Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview – By John Pinder

Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

By John Pinder

This year’s Breeders’ Cup keynote race outcome can be determined by answering one question. Will any of the eight highly talented, well trained, world class equine athletes challenge Knicks Go for the lead within the first part of the race? If they don’t, it is a better use of our time to discuss the pageantry and prestige of our richest race in North America because, the probability becomes extremely weighted for the favorite to win. We have seen countless races where the fastest horse takes the lead and is allowed to cruise around the track at a rate very well within their comfort level and it’s a merry go round. While perhaps this is one scenario, there are a few others that I believe we, the value seeking horseplayers, should consider.

One of the main factors that makes this race interesting from a pace perspective is the confirmed running style of the other horses. Although Knicks Go is the fastest horse in the race, one of his main competitors prefers to be on the lead as well. Medina Spirit, has proven that he is a warrior when he is allowed to trailblaze from the front. After being narrowly defeated in his last two Kentucky Derby prep races, team Baffert has allowed him to go to the lead and we have seen the determination and grit the horse has shown since. Winning three of his last four, including the crown jewel of the triple crown, the Kentucky Derby. With Medina Spirit being drawn to outside of Knicks Go, it should give hall of fame jockey John Velazquez the opportunity to do what he does extremely well, put his horse in a good position to win; what he decides to do and how he does it will be a major factor in this race key to this one.

Projecting a solid pace up front will help the chances of Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie. HRC is ultra-competitive and is as game as they come. Since breaking his maiden, a little over a year ago, he has run in seven Graded stakes races. Winning three and even in defeat he has come in no less than two lengths behind the winner. If things get a heated between Knicks Go and Medina Spirit, HRC will be in a great position to take over the top spot. Essential Quality’s name really says it all. Essential Quality has a great combination of late pace and stamina; as evidenced by his performance in this year’s Belmont and Travers stakes. The distance won’t be an issue and the faster the boys go in front of him, the higher the likelihood of this Godolphin owned colt to find the winner’s circle.

There is an adage in horse racing that gets used a lot, “the pace makes the race”. Forgive me for adding more soil to the mountain that we just built, but there something to be said for things that stand the test of time. Four out of five previous Breeders’ Cup Classic winners were on or near the lead most of the race. The only exception was Vino Rosso who was able to close after unsustainable fractions continued. Another statistic that has held true, at least for the past five years, is that we have not seen a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner that was more than 5-1 at post time. All those things taken into consideration I think we can narrow down our selection to a handful of runners. Good Luck and have a fun and profitable Breeders’ Cup.

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