It can be argued that this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) is as perplexing and wide open as any time in the event’s 26-year history. Between the parity of the top older horses and the wild card factor of Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, handicappers will have plenty of choices come Nov. 7.
With just two weeks remaining, much of the focus has been on the European invaders Mastercraftsman and Rip Van Winkle; America’s 3-year-old stars Summer Bird, Mine That Bird and Quality Road ; California contenders Colonel John, Richard's Kid and perhaps Zenyatta; and even Gio Ponti , the nation’s highest rated turf horse who will change surfaces to point for the $5 million purse.
Are we forgetting anyone? Perhaps a multiple grade I winner and earner of nearly $3 million in his storied career? Let’s think for a moment…
Despite winning the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in March on the same surface that the BC Classic will be run over, and notching the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) for the second straight year at Churchill Downs, it seems that Einstein could be the forgotten horse heading into the big race. And that is just fine with trainer Helen Pitts.
“That’s the way I like it,” Pitts said. “I like when we fly under the radar. It’s going to be a tough race, but I know one thing: He’ll give 110 percent like he always does.”
The general perception may be that the Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck—Gay Charm, by Ghadeer, has finally lost a half-step in the second half of his 7-year-old season. That is based on the horse’s fifth-place finish in the Aug. 8 Arlington Million (gr. IT) and then a runner-up defeat in the Sept. 6 Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar when he was caught late by longshot Richard’s Kid to lose by a neck.
Einstein, now owned by Stronach Stables, has not run since the Pacific Classic and will train up to the Breeders’ Cup. Out of sight, out of mind, says Pitts.
“He ran one bad race at Arlington on a soft course that he didn’t like and everyone is knocking him,” Pitts said. “I don’t think he’s lost a step at all. He came back and ran well at Del Mar. It’s fine with me that some people have forgotten about him.
“I like that he will come in fresh; he’s run some of his best races fresh. He won the ‘Big Cap’ off of six or seven weeks (rest), the Woodford off two months, and the Clark (Handicap, gr. II) off more than three months. He’ll be ready.”
Since the Pacific Classic, Einstein has been working steadily at his home base of Churchill Downs. Most recently, he breezed five furlongs Oct. 18 in 1:01 flat. Pitts said the dark bay will have one more work Oct. 25 in Louisville before shipping to California on Oct. 27. She plans to give him just one work over the Pro-Ride, tentatively on Nov. 1.
“We already know he likes the track and surface,” Pitts said. “That definitely makes me feel better about his chances. I’m excited. I think he’ll run a good race. We’ll see what happens.”