track. Unlike American Pharoah (Rebel Stakes) and Exaggerator (Santa Anita Derby) who both had experience racing in the slop before their sloppy Preakness Stakes races, Nyquist had never raced on a muddy or sloppy surface. And if you notice, he was somewhat reluctant to be loaded in the starting gate at Pimlico. Expect this 3 year-old, who already ranks in the top 50 all-time in race winnings, to bounce back.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Exaggerator Ranked by Longines as the 3rd best dirt racehorse in the world before his Preakness Stakes win, a win in the Belmont Stakes will likely move him to #2 behind California Chrome. He is my early Belmont Stakes race favorite.

Career: 11 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

5) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He followed up the performance with a win in the 2015 Clark Handicap, a disappointing 3rd place finish in the 2016 Santa Anita Derby and then a winning performance in the Oaklawn Handicap in April. The most recent Longines poll ranked him as the 11th best racehorse in the world and the 4th best on dirt.

Career: 22 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

6) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

7) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won a Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

8) Frosted The 2015 Penn Derby winner finished 7th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and then set a track record (1:56.67) for 1900 meter race at Meydan with his win in the Al Maktoum Challenge in February. He followed up this effort with a disappointing 5th place finish in the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 15 Starts 4-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 7th–>1st–>5th
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
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby

9) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

10) Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos. He has never finished below 4th in 10 career starts.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

11) Noble Bird With his win in the 2015 Stephen Foster Handicap, Noble Bird actually qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year but was not entered. With his most recent win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), he currently has the highest Beyer Speed Figure (110) of any horse thus far in 2016 (source). He will likely be entered in the Stephen Foster Handicap June 18th to defend his title.

Career: 15 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>8th–>1st
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special

12) Songbird Although her ownership has shied away from the thought of racing this electrifying filly against the boys thus far, I still have to find a place for her in my rankings. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same Keeneland track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. It appears that she will be entered into the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park on June 18th.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies


–Michael

2016 Dubai World Cup Preview – California Chrome is race favorite

March 23rd, 2016

The coming Saturday at Noon CST is the highly anticipated Dubai World Cup featuring California Chrome. 1st place pays out $6 Million dollars, 2nd place $2 Million, 3rd place $1 Million and 4th and 5th split the remaining $1 Million. The field also has five other American thoroughbreds: Frosted, Keen Ice, Hoppertunity, Mshawish and Candy Boy. Teletext is a Kentucky-bred horse who never raced in the US. Mubtaahij is an Irish horse who raced in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes finishing 8th and 4th respectively. Meydan racecourse doesn’t allow betting because all forms of gambling are illegal in the UAE. California Chrome was the consensus race favorite for all of the major online gambling websites.

Horses who have competed in previous year’s Dubai World Cups include California Chrome (2nd in 2014), Candy Boy (4th in 2015) and the Japanese horse Hokko Tarumae (5th in 2015, 16th in 2014).

The Irish horse Special Fighter won the 2000 Meter Al Maktoum Round 3 at Meyden back on March 5th with Gun Pit finishing 2nd, Mubtaahij 4th and Keen Ice finishing 7th. Frosted set a track record for the 1900 Meter Al Maktoum Round 2 on February 4th with Special Fighter finishing 6th in that race.

Dubai World Cup – 2000 Meters (approximately 1 1/4 mile) at Meydan Racecourse – Post Time: Saturday March 26 NOON CST

Post Position/Horse/Country/Jockey/Trainer/Rating

  1. Keen Ice (USA) – R. Moore/Romans – 120
  2. Mshawish (USA) – L. Dettori/Pletcher – 115
  3. Gun Pit (AUS) – J. Moreira/Fownes – 115
  4. Mubtaahij (IRE) – C Soumillon/De Kock – 119
  5. Special Fighter (IRE) – F. Jara/Muhairi – 119
  6. Candy Boy (USA) – P. Dobbs/Watson – 115
  7. Vadamos (FR) – V. Cheminaud/Fabre – 113
  8. Hokko Tarumae (JAP) – H. Miyuki/Nishiura – 116
  9. Frosted (USA) – W. Buick/McLaughlin – 120
  10. Hoppertunity (USA) – F. Prat/Baffert – 116
  11. California Chrome (USA) – V. Espinoza/Sherman – 121
  12. Teletext (USA) – S. De Souza/Harabi – 113

Commentary:  This is a difficult race to handicap because big races at Meydan often have surprise winners. That being said, I think this race should come down to California Chrome, Frosted and Special Fighter for the win. Hoppertunity has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race and is coming off a win in the 1 1/8th mile San Antonio Stakes.

Keen Ice is capable of hitting the board and likes this distance. However, he has had disappointing 6th and 7th place finishes in his last two starts. He finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mshawish is coming off a win in the 1 1/8th mile Donn Handicap back on February 4th and has turf race experience at Meydan. I think he is better suited for races 1 1/8th mile or less.

–Michael

 

Belmont Stakes Preview & Triple Crown Anticipation


The final leg of the Triple Crown will be the Belmont Stakes this Saturday June 6th. Post time will be 5:50PM CST and the race will be aired on NBC. Below are the post positions and morning line odds.

1 Mubtaahij – 10-1  Jockey I. Ortiz/Trainer de Kock
2 Tale of Verve – 15-1  Jockey Stevens/Trainer Stewart
3 Madefromlucky – 12-1  Jockey Castellano/Trainer Pletcher
4 Frammento – 30-1  Jockey Smith/Trainer Zito
5 American Pharoah – 3-5  Jockey Espinoza/Trainer Baffert
6 Frosted – 5-1  Jockey Rosario/Trainer McLaughlin
7 Keen Ice – 20-1  Jockey Desormeaux/Trainer Romans
8 Materiality – 6-1  Jockey Velazquez/Trainer Pletcher

Who do I like to win? Although history is not on American Pharoah’s side, his chances are better than one would think. Even though the last 13 Triple Crown contenders failed to win the Belmont Stakes, 11 out of 30 horses who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and competed in the Belmont Stakes, won the race to complete the Triple Crown. That is a percentage of 36.7%. The average finish of all 30 horses was 2.43, so that is essentially 2nd or 3rd finish.

The only horse in this field that I feel is capable of beating American Pharoah is Frosted but I think American Pharoah will prevail. But never count out a Todd Pletcher horse and Materiality is his best horse for this race.

At 3/5 odds for American Pharoah, a $2 bet will only pay $3.20. I expect the live odds to be about 3/5 or 4/5 at post time. I think a 5-6 straight Exacta would be a good bet for this race.

As far as Trifecta betting, 5-6-ALL. That is 5 over 6 over 1,2,3,4,7 & 8. This $10 Trifecta will cost $60. For Superfecta betting, I would do a Superfecta wheel keying American Pharoah to win with the field and hope that some high odds horses finish in the money.

Another bet to consider if you want to hedge your bets and potentially get a huge payout if the unexpected occurs, is placing a 10-Cent Superfecta using the entire field. A 10-Cent bet using the 8 horse field would cost $168. You are guaranteed to get some of that money back and you could get real lucky like in 2002 when the Belmont Stakes paid out $145,334 for a $2 bet. If this was applied as a 10-Cent bet it would pay back $7,266.

–Michael