All roads lead to Lexington. With every major prep and every “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race in the rearview mirror, the 37th Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. is in full focus as racing’s World Championships beckon Nov. 6-7. Although there are 14 races and more than $31 million in purses and awards at stake, the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) will garner the most attention. This year’s Classic figures to not only decide Horse of the Year, but is shaping up as one of the very best in the race’s long and storied history.
(Pre-Entered fields for all 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be announced live on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11:30 a.m. ET on TVG and streamed on BreedersCup.com)
The Classic, at 1 ¼ miles, has long been a melting pot where younger stars test their elders on racing’s biggest stage. This year’s renewal only exemplifies that, as leading 3-year-olds AUTHENTIC and TIZ THE LAW are set to clash with distinguished veterans IMPROBABLE, MAXIMUM SECURITY, and TOMS D’ETAT, with a lot more than purse money on the line. The outcome of the Classic will likely decide not only Horse of the Year, but two 2020 divisional titles: 3-Year-Old Male and Older Dirt Male.
Runhappy Travers Stakes Winner Tiz the Law.
The depth and quality of the Classic makes the favorite tough to decipher, but Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law could be a tepid public choice off his overall body of work, which includes dominant Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March, the Belmont Stakes in June, and Travers at Saratoga in August. The son of Constitution was second at 7-10 in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on Sept. 5 for trainer Barclay Tagg. Tiz the Law was held out of the “Win and You’re In” Preakness, a Classic qualifier, after exiting the Derby with minor body stiffness. Tiz the Law, who is 6-for-8 lifetime, with both losses coming at Churchill Downs, has breezed four times at Belmont since the Derby, including 6 furlongs in 1:12.26 on Oct. 16.
“He went really well,” Tagg said of the breeze. “This was probably his most important work leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. I want to get a couple of breezes into him at Keeneland. How fast those will be I’ll determine as I see how he’s feeling and how he’s doing as he goes along. The main thing is for him to get used to that track and the surroundings. We’re just trying to take every precaution we can before the big race.”
Tiz the Law arrived at Keeneland last Sunday evening following a trip by van from New York. Tagg wanted him to get there early to acclimate to the main track in the colt’s quest for Horse of the Year, and to become the 13th 3-year-old to win the Classic.
Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing Stable’s Authentic upset Tiz the Law in the Derby, and is part of a three-pronged attack, with Improbable and Maximum Security, that will attempt to give trainer Bob Baffert his fourth Classic win. The son of Into Mischief earned a berth into the race when he won Monmouth Park’s “Win and You’re In” TVG.com Haskell (G1) in July and was second, beaten a neck, by SWISS SKYDIVER in the Oct. 5 Preakness, also a Classic qualifier. Authentic is 5-for-7 lifetime and is another who would lock up Horse of the Year with a Classic win.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing’s Improbable leads a sensational trio of older horses. The 4-year-old son of City Zip qualified for a Classic in a pair of Grade 1 “Win and You’re In” races this summer; Saratoga’s Whitney in August and over stablemate Maximum Security in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita Sept. 26. Improbable, who has won 7-for-14 career starts, including the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita in June, would clinch both Horse of the Year and Older Dirt Male as well with a victory in the Classic.
Gary and Mary West, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier’s Maximum Security earned a free berth into the Classic when he won Del Mar’s “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) in August. The 4-year-old son of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day is 10-for-13 lifetime, including the inaugural Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in February. He is yet another who could secure a pair of Eclipse Awards with a win.
Baffert sent out all three stars for works at Santa Anita this past weekend, with Authentic going 5 furlongs in 59.80 and Improbable going 6 furlongs in 1:12.40 on Oct. 17, while Maximum Security went 59.80 a day later. Baffert said of Maximum Security, “I think that was the best he’s ever worked.” All three horses will likely work twice more over the next two weekends at Santa Anita before leaving for Kentucky.
G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat, who qualified for the race when he captured the “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs in June, could also be in line for some divisional hardware with a Classic win. The 7-year-old son of Smart Strike is 11-for-19 lifetime for trainer Al Stall Jr., but has not run since finishing third in the Whitney at even-money, after being eliminated due to a disastrous start. Tom’s d’Etat also won the Oaklawn Mile in April.
A pair of game-time decisions with the 3-year-olds SWISS SKYDIVER and HAPPY SAVER could impact the already deep Classic field. Trainer Kenny McPeek is considering his options with Peter Callahan’s filly Swiss Skydiver. The well-traveled Swiss Skydiver qualified for the Classic when she edged Authentic in the Preakness, some six weeks after she earned a berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) with a victory in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Alabama (G1). Zenyatta, in 2009 at Santa Anita, is the only female to win the Classic. Wertheimer et Frere’s homebred Happy Saver, who earned a berth into the race when he won Belmont Park’s “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) for trainer Todd Pletcher, is also under consideration.
Graded stakes-winning older horses BY MY STANDARDS, GLOBAL CAMPAIGN, HIGHER POWER, and MIDCOURT are also pointing to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, while TITLE READY is possible.
Breeders’ Cup Classic – Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winners and Points Leaders
|BCC Winner||Swiss Skydiver||Kenneth G. McPeek||Peter J. Callahan|
|BCC Winner||Authentic||Bob Baffert||Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC, Starlight Racing Stable|
|BCC Winner||Improbable||Bob Baffert||WinStar Farm, LLC, China Horse Club International Limited, SF Racing LLC|
|BCC Winner||Maximum Security||Bob Baffert||Gary & Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith|
|BCC Winner||Happy Saver||Todd A. Pletcher||Wertheimer et Frere|
|BCC Winner||Tom’s d’Etat||Albert M. Stall Jr.||G M B Racing|
|40||Tiz the Law||Barclay Tagg||Sackatoga Stable|
|28||By My Standards||W. Bret Calhoun||Allied Racing Stable, LLC|
|22||Midcourt||John A. Shirreffs||CRK Stable, LLC|
|14||Global Campaign||Stanley M. Hough||Sagamore Farm, LLC, WinStar Farm, LLC|
|8||Higher Power||John W. Sadler||Hronis Racing LLC|
|2||Title Ready||Dallas Stewart||Charles E. Fipke|
Breeders’ Cup World Championships News Release
Photos: Swiss Skydiver edges Kentucky Derby winner Authentic in the “Win and You’re In” Preakness.
Credit: Eclipse Sportswire