The time has finally come, the Classic is here. The Classic is the culmination of the marquee two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Santa Anita is once again the home for the global phenomenon. The Classic runs for a purse of $5 million and is considered by many to be the defining moment in international horse racing. Mucho Macho Man won the event in thrilling fashion last year but has since been retired. In fact, the Classic could be considered by some to be more wide open than ever given the number of defections for varying reasons. Unless of course you love Shared Belief. There will be more on that situation later.
Race: Classic (G1)
Location: Santa Anita Park
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Date: Saturday, November 1, 2014
Post Time: 5:35 PT
TV Coverage: NBC Sports Network 3:30 Pm EST, NBC 8 PM EST
|1||30-1||Prayer for Relief||Ortiz||Hasn't been out west since 2012 and last run at SA was the SA Handicap where he came home 12th. Granted he has matured since then but is winless since last Dec. Does have two 3rds in last three but finished behind a few in this field. Like that he grinds but I cannot fathom a way he comes home on top.|
|2||12-1||Cigar Street||Velazquez||Poor guy cannot seem to stay healthy. Ran a big race in the Homecoming Classic and winner of the Skip Away (G3) last year. Has the build to handle this race, if healthy, and another on the third off a layoff cycle. Will need to step up his game but it is not impossible.|
|3||30-1||Imperative||Dettori||Last win came at the Charles Town Classic (G2) in April but did beat quality in the race. Already making a tiny living finishing behind SB. Also couldn't get the job done in the Gold Cup (G1) behind Majestic Harbor. Another one I think is better suited for G2 competitions and appears over his head here.|
|4||20-1||Moreno||Castellano||Adds a new jockey after unfortunate incident with Maragh. Graded Stakes runners last win came at the Whitney (G1). Last California start was in last years BC Classic where he finished 10th. O-for-4 at a 1 1/4. Will battle Bayern up front and not sure the class keeps him on the board.|
|5||20-1||V.E. Day||Talamo||Here is the late bloomer of the crop. Very sound run in the Curlin and winner (as predicted) at the Travers (G1) coming from off the pace. Came back last out in the Jockey Gold Cup (G1) and ran fifth in a very odd circumstance including Wicked Strong unseating the rider. If you can throw out the last and believe he can travel well then his running style should help in a likely Classic pace duel assuming a fair track. Don't ignore.|
|6||9-5||Shared Belief||Smith||The clear favorite for the Classic. SB has never lost and it wasn't for misfortune early, just might have a Triple Crown win or two. Regardless, SB is perfect lifetime and recently captured the Awesome Again (G1), Pacific Classic (G1) and CashCall Futurity (G1). Won over the surface already. Due to misfire or just that good? Hard to not love him.|
|7||6-1||Bayern||Garcia||When on his game he is great. Winner of the Woody Stephens (G2), Haskell (G1) and set track record last out in Penn Derby (G2). He was allowed to get away at a nice pace in the Penn but not sure that will happen again with Moreno in the field. The West Coast speed lies with him. Formidable if on, but when off he is way off.|
|8||15-1||Zivo||Lezcano||Never been out of New York but ran an impressive second, with trouble, in the Jockey Gold Cup (G1) to Tonalist. Won the Suburban Handicap (G2) three back. Can he travel west? Does he really "belong?" We will see soon enough but do not discount.|
|9||12-1||Toast of New York||Spencer||Two US starts with one on the East Coast in the Belmont Derby (G1) where he came home 6th. Last out, on the West Coast, he finished a game second to SB at the Pacific Classic (G1). Finished well after a less than perfect trip. Can he run on dirt? Distance is not an issue and if he can handle the surface then he is lightly raced and third off the layoff. Interesting at a price.|
|10||30-1||Footbridge||Bejarano||Finished 3rd last out against SB in the Awesome Again (G1). Loves the Santa Anita track with a 3-2-2 line in eight starts. Keeps on the steady trajectory of improvement and might shock some folks if everything, and I mean everything, goes right. Keep him on your exotics radar.|
|11||5-1||Tonalist||Rosario||A very nice horse who has wins in the Peter Pan (G2), Belmont Stakes (G1) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Broken his maiden earlier this year but has not left New York since a runner-up in February. Never traveled out west so that is a factor. Will probably go off as the second or third choice. Ability is there for the son of Tapit. Absolute contender.|
|12||20-1||Candy Boy||Nakatani||Has not won since the Robert Lewis Stakes (G2) back in February. Finished behind many of these in his last starts. Has a late kick but that kick never seem to get to the top. A clear horse to hit the board but at a win, I just don't see it. Probably better with G2 company in the long run.|
|13||4-1||California Chrome||Espinoza||The talk of the town earlier in the year with wins in the SA Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1), and the Preakness Stakes (G1). Finished 4th in the Belmont losing the Triple Crown. Rested but returned in Penn Derby (G2) to finish 4th. Has pedigree and second off a layoff over a track he loves. Working well. Eliminate at your own risk.|
|14||20-1||Majestic Harbor||Baze||Six year old earned the spot in the starting gate with a "Win and Your In" victory in the Gold Cup (G1). 4th last out in the Awesome Again (G1) and 6th to many in the field at the Pacific Classic (G1) two back. Only two wins in 2014 and both have come at Santa Anita. Can the horse for the course really step forward against these? You will get a price.|
|AE||Big Cazanova||Trujillo||Not really sure what to make of him. I was not a fan until an Allowance win at Del Mar but then when you have the lead in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and are nudged to go then nothing happens, maybe his ceiling is just at a lower level. I just can't back him, I will let him beat me.|
Breakdown and Betting
Many of the top horses in the world will not be present to run the Classic making for a more interesting race than many would have predicted a few months ago. Last year’s champ, Mucho Macho Man, has been retired. The same can be said for fan favorite Game On Dude, who will spend the rest of his years at Old Friends Farm in Kentucky. Gone from racing is Will Take Charge and will enjoy life as a stud at Three Chimneys.
Palace Malice, after the starting the year on fire, has been retired after the Whitney. Interesting note there is the “situation” with Princess of Sylmar, might have prompted the move. All canoodling aside, don’t be shocked if Palace Malice does return again someday. Wicked Strong is being rested and pointed to 2015 after he clipped heels at the Jockey Gold Cup. So who is left? Have no fear, there are a couple here to still steal the spotlight and emotion of fans.
Obviously the horse of the hour, day, week, or even last few months is Shared Belief. If it was not for an injury you might be looking at Triple Crown race winner challenging for a Breeders’ Cup Classic title. But for those of us in the horse world, we know that the season is not made with the Derby, Preakness and Belmont. In fact, things were just getting started. Shared Belief is undefeated and has been impressive in each and every race. He was dominant at two in the CashCall Futurity. Then came back after injury and dominated the Los Alamitos Derby and the Pacific Classic.
I have heard folks talk about how he could only nose Fed Biz in the Awesome Again but to me that was his most impressive race. Why? Shared Belief was floated four and five wide throughout the race. He traveled the farthest distance, by far, of any horse in the race. Meanwhile, Fed Biz ran the rail the whole race. Even with all that Shared Belief still came out on top. He is the favorite and deserves it.
But is there any horse in this field that could possibly take down the 7-0 lifetime stud? At his best, Bayern is a formidable contender. He dominated the Pennsylvania Derby, on a speed biased track, while setting the track record. He was also impressive gate-to-wire in the Haskell. There are two knocks against Bayern in my opinion. First, he will not get an uncontested lead in the Classic with the likes of Moreno and others. Secondly, he tends to throw a dud and when he is off he is way off. This is as likely to be a dud as a thriller this late in the year.
If not Bayern, then who? Contrary to popular belief, California Chrome is not done. To me this is all about a jockey. Yes I know he did not fire the way many expected in the Belmont and the Pennsylvania Derby. But consider this? What is the difference between those two and the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies? He was floated clear by Victor in the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies but in defeat he was on the rail and he was taking dirt. Clearly he does not respond to that. Victor should be removed from his saddle for life if he does not allow him wide form an outside post. He doesn’t need to be five wide but just needs clear sailing. He might not win but if he gets the trip he is still a factor.
If you are looking for a price there is a couple to be had. V.E. Day is M/L 20-1 and that is just ridiculous to me. Yes he threw a clunker last out but it was a race where Wicked Strong unseated the rider and circumstances hurt his chances. If you have it in you to throw that race out and look back to the Curlin and Travers then you can see a possibility. He will get a pace to run at here. Will he get there? It is hard to say but there is a chance. He has a better shot against these contenders than many seem to believe.
Finally, there is Cigar Street. He is a horse that has just not been able to stay healthy. The bonus to that is that he is lightly raced for a five year old and will be flying under the radar a bit due to a lack of big race moments. He is five for his last six including the Homecoming Classic and Skip Away. He has the size and the stride to compete and the distance will not be a problem. Don’t let him shock the world on you at probably 15-1 or better.
However, all this is predicated on a misstep by Shared Belief. If it does not happen then the rest are fighting an uphill battle.
Below is how I would play $20 and $50 at the 2014 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||2 with 5 with 6|
|$1 Trifecta Box||2 with 5 with 6|
|$4 Win/ Place||5|
|$2 Exacta Box||2 with 5 with 6|
|$ 1 Trifecta||2,5,6 with 2,5,6,13|
|$.10 Superfecta||5,6 with 2,5,6,9,13|
|$2 Win/ Place||2|
|$2 Win/ Place||5|
Breeders’ Cup Race Predictions
|Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff||Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile|
|Breeders’ Cup Classic||DraftKings Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint|
|Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint||Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf|
|Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf||Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile|
|Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint||The 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies|
|Breeders’ Cup Mile|