Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: August 25, 2015

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: August 25, 2015

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

1 American Pharoah
He completed his preparations for the Travers Stakes (gr. I) by breezing seven furlongs in 1:23.20 on Sunday at Del Mar, an impressive workout that should have him ready for a big effort on Saturday. It’s hard to envision him losing the Travers, especially with the main track at Saratoga starting to play a little quicker in recent days. Could General Assembly’s long-standing track record of 2:00 flat be in danger?

2 Beholder
Once in a long while, a horse will come along and turn in such a stunning performance that you are left in a state of complete astonishment, and no matter how many times you watch the replay, you still can’t believe what you saw. Such was the case with Beholder in the Pacific Classic (gr. I), as the move she made to seize command on the final turn was the stuff of legends. Best of all, that was only the first of two impressive moves that she made during the race–the second move came at the top of the stretch, when Gary Stevens asked her for run and she responded with another burst of acceleration that carried her to an 8 1/4-length victory. Her final time of 1:59.77 was remarkable, and translated to a Beyer speed figure of 114, the highest earned by any horse in 2015.


3 Tonalist
He turned in his first post-Whitney workout on August 24th, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.55 over the training track at Saratoga. It wasn’t a quick work, but there’s a chance that his connections are planning to skip the September 5th Woodward Stakes (gr. I) to await the October 3rd Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), in which case the slow time means very little.

4 Honor Code
Like Tonalist, Honor Code’s first work since the Whitney was fairly modest, as he went a half-mile in an easy :49.93 seconds over the main track at Saratoga. His next start will come in either the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) or the Kelso Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, and while the Jockey Club Gold Cup is certainly more prestigious, the one-turn mile of the Kelso could serve as an ideal prep, allowing him to sharpen his speed a little at a shorter distance and avoid the possibility of giving him too much to do closing from the back of the pack in a ten-furlong race.

5 Catch a Flight
He’s proven himself to be the best of the older horses in California right now… but that still leaves him 8 1/4 lengths behind Beholder! :) He might not be as flashy as American Pharoah, Beholder, or Honor Code, but Catch a Flight is quietly compiling a very admirable record, and a solid pace in the Breeders’ Cup Classic could set him up for a strong finish and make him a contender to hit the board.

6 Texas Red
In preparation for his meeting with American Pharoah in the Travers, Texas Red blazed a half-mile in :46.66 on August 22nd at Saratoga, a very quick time that signals his readiness for the race. Making his third start off a layoff, he should be ready for a peak effort while stretching out to ten furlongs, and if anyone is capable of upsetting American Pharoah, I think Texas Red is the one.

7 Frosted
Like Texas Red, Frosted turned in a sharp workout in advance of the Travers, going five furlongs in a bullet :59.59 at Saratoga. He had some legitimate excuses in the Jim Dandy–he lost a shoe early in the race, was conceding Texas Red four pounds, and was coming off a two-month layoff–but Frosted has had a busy campaign this year, and I do wonder if that will start to catch up to him at some point.

8 Effinex
He’s starting to pick up the pace and distance of his workouts as he prepares for the Woodward, and his most recent workout–seven furlongs in 1:27.65 on August 23rd at Saratoga–suggests that he’s coming up to the race in good form.

9 Liam’s Map
He’s one of at least four Pletcher-trained horses expected to run in the Woodward, and after returning to the work tab with a solid half-mile work in :48.25 on August 22nd, it looks like he will be ready for another big effort. We know he’s fast, and we know he can carry his speed for nine furlongs against top company, but time will tell if he can get another furlong in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

10 Palace Malice
Perhaps I’m just stubborn keeping him on my list, but after he breezed a half-mile in :47.80 on August 22nd at Saratoga, I think the real Palace Malice is back. With a prep race under his belt, plus a couple more workouts, I think we’re going to see a completely different horse in the Woodward. If he can re-find his best form from 2014, I think he’s still a player for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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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 Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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