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

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November 2nd 2017  – Updated November 3rd 2017 5:15 PM CST

As many already know, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the last race of Arrogate’s career. The all-time leading money earner in North America with $17.3 Million in career earnings will be retired at the conclusion of the race. Will he go out victorious and ride off into the sunset? That’s the Six Million Dollar question. 

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 & 1/4th Mile – Race #12 at Del Mar – Saturday November 4th at 7:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC 

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Arrogate – Smithre/Baffert –2/1
2. War Decree – Heffernan/O’Brien – 30/1
3. Win the Space – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 30/1
4. War Story – J.Ortiz/Navarro – 30/1
5. Gun Runner – Geroux/Asmussen – 9/5
6. Mubtaahij – Van Dyke/Baffert – 12/1
7. Churchill – Moore/O’Brien  – 15/1
8. West Coast – Castellano/Baffert – 6/1
9. Gunnevera – Zayas/Sano – 30/1
10. Pavel – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20/1
11. Collected – Garcia/Baffert –6/1

Race Commentary: From research I have done for previous Breeders’ Cup Classic races, the consensus I came to is that a race winner really needed to have a career Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better for me to believe that they has a serious chance of winning. Why? Because the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner has raise their game and usually produces a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better.

Below is the Beyer Speed Figures for the last ten runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The average Beyer Speed Figure for this 10 year period was 113.8.

2016 – Arrogate (120)
2015 – American Pharoah (120)
2014 – Bayern (113)
2013 – Mucho Macho Man (112)
2012 – Fort Larned (117)
2011 – Drosselmeyer (104)
2010 – Blame (111)
2009 – Zenyatta (112)
2008 – Raven’s Pass (110)
2007 – Curlin (119)

With this in mind, here are profiles on the only three horses in this field who have eclipsed a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 during their career:

Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last two starts in the Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, he produced his two best career Beyer Speed Figures of 112 and 115. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. However, he has an ideal post-position (#5) in the starting gate.

Career: 17 Starts 10-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.76 (estimated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes

Collected* (6/1) – He’s a perfect 4 for 4 in 2017. His surprise win in the Pacific Classic answered any questions you might have had about his ability to stretch out to 10 furlongs. Unfortunately, he drew an outside post (#11) for this race. So he’ll have more traffic to deal with and a longer trip than he had with post-position #2 in the Pacific Classic.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.70 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

Arrogate (2/1) – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap and then by Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic. There is no doubt that his has lost some closing speed. Worst yet, he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. He will have to get out of the gate in good order in this race starting from post-position #1. If he does, he has the ability to wire the field if the Arrogate of old shows up. If not, he could get hemmed in along the rail.

Career: 10 Starts 7-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 119 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes

My Pick: Although I hope Arrogate wins, I like Gun Runner in this one. He is fast, consistent and has the better starting post in the middle of the starting gate. My feeling is that if Bob Baffert and his ownership group were confident that Arrogate was the Arrogate of late 2016 and early 2017, they wouldn’t announce early retirement before the richest horse race in the world–the Pegasus World Cup.

Collected is a talented horse but he had his own way in the Pacific Classic with a great starting position (post #2). This time he will have to come from the outside post. I just didn’t like that draw for him.

Update: The way front runners and favorites have been going down at Del Mar thus far, I’d stick with win bets on Gun Runner or Collected.

–Michael

Updated 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

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

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

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

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and now arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last two starts in the Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, he produced his two best career Beyer Speed Figures of 112 and 115. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 17 Starts 10-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.76 (estimated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes

2) Collected* (6/1) – He’s a perfect 4 for 4 in 2017. His surprise win in the Pacific Classic answered any questions you might have had about his ability to stretch out to 10 furlongs. – Next Start: The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.70 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

3) Arrogate (2/1) – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap and then by Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic. There is no doubt that his has lost some closing speed and he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. The most recent news is that the defending Pegasus World Cup champion won’t be defending his title. He will be retired after the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 10 Starts 7-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 119 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes

4) West Coast (6/1) – The recent winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (107 Beyer Speed Figure).  His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate last year (1:59.36). Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 8 Starts 6-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.19 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On the Docket…

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


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael

2017 FrontRunner Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes Previews

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September 29th 2017

Coming up tomorrow at Santa Anita Park are key two “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The FrontRunner Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and the Awesome Again Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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

The FrontRunner Stakes

1 & 1/16th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 6:03 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Zatter – Bejarano/Baffert – 5/2
2. Take the One O One – Talamo/Koriner – 15/1
3. Ayacara – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 10/1
4. Bolt d’Oro – Nakatani/Ruis – 2/1
5. City Plan – Van Dyke/Harty – 20/1
6. Texas Wedge – Roman/Miller – 6/1
7. Encumbered – Gutierrez/Callaghan – 8/1
8. Solomini – Prat/Baffert – 4/1
9. Continental Divide – Espinoza/Cassidy – 15/1

My Pick: I think this race comes down to Bolt d’Oro and the two Baffert entries. I like Bolt d’Oro for the win. With the unpredictability of 2-year-olds, I would make straight win bets on Bolt d’Oro and wouldn’t play trifectas or superfectas. The only exotic bet I would consider is an exacta keying Bolt d’Oro over Solomini and Zatter. That is 4 over 1,8.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.


The Awesome Again Stakes

1 & 1/8th Mile – Race #10 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 7:05 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Win the Space (122) – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 15/1
2. Dortmund (122) – Stevens/Sherman – 8/1  Scratched
3. Midnight Storm (122) – Baze/D’Amato – 3/1
4. Curlin Rules (122) – Prat/Sadler – 6/1
5. Breaking Lucky (122) – Smith/Baker – 5/1
6. Mubtaahij (122) – Van Dyke/Baffert – 4/1
7. Donworth (122) – Gutierez/O’Neill – 6/1
8. Cupid (126) – Bejarano/Baffert – 2/1

My Pick: Cupid is the only horse in this field coming off a win. He’s my race favorite and should have this field covered. As for exotics, this field is unpredictable and I would stick primarily with straight win bets on Cupid. Any of the remaining six horses could hit the board.


On the Docket…

My next blog will be an updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael

2016 Breeders Cup Classic Post-Positions, Odds and Analysis

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October 31st 2016 – Updated November 5th 2016

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic. Post-time for the race will be 7:35 PM CST and it will be aired on NBC. Found and Highland Reel, who were cross-entered into both the Breeders Cup Turf and Breeders Cup Classic, will opt for the Turf race. Nyquist was also entered in The Classic but developed a puffy ankle after an October 27th workout and was scratched. Consequently, he has been retired. Gun Runner was cross-entered in both the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile and the Breeders Cup Classic but will opt for the Dirt Mile. Shaman Ghost has been scratched.

Overall, I would recommend a 4-10 Boxed Exacta as I think the race will come down to California Chrome and Arrogate. Arrogate drew the outside post and will have to come across traffic. If Arrogate had an inside post and Chrome and outside post, I would pick Arrogate to win. Now I think it will be a toss-up but California Chrome will have to have the lead at the three-quarters pole if he expects to win.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Post-Positions & Odds

1) 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. 

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

2) 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 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. 

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

3) 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. 

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: Javier Castellano ( 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
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

4)  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. 

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

5) 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. 

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

6) 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. 

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

7) 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

8) 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. 

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: Irad Ortiz Jr/
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

9) 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. 

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

10) 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. 

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

–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

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

Upset Alert! 2016 San Diego Handicap Preview and Analysis

July 22nd 2016 – Updated July 23rd 2016 1 PM CST

When trainer Art Sherman pointed California Chrome for the San Diego Handicap a few months ago, he probably never envisioned the competition he would face for a prep race with a $200,000 purse. Not that $200,000 isn’t a nice chunk of change, but I don’t think California Chrome has raced for a smaller purse since early in his 3 year-old campaign in 2014. But this race isn’t about the dough, it’s about beating the best. The disheartening thing is, I feel rather strongly that the #1 ranked horse in the world on dirt will be upset in the San Diego Handicap this evening.

And before I delve into why, I want to use a slightly worn Obamaism and say LET ME BE CLEAR–California Chrome is the best horse in the world in active training on any surface. Longines came out with their most recent World’s Best Racehorse Rankings a few weeks back which you can see by clicking HERE.

Surprisingly in these rankings, a Japanese turf horse named “A Shin Hikari” (Gesundheit!) still ranked above California Chrome–the Dubai World Cup winner–after throwing a clunker 6th place finish in his last race in June at Ascot in the Prince of Wales Stakes. When I saw this, it was a true WTF moment as in What The Frankel? You’ve gotta be kidding me, were the voters heavy into their summer vacation and distracted when they cast their vote?

The San Diego Handicap will also feature the three Hall of Fame jockeys–Victor Espinoza, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens–and a future Hall of Famer in Martin Garcia on mounts in the same race. Specifically, Victor on Chrome,  Gary on Dortmund, Mike on Win the Space and Martin on Crittenden.

But as Clint Eastwood said in a scene from A Fistful of Dollars “Get three coffins ready.” <insert Vibraslap sound here> One is coming out on top in this shootout at the Turf by the Surf. And I don’t think it will be California Chrome.

So who are the real contenders? First, this race is 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile). Here are the three best times at this distance for horses in this field: California Chrome-1:40.59 (March 2014 in the San Felipe Stakes), Dortmund-1:40.86 (December 2014 in the Los Alamitos Futurity) and Win the Space-1:41.55 (May 2016 at Santa Anita).

Hard Aces and Soi Phet were scratched in favor of racing in Del Mar races on Sunday.

So here is my projected order of finish: 1) Dortmund (by a nose), 2) California Chrome, 3) Win the Space, 4) Follow Me Crev and 5) Crittenden.

Why do I think Dortmund will emerge victorious?

  1. Dortmund has never lost a race that was 1 1/8th mile or less. He’s 8 for 8.
  2. Dortmund drew the more favorable starting spot on the inside with post #2. Hard Aces (who drew the rail) was scratched in favor of running in the Cougar II. Now Dortmund will have plenty of room to work with along the rail and have to travel the least distance for the win. Not that it will be a huge advantage in a five horse field but every little bit helps.
  3. Dortmund will be carrying 5 pounds less than the California Chrome in this handicapped field. In theory, this is good for at least a one length advantage on Chrome. I am not a huge believer in the weight theory, but when you are trying to beat the World’s best, once again, every little bit helps.
  4. California Chrome is coming off a 4 month layoff vs Dortmund’s nearly 8 month layoff. Not much of a difference in the grand scheme.
  5. Dortmund was originally supposed to come back in late spring after suffering a slight quarter crack that kept him out of the Clark Handicap last December. However, trainer Bob Baffert said Dortmund wasn’t training well and so gave him more rest and pushed back his return date. Baffert is a great trainer and he knows what is a stake with this outstanding progeny of Big Brown. So if Baffert has entered Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap, be assured–he’s ready.
  6. Dortmund is a fighter, go back and review his battles with Firing Line in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis Stakes. And remember that Dortmund set a track record at Los Alamitos at this same 1 1/16th mile distance as a 2 year-old in the Los Al (see video below). He is now a well rested 4 year old with low miles. Do I have to remind you what Frosted did at the Met Mile last month? Dortmund finished ahead of Frosted in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

This is Dortmund’s distance and time to shine. Too bad this race won’t be viewed by a larger audience on NBC than on TVG. It will be an absolute shootout and must-see TV.

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds. Note that the morning line odds were changed due to the two scratches. California Chrome went from 4-5 to 3-5, Dortmund went from 2-1 to 7-5 and Win the Space went from 8-1 to 6-1.


San Diego Handicap – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #9 at Del Mar – Post-Time: Saturday July 23rd 8:03 PM CST

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

–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