This is a really solid edition of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and I don’t think you can necessarily just pick one or two horses and key on them as you could in the last two editions when Arrogate and Gun Runner were clear standouts.
I’ll use a number of different horses in my Breeders’ Cup Classic bets, keying on these five in some order:
- West Coast: Despite his 5/1 ML price, I feel like he’s coming into the Breeders’ Cup slightly under the radar. He ran a sneaky nice race in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita – his first race since the Dubai World Cup – and all reports out of the Baffert camp are he came out of that race fit and ready to go and his most recent workout was eye-catching. He’s only finished out of the Exacta one time in 12 races and he should get a really nice stalking trip from just behind the pacesetters.
- Mind Your Biscuits: What a cool horse. It’s almost hard to believe that, prior to the Whitney on August 4, he’d never raced around two turns. It’s amazing how a second-place performance behind a very ‘loose on the lead’ Diversify in the Whitney and a win in the Lukas Classic here at Churchill can change things. He’s been stabled at Churchill for more than a month and if they go too fast early, he’s the horse to have on your ticket.
- Pavel: You always need to include a bomb on your Breeders’ Cup tickets and Pavel is my longshot. I don’t consider it to be coincidence that his best race of year – and his only career Grade 1 win – came on the track here at Churchill. He likes racing beneath the twin spires and, like Mind Your Biscuits, this race has the ability to fall back into his lap. He may not have the talent to win this, but he does have the talent to blow up your Trifecta.
- Accelerate: Between his lackluster win in the Awesome Again, his outside draw and trainer John Sadler’s tough record in both the Breeders’ Cup (0-for-41 into this year) and shipping away from California, I know and understand that a lot of handicappers are down on Accelerate. But there’s a difference between being down on a horse’s chances and tossing that horse entirely. Accelerate has done too much good this season to ignore him and I still project him to run a big race. It may not be as good of a race as his 12 1/2-length Pacific Classic score, but it’s hard to envision him imploding.
- Catholic Boy: A new running style and a switch to Javier Castellano has rekindled Catholic Boy’s penchant for winning races and his 4-length Travers score indicated that this horse is at the top of his game on dirt or turf. His inside draw is a bit of a concern and might force Castellano’s hand, but on the bright side the horses directly inside and outside of him (Roaring Lion, Gunnevera and Lone Sailor) have no speed whatsoever, so that should ensure him a forward trip.
Pace is going to be a key factor in this year’s Classic and my bets are going to hinge on horses that are extremely versatile. None of the horses I listed ‘need’ the lead, but each is capable of winning from a stalking or midpack position.
How will this year’s Classic play out? Only time will tell, but if West Coast, Mind Your Biscuits, Pavel, Accelerate and Catholic Boy are on your tickets, I think you’ll be in for a good day.