The biggest race of all at the Breeders' Cup is the big finale, the Breeders' Cup Classic. G1 winners galore, but best of all, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah versus the Irish 3yo mile star, Gleneagles.
Taking the reins is international racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @worldracingluke.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
Keeneland (United States of America)
Ground: Fast (Dirt)
Race 11 G1 3yo+ 2000m Dirt $5,000,000
Odds are Best Priced at Time of Writing
1 Tonalist (8/1) (United States of America): Model of consistency that never runs a bad race. Famous for being the victor of the 2014 G1 Belmont Stakes, California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid. Clear 2nd to Honor Code in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap in June and his latest G1 runs include a never nearer 3rd in the G1 Whitney Stakes and an absolute romp in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes for the 2nd year in a row. Got way too far back in this last year and absolutely stormed home for 5th, probably unlucky in a way not to win as we’re some. From post one he’ll be in the race with every chance and will be up there for sure and looks the safe value bet of the race Each-Way.
2 Keen Ice (14/1) (United States of America): Has the scalp of being the only horse to get home in front of American Pharoah as a 3YO. He achieved that in the G1 Travers Stakes last time coming off a suicide tempo, between Frosted and American Pharoah, and was the freshest and best horse to swamp them late on. Finished 3rd to American Pharoah in the G1 Belmont Stakes and ran him down well, mind you American Pharoah was absolutely unextended, in the G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park to two and a half lengths two starts back. Everything went absolutely perfectly right in the Travers and if he’s to win here he’ll need even more things to go right. But, saying that he should finish around midfield.
3 Frosted (16/1) (United States of America): Top horse who has won the G1 Wood Memorial Stakes and G2 Pennsylvania Derby this year and has run 4th to American Pharoah in the G1 Kentucky Derby and 2nd to him in the G1 Belmont Stakes. Two starts ago he declared war at American Pharoah, ridden to beat him by Jose Lezcano and got tired late to finish 3rd. A model of consistency that should run well as always.
4 American Pharoah (7/4) (United States of America): The horse of America that became the first horse to win the Triple Crown of the G1 Kentucky Derby, G1 Preakness Stakes and G1 Belmont Stakes in 37 years in freakish style. He produced arguably a career best performance in his first run back from the Triple Crown in the G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes and although he beat one of the lesser G1 field’s he’s faced, the ease he did it with was extraordinary. He suffered his first defeat this year in the G1 Travers Stakes last time when having a war with Frosted and even though he kept on, Keen Ice had too much freshness late on. He was entitled to get beat, which he did, but I don’t believe he was the same horse that day as he absolutely smashed Keen Ice in the Haskell, unextended with Keen Ice ridden hard, and then Keen Ice turned the tables on him. So although he was entitled to get beat in the Travers, there’s absolutely no doubt in my opinion that he wasn’t the same horse as what he had been running up to in his other runs this year. However, that was two months ago and he comes into this fresh, maybe too fresh however, so hopefully we can see the real American Pharoah one last time before he goes to stud and see him become the first horse ever to do the Grand Slam of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
5 Gleneagles (14/1) (Ireland): Clearly the question mark horse of the race considering he’s been the question mark horse of the year! Started off the year with an easy win at Newmarket in the G1 2000 Guineas on Good to Firm ground. He then got held up but he’s class was too much for his rivals when he got home by three quarters of a length in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas however there’s no doubt the Good to Yielding, Good to Soft, ground slowed him up a bit. He then easily won the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Good to Firm ground. Since then he’s been the mystery horse! Ballydoyle made the decision to miss the G1 Sussex Stakes, and a clash against Solow, because the ground too soft for him, which makes absolutely no sense at all as the ground was officially described as Good with no Soft in it anywhere. He then skipped the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois, due to the Very Soft ground, and was rerouted to the G1 Juddmonte International Stakes, against Golden Horn, three days later. He then missed this engagement due to the Good to Soft ground. He then again missed his next two engagements in the G1 Irish Champion Stakes, due to the Soft ground and the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Ballydoyle wanted to run at Leopardstown and under French rules you can’t have a horse confirmed for two races so they took him out of Longchamp however he wouldn’t have run anyhow cause the ground came up Very Soft! He’s first run back was in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day two weeks back on unsuitable Good to Soft ground where he disappointed finishing 6th of nine. He was first-up for four months against fit G1 opposition, such as Solow, so maybe that was the reason he went poor but certainly the ground made a difference. Ordinarily Aidan O’Brien didn’t want to run him but if he was going to the Breeders’ Cup, he wanted to get a run into him so he ran. So even though this is his first time over further than a mile he should run out 10f I’d imagine. However, how will he handle dirt clogs if he can’t handle soft turf clogs? And even ordinarily the Dirt must be a question for him, also especially if it rains likes it’s forecast too! Dirt races are run fast thought in the United States of America so maybe it will suit. I believe he’s the best horse in the race but there are question marks.
6 Effinex (66/1) (United States of America): Was able to take the scalp of Tonalist in the G2 Suburban Handicap in July and has since finished 4th in the G1 Woodward Stakes and an 11 and a half-length 3rd to Tonalist in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes. To be honest considering he did beat Tonalist narrowly only four months ago 66/1 is probably overs but either way it’s hard to see him winning.
7 Smooth Roller (16/1) (United States of America): Only making start five here but is already a G1 winner in the Awesome Again Stakes by five and a quarter lengths last time. Was 4th in a Conditions race the time before however he lost many lengths at the start after stumbling so forget it as 4th was a big performance. Had only won a Claimer by a nose and a Maiden before then. Easy G1 winner last time but before that he’d been running in very ordinary races compared to this. An ask.
8 Hard Aces (100/1) (United States of America): 4th to Shared Belief in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap in March and the G1 Santa Anita Gold Cup by a nose. 6th in the G1 Pacific Classic and G1 Awesome Again Stakes the last two times. 100/ probably overs but can’t seem him winning.
9 Honor Code (8/1) (United States of America): Top horse who went from last to first in the last three furlongs in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap beating Tonalist in June. Won the G1 Whitney Stakes two runs back and ran 3rd in the G2 Kelso Handicap over a mile last time as a lead-up for this over a more suitable trip lead-up wise, thought Shug McGaughey anyhow, so certainly read into the two G1 wins more than that. First time over 10f is a slight concern but you’d expect him to get it. Chance but biggest test.
A fantastic renewal of the Classic which in my humble opinion year in year out is the most exciting race of the year worldwide. In my almost three years of following racing globally, it is such a highly anticipated race and is always so exciting and full of action and drama. And this is one of the best and most enthralling renewals ever. It's been marred a bit with Beholder being scratched due to bleeding after trackwork. (4) American Pharoah is the horse of America winning the Triple Crown earlier this year. To be fair he’s probably the best horse in the race but being first-up for two months and coming into it off a defeat I’m happy to say 7/4 is unders in what is his toughest test and hugely competitive strong race. Either way, we see him for the final time so hopefully he can go out on the top and there’s no reason why he won’t. (1) Tonalist is a model of consistency and in my humble opinion should’ve won this race last year and you can expect him to run well. The controversial (5) Gleneagles has it all against him in ways but I’ll put him in for 3rd as he trys to give Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore a deserving Breeders’ Cup Classic and also Ryan Moore. (9) Honor Code, (3) Frosted, (2) Keen Ice are all very good but will need a bit of luck to be winning, (6) Effinex and (8) Hard Aces will need more luck.
(4) American Pharoah - (1) Tonalist - (5) Gleneagles - (9) Honor Code - (3) Frosted - (2) Keen Ice - (6) Effinex - (8) Hard Aces
(5) Gleneagles to Place.