The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) is the headline event of the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end spectacle. This year marks the 40th edition of the Breeders’ Cup, with the event being held at Santa Anita Park for a record-breaking 11th time.
A total of 12 horses are currently set to go to post for the 1 1/4-mile Classic, which had its race complexion shift multiple times in recent days due to defections.
On Oct. 31, Daily Racing Form first reported that Belmont (G1) and Travers (G1) Stakes winner Arcangelo would be scratched out of the Classic and retired due to an issue with his left hind foot that caused him to miss days of training. This past weekend, Grade 1 winner Geaux Rocket Ride suffered a fracture during a workout at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 28 and underwent surgery. One day after that colt’s injury, it was announced Kentucky Derby winner Mage would not ship to California due to an elevated temperature.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the richest of the 14 races held on Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park. “Future Stars Friday” features five World Championships races exclusively for 2-year-olds. There will be nine Breeders’ Cup Championship races on the Saturday program.
In this Breeders’ Cup Classic betting guide, we offer an overview of the field and examine which horses have the best chance at conquering the 10-furlong test.
2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic Field: Post Positions, Odds, Trainers, Jockeys
Here is the list of the 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders set to start, including their post positions, jockeys, trainers, and morning-line odds.
|🐎 Post Position||Trainer||Jockey||Morning Line Odds|
|(SCRATCHED) PP. 1 Arcangelo||Jena Antonucci||Javier Castellano||SCRATCHED|
|PP. 2 Zandon||Chad Brown||Frankie Dettori||12-1|
|PP. 3 White Abarrio||Richard Dutrow, Jr.||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||4-1|
|PP. 4 Missed the Cut||John Sadler||Luis Saez||30-1|
|PP. 5 Derma Sotogake (JPN)||Hidetaka Otonashi||Christophe Lemaire||20-1|
|PP. 6 Saudi Crown||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux||12-1|
|PP. 7 Clapton||Chad Summers||Tyler Gaffalione||20-1|
|PP. 8 Ushba Tesoro (JPN)||Noboru Takagi||Yuga Kawada||4-1|
|PP. 9 Senor Buscador||Todd Fincher||Geovanni Franco||30-1|
|PP. 10 Dreamlike||Todd Pletcher||Jose Ortiz||30-1|
|PP. 11 Bright Future||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||10-1|
|PP. 12 Arabian Knight||Bob Baffert||Flavien Prat||3-1|
|No. 13 Proxy||Michael Stidham||Joel Rosario||12-1|
Arabian Knight Favored In Breeders’ Cup Classic
Arabian Knight, winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, was installed as the 3-to-1 morning line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The son of Uncle Mo will attempt to give his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his fifth win in the Classic. Baffert most recently won the race in 2020 with eventual Horse of the Year Authentic.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic will mark just the fifth career start for Arabian Knight. The bay colt won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes to kick off his sophomore campaign in January but was sidelined until this summer when he returned to run third in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes. On Sept. 2, he stepped up against older horses and prevailed by a neck in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
“We always thought of him as a top-class horse,” Baffert said. “I know this is going to be a tough race, but if he brings his ‘A’ game, I don’t really care who’s running against us.”
Get to Know the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic Field
Where last year’s Classic served as a coronation for its runaway winner, eventual Horse of the Year Flightline, this year’s field is a much more wide-open affair. The 3-year-old runners would seem to have the upper hand over their older comrades, with morning-line favorite Arabian Knight and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner Saudi Crown all coming off top-level triumphs.
Two years ago, the Japanese racing program used California as the backdrop to earn its first pair of Breeders’ Cup wins at Del Mar. This year could see similar top returns as Dubai World Cup winner Ushba Tesoro (JPN) has entered the 10-furlong Classic in top form.
Below, we analyze why each Breeders’ Cup Classic entrant can win and why each has questions to be answered if they hope to claim North America’s richest race.
SCRATCHED PP: 1 Arcangelo (Gray ridgling)
PP: 2 Zandon (Dark Bay colt)
- Sire: Upstart
- Dam: Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause
- Trainer: Chad Brown
- Owner: Jeff Drown
- Jockey: Frankie Dettori
- Record and earnings: 13-3-6-3, $2,140,000
- ML Odds: 12-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 2 Woodward Stakes at Aqueduct on Oct. 1.
- Why You Should Bet Him: Zandon is a physical specimen of a horse who never runs a bad race and should get a good pace set up on Saturday. The only time he has been worse than third in his career came when he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile last November. He earned his first win since taking the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes last spring when he annexed the Woodward by 4 1/4 lengths on Oct. 1.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: The field he beat in the Woodward was suspect in quality, and he has a knack for being a bridesmaid.
- What They’re Saying: “He’s coming into the race in the right way, and I love the way he finished his last race off. Obviously, if the pace scenario works out for him, I could see him getting the mile and a quarter. It was very important for him last time, I felt, to break through and finish up his race the right way and win one. He did it well. This horse is a really consistent horse and has been a pleasure to train.” – Trainer Chad Brown.
PP: 3 White Abarrio (Gray horse)
- Sire: Race Day
- Dam: Catch Diamonds, by Into Mischief
- Trainer: Richard Dutrow, Jr.
- Owner: CR Racing Stable and Antonio Pagnano
- Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Record and earnings: 14-6-1-3, $1,826,350
- ML Odds: 4-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 5.
- Why You Should Bet Him: The ability he showed as a 3-year-old when he won the Grade 1 Florida Derby resurfaced this summer in the form of a dominating win in the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. That start marked his second outing since being transferred to the care of Richard Dutrow, Jr. – who returned from a 10-year suspension this season.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He hasn’t raced since the Whitney Stakes triumph and had his final serious workout pushed back when the regulatory veterinarian team nixed the initial workout request due to unsatisfactory diagnostics.
- What They’re Saying: “I’m extremely confident that he’s going to run big here on Saturday, extremely confident. I think it was just the little things that we did, which was (farrier) Ian McKinley putting the glue-ons (shoes) for the Whitney (G1). Right away when we took his front shoes off, we could see he was awkward. So we called Ian. He just needed glue on shoes in order for him to get better and better. That’s what happened.” – Trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr.
PP: 4 Missed the Cut (Bay colt)
- Sire: Quality Road
- Dam: Beauly (GB), by Sea The Stars (IRE)
- Trainer: John Sadler
- Owners: Bee Zee, Lane’s End Racing, St. Elias Stables, et al.
- Jockey: Luis Saez
- Record and earnings: 11-5-1-0, $285,777
- ML Odds: 30-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 1.
- Why You Should Bet Him: He has shown improvement since beginning his career in England and took to the Santa Anita track during his win in the Tokyo City Cup. Trainer John Sadler has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, taking the race with Accelerate in 2018 and last year with eventual Horse of the Year Flightline.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He is stepping into Grade 1 company for the first time and may be over his head in this spot.
- What They’re Saying: “(Missed the Cut is) a horse that can run long distance. He had a good race in the spring before we went to Del Mar. He showed he liked the main track. (The Tokyo City) was his fourth start (stateside), so his whole story isn’t written yet.” – Trainer John Sadler.
PP: 5 Derma Sotogake (JPN) (Chestnut colt)
- Sire: Mind Your Biscuits
- Dam: Amour Poésie (JPN), by Neo Universe (JPN)
- Trainer: Hidetaka Otonashi
- Owner: Hiroyuki Asanuma
- Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
- Record and earnings: 9-4-0-2, $1,162,164
- ML Odds: 20-1
- Last Race: Sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
- Why You Should Bet Him: Derma Sotogake dominated every step of the UAE Derby, leading all the way and easily drawing off down the lane. He put in a respectable run to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby after a sluggish start that left him with too much to do in the lane.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He hasn’t raced since that Kentucky Derby effort.
- What They’re Saying: “He ran in the UAE Derby from the front, and that went well, but missing the jump was everything in the Kentucky Derby. I am not concerned at all about (stamina). Mind Your Biscuits’ progeny have been winning over 1800 meters and 2000 meters in Japan.” – Trainer Hidetaka Otonashi.
PP: 6 Saudi Crown (Gray colt)
- Sire: Always Dreaming
- Dam: New Narration, by Tapit
- Trainer: Brad Cox
- Owner: FMQ Stables
- Jockey: Florent Geroux
- Record and earnings: 5-3-2-0, $817,085
- ML Odds: 12-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 23.
- Why You Should Bet Him: Saudi Crown hasn’t done much wrong in his short career. He hasn’t finished worse than second in his five starts, and his two defeats have been nose losses in the Grade 3 Dwyer and Grade 2 Jim Dandy, respectively. The son of Always Dreaming took himself to the next level last time out with a front-running win in the Pennsylvania Derby.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: Both he and Arabian Knight like to be on the lead, so there is a chance those two could take the starch out of one another on the front end. Not sure either that 10 furlongs is in his wheelhouse stamina-wise.
- What They’re Saying: “I’ve loved what we’ve seen from him since the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s developed into a top 3-year-old. We always thought he had a tremendous amount of talent, and he’s shown that in his five races. By the way, he’s doing now here in Kentucky. I’m confident he’ll run a big race in the Classic.” – Trainer Brad Cox.
PP: 7 Clapton (Chestnut colt)
- Sire: Brethren
- Dam: Alexandra Rylee, by Afleet Alex
- Trainer: Chad Summers
- Owner: RRR Racing
- Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
- Record and earnings: 24-6-4-5, $823,450
- ML Odds: 20-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 2 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on Sept. 30.
- Why You Should Bet Him: His trainer, Chad Summers, doesn’t have the biggest operation, but he has proven he knows how to get a horse ready for a big moment. Summers previously trained multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Your Biscuits and was able to get Clapton to stretch out successfully to 1 1/8-miles in the Lukas Classic in just his second start since taking over his training.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He should get the pace needed to run on Saturday, but there’s a big difference between beating out solid stakes horses and being able to upend a field full of Grade 1 winners. In his previous top-level try, Clapton was fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
- What They’re Saying: “He is not going to win the race on flash. He will win the race by grinding it out and by keeping on coming. He loves to compete, and we’re hoping he works out the right trip with (jockey) Tyler (Gaffalione).” – Trainer Chad Summers.
PP: 8 Ushba Tesoro (JPN) (Bay horse)
- Sire: Orfevre (JPN)
- Dam: Millefeui Attach (JPN), by King Kamehameha (JPN)
- Trainer: Noboru Takagi
- Owner: Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings Co.
- Jockey: Yuga Kawada
- Record and earnings: 30-10-1-5, $9,540,345
- ML Odds: 4-1
- Last Race: Won Nippon TV Hai on Sept. 27 at Funabashi going 1 1/8-miles on the dirt.
- Why You Should Bet Him: The Japanese racing and breeding program has enjoyed huge success in some of the world’s top races in recent years, and Ushba Tesoro could be their best hope of adding a Classic win to that list. After competing exclusively on the grass in his homeland, Ushba Tesoro has won six times in seven tries since moving to the dirt in April 2022. He served notice to International rivals when he rallied from last in a field of 15 to take the Dubai World Cup this year and won the Nippon TV Hai in his first start since that outing.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He’s a temperamental sort, as evidenced by his quirky behavior in training at times, so how he handles the Breeders’ Cup atmosphere could be as big a factor as any concerning his success.
- What They’re Saying: “Moving to dirt helped him. The timing worked well, and he grew up both physically and mentally from it. He was a difficult horse to control, but with dirt racing, everything matched him, I believe.” – Trainer Noboru Takagi.
PP: 9 Senor Buscador (Bay horse)
- Sire: Mineshaft
- Dam: Rose’s Desert, by Desert Gold
- Trainer: Todd Fincher
- Owner: Joe Peacock, Jr
- Jockey: Geovanni Franco
- Record and earnings: 14-6-0-2, $763,427
- ML Odds: 30-1
- Last Race: Third in Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 30
- Why You Should Bet Him: If you’re looking for a long shot to use underneath, Senor Buscador should merit some attention. A multiple graded stakes winner with a victory in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap this year, this 5-year-old son of Mineshaft has held his own against fellow Classic entrants Proxy and Arabian Knight this season.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He has yet to show he can get over the hump against this class of horses.
- What They’re Saying: “It was very disappointing last year in the (Breeders’ Cup) Dirt Mile (when he finished eighth). But he washed out, which he had never done before, and also bled for the first time. It was a legitimate excuse. I was expecting a big race from him last year. He’s definitely a Classic horse, and I envisioned him getting here one day.” – Trainer Todd Fincher.
PP: 10 Dreamlike (Chestnut colt)
- Sire: Gun Runner
- Dam: Time to Tap, by Tapit
- Trainer: Todd Pletcher
- Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables
- Jockey: Jose Ortiz
- Record and earnings: 6-1-3-1, $349,450
- ML Odds: 30-1
- Last Race: Second in Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 23.
- Why You Should Bet Him: He took a step forward last time out when second in the Pennsylvania Derby, an effort that came two starts after breaking his maiden.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: This is a tall ask for a lightly-raced colt with only a single career victory to his credit.
- What They’re Saying: “He won an allowance race at Saratoga. Then he came back with a little bit of a disappointing effort in a Saratoga allowance but redeemed himself with a fast-closing second in the Pennsylvania Derby. He was third in the Wood Memorial when he was still a maiden. He’s a horse that we’ve always had high expectations for as well and kind of compared him a little bit to Bright Future in terms of one that’s shown a lot of talent and is just on the verge of delivering that.” – Trainer Todd Pletcher.
PP: 11 Bright Future (Chestnut colt)
- Sire: Curlin
- Dam: Sophia’s Song, by Bellamy Road
- Trainer: Todd Pletcher
- Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables
- Jockey: John Velazquez
- Record and earnings: 7-4-0-2, $716,940
- ML Odds: 10-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga on Sept. 2.
- Why You Should Bet Him: His first try against Grade 1 company was a successful one as he scored a narrow victory in the 1 1/4-miles Jockey Club Gold Cup. He has early speed but can sit off the pace in the first flight if needed. He’s light on experience for his age but big on the upside.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: Bright Future only recently started living up to his potential and is now being asked to take on his division’s heaviest hitters.
- What They’re Saying: “He’s a horse that we always had high expectations for. He had a few setbacks along the way. We maybe threw him to the wolves a little prematurely in the (Grade 2) Brooklyn (8th on June 10) at a mile and a half. We regrouped after that and went back to an allowance race, which was an impressive win. That kind of got us to thinking about the Jockey Club. We always had high hopes for him and were glad to see him finally fulfill expectations.” – Trainer Todd Pletcher.
PP: 12 Arabian Knight (Bay colt)
- Sire: Uncle Mo
- Dam: Borealis Night, by Astrology
- Trainer: Bob Baffert
- Owner: Zedan Racing Stables
- Jockey: Flavien Prat
- Record and earnings: 4-3-0-1, $1,244,275
- ML Odds: 3-1
- Last Race: Won Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sept. 2
- Why You Should Bet Him: While several of his classmates either fell from form or faced physical issues, Arabian Knight has been moving in the right direction at the right time. The lightly-race colt beat elders in the 10-furlong Pacific Classic and has been among the most eye-catching horses in the morning with how he trained.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He could find himself hooked in a speed duel with Saudi Crown as both have done their best running on the lead.
- What They’re Saying: “We always thought of him as a top-class horse. He’s healthy, he’s working well. There have been no hiccups. He’s slowly turning into a man right now; he’s still learning. He’s ready to run.” – Trainer Bob Baffert.
PP: 13 Proxy (Chestnut colt)
- Sire: Tapit
- Dam: Panty Raid, by Include
- Trainer: Michael Stidham
- Owner: Godolphin
- Jockey: Joel Rosario
- Record and earnings: 19-6-7-2, $$2,224,970
- ML Odds: 12-1
- Last Race: Second in Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga on Sept. 2.
- Why You Should Bet Him: This 5-year-old son of Tapit has been a consistent performer at the top level throughout his career. His breakout win came when he took the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs last November, and he was beaten just a nostril by Bright Future last time out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He showed he could handle the Santa Anita track earlier this year when second by a neck in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.
- Why You Should Save Your Money: He’s a solid enough runner who can rate where needed, but he hasn’t yet been able to deliver against the very best.
- What They’re Saying: “The biggest thing we worry about is when he gets trapped down on the inside and is getting a lot of kickback, he tends to get disinterested in running into that, so we are conscious of that in a big field and are hoping he doesn’t get buried down on the inside and put himself in a position that takes his chances away.” – Trainer Michael Stidham
Breeders’ Cup Classic Betting History
- Average Classic Win Payoff: $23.50
- Favorites have won 121 of 388 Breeders’ Cup races, a 31 percent rate. The worst finish by a favorite was in the 2003 Juvenile at Santa Anita Park when Cuvee finished 12th by 58 lengths at 3-2.
- There have been 74 odds-on (.90 or less) choices with 32 winners.
- There have been 45 horses to go off at odds of 100-1 or greater; only Arcangues, winner of the 1993 Classic at 133.60-1, has finished in the money.
Lowest/Highest Odds for Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner
- 2022: Flightline — $.44
- 1993: Arcangues — $133.60
*Source: Breeders’ Cup