Expect fairly wide open Breeders' Cup Classic
August 29, 2018 3:00 AM
by Dave Valento
The horse racing season is divided into four parts: Triple Crown, Summer, Breeders’ Cup and post-Breeders’ Cup. With the summer season winding down, our attention turns to the Breeders’ Cup which will be held at Churchill Downs Nov. 2-3.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to be fairly wide open this year. Triple Crown winner Justify has retired. Good Magic, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner from last year, appeared to have filled the void left by Justify, but he flopped badly in the recent Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Pool 1 of the Breeders’ Cup Classic futures pool had Accelerate as the 3-1 favorite. This isn’t unexpected as he has won four of his last five starts for trainer John Sadler. It includes a 12-length win in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.
Catholic Boy (winner of the Grade 1 Travers) and Diversify (winner of the Grade 1 Whitney and Grade 2 Suburban in his last two starts) are the second and third choices in the futures pool. Catholic Boy is particularly interesting. He has won 6 of 9 starts for trainer Jonathon Thomas including back-to-back million-dollar Grade 1 races on turf and dirt.
John Sadler and Hronis Racing have another superstar besides Accelerate. Catalina Cruiser remained undefeated with an easy 7-length win in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien. He has been unchallenged in his four career starts and earned 103 Beyer Speed figures or more in his last three starts. He is obviously talented, but both of his Grade 2 wins were aided by drawing the rail and being the only speed in the race each time.
All the favorites mentioned above have one thing in common: speed. If they all go in the Classic, it might set up nicely for a closer. Mind Your Biscuits is just that. He is known as a superb sprinter for trainer Chad Summers. He won the $2M Golden Shaheen in Dubai, easily running down Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H and speedball X Y Jet on a speed favoring track. Since then he has run second by a nose in the Met Mile and second to Diversify in the Whitney in his first try beyond 1 mile.
Talent is not an issue with Mind Your Biscuits, but the distance is
Unstoppable Baffert: All-world trainer Bob Baffert is now 8 for 8 with first-time two-year-old starters at Del Mar this meet. For those needing help with their math that is 100 percent. He has always been known as a fantastic trainer with young horses, but his current streak is unprecedented. His most recent debut win came Sunday with a $925K purchase by Union Rags, Tale of the Union. He destroyed a field of maidens by 8 lengths. Not unexpectedly, Baffert should be loaded in the Del Mar Futurity and Del Mar Oaks closing weekend.
Tatters to Riches impressive: Jeff Mullins’ Tatters to Riches was a good-looking winner of the recent Shared Belief at Del Mar. This million-dollar purchase in 2017 is now 3 for 4 in his career. All four of his starts have come at Del Mar. After beating a good maiden field in his debut last July, Tatters to Riches ran poorly in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at 9-2 odds and was laid off for 11 months. He was found to have an ankle chip that required time off.
Mullins brought him back in a tough spot vs. older runners in a sprint on Aug. 4. He drew the rail, going far shorter than his pedigree indicates he wants. He won the race at 7-1 despite it being a prep for the stakes race.
Play of the Week: It comes in the final race on Thursday at Del Mar. It is a low-level maiden claiming race at a mile on the dirt. No. 10 Weather Market is dropping out of a maiden special weight where she was steadied badly late in the race. Trainer Carla Gaines has been ice-cold during the meet and is likely dropping this one in for an easy win. Weather Market is 4-1 on the morning line. Race 8 is scheduled to break from the gate at 5:30 PT.