Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 9-10-15

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 9-10-15

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

Triple Crown champ American Pharoah made a very special guest appearance between races on September 6th at Del Mar ©Benoit Photo
Triple Crown champ American Pharoah made a very special guest appearance between races on September 6th at Del Mar. © Benoit Photo

1 American Pharoah
He paraded at Del Mar on September 6th and is expected to ship to Santa Anita very soon to continue his training for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Apparently, there’s been some talk that he might run in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) if Parx shifts the date of the race from September 19th to September 26th, but this seems unlikely to happen.

2 Beholder
She returned to the work tab on September 5th at Del Mar, breezing three furlongs in :36 flat. Now that she’s officially targeting the September 26th Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) against fellow fillies and mares, it’s likely that she’ll have a fairly easy prep race for the Breeders’ Cup, setting her up for a potential showdown with American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

3 Tonalist
The return to Belmont Park–and the return to ten furlongs–should give Tonalist a terrific chance to score a repeat win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) on October 3rd. He breezed five furlongs in a solid 1:01.90 over the Saratoga training track on September 3rd, and the fact that he’s posting nice workouts a month in advance of the Jockey Club Gold Cup suggests that he will be ready for a big effort in that race.

4 Honor Code
On September 5th, he went four furlongs in a very slow :52.52 at Saratoga, which was actually the slowest of 54 workouts at that distance. But Shug McGaughey was generally pleased with the exercise, and with Honor Code targeting a return in the one-mile Kelso Handicap (gr. II) on October 3rd, he probably won’t need to be fully cranked to run a good race, which should leave him room for improvement in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

5 Liam’s Map
He got handed an easy lead in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) but capitalized in a big way, drawing off through a final three furlongs in :36.50 to win by 4 3/4 lengths in the time of 1:47.44 seconds. That effort translated to an impressive Beyer speed figure of 114, his third 112+ figure from his last four starts, and his combination of tactical speed and finishing kick could make him very dangerous in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, his connections are pondering the possibility of entering the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile instead, so we’ll have to see how that plays out.

6 Catch a Flight
He hasn’t been receiving a lot of attention as a Breeders’ Cup Classic contender, but just keeps bringing his best race time and time again, and you have to admire a horse that always runs his race. Given him a fast pace in the Classic, and I think he has a legitimate chance to hit the board.

7 Keen Ice
With Keen Ice expected to train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there likely won’t be much to say about him during the coming weeks. In the meantime, it’s going to be important to try and determine where he fits in the overall Classic picture. Is he a rapidly improving colt that relishes ten furlongs? Or did he take advantage of a great pace setup to win the Travers?

8 Frosted
He returned to the work tab on September 10th, breezing four furlongs in a bullet :47.95 at Saratoga. He’s under consideration for a run in either the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. I) or the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), so we’ll have to stay tuned to see where he ends up running.

9 Gleneagles
He’s been entered in the Irish Champions Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown on Saturday, and after missing several races this year due to ground conditions, it is hoped that the turf will be fast enough on Saturday for Gleneagles to start. This will be an important test for the son of Galileo, since it will mark his first start beyond a mile, giving us a better feel for how he will handle the distance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

10 Effinex
His fourth-place finish in the Woodward was a bit of a disappointment, but he had some legitimate excuses, getting worked up and upset before the start of the race (he was sweating noticeably) and having to be backed out of the gate and examined before reloading. Additionally, the Woodward was his first start in two months, and he will likely be sharper for the Jockey Club Gold Cup next month.

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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