Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview
Santa Anita is renowned for its pace bias, a point hammered home in the stats that show only Zenyatta has managed to prevail in a Classic at the Arcadia track when coming from off the pace.
This is surely relevant to the claims of VINO ROSSO who fought out a titanic duel with CODE OF HONOR in the Jockey Club Gold Cup here last time. At the wire Code Of Honor was still a nose adrift of his foe, but the placings were reversed at a stewards enquiry.
Vino Rosso was a Grade 1 winner over the course and distance three runs back, while Code Of Honor was completing a hat-trick, having last year finished third in the Kentucky Derby and been ruled out of the Juvenile on the eve of that race after suffering a training setback.
Supporters of Vino Rosso will look at Todd Pletcher’s charge to gain a rewarding early lead, but surely John Velazquez will be alert to that fact and ensure he stays closer on the Shug McGaughey-trained Code Of Honor.
Bob Baffert’s Whitney Stakes winner McKINZIE is the market leader even though he’s suffered a couple of reverses and is not certain to stay. He was dramatically taken down by MONGOLIAN GROOM in the Awesome Again after Baffert reported his charge wasn’t fully tuned up.
Furthermore McKinzie hasn’t produced his best at Santa Anita, his two successes here coming against vastly inferior opposition, while more significantly he’s been turned over when odds on three times here.
Another horse that may well be compromised by the bias against closers is Bill Mott’s YOSHIDA. He was a strong staying on fourth in last year’s Classic at Churchill Downs, is a two time Grade 1 winner and ran well in last year’s Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
With doubts over Yoshida, it’s really no surprise to see Mott also fielding the filly ELATE who is taking on males for the first time. That said, she has no experience of Santa Anita, and a win for this one would be a massive surprise.
Dallas Stewart’s SEEKING THE SOUL has won over $3million in prize money and earned a gate for this by plundering the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in June. However that was his first conversion and his best form has undoubtedly happened in Louisville, though he did his reputation no harm when second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
Breeders’ Cup Classic Prediction
1st – Code of Honor
2nd – Vino Rosso
3rd – Yoshida
4th – McKinzie
5th – Elate
6th – Seeking The Soul
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