Classic Offers Tough Handicapping Challenge
On the assumption that Zenyatta is running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), there is no doubt the undefeated daughter of Street Cry will be heavily bet, as her large number of fans will wager on her for sentimental reasons.
Zenyatta’s speed figures cannot match up to the many of the boys in here, but she’s been winning despite ridiculously slow fractions and just doing just what she has to.
Still, the hardcore bettor likely will stay away, looking for more value. That leaves a hodgepodge of horses from all walks of life converging on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride Nov. 7, most of whom would not be a surprise should they win.
The first big factor will be the pace, and that is unknown at this point. We know Quality Road has blazing speed if he needed to use it, but his connections would prefer to see him in a stalking position. The key is who Godolphin decides to run. Regal Ransom and Girolamo , both grade II winners, have a ton speed, with Regal Ransom being a confirmed frontrunner and Girolamo coming off a series of brilliant victories around one turn. Both horses are also pre-entered in the Dirt Mile (gr. I), so we’ll have to await Godolphin’s decision before having any idea just how this race will set up.
One thing we do know is that whether the pace is fast or slow, Summer Bird, winner of the grade I Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, will adapt to it. He’s proven he can win running close to the pace or from farther back. Those who will need a fast pace are confirmed closers Mine That Bird, Richard’s Kid, and Awesome Gem.
As for the field as a whole, good luck choosing among the synthetic horses, dirt horses, American grass horses, and European grass horses. The Euros are headed by possible favorite Rip Van Winkle, a brilliant miler who tested Sea the Stars in the 10-furlong Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) and was beaten only two lengths by the same horse in the English Derby (Eng-I). The other Euro challenger, Twice Over, is a hard-knocking horse who is back to his best form after winning the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes (Eng-I). We have no idea where they’ll be in the race.
Also getting their fair share of action will be the versatile Einstein , a grade I winner on turf and Pro-Ride, having won this year’s Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I); and Gio Ponti , winner of the grade I Arlington Million and Man o’ War, as well as other major grass stakes from coast to coast. But he does have two good efforts over this surface earlier in the year.
And then there is Colonel John , runner-up in the Goodwood (gr. I), who looks to be sitting on his best performance.
Good luck figuring out the Classic. You’re going to need it.
$5 Million Breeders Cup Classic (gr. I, 3:45), 3YO and Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Pro-Ride)
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