Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 7-16-15

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 7-16-15

1 American Pharoah
His third workout since the Belmont was his longest and quickest so far, as he went five furlongs in a sharp :59 1/5 that was the second-fastest of 57 morning workouts at that distance. His racing schedule after the Haskell remains uncertain, but it is expected that the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) are the two most likely targets.

2 Tonalist
It’s interesting to note that while Tonalist has a reputation as one of the best ten-furlong horses in the country, he’s actually only 1-for-4 at that distance, his lone win coming in the 2014 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) over his favorite track. It’s going to be very interesting to see how he handles Saratoga in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I), as he will need to prove himself to be more than a Belmont Park specialist if he is going to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

3 Lea
Based on his workout patterns, I was expecting to see him breeze on July 14th, but he didn’t post a workout that day and has been absent over the next two days as well. There’s still plenty of time for him to get ready for the Whitney, but the unexpected gap in his workout schedule is a bit concerning.

4 Noble Bird
One week after returning to the work tab with an easy :49 2/5 half-mile breeze, Noble Bird rocketed five furlongs at Churchill Downs in a bullet :59 1/5 on July 11th. It will be very interesting to see if he can continue his progression in the Whitney next month, as he did take advantage of a speed-favoring track when holding off Lea in the Stephen Foster.

5 Bayern
In all honesty, I’m looking forward to his run in the San Diego Handicap more than just about any race this month. He turned in another bullet workout on July 12th at Santa Anita, going six furlongs in 1:12 2/5, and will hopefully take a big step forward in his first start around two turns this season.

6 Frosted
With Dortmund only in light training and Firing Line targeting a 2016 campaign, Frosted is arguably the second-best three-year-old in the country right now, and the son of Tapit breezed a half-mile in :47.84 at Saratoga on July 11th in preparation for his expected start in the August 1st Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II). The race is expected to draw a deep field, and Frosted will have to be sharp to win, but a strong effort should set him up for a peak effort in the Travers, where he might face American Pharoah.

7 Effinex
His race record already shows that he has no trouble handling ten furlongs, but he also has a strong pedigree backing him up. A son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, who has sired numerous graded stakes winners at ten furlongs and beyond, Effinex’s dam is What a Pear, a daughter of E Dubai that won three races (including two stakes) at a mile or longer.

8 Hoppertunity
He is expected to join his stablemate Bayern in the San Diego Handicap, with the Pacific Classic his next scheduled start after that. The older male division on the West Coast definitely lacks a leader right now, and given the way he stepped up to run second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I), Hoppertunity might be poised to assume that role.

9 Palace Malice
He breezed a half-mile at Saratoga on July 4th, but hasn’t been seen on the work tab since, which is a bit concerning. If he’s going to be ready to run during the Saratoga meet, he’s going to have to get back on a regular workout schedule, so hopefully, we’ll see him turn in another breeze soon.

10 Catch a Flight
He may have tired late while finishing third in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, but that was after racing relatively close to a blazing early pace, and there’s no shame in the fact that he lost by 1 1/4 lengths to a pair of deep-closers that rallied past him in the homestretch. With a better trip next time out, I think we’ll see him rebound in a big way.

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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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