Another horse racing season has come and gone again. This year was far less exciting than what 2015 brought us. We entered this year with the high hopes of a repeat Triple Crown for just the second time in the sports illustrious history. When the season started back in May, we had Nyquist, a 3-year-old who was undefeated and looked to be in the same tier as the great American Pharoah. That hope was rather short lived after he stumbled at the Preakness Stakes and lost to Exaggerator. It then looked like we were going to have an instant rivalry classic on our hands between Nyquist and Exaggerator much like the Red Sox and Yankees or Jets and Sharks. That hope was also short lived as Nyquist was unable to run in the Belmont Stakes due to an illness. Exaggerator himself failed to impress at the Belmont after he finished 11th out of 13th. As we turn to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, neither Nyquist or Exaggerator will run and we will be looking for another horse to shine.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is often regarded as premier horse race of the year. The race often features some of the best the sport has to offer. Unlike the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, there is no limit to the age of a horse. This race is a Weight for Age race and horses of all ages can enter the race. Qualifying for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is very similar to the Derby. There are a set of Grade I Stakes established by the Breeders’ Cup known as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. These races are a “Win and You’re In”. In addition to these races, horses can also qualify by a point system based on Graded Stakes wins, places, and shows. The race does not have a home and is hosted by a different track around the country every year. This year, Santa Anita Park plays host. The race is a mile and a quarter (same distance as the Kentucky Derby) and run on the dirt. The Classic allows a maximum of 14 entries and this year will feature 10 of the sports best.
The real question everyone will be asking though is, “Who should I put all my money on?”. In light of it being football season and everyone always concerned about their fantasy football lineups, I am going to take a page out of Mr. Matthew Berry’s book and give you my Love/Hate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This race is full of talent from top to bottom and looks to be an exciting one.
Horses I Love:
California Chrome (1/1) – I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this horse. This is a “bet your mortgage” kind of horse. Jockeyed by Victor Espinoza, these two look primed to win this race. Chrome and Espinoza are a perfect 6 for 6 this year and they have been dominant. In Chrome’s last two starts in the Awesome Again Stakes and Pacific Classic, he won by 2 1/4 lengths and 5 lengths. Both wins were gate to finish wins and were never really in doubt. Chrome was my favorite horse two years ago and I was crushed when he did not win the Triple Crown. I think he comes out in a big way on Saturday and shows the world again just how good of a horse he is.
Arrogate (5/2) – Arrogate is a 3-year-old colt trained by Bob Baffert. I have a soft spot for Bobby B and always pull for him in every race. So this is no surprise here that Arrogate makes my Love list. Arrogate has not been challenged often but he did run an impressive race at the Travers Stakes in August. Arrogate will be led by Mike Smith and will be looking for his 2nd Grade 1 Stakes race win in the past 3 months. Bob Baffert knows how to get his horses ready for this race having won a year ago with American Pharaoh and two years ago with Bayern. With Mike Smith atop Arrogate you have safe bet with putting this horse in the money.
Hoppertunity (15/1) – Hoppertunity is coming off a win at the Jockey Gold Cup and he will looking to beat California Chrome for the first time this year. Also, he’s a Baffert horse. You know the drill.
Horses I Hate:
Frosted (5/1) – Frosted is a 4-year-old horse that gave American Pharoah some of his toughest competition but in the end Frosted never had what it took to take down the champ. We saw Frosted run this race last year as well and he was well over matched finishing in 7th. He is currently 3rd in the favorites to win this race but I can’t trust him and I’m keeping him off my betting tickets.
Keen Ice (20/1) – Keen Ice is also a 4-year-old horse who we saw give American Pharoah fits last year. This horse is actually the only horse to have beaten Pharoah, which, to be honest, with you is the main reason I hate this horse. Keen Ice has barely been in the money since his win over Pharoah last year at the Travers and I don’t see that changing on Saturday.
The race is set to begin at 5:35pm P.T. You will want to make sure you are on-time otherwise you’ll risk missing the second fastest two minutes in sports.
And they’re off in the Breeders’ Cup…
Odds provided by Breeders’ Cup Online