11-02-2011, 04:04 AM
Time to bet some horsies this weekend. Am I alone? Picks? (PlayadelWes, have you started looking yet?) I'm gonna start diving into to it today. Unfortunately http://www.DRF.com hasn't offered the FREE Past Performances for the BC races yet, but I think they will by tonight or tomorrow. When they do I'll link them.
Here are the ones from Equibase, but I don't like their formatting nearly as much as Daily Racing Form.
It's a year where the star power isn't much, but I hope that means for wide-open affairs and plenty of long shots. The star of the whole series of races is probably Goldikova. She is going for her 4th consecutive win in the BC Mile. Like Zenyatta last year, she's beaten and taken on the boys.
Races start at 4PM EST on ESPN2 on Friday.
And then 2-4PM EST on ABC Saturday, and 4PM-7PM on ESPN
The $5Million Classic goes at 7PM Sat.
11-06-2011, 03:51 AM
Longshot plays today- A few of them:
Juvenile Turf- #5 Wrote. Probably around 10-1
Turf Sprint- #5 Great Attack. Could be anywhere between 20-1 and 40-1. My swing for the fences acroos the board play today.
Breeder's Cup Classic- #3 Drosslemeyer... should be around 15-1
Good luck to anyone playing today. Races are on ABC 2PM-4PM EST, and ESPN after that.
I worked overnight Friday into Saturday and stayed up all day to watch the races and some of that damn foosbal... Couldn't make it even into the 2nd quarter of LSU-'Bama before falling asleep lol (sounds like I missed out on a defensive slugfest). Anyway, I had $20win and $10 place on Drosslemeyer. So that was almost another $400 win.
It was a pretty damn good day. For a little over $300 in bets I cashed out with almost $900 in winnings. And could've had more if a couple exactas went my way. Hope you guys playing had some good luck as well
ad48L6OkDbc The stretch run of Drosslemeyer in the Classic. He was way behind the lead pack early, but when they got to the top of the stretch, and he had caught the lead pack, I was screaming at the TV for him to rally! :)
10-29-2015, 04:11 AM
I'm sure y'all are getting ready for Halloween fun time on Saturday. But it's also Breeders' Cup Day (and Friday too). I made a little beginner's guide for the Breeders' Cup Classic. It's America's richest horse race and American Pharoah's last race before he retires to go make a bunch of fast babies. Good luck if you're playing the races this weekend.
Breeders’ Cup Classic: Beginners Guide.
This piece is a beginner’s guide. Later this week I’ll post my picks and why I’m choosing each particular horse. But there are a lot of ways you can go in this race, and this guide will hopefully give you some useful info to make up your own mind on who you think will win.
The point of this is to give you an UNBIASED (as much as possible) look at each of the 10 runners in this year’s Classic field. It will show positives and negatives for each horse in the field, so YOU can make your most educated decision on who you’d like to pick to win America’s richest horse race. This field has a lot of quality to it, so you should have many viable options to choose from. Good luck with all of your plays this weekend!
Any questions or comments feel free to tweet/follow me on Twitter @pmayjr
To make sure we have the basics set: The race is run at 1 ¼ Miles. That’s the same as the distance of the Kentucky Derby. It’s the first time the Breeders’ Cup has ever been held at Keeneland in Lexington, KY. The race goes off at 5:35PM EST. The odds posted next to the horse are their morning line odds. It’s a prediction of what their odds probably will be at post time. They’re not always accurate, but it’s to give you a general idea of what they could be.
A few of these horses have raced against each other multiple times, but there are still some things which will make the outcome of this race hard to predict:
-We have a European invader in Gleneagles who has never run on dirt before and never run further than a mile in any of his career races.
-We have the dominant mare #10 Beholder who has only raced against the boys one other time.
-American Pharoah, Frosted and Keen Ice have only ran against 3 year olds, so how will they handle older competition for the first time?
I’m analyzing each horse based on their post position, 1-10. I’ll start with #1 Tonalist and end with #10 Beholder.
#1 TONALIST (6-1)
He has been a solid performer since foiling California Chrome’s bid for a Triple Crown in last year’s Belmont Stakes. He has some good things going for him which make him a big threat, but there are also some reasons for concern.
• 14 career starts, 12 top-3 finishes (6 wins). Has never finished worse than 5th in any race.
• 5 starts at the Classic distance: 2 wins, a 2nd and a 3rd.
• If the rain continues into the weekend, he has won both his starts over wet/muddy/sloppy tracks (including his last race in the Jockey Club Gold Cup)
• Won his last race, also at 1 ¼ miles in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont
• He beat Classic challenger #6 Effinex by 11 lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
• Has a very nice closing style. He’ll be towards the back of the pack in the early stages of the race but should be flying home late.
• This is his 2nd race off almost a 2-month layoff, so he should be plenty fit for the race.
• Trainer Christophe Clement does very well keeping his horses in good enough form to win these major races: He wins with a solid 20% of his horses 2nd-off the layoff, 22% of his horses who won their last start, and 19% of his participants in graded stakes races. These percentages definitely inspire trust that he’ll have his horse ready.
• This will be Tonalist’s 5th consecutive start with hall of fame jockey John Velasquez aboard
• Both #6 Effinex and #9 Honor Code have beaten him recently. Honor Code beat him in back-to-back races in the Grade 1 Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day and in the Grade 1 Whitney at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on August 8th. Effinex beat him by a head in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 4th.
• The loss to Effinex can be looked at negatively, but there is an excuse attached to it. What’s very bothersome about the loss is he had every chance to pass Effinex throughout the stretch, but Effinex outlasted Tonalist all the way to the wire. The one excuse Tonalist had, was he was giving up 6 LBs to Effinex in that race. Everyone’s assigned weight is equal in the Classic.
• The horse has run (and has been stabled) primarily in New York for all of his races. He has also raced at Gulfstream in Florida before, but was stabled there for the winter. The one time where he shipped to a different track for the short-term purpose of running in a race, was for last year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic at Santa Anita in Southern California. It was his worst career result, finishing a distant 5th. Granted the top 4 horses in that race offered probably the stiffest competition he had ever faced (controversial winner Bayern, California Chrome, Euro Invader Toast of New York and previously-unbeaten Shared Belief). He just had a work at Belmont on Saturday the 24th, so how will he handle this short-term ship to Kentucky?
• The thing that makes his running style so effective is having a hot pace to chase. He might not get much of a pace duel to run at, as a good chunk of this field likes to lay back early like Tonalist does.
#2 KEEN ICE (12-1)
The slogan for the Breeders’ Cup is “the best is yet to come”. That statement has the potential to be pretty fitting for Keen Ice. Keen Ice seems to be developing in the same fashion as 2013 Travers winner/Breeders’ Cup Classic 2nd-place finisher Will Take Charge. Will Take Charge participated in Kentucky Derby prep races at age 3, and all 3 of the Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont) in the spring/early summer. He frankly was a non-factor in most of those races. But starting in late July, and rolling all the way through the Breeders’ Cup, it’s like the light-switch turned “ON”. He finished 1st or 2nd in his last 5 races that year (the aforementioned Travers/Breeders’ Cup Classic results a part of that 5-race run).
Keen Ice seems to be on the same path. This 3-year old colt by Curlin (who won the 2007 Breeder’s Cup Classic) raced 5 times between January and the Belmont Stakes on June 6th. He never finished better than 3rd in any of those races. He was only able to compete in the Kentucky Derby after other horses dropped out (he finished a distant 8th in the Derby). #4 American Pharoah, #3 Frosted and the other top 3 year olds had easily beaten him. But as I’m about to explain below, his light-switch also has seemed to turn “ON” since early August. The question that remains to be answered- is his recent success an aberration, or like with Will Take Charge, can he build on it going forward? Trying to answer this question makes him one of the bigger risk/reward horses in this race.
• Keen Ice has raced twice since finishing a distant 3rd to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes: He finished a fast-closing 2nd to American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on August 2nd going 1 1/8 miles. Then he pretty-much shocked the world by beating American Pharoah (and Frosted too) in the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga going 1 ¼ miles on August 29th. So his last 2 races, both against top competition: a win and a 2nd. This is a new and improved Keen Ice.
• In addition to the point above, his last 3 races he’s finished in the top 3, and the Travers win gives him a win at the Breeder’s Cup Classic distance.
• He’ll be ridden by solid New York-based jockey Irad Oriz Jr. Although Oritz is based in New York, he’s come into Keeneland to ride 8 times during the current fall race meet. So the rider at least has familiarity with the track’s surface/quirks.
• In past races, he’s been a deep closer, and poses a strong late-closing kick. But he showed something new in winning the Travers last race: he sat much closer to the lead than he had in the past. Throughout the race he was only 3-5 lengths behind the front-runners. That stalking style kept him close enough to eventually close in and steal the Travers from American Pharoah in the final furlong. Will be interesting to see if that same style is employed again for the Classic. Either way, he should have plenty of closing kick late.
• Trainer Dale Romans elected to rest him after the Travers win, and only started steadily working him earlier this month. So the horse should be plenty fresh/rested for his return to the races.
• The horse is based at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. So he’s not shipping in from a different state/country like other participants in this race.
• He’s only raced against 3 Year Olds. This will be his first start vs older horses. How will he handle the increased competition?
• American Pharoah and Frosted have both beaten him 3 times. And not just beaten him, but by open lengths. But those happened in the spring/early summer. So there is a slightly positive spin to all the dust Keen Ice has eaten from those 2 horses.
• He was a fast-closing 2nd in the Haskell, but the only reason for that was he was the best of the rest and Pharoah was coasting home after opening up a dominant lead. So how close really was Keen Ice in that race?
• Trainer Dale Romans is a great trainer who’s won some of the biggest races all over the world. So it’s tough to question any of his training methods. But electing to give Keen Ice a 2-month break instead of getting another race into him after the Travers doesn’t exactly jive with Romans’ percentages with horses coming off 2+-month layoffs. He only wins with 8% of his horses racing off that long of a break. What it boils down to, as fresh/rested as Keen Ice will be for this race, will he also be rusty?
• Jockey Javier Castellano piloted him to the Travers win, but chose to ride #9 Honor Code in this race. Does he feel his chances of winning are better with Honor Code?
• Keen Ice only has 2 career wins (from 11 starts). Granted, he picked the right time to get hot, but at the end of the day he’s rarely been able to close the deal.
#3 FROSTED (15-1)
For a horse that has never finished worse than 4th in his 12-race career, and won a $1 Million dollar race in his last start, he seems to be coming into this race a little bit under the radar. Some of the reasons are warranted, some aren’t. For the all the success he’s had, he still needs to show he can take that “next step” to be a major threat here. But there are plenty of reasons to believe he’s capable of doing so.
• 12 career starts: 10 top-3 finishes (3 wins). Never finished worse than 4th in a race.
• In his last race he won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx going 1 1/8 miles on September 19th.
• He has a nice stalking style that leaves him usually 3-4 lengths off the lead early in the race, but still has a nice closing kick when he pounces on the front-runners.
• He finished a disappointing distant 3rd in the Travers, but that was without the services of regular jockey Joel Rosario. Rosario returned to ride him to the PA Derby victory, and rides him again today.
• Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has had a really good year overall, winning an amazing 26% of his races! At the current Keeneland fall meet, he’s won a whopping 44% of his races (4 wins from 9 starts)! He wins with 25% of his horses that won their last race. So he knows how to keep horses in good form, and has seemed to figure out the best way to win at Keeneland.
• He’s beaten #2 Keen Ice 3 times this year, and has done so in easy fashion.
• He’s only raced against 3 Year Olds. This will be his first start vs older horses. How will he handle the increased competition?
• #4 American Pharoah has easily beaten him 3 times. Frosted has given him some challenges, especially when he dueled with Pharoah for the lead in the Travers. But Pharoah has bested him every time. This is where Frosted needs to show he can improve.
• Not only did Pharoah beat him in the Travers, but #2 Keen Ice turned the tables on both of them in winning the Travers. As where Frosted was tiring late in the race, Keen Ice was closing strong. So a horse that Frosted has been able to beat all year, all of a sudden might be the better horse. Was the monster effort from Keen Ice a fluke or a sign of things to come?
• 2 races at the Breeder’s Cup Classic distance: 3rd where he was tiring late in the Travers on August 29th, and a fast-closing 4th in the Kentucky Derby. Can he handle running this far?
• The Pennsylvania Derby win was a step in the right direction after the Travers disappointment, but the caliber of competition in the race was much softer. This field will be much tougher.
#4 American Pharoah (6-5)
Pharoah has been nearly invincible the entirety of his racing career, and it’s been a pleasure to watch. He won the first Triple Crown in 37 years this year. He did it against a crop of 3 year-olds that “on paper” was probably about the best in about a decade going into the Kentucky Derby. #2 Keen Ice shockingly rising up and beating him in the Travers shows a small chink in the armor, but there are plenty of signs that a big rebound is in store for his final career race.
• 10 career starts: 8 wins, and a 2nd. 3 starts at the classic distance: 2 wins and a 2nd.
• He has a front-running style, where he’s been able to overcome early pressure from others to still be the best from gate to wire. The dream scenario for a front-running horse? When he’s the lone speed. That way he can run up front with little/no pressure and slow things down. Slowing the pace down should conserve more energy for the stretch run. On paper, it looks like that “dream scenario” could play out here. There doesn’t really seem to be any other front-running types in this race to threaten him early on. Bayern was the lone speed last year and same for Fort Larned in 2012. They both ended up winning the Classic.
• He has easily beaten #2 Keen Ice and #3 Frosted 3 times each.
• Although he lost his last race, finishing 2nd to Keen Ice in the Travers on August 29th, he ran huge in defeat. Frosted pressured him for the lead throughout the race. He ended up putting Frosted away and opened up a lead in the stretch before Keen Ice came flying late to steal away the win.
• Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert seems to have Pharoah cranked and ready. The horse has been working extremely sharp since late September, and Baffert wins with 25% of his Graded Stakes runners.
• The horse is based/trains in Southern California. Yet in all 7 of his starts this year he has shipped east to run. The horse has repeatedly proven that shipping doesn’t negatively impact his performance.
• He’s only raced against 3 Year Olds. This will be his first start vs older horses. How will he handle the increased competition?
• In the Travers loss, he was pressured for the lead. But he and Frosted didn’t set a blazing pace in that race. It was slow enough that he should’ve been able to conserve enough energy for a strong finish. But Keen Ice was still able to reel him in. It does make me wonder whether he’s the lone speed or another horse pressures him early, if he can maintain his speed for 1 ¼ miles against the toughest field he’s ever run against?
#5 GLENEAGLES (20-1)
The biggest “unknown” in the race is the talented 3 year old European invader Gleneagles. What’s interesting are his mama and dad from a breeding perspective offer up contrasting opinions on his chances in this race. Owned by the Coolmores (Magnier, Tabor and Smith), they’ve been unbelievably close to taking this race down twice with similar turf horses that had never raced on dirt in their lives. But they’ve also had some clunkers.
• Gleneagles has a race record very similar to American Pharoah’s: 10 starts, 7 wins and a 3rd. Most of those wins came against the top 3-Year Olds in European Group 1 races.
• He’s by turf monster Galileo, out of a Storm Cat dam named You’resothrilling. You’resothrilling is a full sister to Breeders’ Cup Classic 2nd-place finisher, and premier sire Giant’s Causeway. So the horse is bred to run all day. The 1 ¼ distance from a breeding standpoint shouldn’t be an issue for this horse.
• The Coolmores and trainer Aiden O’Brien don’t ship their horses over here to take fliers. The horses always come over with intentions to win. They’ve won plenty of Breeder’s Cup races, and with the Classic specifically, they’ve been heartbreakingly close twice. In 2000, Giant’s Causeway (Gleneagle’s uncle lol) was in a thrilling stretch duel with 2-time Classic champ Tiznow, and came up just short to finish 2nd. In 2013, they were on the wrong end of another thrilling stretch duel when their horse Declaration of War and Mucho Macho Man battled all the way to the wire. Mucho Macho Man outlasted him, and in the final strides a hard-charging Will Take Charge (see my description on #2 Keen Ice to read more about him) passed him as well. It was a strong (but heart-breaking) 3rd-place finish for Declaration of War. So horses with no past dirt experience have run respectable over the surface for the Coolmores in the past.
• The horse gets 1st-time lasix. Horses in Europe can’t run on the substance. So when they ship here they are able to use it and a lot have improved efforts when they do.
• Although the horse was a non-competitive 6th in his last race, it was his first race in over 3 months. That race was a group 1 at Ascot, so that was a tough bunch to try and shake off the rust against. The race happened on October 17th. So for the Coolmores to ship him and turn him around on only 2 weeks rest, they must feel that he needed that race to get fit and tighten him up. And that he’ll be in peak condition 2nd-race off the layoff. I’m not saying their intentions weren’t to win a big Group 1 (same as Grade 1) race in Europe, but for them to turn around and run him again this quick: in hindsight they must be viewing it as a paid workout, and the horse must’ve come out of it ready to run another lap.
• He’s a horse that run towards the back of the pack in the early parts of races, and then comes with a furious rally to pass them late. If that closing kick translates to dirt he’ll be dangerous in the late stages of the race.
• Regular rider Ryan Moore also makes the trip from Europe to pilot today. He’s hasn’t won the Classic before, but has won 6 Breeders’ Cup races in the past.
• He’s the one horse in this race that has consistently run at this weight (126 LBs) and in a lot of races even heavier. And he seems to handle the added weight without much issue.
• That race 2 weeks ago was his first against older horses and he was a non-competitive 6th. He did have some excuses (listed above) for why didn’t run well. But it’s concerning that he’ll have to do that again on Saturday on a surface he’s never run on.
• He only ran 2 weeks ago. Combo that with shipping across the Atlantic to run. Is re fully rested to give his best effort? Once again vs older horses on an unfamiliar surface for the first time?
• So Uncle Giant’s Causeway was a success story for the Coolmores racing their turf stars in this race. GlenEagle’s daddy Galileo was a different story. He ran in the 2001 Classic, and finished a non-competitive 6th. It also happened when Coolmore raced So You Think in the 2011 Classic. Another non-competitive 6th. So will GlenEagles find success like his uncle? Or will he be a non-factor like his dad? As much success as the Coolmores have had, they’ve entered some clunkers as well.
• There’s this minor detail that Gleneagles has never run further than a mile. The breeding shows that there shouldn’t be distance limitations. But he still needs to actually show that he can do it. Why haven’t O’Brien/Coolmores tried stretching him out before today?
• Now that he is running this far for the first time, will he have the same closing running style, or will he be more towards the front in the early going? A lot of horses when they run a further distance for the first time, you see them more towards the front of the pack. Not knowing if he’ll be a closer at a longer distance or try to challenge a front-runner like American Pharoah is another mystery.
#6 EFFINEX (30-1)
Every time I think this horse is a cut under the “big dogs”, he steps up and runs a monster race to make me re-think my stance. It’s been a matter of consistency. When he’s at his best he can give this field a challenge. But trying to figure out when he’ll rise to the occasion has been the issue.
• In 11 starts since August 2014, he’s never finished worse than 4th. He has 6 wins from 18 career starts
• At the distance, he has 2 wins and a 3rd in 4 starts.
• He outlasted #1 Tonalist in gritty fashion to win the grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 4th at this distance.
• This race will be his 3rd start off a 2-month layoff (break), and horses are usually in peak condition for this situation.
• Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is pretty good at putting horses in races they can win. He wins with a very solid 20% of his graded stakes participants. He’s only had 6 runners in graded stakes that were going into the race as their 3rd race off a layoff: He’s won 3 of those 6 races. Dizzying geeky stat, but definitely a positive one.
• Gets the services of Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who’s won this race 3 times in the past.
• Effinex has a closing style like a lot of the other participants in this race, but he has one advantage over them: Versatility. He’s been able to sit at the back of the pack in races and make a big closing run to win. But he’s also consistently been able to run more of a stalking style where’s he’s only been 3-5 lengths off the lead early in races and can still swoop by the front-runners late. It will be interesting to see how/where in the race Smith chooses to settle him early on.
• If the surface comes up muddy/sloppy/wet on Saturday, the horse has 3 starts in those conditions: he’s never finished worse than 3rd (1 win).
• His last 2 races aren’t good enough to compete with this field. He finished a distant 3rd beaten 11 lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 3rd. The race before he was a non-competitive 4th in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga on September 5th.
• That Jockey Club Gold Cup loss was won by #1 Tonalist. So not only did Tonalist turn the tables on him, he did so in smashing style. That race was run in wet sloppy conditions, so as good as Effinex’s records on wet tracks has been, Tonalist still smoked him in those conditions last race.
• In that gritty win vs Tonalist in the Suburban, Effinex had a 6 LB weight break over Tonalist. The weights are equal for everyone today. Can he have the same success when saddled with the same weight as everyone else?
• He’s trained/based solely in New York. He’s only shipped to run a race outside of New York 1 time: where he finished a middling 4th in the Hawthorne Gold Cup last November in Chicago. So how will he handle shipping/running on an unfamiliar surface?
#7 SMOOTH ROLLER (15-1)
The most likely horse to pressure American Pharoah in the early part of the Classic is #7 Smooth Roller. Very little is known about him since he’s only run in 4 career races. But he’s certainly made the most of them. He’s handled every step up the class ladder thus far, but is he good enough to run with the “big dogs”?
• 4 career starts: 3 wins. His lone clunker was when he was fractious (wound up, didn’t want to load into the gate) at the starting gate and then stumbled coming out of the gate. He still finished 4th only beaten by 1 length after all that trouble.
• His last race very impressive. In the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on September 26th, he smashed the field by 5 lengths. That race featured last year’s Classic winner Bayern. And also easily took care of #8 Hard Aces, beating him by 11 lengths.
• He has a nice pressing/stalking running style which sits him right off of the front-runners in a race. This style should give him the first opportunity to attack the front-runners in the stretch.
• Jockey Tyler Baze rode him in his 3 wins (but not in the loss). He’s set to ride him again in the Classic.
• Although the horse has never raced as far as 1 ¼ miles before, breeding says he should be able to handle it. He’s by Hard Spun, who finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and the 2007 Breeder’s Cup Classic. He’s out of an Unbridled dam. Unbridled won the Derby and the Breeder’s Cup Classic in 1990.
• As impressive a victory as the Awesome Again Stakes was, who did he really beat? Bayern unfortunately isn’t the same horse that won the Classic last year, and was subsequently retired off that non-competitive performance. #8 Smooth Roller hasn’t been in good form recently. No other horse from that field is running in the Classic, nor has he raced against any of the other Classic competitors in past races. This is by far the deepest/best field he’s ever run against
• The horse is based/trains in Southern California. He’s never shipped out of Southern California to run a race before. How will he handle running out of state?
• Trainer Victor Garcia holds his own on the SoCal racing circuit. But this is his first “big time” super horse. Does he truly know how to prepare/condition/ship a horse for a race of this magnitude?
#8 Hard Aces (50-1)
This horse definitely has his work cut out for him to be competitive in this type of field. But rising to the occasion in the past is what qualified him to even run in this race.
• Hard Aces qualified to run in this race by winning the Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the Classic distance back on June 27th.
• Has 16 top-3 finishes in 25 career starts (6 wins)
• 3 races at Keeneland: a 2nd and 2 3rds
• Gets the services of leading SoCal circuit-based rider Joe Talamo
• Is a deep-closing type that should have plenty of run late in the race. If he gets a hot pace to run into, he could do some serious damage at big odds.
• Trained by SoCal heavyweight John Sadler, who has a hall of fame-worthy career and knows how to prepare his trainees for big races
• This will be the horse’s 3rd start off almost a 2-month layoff. Horses are usually in peak condition in this situation. Has a series of sharp workouts at Santa Anita in preparation for today.
• His last 2 races he’s finished 6th, losing by 11 and 14 lengths respectively. Those 2 losses were to #7 Smooth Roller and #10 Beholder.
• When comparing his Hollywood Gold Cup win to his other recent graded stakes efforts, it’s hard not to wonder if that Gold Cup win was an aberration. He needs to step back up to that level, and since then he hasn’t done so.
• For the success he’s had at Keeneland, he did it when Keeneland had a Polytrack (synthetic) surface. Keeneland switched back to a pure dirt surface to be able to host the Breeder’s Cup. So he’s never actually run on their current surface.
• As good as Sadler and Talamo have been, Sadler has never won a Breeder’s Cup race and both do most of their damage in Southern California. Keeneland is unfamiliar territory for both of them.
#9 HONOR CODE (6-1)
Honor Code has been so solid and consistent through his 10-race career, but there are still some questions that remain if he’s ready to succeed in a race of this magnitude.
• 10 career starts: 9 top-3 finishes with 6 wins. Has finished 1st or 2nd in 8 out of those 10 races.
• Has beaten #1 Tonalist twice, both in grade 1 stakes races.
• The furthest he’s run is 1 1/8 miles, but he won both of those races. It gives confidence that he can handle the added distance ok.
• Jockey Javier Castellano has ridden him in his last 9 races. He also rode Keen Ice when he beat American Pharoah in the Travers. It was his choice who he would pick to ride in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and he chose Honor Code. At least in his mind he thinks Honor Code has a better chance of winning than Keen Ice.
• This will be his 2nd race off almost a 2-month layoff. Trainer Shug McGuahey is pretty solid with these types of runner, winning with 17% of his 2nd-start off the layoff starters, and with 19% of his graded stakes starters.
• He’s been setting Belmont on fire with his workouts in the morning. He’s at 4 workouts since September 27th, and had the fastest work at the distance in 3 of those 4 workouts. Shug has him cranked up for the Classic.
• Has a deep closing running style. He’s been known to be far back in the early stages of a race but really knows how to mount a furious rally. Javier Castellano seems to do a very good job at timing those rallies well.
• He’s never run this far before. Although he’s had success at 1 1/8 miles, it’s a big challenge being able to run that extra 1/8 mile. A lot of successful horses at 1 1/8 miles hit a wall trying to run further. Added distance vs arguably the most talented field of runners he’s ever gone against are definite causes for concern.
• Can he close into a slow pace? The worst race of his career was when he finished 5th in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on May 1st at Churchill going 1 1/16 miles. The fractions in that race were pretty slow and he was unable to mount much of a rally because of it. If Castellano senses that the pace isn’t that hot, he might have to move Honor Code than he’s normally used to, or risk not being able to mount enough of a rally late.
• He was a distant 3rd in his last race, the 1 mile grade 1 Kelso Handicap at Belmont. The race was run in wet/sloppy conditions and Honor Code had a tough time mounting much of a rally. How will he handle a wet track if it rains on Saturday?
#10 BEHOLDER (3-1)
The dominant mare Beholder has mowed through the best fillies and mares in racing, so she’s taking a step up and trying to beat the boys for only the 2nd time in her career. There are plenty of signs that she can hold her own vs the toughest field she’s ever faced, but there are also some definite causes for concern. Race videos are readily available on youtube and at Breederscup.com for all of the race entrants. But if you’re to only watch one race, I’d highly suggest it be watching Beholder winning the Pacific Classic this year. The burst she showed in that race was beyond impressive!
• 20 Career starts, an astonishing 15 wins and 3 2nd-place finishes.
• 5 Starts in 2015: 5 Wins.
• The aforementioned Grade 1 Pacific Classic on August 22nd at Del Mar was the only time she’s run against the boys and the only time she’s run 1 ¼ miles. She romped in that race. Winning by an astonishing 8 lengths!
• Different track surfaces will yield different results and times, but she’s the only horse in this field to run 1 ¼ miles in under 2:00.
• She’s trainer by hall of famer Richard Mandella, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Pleasantly Perfect in 2003. Mandella wins with an impressive 25% of his horses that won their last race, and with 23% of his graded stakes runners.
• Her jockey is Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. Among the bazillion top races that Stevens has won over the course of his career, he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Mucho Macho Man in 2013.
• She seems to have taken a liking to the Keeneland surface. On Monday 10/26 she had a blazing fast workout over the track. She had the fastest workout at the distance that day. As opposed to the rest of the field having their final workouts away from Keeneland, it’s good that she gets an early feel for the surface.
• #8 Hard Aces was one of the horses she destroyed in the Pacific Classic
• Has a nice stalking style that sits her right off the front-runners in the early stages of a race. She’s shown the versatility to press the pace when it’s slower, or sit a little further back when the pace is hot (like it was in the Pacific Classic). Either way she always has plenty left in the gas tank turning for home. She’ll make it very difficult for the deep closers to catch her.
• The Pacific Classic is a prestigious Grade 1 race and the highlight of Del Mar’s summer race meet. It’s a lot of times used as a major prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately this year’s running looks pretty weak on paper. The only horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that also ran in the Pacific Classic is #8 Hard Aces. And his resume is flawed at this point. She also beat Bayern, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year. Unfortunately Bayern has been a shell of himself this year, and was retired recently after not winning a race this year. So as nice as it was that she beat the boys and did it at 1 ¼ miles, who did she beat? This field is much tougher than anything she’s ever gone against.
• She’s only raced outside of Southern California twice, and she lost both races. She was competitive in both of those races. She finished 2nd in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks to the monster filly Princess of Sylmar. The Princess went on to win a bunch of races that year, so it wasn’t a bad loss. Beholder ended up turning the tables on the Princess later in the year when she won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (ran at Santa Anita in SoCal). The next year she finished 4th in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont in New York. So even with the fast workout over the Keeneland surface, can she be as effective running there as she has been throughout her career in SoCal?