Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings–July 31, 2015

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings–July 31, 2015

1 American Pharoah
He could not be training much better in preparation for the Haskell Invitational, and he’s arrived at Monmouth Park safely and soundly for the race. He’s drawn post four in an eight-horse field, which should be absolutely perfect, and barring something unforeseen, he looks ready to romp on Sunday.

2 Tonalist
The showdown awaits on August 8th, when Tonalist takes on an increasingly deep field in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) that could include as many as four horses from this list (Tonalist, Lea, Noble Bird, and Effinex), as well as Honor Code and Liam’s Map. In what might prove to be Tonalist’s final pre-race workout, he went five furlongs in 1:02.55 over the Saratoga training track on July 31st.

3 Lea
At first glance, his most recent workout–five furlongs in 1:03.66 over the Saratoga training track on July 28th–appears to be very slow. But the truth is that the training track at Saratoga was very slow that day, as the bullet time was just 1:03.44 and Lea’s time was the second-fastest of the morning.

4 Noble Bird
He’s likely got one more workout left on the agenda before the Whitney, but his most recent–five furlong in :59.90 at Saratoga on July 25th–suggests that he will be ready to roll come August 8th.

5 Catch a Flight
He rebounded from his third-place finish in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita with an impressive victory in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar, in which he rallied from 3 1/2 lengths back at the eighth pole to win by a head. It was nice to see his strong stretch kick return with a more patient ride, and the way he finished suggests that he will be able to stretch out to longer distances in the future.

6 Frosted
He drew the outside post in a field of seven for the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), but with three horses expected to scratch, he will start from post four. It’s hard to know what might happen in such a small field, but as long as Frosted runs well and shows that he is maintaining his good form, expect to see him move up this list next week.

7 Effinex
It’s unknown whether he’ll run in the Whitney or wait for the Woodward Stakes (gr. I), but the timing and speed of his most recent — a half-mile in :50.03 over the Saratoga training track on July 29th — suggests that his connections might be planning to wait for the Woodward.

8 Palace Malice
He’s starting to get into a better rhythm of workouts now, following up his half-mile in :49.78 on July 20th with five furlongs in 1:01.68 at Saratoga on July 26th. He’s on a tight schedule to be ready to run during the Saratoga meet, but once he gets a prep race under him, I think we’re going to see some great runs from him this fall.

9 Bayern
True, he tired a bit in the San Diego to finish third as the favorite, but this was a nice step in the right direction for the defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. It’s important to note that while the fractions of :24.06, :47.08, 1:11.30 aren’t that fast on paper, they were respectably quick given the slow, tiring nature of the new track at Del Mar, and if Bayern encounters a more speed-favoring track in his next start, I think we’ll see him continue to improve.

10 Texas Red
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner will look to pick up his first win of the year in the Jim Dandy, and while the small field might compromise his late run, he looks like a colt that will relish extra distance, and a good run in the Jim Dandy could set him up for a big second half of the season.

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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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