Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 9/23/15

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: 9/23/15

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

1 American Pharoah
The Triple Crown winner returned to the work tab on September 21st, breezing a half-mile in a very easy :49 4/5 at Santa Anita. The modest time of the workout suggests that a prep race before the Classic is unlikely, but we may see him ship to Churchill Downs to train there in advance of the Breeders’ Cup, which is probably a good move — remember, American Pharoah did all of his training through the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.

2 Beholder
She completed her preparations for the September 26th Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) by breezing six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 4/5 at Santa Anita on September 18th. With the talented three-year-old filly Stellar Wind expected to skip the Zenyatta, Beholder will likely have a pretty easy race on Saturday, which should set her up for a big effort in the Classic.

3 Tonalist
In what will likely be his penultimate workout in advance of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Tonalist breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:01.05 at Belmont on September 20th, signaling that he’s ready for a big effort while returning to his favorite track. His 1-for-4 record this year has left him slightly overlooked as a Breeders’ Cup Classic contender, but I really liked the way he was closing at the finish of the Whitney Stakes, and the possibility of a rapid pace in the Classic could set him up for a very big effort.

4 Honor Code
He was also on the work tab over the weekend, going five furlongs in 1:01.22 at Belmont on Saturday. He’s bound to be heavily favored in the one-mile Kelso Handicap (gr. II) on October 3rd, but a look at the nominations suggests that there won’t be much early speed, and he’ll have to be sharp to defeat Red Vine, a very talented runner with tactical speed that should relish the flat mile of the Kelso. An upset in a slow-paced renewal of the Kelso shouldn’t have an effect on Honor Code’s chance for the Classic, but it’s something to keep in mind.

5 Liam’s Map
It was confirmed recently that West Point Thoroughbreds has purchased a minority share in Liam’s Map, who hasn’t been back on the work tab since the Woodward. That’s not surprising, since he’s expected to train up to the Breeders’ Cup, but I would expect to see him turn in a timed workout soon.

6 Frosted
His performance in the Pennsylvania Derby was fairly stunning, for after saving ground behind modest fractions, he absolutely swallowed up the talented Iron Fist (who was still full of run!) in the homestretch to win going away under a hand ride by two lengths. Best of all, he flew through the final furlong in :11.97 seconds, a spectacular fraction that supports the belief that he was still full of run at the finish. To this point, Frosted has never really been considered one of the major contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but off of this effort, he must be respected.

7 Catch a Flight
On September 22nd, he breezed five furlongs in 1:04.20 at Santa Anita, a bit slower than expected for a horse that’s expected to run in the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) this Saturday. Then again, there’s always a possibility that his workout was mis-timed, and he’s also been nominated for the Jockey Club Gold Cup a week later, and it’s possible that a change in plans might have him targeting that race instead.

8 Keen Ice
The Travers winner quietly returned to action on September 19th at Churchill Downs, working a half-mile in :51 1/5. It was a very slow clocking, but he’s got plenty of time to get ready for the Classic, and I would expect to see his workout times get sharper as the race draws nearer.

9 Gleneagles
After missing the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) because the ground was too soft, it’s hard to say where he might run in advance of the Breeders’ Cup, or if he will run at all. If he doesn’t get in a prep race, he will be entering the Classic off a 4 1/2-month layoff, which probably isn’t ideal.

10 Effinex
As mentioned before, he was probably short of peak fitness in the Woodward Stakes, and after breezing a half-mile in :47.85 over the Belmont training track on September 20th, it looks as though he’ll be in better form for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Remember, he beat Tonalist fairly and squarely in the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont earlier this year, so we know he’s got the talent to win a major race at ten furlongs.

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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