Breeders’ Cup Photo ©
It’s rare to see a horse win a race as easily as Beholder won the Zenyatta Stakes, which was a picture-perfect prep given how hot it was at Santa Anita last Saturday. Incredibly, Beholder just now seems to be reaching the best form of her career, and if the Breeders’ Cup Classic were held tomorrow, I would pick Beholder to win.
2 American Pharoah
Dropping him to #2 is by no means a knock against him, and you can really consider him to be tied for the #1 spot with Beholder. He galloped ten furlongs at Santa Anita on October 1st, and according to a Santa Anita press release, he’s scheduled to breeze five furlongs at Santa Anita on October 4th.
He wrapped up his serious preparations for the Jockey Club Gold Cup by breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 1/5 on September 26th at Belmont, a workout that pleased trainer Christophe Clement: “I’m delighted with the horse. I think he’s doing great,” Clement was quoted as saying in an article on NYRA.com. “He’s strong. He loves it here. He’s been eating very well. He has been training very willingly and I’m happy with him.”
4 Honor Code
Regarding his start in the Kelso Handicap rather than the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Shug McGaughey explained in an article on NYRA.com that he was concerned the ten-furlong distance of the Gold Cup might take too much out of Honor Code: “I was looking for something that would jumpstart him and move him forward,” said McGaughey. “I was worried about the 1 ¼ [miles] in the [Jockey Club] Gold Cup taking a little bit out of him, and then I’d have to build him back up again. We’ll see if I’m right or wrong.”
5 Smooth Roller
In just the fourth start of his career, Smooth Roller went from a horse that finished fourth in a listed stakes to a grade I winner that could be a legitimate Breeders’ Cup Classic contender. By running the final three furlongs of the Awesome Again (gr. I) in a spectacular :35 4/5 seconds to win by more than five lengths–earning a 111 Beyer in the process–Smooth Roller has proven that he has the talent to win a major race, and I strongly feel that he could be an overlooked contender in the Classic.
6 Liam’s Map
He returned to the work tab on September 26th, breezing four furlongs in :49.49 over the Belmont training track. He arrived at Keeneland on September 30th and galloped over the main track there on October 1st, but no decision has been made yet on whether he will run in the Classic or the Dirt Mile.
He’s withstood a busy campaign remarkably well, running eight times in nine months this year while never receiving a meaningful break from training since he started his career last August. Remarkably, he seems to be thriving on his busy schedule, and his victory in the Pennsylvania Derby was arguably his best effort of the year. This bodes well for his chances in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he–like Smooth Roller–could be an overlooked contender at a big price.
8 Keen Ice
Trainer Dale Romans decided to give Keen Ice an easy week in the lead-up to the Classic, explaining that with so much time between the Travers and the Classic, a break be helpful for the colt. “He’s got a long ways to go,” Romans was quoted as saying in the Churchill Downs Barn Notes for September 26th. “Since we decided not to run him in between [the Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic], we’re going to give him an easy week this week and we’ll get him cranked out next week. We’ll probably just work every week up to the Breeders’ Cup.”
There hasn’t been much news about Gleneagles as of late, and with no races under his belt since June, it’s very hard to say what schedule he will take in the lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup. He remains eligible for both the QIPCO Champion Stakes (Eng-I) and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) on October 17th at Ascot, and either one could potentially mark his next start if the ground comes up firm enough.
He’s drawn post four in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where it is hoped that he will rebound after his sub-par showing in the Woodward last time out. He’s been somewhat unpredictable this year, bearing out on the final turn of the Brooklyn and acting up in the gate before the Woodward, but trainer Jimmy Jerkens knows that Effinex won’t have any trouble with the distance of the Gold Cup: “He’s won at it twice so that’s got to mean something,” Jerkens was quoted as saying in an article on NYRA.com. “He’s kind of hard to figure out. I don’t why he did what he did the day he bolted and I don’t know why he acted the way he did in the gate. He keeps us guessing, but when he gets in that gate with the right frame of mind, he’s as good as any of them, that’s for sure.”