The time has finally come, the Classic is here. The Classic is the culmination of the marquee two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year the Breeders’ Cup has left the West Coast and moved to Keeneland. For the first time since 1978 we have a Triple Crown champion in the field but make no mistake about it, there is some real quality entering the starting gate for the Classic. Let’s take a look at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders, Picks, Betting | Keeneland. It’s is time for America’s richest race.
Update (11/29/15) Beholder has been scratched from the 2015 Classic due to irritated tissue in her lung. An unfortunate situation but she should make a full recovery. The betting recommendations at the bottom of the article have been updated to reflect the scratch. The body stayed intact.
Race: Classic (G1)
Location: Keeneland Race Course
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Date: Saturday, October 31, 2015
Post Time: 5:35 PM EST
TV Coverage: NBC 4:00 – 6:00 PM EST
|1||6-1||Tonalist||Velazquez||Comes in off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he defended his crown. He has been running exclusively in NY minus the 5th in last year's Classic in SA. Can win at his best.|
|2||12-1||Keen Ice||I Ortiz Jr||Has not run since upsetting AP in the Travers in August. Last three starts are impressive but only one win to show in 2015. Was the Travers a sign? He will need pace to run at and he will get it.|
|3||15-1||Frosted||Rosario||Ended a 4 race skid with win in the Penn Derby. Following same route (Travers-Penn-Classic) as Bayern and Will take Charge, both ran very well in the Classic. Hard to forget his past against AP this year but Rosario is back in the mount.|
|4||6-5||American Pharoah||Espinoza||Triple Crown winner comes back rested after losing to Keen Ice. Prior he won the Triple Crown and followed it with a Haskell win. He is the one to beat and the battle with the lady is what the crowd will want.|
|5||20-1||Gleneagles||Moore||Arguably Europe's best three-year-old. Was on a tremendous winning streak prior to a loss in the QE2. If you look for angles you can throw it out due to soft turf. Moore comes along to see if Keeneland is going to bode well. Tough spot for the first ever dirt start.|
|6||30-1||Effinex||Smith||Game runner but probably outclassed here. Finished 3rd to Tonalist in the Gold Cup. HOF on the mount but that will not be enough to hit the board here.|
|7||15-1||Smooth Roller||Baze||Why bring a four-year-old gelding with four lifetime starts to the Classic? Well when you come out and crush in the Awesome Again taking down last years Classic champ then you take a shot. He is either way over his head or the AA was a sign of big strides. I take the former.|
|8||50-1||Hard Aces||Talamo||Got in with a win in the Santa Anita Gold Cup in June. Since has laid two clunkers in the Pacific Classic and the Awesome Again. That’s not the way you want to enter the Classic.|
|9||6-1||Honor Code||Castellano||Impressive in wins in the Met and the Whitney. Knocked off the rust in the mile Kelso and now looks to take the down the best male and female in the land. AP Indy in him and he can do this.|
2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders, Picks, Betting | Keeneland Thoughts
American Pharoah is set to become the first Triple Crown winner to ever race in the Breeders’ Cup, due to the fact that the Breeders’ Cup did not begin until six years after Affirmed had won the Triple Crown (1984). The casual fan will be rooting for him to ride off into the sunset as the Classic champion but is that a lock?
There are factors at play here that are even challenging for a Triple Crown champion. He did not have a prep for the race and is coming off a two month layoff since he was upset in the Travers Stakes by Keen Ice. He has also never run a race on the Keeneland surface and more so will be facing older horses for the first time. The question is whether those concerns make you want to take a short price at the gate.
The reality is, if you look on paper, American Pharoah is the controlling speed in the Classic. But do not be surprised if Smooth Roller or another in this field change tactics and go with him into the first turn. His recent work shows that Keeneland should not be a problem, especially since he is yet to find a surface that bothers him. The layoff should not be an overwhelming concern since he has shown that is a nonfactor to him but the older horses could make things a bit dicey.
Much like American Pharoah, Honor Code will be making the final start of a great career. While there are many in this race of talent, Honor Code is the best closer in this race. You can look back to recent starts in the Whitney and Met to see that. But for him there are two concerns. First, he has never tried a mile and a quarter before and second; he needs a pace to run at. The latter brings the fine lady into question.
Beholder, who is looking to become the first horse to win three different Breeders’ Cup races, will go a long way in deciding the finish of the Classic. She is without a doubt, the Champion Female of 2015 and is merely waiting for the coronation. You can expect her to be one of two or three horses that are the closest to American Pharoah. When she moves and whether she decides to press will go a long way in deciding this race.
If she waits for the stretch to go then there is a good chance those two will battle to the wire. If she goes at the beginning of the turn or midway into the far turn then that could very well burn them both enough to open the door for a quality closer or two to win the Classic. This is the race everyone wants though, Beholder against American Pharoah; a battle of epic proportions. If she upends him in the Classic she might have done enough to become the Horse of the Year and steal that title from a Triple Crown champion.
If they wear each other down then Honor Code will lick his chops and in a average sized field, should be able to come. Keen Ice will be coming as well. He played “chase daddy” all year and he kept getting closer to American Pharoah before he finally got him in the Travers. Was that more of American Pharoah finally getting tired, Keen Ice finally maturing, or a combination of both? I take the latter.
Tonalist is coming into the Classic in great form, defending his Jockey Club Gold Cup title and Frosted was joined by Joel Rosario again the Penn Derby and came home in great form. Another interesting horse is Gleneagles. Gleneagles gets 20-1 on the morning line due to concerns. He is shipping across for the first career US start, he has never gone over a mile, and the pedigree says he belongs on turf. But what cannot be disputed are that Ryan Moore is an exceptional rider with a great track record and that Gleneagles is one of, if not the best, horse In Europe at this time. He bears watching on the toe board.
Breeders’ Cup Classic Sleeper: (5) Gleneagles M/L 20-1
2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders, Picks, Betting | Keeneland How To Spend You Cash
Below is how I would play $20 and $50 at the 2015 Classic. Keep in mind there is an eye to value here. As always, if you have to scrounge up to find $5 or $10 for the race I would pass and just watch. Pay the bills and enjoy the day. Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun.
|$1 Exacta Box||3 with 4 with 5 with 9|
|$1 Trifecta Key||9 with 3,4,5|
|$1 Exacta Box||3 with 4 with 5 with 9|
|$1 Trifecta||5,9 with 1,3,4,5,9|
|$.10 Superfecta||4,5,9 with 1,3,4,5,9|