Breeders Cup: A look at the Classic

By The Rex Factor

There will only be a maximum of nine horses on Breeders Cup headed to the post on Saturday in the world’s most prestigious race. This bodes well for the morning-line and sentimental favorite, American Pharoah (4). The Triple Crown winner undoubtedly benefits from the champion mare being sidelined by an illness. That said, he will have stiff opposition coming from all corners in his final race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Tonalist (1) beat solid competition and was impressive in doing so in the Belmont slop as a repeat winner in New York. He will be one of the elders that American Pharoah is facing for the first (and last) time. Tonalist is listed at 4-to-1 in the morning, and that will go down with the scratch of the stout mare Beholder (10). He has finished behind Honor Code (9) in two of their last four starts together, but at 8 and 9 furlongs, those were almost surely better for Honor Code. Christophe Clement is 0-for-26 in Breeders’ Cup races; it’s hard to put Tonalist on top with these things opposing him.

Frosted (3) set things up for the late close of Keen Ice (2) in Saratoga’s Travers Stakes, yet at the end, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin bemused that aggressive jockey Joel Lezacano (riding as a substitute for Joel Rosario, who is back in the saddle today) was too close to the Triple Crown winner and set it up for Keen Ice to steal it late. It was American Pharoah’s first loss, and it came because he didn’t control the pace.

All that said, an argument can be made that a truly great horse would have outlasted Frosted, then put away Keen Ice. A potentially-tired American Pharoah didn’t do that. If you believe in Keen Ice, you can get a good price; he opened 12-to-1 in the morning. That price has the potential to rise with the defection of Beholder, however – unless one of the other candidates decides to run up front with the Triple Crown winner and literally render themselves out of the race, no one is going to stay with him on the fractions he’ll set and escape alive.

 

Please read our latest article, Breeders’ Cup Preview – Thirteen of the Best Annual Horse Races on the Planet.

What to know: Race 11 on the card; it’s the last of the nine Saturday Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland

Post time: 5:35 p.m. EDT

Purse: $5 million

Distance: 1 1/4 miles

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