Keeler Johnson’s Breeders Cup Classic Rankings: 7-1-15

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders Cup Classic Rankings: 7-1-15

1 American Pharoah
The Triple Crown champion returned to the work tab on June 29th at Santa Anita, breezing three furlongs in :36.40. Given that he’s already back in serious training and apparently looking great, he should be ready to run by early August, with the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park being the most likely target.

2 Tonalist
He’s scheduled to run this Saturday in the ten-furlong Suburban Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, a race that seems made-to-order for the 2014 Belmont Stakes winner. He’s expected to face a quality field of rivals, but the distance and track should play in his favor, and we should be able to get a clear-cut idea of how he’s progressing as he makes his first start of the year beyond a mile in distance.

3 California Chrome
With the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at Sandown off the agenda, California Chrome is not expected to run again until the Arlington Million, which should allow him ample time to recover from the foot bruise he suffered while preparing for the Prince of Wales’s. However, until he returns to the U.S. and resumes regular training, there won’t be much to discuss.

4 Lea
In his first workout since his runner-up effort in the Whitney, Lea went a haf-mile in a bullet :48.33 over the training track at Saratoga, a sharp work that signals he has bounced out of the race very well. Chances are, his next start will come in the August 8th Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga, where he will get a rematch with Stephen Foster winner Noble Bird.

5 Noble Bird
As a son of Birdstone out of a Tiznow mare, it seems very likely that Noble Bird will be able to handle the distance of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is always a positive. He hasn’t turned in a workout since winning the Stephen Foster, but that’s not very surprising since he’s not expected to run again until the Whitney.

6 Bayern
He hasn’t run well in two starts this year, but he certainly continues to show good form in the mornings, most recently breezing a half-mile in a blazing :46.60 on June 22nd at Santa Anita. He’ll need to rebound in a big way next time out to prove that he can still produce a big effort in the afternoon, but I’m confident he’ll do just that.

7 Dortmund
With only two workouts under his belt since the Preakness, he wasn’t entered in Saturday’s Los Alamitos Derby, which raises question about when the Santa Anita Derby winner will be back in action. If American Pharoah runs in the Haskell, will Dortmund run in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga or the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Mountaineer? Or will he aim for a quicker comeback, perhaps in the July 18th Indiana Derby (gr. II)?

8 Frosted
The son of Tapit hasn’t been back on the work tab since his runner-up effort in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but with the Travers (gr. I) as his primary summer goal, he’s still got plenty of time to get ready.

9 Hoppertunity
He stepped up in a big way off his third-place effort in the Stephen Foster to finish second by just a nose in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) last Saturday. Given how much ground he lost while racing wide–especially compared to the victorious Hard Aces–I think it’s fair to forgive his modest final time an so-so Beyer speed figure of 98. His proven ability to travel and win outside of California is a positive, and I think we’re going to see some good things from this colt in the future.

10 Hard Aces
The John Sadler-trained son of Hard Spun impressed with an 8-1 upset victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, rallying from last place (and more than 16 lengths off the pace) to win by a nose over Hoppertunity, but he received a great ground-saving trip while closing into a fast pace, and might not get such a good setup in the future. However, it’s impossible to deny that Hard Aces has improved a lot this year, and if he continues to progress, he should be a force to reckon with throughout the summer and fall.

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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4 Comments on "Keeler Johnson’s Breeders Cup Classic Rankings: 7-1-15"

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If American Pharoah wins the Haskell, and maybe one other race prior to the Breeders Cup, is he going to start scaring away the competition? Having a Triple Crown winner in the Breeders Cup is going to be amazing!

kevin bayley

Lurking just below your top ten should be Red Vine. He hasn’t been trying the big stakes just yet but I believe he has the talent in him to compete with much better horses. It appears he can rate behind the speed, and has push-button acceleration. 5 yr old by Candy Ride. Thoughts? – kevin bayley, the Bayley Racing Form.