Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders begin to arrive at Keeneland for the ‘Big Show’

November 3, 2020

Tiz The Law

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Contenders for the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships began to arrive at Keeneland to get acclimated for their big days on Friday and Saturday. Here are the Classic entries.

Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security – Bob Baffert’s longtime assistants Jimmy Barnes and Peter Hutton had the stalls assigned to the Baffert team in Barn 62 ready for the arrival Tuesday of their six Breeders’ Cup runners. Baffert’s horses were part of the contingent shipped by plane from California.

Hollywood Gold Cup, Whitney and Awesome Again winner Improbable is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Classic and is the leader of Baffert’s powerful trio of entrants, which includes Kentucky Derby winner Authentic and Saudi Cup and Pacific Classic winner Maximum Security.

This will be Baffert’s 12th consecutive year with a starter in the Classic and the sixth time he has had more than one runner. In 2017 at Del Mar he saddled four horses in the Classic: Collected, who finished second; West Coast, third; Arrogate, fifth; Mubtaahij (eighth). Since his Classic debut with Silver Charm’s runner-up finish in 1998, Baffert has had 23 starters in the race and has an in-the-money record of 3-4-2.

The Baffert caravan that Barnes and Hutton prepared for had Princess Noor, the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Juvenile Fillies, Gamine, the 7-5 morning line favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint, and the 2yo colt Classier, who is 15-1 in the Juvenile.

By My Standards – Allied Racing Stable LLC’s four-time Grade 2 winner By My Standards continued his march toward the $6 million Longines Classic from his base at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning, galloping a mile with trainer Bret Calhoun observing.

The bay 4yo colt will attempt the 1¼m distance for only the second time, with his first try being on a very sloppy course in 2019’s Kentucky Derby, checking in 12th. He is a son of a two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Goldencents, who won or placed in G1 races from 6f to 9f, but was 17th in the Kentucky Derby when attempting 10f.

“I don’t have any reservations about the distance at all with him,” Calhoun said. “The only worry you may have is that he isn’t proven over the distance yet. To me, it looks like the ideal distance for him because he has high cruising speed and keeps running.”

Gabriel Saez, who has ridden him in 10 of 12 starts, will return for the mount. By My Standards’ past four wins have been with Saez, while his only two losses this year have been when ridden by others.

“Gabe knows the horse extremely well,” Calhoun explained. “He has that confidence in him. Others have rode him well, but he is the most familiar with him and rides him with a lot of confidence. He has the inside track of knowing the horse.”

By My Standards will arrive at Keeneland on Wednesday morning after training at Churchill Downs. The $150,000 purchase has earned more than $1.7 million for his connections. A top-five finish would hoist him to the richest horse Calhoun has trained, eclipsing $1.8 million-earning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge. 

Global Campaign – Sagamore Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Global Campaign galloped 1¼m at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning in preparation for a planned start in Saturday’s Classic.

“He’ll gallop early in the morning [Wednesday] at Churchill, then ship around 8 o’clock to Keeneland,” trainer Stanley Hough said.

The 4yo son of Curlin has won six of nine starts during a career that has been frequently interrupted by foot issues. This year he has won three of four starts, including a victory in the Monmouth Cup and his first Grade I win in the Woodward at Saratoga in his two most recent starts.

“His last couple races brought him back to where I hoped he would be. We’re still fighting all his little foot issues, but I believe he’s going into it really well,” Hough said.

Higher Power – Hronis Racing’s Higher Power galloped 1 1/2m at 6:30 Tuesday morning at Keeneland with Juan Leyva aboard for trainer John Sadler. 

Sadler arrived in Lexington Monday night and Tuesday morning cast eyes on Higher Power in the flesh for the first time in 30 days. 

“We took a different approach with him,” said Sadler of Higher Power, who will break from post six in Saturday’s Classic when he tries to improve on his third-place finish of 2019. “I don’t think he had flown cross country before and when he went to Miami (for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational), he was not comfortable. 

“We were bringing Ollie’s Candy here (for the Juddmonte Spinster) and she is going to be in the (Keeneland November Breeding Stock) sale (next week) and staying, so it just made sense to bring him in then and not take a chance on another cross-country flight. He has done well here with Juan Leyva, who is a rising star, taking care of him. His last two works have been very good.” 

Sadler liked the six post for Higher Power, who is listed at 20-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Flavien Prat. 

“It is very good for him. I didn’t want the one or the outside,” Sadler said. “He will get a stalking trip.”  

Tacitus – Juddmonte Farms homebred Tacitus left Barn 60 on Thursday morning and proceeded to gallop a circuit of the Keeneland main track with trainer Bill Mott watching on his pony. The son of Tapit, sire of five Breeders’ Cup champions, and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff alumna Close Hatches will break from the rail post with Jose Ortiz in the 10-horse Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic field.

“He’s good, he’s fresh and he feels good,” Mott said. “He worked good here and he came out of that in good order. He galloped yesterday—went right back to the track with him—and galloped again today.

“He’s got to improve because the competition is a little tougher this time,” he continued. “I think the race having a little pace in it will be to his benefit. They have a long run to the turn, so everyone should get a good spot.”

Having such a sterling pedigree, it would not be a surprise to have Tacitus join the stallion ranks next season, but plans are currently up in the air. Ultimately, the decision resides with Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose pink and green colors have been in the Breeders’ Cup winner’s enclosure seven times. Mott, of course, would prefer to have the attractive gray 4yo back in his barn in 2021.

“I sure hope he (stays in training),” he said. “He’s not a horse who had a big 2-year-old campaign or anything and is worn out. I think he’s a horse that should be a good 5-year-old. Maybe he hasn’t reached his peak yet.”

In 14 starts, Tacitus has finished in the top three 11 times, including four victories, three in Grade 2 company.

Title Ready – Charles Fipke’s Title Ready continued to train at his Churchill Downs base Tuesday and will have another regular gallop Wednesday before making the hour-long van ride to Keeneland.

“All’s good,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “It’s a tough race with really good horses in there. It’s going to be tough, but we’re excited and we’ll what happens. If you want to survive in this business you have to take the big swings and go after the big purses.”

Tiz the Law – Sackatoga Stable’s 3yo colt Tiz the Law continued his preparations for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Tuesday morning with a 2m gallop under exercise rider Heather Smullen followed by a trip to the starting gate for some schooling.           

The New York-bred from the first crop by Constitution, has won four of five starts this year, three of them Grade 1 races. His only setback came in his most recent start, the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby (G1) when he ended up second, 1¼ lengths behind Authentic.           

Though trainer Barclay Tagg  would have preferred an outside post, Tiz the Law and jockey Manny Franco drew post two in the 10-horse Classic. Tagg acknowledged that he doesn’t know for sure that the colt dislikes being on the inside – he has two wins from post 3 – but said the draw would force Franco to be aggressive when the gates open.  

“I guess he’s going to have to let him run away from there a little bit so he can get a position. I don’t want a whole crowd on his outside,” Tagg said. “That’s all we can do, let him run away from there like he did in the Florida Derby. Ideally, if Baffert’s horses would team up up there on the front end; with a deal like that we could sit off them a couple of lengths and just be outside couple of lengths. That would work out great, I think. Who knows?”           

Tiz the Law rolled up victories in the Florida Derby, the Belmont Stakes and the Travers prior to the Kentucky Derby. He was given time to recover from his effort in the Derby and did not run in the Preakness. Tagg shipped him to Keeneland on Oct. 18 and he has had his final two works over the track he will compete on Saturday afternoon. In Tagg’s view, Tiz the Law is ready for his first test against older horses.

Tom’s d’Etat  – The famed TwinSpires are still serving as Tom’s d’Etat’s backdrop as the bay horse galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning with plans to ship to Keeneland Wednesday afternoon.

After five seasons on the track and countless ups and downs during his career, the son of Smart Strike is slated to bring the curtain down on his racing days this weekend when he heads to the starting gate for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. Though trainer Al Stall Jr. readily admits emotions will be running high as he leads his veteran runner over for the last time, the Louisiana native says there is a fairytale ending on tap regardless where the 7yo horse finishes Saturday.

A stall with his name on it will be waiting for Tom’s d’Etat at WinStar Farm as he is set to join its stallion roster for the 2021 season. Earning the right to stand at one of the leading breeding operations is an achievement for any horse but, given the injuries his charge has battled throughout his career en route to becoming a Grade 1 winner, Stall feels a particular level of pride in seeing Tom’s d’Etat graduate to his second career with such honors.

“That might be the best part of the story is that he has a wonderful place to go to,” Stall said. “There won’t be emotion like ‘Oh we want the horse to stay around so we can make more money.’ None of that. We’re thrilled to death that he’s got such a great place to go and (WinStar) does a wonderful job getting mares for their stallions. They have a clientele that goes from here to forever. When he leaves that Sunday morning for WinStar, win lose or draw, it will be a happy thing for everybody.”

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