A race that takes practically all year to plan out and then a whole week to strategize, I went all-out this year in thinking about the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I). Much easier than last year’s clusterf—k race, there were some definitive toss-outs, a lot of maybes, and a couple of gems in the mix. Form and adaptability to the track bias are probably the two most important factors followed closely by pace, recent works, and raw ability.
Thanks much to doing my profiles on all 12 entries (plus one with Dullahan who elected to go to the Turf), I was able to whittle things down after the post draw and the final works. My immediate toss-outs I’d be shocked to see win: Handsome Mike and Alpha. Horses I give a mild chance to: Brilliant Speed, Nonios, Flat Out, To Honor and Serve, and Richard’s Kid. From what’s left I was able to pick out 3 I really liked (all I considered strongly for a win) and then decide on the order:
Pick #3: Pool Play - Performs awesomely and is at the top of his game right now coming into the Classic. I was seriously flip-flopping him to win, but I am still concerned about the class and speed jump he’ll face, even as a closer who will likely benefit from the speed. 2-for-2 on dirt, I’m using him!
Pick #2: Game On Dude - Loved him all year and declared shortly after his second place last year in this race that he’d come back next year to win it. He has every chance to win it and Horse of the Year and I think he’s one of the best horses in the country. But can the Dude conquer a tough field at 10 furlongs, which is not his sharpest distance? Who can he sit off of this race to ensure he’s pumped to go in the stretch? After watching the Dude all year, he’s in rarely-seen energetic form. But, I hate picking the chalk and there’s one that I think could beat him…
Pick #1: Fort Larned - A classic-looking horse that is bred to go 10 furlongs, Fort Larned’s my top choice for these reasons and more. He’s established triple-digit Beyers consistently and despite having only dealt with 9 furlongs, his finishes have been strong enough to suggest he’ll do just as well with another. He could sit off of Game On Dude in the early goings and attack late, and he’s got enough speed where it counts to win.
Exotic notes: Ron the Greek could run up late, but I was too concerned to use him in my top 3 because a) he may or may not be off his usual consistency and b) he’s very often far far back. Mucho Macho Man hung in the Woodward, though I do vouch for his conditioner on getting this awesome colt appropriately prepared. To Honor and Serve, Nonios, Richard’s Kid, Flat Out and possibly Brilliant Speed are all considerable in that order.
Value Pick: Fort Larned