This year’s edition of the $6 million dollar Breeders’ Cup Classic– the signature event of championship weekend, is shaping up as one of the most wide-open in recent memory. This is a result of what’s been a largely muddled season in the older male and 3-year-old dirt divisions.
It also means plenty will be on the line with regards to year-end Eclipse Awards in what should also be a very good betting race. That said, here’s a brief look at the eleven horse field:
#1 MATH WIZARD [ML 30-1] Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Despite sitting well off the dawdling pace of the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, this colt flashed a brilliant turn of foot to go from last to first in a flash. Faces older and tougher and only a modest move forward is projected.
#3 OWENDALE [ML 15-1] Jockey: Javier Castellano. Trainer: Brad Cox. Is actually getting better despite a pretty rigorous campaign. Beat down by CODE OF HONOR in the G1 Travers but came back to rout an easier field next out. Is in tough company here, and the lack of a swift and pressured pace doesn’t help him. But…
#4 WAR OF WILL [ML 20-1] Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. Trainer: Mark Casse. Gives his all every time out, unfortunately he is still one of the ‘B’ players from this year’s class of 3 year-olds. Was not able to out-sprint MATH WIZARD to the wire in that last race. Does have a pace advantage here, and if he returns to form…
#5 YOSHIDA [ ML 8-1] Jockey: Mike Smith. Trainer: Bill Mott. Will sit near the back and make one run with new rider- ‘Big Money Mike’. A certain board hitter but the assumed modest pace here may hamper his chances for a Win. Is best at 1 1/8 miles as the late kick flattens out a bit when going 1 1/4 miles. He is at his best off a break as is the case here.
#6 ELATE [ML 6-1] Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Trainer: Bill Mott. This very consistent mare who has never missed the Superfecta in 18 career starts will take her shot at the boys, on a very big stage. She has no recent race at 1 mile & 1/4, but does have a Win at 1 & 1/8 miles.
#7 HIGHER POWER [ML 6-1] Jockey: Flavien Prat. Trainer: John Sadler. Was that incredible G1 Pacific Classic Win against a very soft field a fluke or legit? Came back to reality in the G1 Awesome Again Stakes and stumbled at the start but was no match for the top 2 finishers. Naturally, regressed off that career top performance in the Pacific Classic. Moves forward off his last out, but will it be enough?
#8 MCKINZIE [ML 3-1] Jockey: Joel Rosario. Trainer: Bob Baffert. Is advantaged by the pace set up and new rider- Rosario, will have him up on the pace. Pace/presser types regularly Win at Santa Anita. The only question is his ability to excel at 1 1/4 miles against this level of competition.
#9 MONGOLIAN GROOM [ML 12-1] Jockey: Abel Cedillo. Trainer: Enebish Ganbat. Gets a pace advantage here and did soundly defeat MCKINZIE last out in the G1 Awesome Again Stakes benefiting from the perfect slow-early/fast-late trip and a questionable ride on MCKINZIE. His 9th race without a break, no move forward is projected.
#10 VINO ROSSO [ML 4-1] Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Is finally living up to his earlier hype. Huge effort last time out resulting in a career top. Been working sensationally up to this. Offers plenty of upside in just his third start since May. Is advantaged by the modest pace set up and race flow here. Offers value, and easily gets the 1 1/4 miles distance.
#11 CODE OF HONOR [ML 4-1] Jockey: John Velazquez. Trainer: Shug McGaughey. Without a doubt, has emerged as the top 3 year-old in training and a Win here would seal the deal on an Eclipse Award. Is an off-the-pace type facing a soft pace but owns a quick turn of foot to overcome that set up. As witnessed in the G1 Travers Stakes (much to the delight of DRB ) has a late punch.
Unlike in last year’s Classic, the pace here projects to be below par and with modest pressure so the advantage will go to pace/presser type of runners which has been the prevailing style of a Win profile when this race is run (10 times) on the Santa Anita dirt surface.
The Daily Racing Blog believes that #10 VINO ROSSO has finally come into his own as a four year-old, and should offer some Value if he is anywhere near 3 or 4-1 Post Time odds. We also feel that #8 MCKINZIE will vie for the top spot as well, but will be bet down considerably from his Morning Line 3-1. Our live long-shots are #3 OWENDALE, and #5 YOSHIDA.
Our initial play will be a Trifecta Key using the #8 & 10 with 3-5-6-7-11. So the ticket will read; 8-10 with 3-5-6-7-8-10-11 with 3-5-6-8-10-11. If, come Post Time it appears no Value can be had with that particular wager we’ll use our long-shots on top of the same group; 3-5 with 3-5-6-7-8-10-11 with 3-5-6-7-8-10-11. We’ll also do and Exacta Box with the 3-5-8-10, with Win bets on #3-5-6-7.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.