Honor Code to Benefit from Public Workout

But will he get the Classic he wants?

By ART PARKER

Honor Code ran in last week’s Grade II Kelso Handicap at Belmont as trainer Shug McGaughey said it was a better prep than the Jockey Club Gold Cup. One couldn‘t help but wonder why Shug was making that move. Was Honor Code not at his best? Why take the best older male in the country and run for a paltry $400,000 instead of a $1,000,000?

It looks like Shug had a plan and stuck to it. The connections of Honor Code are far more concerned about winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic than the Jockey Club. It’s not just because the money in the Classic is enough to sink a ship. My speculation is that a win in the Classic, added to the exemplary record of Honor Code, escalates his value in the breeding shed even more. Honor Code is a great stallion prospect. He is a true blue blood. His future value increases greatly with a win in the Classic accompanied by the footnote of beating a Triple Crown winner in American Pharoah. All of this makes the $1,000,000 Jockey Club purse look like peanuts.

The Breeders' Cup at KeenelandIt was pretty clear to me when the field in the Kelso reached the half mile pole. Castellano had Honor Code on the rail, in the slop. At most tracks the rail is a terrible place to be on in the mud, but Castellano had the big guy down there for about half the race. Why didn’t he move Honor Code away from the rail when he was in his usual last position of running at the back of the field? About midway in the turn Castellano moved Honor Code out away from the rail and then before entering the stretch moved him very wide. When you are wide at Belmont in the turn you lose much more ground than you do elsewhere. Once he was straight Honor Code was way out in the center of the track and much farther back than normal.

If you play the game long enough you learn that all horses are not always intended for a big effort. Often horses are getting a little schooling. Often horses are in need of a race that will help assure an overall successful campaign. There is an old saying, something like, “A race is worth three or four workouts.” There could be any number of reasons why Shug put his star in the Kelso instead of the Jockey Club. As far as I’m concerned he was not out to win the Kelso. It was just a race that intended to help Honor Code in another way.

I try not to become a big fan of any horse, but Honor Code is an exception. I’m hoping Shug’s plan works. I hope that Honor Code is as fit as a fiddle on the day of the Classic. But as time marches on things begin to look more difficult for the son of A.P. Indy. In early August a good horse named Moreno was retired. Just before the end of September Bayern was retired. Then came the news that trainer Todd Pletcher was running Liam’s Map in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, not the Classic. All of this is not good for Honor Code. It appears that all speed that can compromise American Pharoah has disappeared. An unchallenged American Pharoah can make the Classic look like the Preakness or the Belmont.

There is no doubt that Honor Code is an exceptional horse and a closing machine, but the pace scenario of the Classic looks to be totally against him as of this point. Beholder looks to have the best shot at beating American Pharoah because there is no doubt she will probably get first run at the Triple Crown winner.

Have You Missed This?

Check out author Art Parker’s one-of-a-kind guide “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

2015 Breeders’ Cup Future Book Odds

Courtesy of the best racebook in Nevada, Wynn Las Vegas

As of September 15, 2015

HORSE OPEN CURRENT
AMERICAN PHAROAH 50/1 3/2
BAYERN 10/1 40/1
BEHOLDER* 12/1 5/1
CANDY BOY 45/1 75/1
CATCH A FLIGHT 75/1 15/1
CIGAR STREET 22/1 40/1
COACH INGE 60/1 40/1
COMMISSIONER 60/1 20/1
COMPETITIVE EDGE 75/1 100/1
CONSTITUTION 65/1 15/1
DORTMUND …

click here for the Classic and Distaff Odds

An Early Christmas for Horse Racing Fans

Handicapper Art ParkerBy Art Parker

If you play horses long enough you know it will happen. Unbeatable favorites adored by the public crashing to defeat on a major stage. Although the public was terribly disappointed in the defeat of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes the result of that race reminds us of something far more important that Saratoga being the graveyard of favorites. It reminds us that at anytime, anywhere, the very best can go down to defeat.
But racing can also do the opposite. A race may result in a possible champion emerging, or a result that propels a serious challenger forward.
This August has provided both scenarios. First was the defeat of the invincible American Pharoah, in a race restricted to his own generation. The others came earlier in the month.

 

A female watched and waited to pounce on a grouper of older males, representatives of the toughest division in the game. Beholder not only defeated a group of older men, but she embarrassed the hell out of them. And the field included the defending Breeders’ Cup Classic Champion. All Beholder did was crush her opponents in the Grade One Pacific Classic at Del Mar by eight lengths and did little more than let out a yawn. When this year is reviewed and one uses the words “dominate performance” they better have the reel running of Beholder at Del Mar.

The other race was actually the earliest in the month and it didn’t confirm a horse as a champion – even though it may play a major role in determining the champ of the male handicap division. Honor Code, who put on a clinic of how to run others down in the Met Mile, showed that he is a true closing machine in the Grade One Whitney. What else would one expect from a horse with blood bluer than B.B. King’s Greatest Hits Album?

 

Two years ago Honor Code showed us what he could do as a baby in New York. I prayed that he would stay healthy for the Derby – I was one that wanted him to win since the Derby was one of the few marquee races left unclaimed by the get of the great A.P. Indy. Honor Code missed most of his three year old year but has come back and demonstrated what a great horse he really is. Shug McGaughey has done a terrific job at getting this one back into racing and orchestrating what may be a championship year. If there has been a heart pounding, thrilling race this year it was the Whitney. Honor Code, who is a terrific stallion prospect, showed what a great sustained runner he is.

So the table is set. I hope these three go in the Breeder’s Classic. I feel safe in saying that American Pharoah and Honor Code will be there if they are both healthy. Beholder has a spot locked up because of her win at Del Mar, but The Breeders' Cup at Keenelandtrainer Dick Mandella hasn’t decided what he will do with his champion mare. Just imagine a Classic with American Pharoah showing the way with Beholder getting closer at the top of the stretch, and both of them hear the ground shake when Honor Code turns on the afterburners. Who will win? The fans of racing, that’s who. I just can’t imagine a better Classic.

 

It’s closer than you think. This year I hope it comes October 31st, just the way I envision it.

Reviewing BC Results with the previously published profiles

By Craig Spencer

Last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup should have been a profitable endeavor for me based on the success that my prior publication had, but my wagering strategy needs a little work.  Here’s a summary by race of the winners compared to my “qualifiers”; qualifiers and the bets that would have been cashed using just the qualifiers are in red.  [Read Craig’s BC Winning Profiles piece here]

Juvenile Turf  – Foreign Shippers

So in the Juvenile Turf I suggested Commemorative and War Envoy from the foreign contingent and discussed that Hootenanny shouldn’t have a problem getting the distance from a breeding perspective but the time since his last race did cause me some concern.

BC Results Juv Turf 2014

Dirt Mile – last raced within 6 weeks, good last work a plus

Goldencents, Tapiture, Fed Biz were the suggested horses to consider.  Pants On Fire also qualified winning prior race within 6 weeks and having a good last work, but I wasn’t in love with his recent form and didn’t suggest him to be one to consider.

BC Results Mile dirt 2014


Juvenile Fillies Turf  – Group 1 exiters from Foreign shippers, Top 2 in last out and 60%+ top 3 finishes in their turf outs and last raced within 5 weeks with the Miss Grillo Stakes has been a key race for North American entrants

Osaila, Sunset Glow, Lady Eli, Tammy the Torpedo, Conquest Harlanate, and Isabella Sings were the suggested horses to consider.  Prize Exhibit was a Euro shipper that was coming out of a Group 3 race and not a Group 1 as was prescribed for contenders:

BC Results Juv Filly Turf 2014

 

Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff  – Zenyatta and Beldame are key prep races, a race within 5 weeks is a plus, but either historical decent early or decent late pace presence required

Close Hatches, Untapable, Belle Gallantey, and Don’t Tell Shophia were the suggested horses.  Iotapa did exit the Zenyatta (a key race that was called out) but hadn’t really shown good early or late foot so was not a win contender:

BC Results Distaff 2014

14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies  – Last Race Graded Stakes Winner

By The Moon and Top Decile were the suggested horses.  Wonder Gal and Feathered both exited second and third place finishes in the Frizette (called out key race).  I still can’t make an argument for the winner even knowing she won.

BC Results Juv Filly 2014

Filly & Mare Turf  – 1st or 2nd in G1 prep race within 35 days – unless Euro, and demonstrated early or late pace presence for North Americans)

Abaco, Dayatthespa, Emollient, Just The Judge, Dank, and Stephanie’s Kitten   were the suggested horses:

 BC Results FM Turf 2014

DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint  – Thoroughbred Club of America winner or TCA top 3 with a good last work

Leigh Court and Stonetastic were the suggested horse to consider coming out of the Thoroughbred Club of America.  Judy The Beauty definitely figured to be the one to upset the TCA exiters if that were to occur:

BC Results FM Spring 2014

Turf Sprint  – Track affinity – not surface affinity but track affinity

This one had a few qualifiers.  Those were Ambitious Brew, Bobby’s Kitten, Home Run Kitten, Reneesgotzip, Sweet Swap, and Tightend Touchdown.  Bobby’s Kitten continued the trend that requires track affinity at the host track for this race.  No Nay Never figured to not need a specific track to race on considering his success all over the world on different configured courses:

BC Results Tf sprint 2014

Sentient Jet Juvenile  – First or second place finish and shown strong early or late pace ability

Carpe Diem, Daredevil and Upstart were the qualifiers that were suggested to consider:

BC Results Juvenile 2014

Longines Turf – G1 exiter within 5 weeks

Imagining, Flintshire, Main Sequence, Hangover Kid, and Chiquita were the horses to consider. Twighlight Express had been in the money on the grass 50% of the time, so he was not a qualifier based on the 60% track affinity hurdle rate.  Telescope did not qualify because he ran third in a group 1 in his last start 73 days ago.  The requirements were 1st or 2nd in a Grade/Group 1 within 35 days and be in the money 60%+ for all turf starts:

 BC Results Turf 2014

Xpressbet Sprint – Top 2 finisher in prep, track affinity or surface affinity if no starts at the track with a good last work

Fast Anna, Indianapolis, Seeking the Sherif and Work All Week were the ones suggested to consider.  A reader of the article made me aware that Bourbon Courage also worked pretty fast leading into the race but was the only one working 3 furlongs that day at Keeneland so it didn’t show up in the top 3rd (1 ranked worker  / 1 worker = 100%, need to be below 33.4% to be GLW).  I won’t count it, but 34 and change is a pretty good work.  Private Zone did not have a good last work but qualified on the other requirements.  Secret Circle finished a close third in his prep, so just barely missed qualifying as a win contender:

BC Results Sprint 2014

Mile  – G1 exiters

Suggested to consider Anodin, Karakontie, Toronado, and Trade Storm:

BC Results Mile 2014

Classic  – Awesome Again, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup are the key races, top 3 finishers in prep that have track affinity or surface affinity if no starts at the track

Cigar Street, Bayern, Shared Belief,  California Chromem Moreno and Majestic Harbor were the ones suggested to consider:

BC Results Classic 2014

In Summary, the suggested horses finished first 10 times, second 8 times, third 5 times, fourth 3 times with 6 exactas, 3 trifectas,  1 superfecta, 6 doubles, 4 pick 3s, and 2 pick 4s.

Not too shabby, so how did I lose money?  By talking myself out of Karakontie in the last minute before placing my late pick 4 wager on Saturday.  I had noticed that Goldikova’s brother, Anodin, had soundly beaten Karokontie in their last race at Longchamp and I had originally casted my lot with Shared Belief and Zivo in the Classic.  After Lukas’ 2 year-old filly went wire to wire in the Juvenile Fillies I thought I had better get Bayern on my ticket and decided to cut the Mile down to just Anodin and Toronado so I could save $12. That was costly, the $0.50 pick 4 paid $18,335 and I had the other 3 legs.

If I had just played the trifectas with my win contenders it would have been pretty profitable weekend.  Had I boxed each race with just the contenders it would have cost $726 to play both days, and I would have cashed for $5,259. This is a great example of where the analysis and handicapping is solid but the plan of attack (wagering strategy) needs some work.

D.Wayne – Don’t Count the Old Coach Out

Breeders CupBy Art Parker

This year we begin the fourth decade of the Breeders’ Cup. The 31st Breeders’ Cup, which is the most prestigious day of the year in thoroughbred racing, will be held at Santa Anita this coming weekend. A total of 14 races with purses and awards totaling $27 million.

Many things have changed since the first Breeders’ Cup. Naturally, the horses have changed and the people have too. A few of the old guys are sticking around but none of those still hanging around has impacted the entire Breeders’ Cup story like trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The former high school teacher, basketball coach and quarter horse trainer is the oldest to win a Breeders’ Cup race. In 2012 when he was 77 the coach won the Juvenile Sprint with Hightail. Many of us marveled at the accomplishment. A little more than six months later he won the Preakness (again) with a tough colt named Oxbow. For Lukas to relinquish the title of oldest trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race, he would need to be shut out this year at Santa Anita, and California Chrome will need to win the Classic for trainer Art Sherman.

Lukas, now 79, will not be showing up at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita just to see old friends; he will be there with several entries. And while he may not have the best chances in the world, no one will keep the most successful trainer in the world at home.

His best chance will be with Mr. Z, and even if that one will leave the gate as a long shot, it should be noted that he finished second at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Futurity to the highly impressive Carpe Diem.

Lady Zu and Take Charge Brandi are two juvenile girls that Lukas has entered but should be long odds before the gates open at Santa Anita.

But don’t let odds scare you, and don’t forget two of Lukas’ major scores in the Breeders’ Cup. Remember 1991 when Cat Thief stole the Classic 19-1? Remember 2000 when the filly Spain shocked us in the Distaff at 55-1? Don’t think that Lukas can’t do it again.

In addition to Hightail, Cat Thief and Spain, here are but a few of Lukas’ Breeders’ Cup winners over the years. The list is impressive: Lady’s Secret, Steinlen, Gulch , Orientate, Capote,  Timber Country, Open Mind, Flanders.

Lukas has started 161 horses in the Breeders’ Cup. He has notched 19 winners, and finished in the money (top 3) another 38 times.

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Click here for a custom rebate schedule and special BC signup offer

Breeders’ Cup Winners Profiles – Part I

By Craig Spencer

I have gone back and looked at the winner of each Breeders’ Cup race since 1999.  I will look at each of the races and discuss historically successful prep races and other interesting things to keep in mind:

Juvenile Fillies Turf:

The last two winners came from European invaders and it appears that they are bringing over some talented fillies again this year.

The first two runnings, also at Santa Anita, were won by horses coming out of Belmont’s Miss Grillo stakes.  If a North American based horse is to win this race, it appears that they need to have ran first or second in their most recent race and to have finished in the top 3 in 60% of their grass races.  The only horse to win this race and not meet the 60% hurdle was the foreign based Flotilla in 2012.  A prep race within seven weeks has been necessary to get the money in this race, with 5 of the 6 winners coming back within 5 weeks.

BC Juv Filly Turf

Figure 3: Juvenile Fillies Turf

None of the foreign contingent come out of a Group 1 race within 5 weeks of the Cup, however Osaila (5-1) impressively won the ₤300,000 Tattersalls Millions race at Newmarket on October 4th and she had previously won a Group 3 event and finished a close fifth in a Group 1 event at The Curragh.

Wesley Ward brings in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Sunset Glow (7-2).  She made a trip to Royal Ascot in June and did not embarrass herself.  She finished second in the Group 3 Albany Stakes defeating Osaila in that event.  The biggest negative with Sunset Glow is that she last raced on the 30th of August, which is a bit longer of a break than I would like leading into this event.  She has been working regularly since September 23rd on the Keeneland Turf Course and her breeding leaves little doubt that she can handle the mile.

Lady Eli (6-1) is undefeated in two starts in New York, and she was the victor in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes. Tammy The Torpedo (12-1) and Partisan Politics (15-1) finished 3rd and 4th, respectively in that event.

The winner and second place finisher of Woodbine’s Grade 3 Natalma are also planned to be a part of the field.  Conquest Harlanate (10-1) for Mark Casse and Isabella Sings (12-1) for Todd Pletcher finished a neck apart in that affair with Conquest Harlanate getting the upper hand.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff:

In the 15 runnings of this event since 1999, we have had zero winners that last raced over 5 weeks out.  With the Beldame and the Zenyatta (formerly the Lady’s Secret) providing the last 8 winners. A good last work (GLW) does not appear to be of much importance, 4 of the last 8 winners did not have a “good last work”.  Either a decent early pace presence or the best late pace ability seems to be a requirement with Pleasant Home and Unbridled Elaine being the only victors to not meet one of those requirements.  The last 4 had shown decent early pace presence, with Life is Sweet, Zenyatta and Ginger Punch all being monsters in the final stages of the event.

BC Distaff

Figure 4: Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The mares coming out of the Beldame are the winner Belle Gallantey (6-1) and the fourth place finisher Stanwyck (20-1).  The horses coming out of the Zenyatta are second place finisher Tiz Midnight (10-1) and third place finisher Iotapa (6-1).  Beholder won that event and has not been entered in this year’s race.

Untapable (5-2) will try and be the first filly to win this event after winning the Cotillion since Ashado in 2004. Her BRIS figures took a turn south in her last two events.  She took on the boys in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth and finished fifth behind Classic contender Bayern’s electrifying run that day.  She came back to win the Cotillion while drifting inward and outward at Parx but ran the same BRIS figure in both events.  She will need to run back to the numbers she was running earlier in the year to be competitive and will likely be way overbet.

The females who have shown decent early pace presence are Close Hatches (3-1) and Untapable (5-2) with Bella Gallantey (6-1) and Don’t Tell Sophia (5-1) being the clear late pace advantage runners.

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Click here for a custom rebate schedule and special BC signup offer

 

14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies

Last year’s rendition of the Juvenile Fillies proved to be the exception to the many rules.  The first rule that Ria Antonia broke was winning the race after finishing out of the money in her final prep.  In fact, going back to 2002, the only other last race loser that was able to win this race occurred when She Be Wild won off a second place finish at Keeneland in the Alcibiades 4 weeks prior to the Breeders’ Cup.  Ria Antonia won after finishing fifth in the Frizette at Belmont.

BC Juv Fillies

Figure 5: 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies

Ria Antonia was adding blinkers last year; changing equipment coming into big races is not something that you typically see a lot of success with.  Blinker changes are usually made when horses aren’t performing up to expectations, not many BC entrants are performing below expectations or they wouldn’t be running in a race of this caliber.  However, Ria Antonia had woken up big time in the morning since the change, in young horses that can be a huge indicator that the change was beneficial.

Since 1999, the stats for all Breeders’ Cup races aren’t real great in regards to equipment changes:

  • Blinkers On had 4 winners out of 45 starters (Ria Antonia, Trinniberg, Dangerous Midge, Valponi)
  • Blinkers Off did a bit better, percentage wise, with 2 winners out of 12 starters (Midnight Lute and Adoration)
  • Second time blinkers has done horribly with 0 wins out of 18 starters and only 2 seconds and 1 third in this timeframe

Graded Stakes winners in the final prep has been nearly a requirement in this race, the last 7 winners have raced within 29 days.  The only horse that meets the criteria this year is By The Moon (12-1) off her Frizette win 28 days prior, but she drew the outside 12 post position and that’s a lot to overcome but not something that hasn’t been done before, Halbridled won in 2003 from the 14 post.  Top Decile (10-1) finished second in the Alcibiades 29 days out, similar to She Be Wild in 2009, and the winner of the Alcibiades, Peace and War, is not going to Arcadia.  Top Decile only faired marginally better at the post-position draw, getting the 11 post.

We have had, in the past 15 years, four winners breaking from the rail, three from the 4 post, one from the 5, one from the 7, one from the 8, two from the 9, two from the 10 and one from the 14.

Filly & Mare Turf

The Filly & Mare Turf seems to be the only race, aside from the Turf Sprint, on grass that the Europeans have not completely dominated with only 5 winners making their last start across the pond, Dank made all of her career starts in Europe before coming over to win the Beverly D at Arlington last year to follow it up with another successful trip stateside to take the money in this race.

BC F M Turf

Figure 6: Filly and Mare Turf

Every one of the winners had shown an affinity for turf.  In my calculations I use a 60% in the money hurdle for track/surface affinity.  If they have not finished in the money 3 out of every 5 races on the grass, they are not likely to begin showing that ability on the first Saturday in November.  Only two instances in the past 15 renditions have been won by a horse that did not finish in the top 3 in their penultimate race.  For US contenders, they have to either have a distinct early pace advantage or a distinct late pace advantage to be a win contender.  These advantages are an indicator of having a good acceleration, or turn of foot, and that is a huge asset in these international turf races with large fields.  Dank’s (5-2) BC performance from last year, Dayatthespa (8-1), and Just The Judge’s (5-1) North America performances qualify these three horses from a perceived early or late pace advantage.

In the past 15 runnings, five winners have made their last start more than 5 weeks prior, all of those were trained by European trainers.

I would look for a horse coming out of a winning or placing performance in a Grade or Group 1 race within 35 days (unless a Euro shipper) and only consider an American horse if a pace advantage (early or late) has been demonstrated.  In this year’s field, those that qualify are Abaco (15-1), Dayatthespa (8-1), Emollient (12-1), Just The Judge (5-1), and Stephanie’s Kitten (3-1).

Just The Judge won the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine 2 weeks prior to Breeders’ Cup Saturday.  Many people will say that is too close, we have had 34 horses try since 1999 with zero successes, the best finish was a second in the 2003 F&M Turf by L’Ancresse for Aidan O’Brien.  I believe that Just The Judge will be the most bet of the Euro contingent in this race but she is one to try and beat.

I do like Stephanie’s Kitten, Dayatthespa and Abaco from the US hopefuls.  I expect to get a pretty good price on Abaco, who I think will be a key horse for me in my exotic wagers. This will be Shug’s first starter in this race since 1999.  His two BC wins in that timeframe came with female runners (Storm Flag Flying in the 2002 Juvenile Fillies and Pleasant Home in the 2005 Distaff).

DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint

This race shouldn’t take a lot of time to handicap if the last 5 editions are any indication of the win contenders.  The Thoroughbred Club of America (TCA) at Keeneland 4 weeks out has produced each of the winners in that span.  The two caveats to add here are that 1) Keeneland removed their Polytrack surface this year, which they initially installed in 2006, and replaced it with conventional dirt.  In 2008-2009, Santa Anita also had an All-Weather track.  2) Groupie Doll won the last two BC F&M Sprints and she was a beast on any surface so no matter the prep her connections chose for her, she probably was the winner.

BC F M sprint

Figure 7: DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint

The 3 horses that were in the trifecta at Keeneland were, in order, Leigh Court (4-1)  – Southern Honey (20-1) – Stonetastic (8-1).  Southern Honey’s work at Keeneland last Saturday was not good enough to be considered a Good Last Work when she turned in a work that was ranked 20th of 47 working a half mile that day.  Stonetastic worked a fantastic half mile at Santa Anita the same day when she turned in the fastest work of 59.

I have been a fan of morning line favorite Judy the Beauty (5-2), but she will come in last racing 76 days prior to the event when she won the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar.  I think I’ll stick with Leigh Court and Stonetastic.

Look for Part II of Craig Spencer’s work this week

Breeders’ Cup could be turning point for California Chrome

Horse of the Year or retirement; those are the outcomes that ride on the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Classic for California Chrome. Coming off two disappointing defeats, the Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner will be among the headliners in the Nov. 1 Classic at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.. But with a poor performance, the $5 million race…

Hidden by Cigar smoke – Racing’s Greatest Breeders’Cup Performance

By Art Parker

I’ve seen them all. Every single Breeders’ Cup race. I may not have bet on all of them. A couple of times I couldn’t get to the OTB and was forced to watch from home. I’ve seen them all from Wild Again’s huge upset in the first Breeders’ Cup Classic to Goldikova’s three romps in the Mile. I’ve seen them all as they happened. And I’ve seen almost all of them several times via replay. Some I’ve seen a dozen times.

So I’m prepared for any argument offered by anyone as to who was the best ever on Breeders’ Cup Day. That is always a good argument since those that vote obviously place a great value on the outcome of the races on Breeders’ Cup day.

Among all of the races there is one that stands heads above all others when it comes to a championship display. In my eyes, nothing comes close to the performance by Inside Information at Belmont Park in 1995. Absolutely nothing.

The sad news for Inside Information is that she will always play second fiddle because her splendid effort is overshadowed by Cigar’s victory in the Classic. Cigar, who died this month, was the beneficiary of what NYRA’s legendary race caller Tom Durkin said was his greatest race call….”the unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar.”

Durkin was right about Cigar, and the son of Palace Music was a great champion. Cigar was the entire talk and garnered almost every breath of news regarding thoroughbred racing in 1995. Cigar ran a memorable race a couple of hours after Inside Information, but, with all due respect to the late champion, the filly’s performance rattled the bowels of the earth by comparison.

The daughter of Private Account completely and totally embarrassed a field that included her outstanding stable mate that finished second, Heavenly Prize, a filly that many thought was the better part of the Shug McGaughey/Phipps entry.

According to the Blood Horse, her final time of 1:46.15 for 1 1/8 miles was within six-tenths (3/5) of matching Secretariat’s track record for the distance set in 1973, and Big Red recorded his time on a fast track.

Here are the times for Inside Information for the Distaff:

23.00   45.90   1:09.42   1:33.50   1:46.15

A couple of hours later, Cigar won the Classic with the following times:

24.21   48.35   1:12.36   1:35.67   1:59.58

Inside Information captured the Distaff by 13 ½ lengths. Cigar won the Classic by 2 ½ lengths. The track was muddy.

I remember sitting at the big round table that Breeders’ Cup with my usual buddies. When Belmont signed off and before we got back to playing the claimers at other tracks around the country, we had a brief discussion about the day. When I asked, who was the star of the day Cigar failed to get a single vote from six experienced players.  It was all about Inside Information. One of the guys said she could have beat Cigar. Maybe so. I am convinced that had she faced Cigar the big boy would have at least left the track knowing he had been in one helluva fight.

The other thing I know about Inside Information’s Breeders’ Cup win is that it serves as the example of what a great champion should look like on a championship stage. When you think of a champion on Breeders’ Cup day it is easy to think of her.

Champion Racehorses top 201 Horses Pre-entered for 2014 Breeders’ Cup

Breeders CupCALIFORNIA CHROME, SHARED BELIEF, CLOSE HATCHES AND MAGICIAN (IRE) AMONG THE TOP PLAYERS

ARCADIA, Calif. (October 22, 2014) – Led by an international all-star cast of the world’s best horses, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome,  undefeated Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes winner  Shared Belief, Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist, Haskell and Pennsylvania Derby winner Bayern, and defending  European champions Magician (IRE) and Dank (GB),  a record 201 horses, including 38 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The 31st Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consisting of 13 grade one races with purses and awards totaling $26 million, will be held at Santa Anita Park for the third consecutive year on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.

The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live and in primetime on Saturday, November 1 on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET).

Goldencents (Dirt Mile), Ria Antonia (Juvenile Fillies), Magician (Turf); Secret Circle (Sprint) and Dank (GB) are the five 2013 winners pre-entered for this year’s Breeders’ Cup. A total of 37 horses have received automatic qualifying berths into the races through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic, the climactic event of the Championships, is contested at 1 ¼ miles on the main track. An oversubscribed field of 15 horses have been pre-entered. Since the event’s inception in 1984, 11 winners of the Classic have been voted Thoroughbred racing’s Horse of the Year, and with California Chrome and Shared Belief leading the way, this year’s race could produce No.12.

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’s California Chrome took the sports world by storm this year with rousing victories in Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness for trainer Art Sherman. He ran fourth in his bid to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner in the 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes (GI). He returned to the races in the 1 1/8 mile Pennsylvania Derby (GII) on September 20, but was a disappointing sixth behind Bayern. California Chrome, a son of Lucky Pulpit, has won 8 times in 14 lifetime starts.

While California Chrome dominated racing during the first half of 2014, Shared Belief has been the big horse during the second half. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Jungle Racing, Alex Solis II, George Todaro and Jason Litt’s Shared Belief was an easy choice for 2-year-old champion as he went undefeated and untested in three starts, which culminated in a 5 ¾-length win in the CashCall Futurity (GI) at Hollywood Park in December. The son of Candy Ride (ARG) missed the Triple Crown season with lingering foot issues but quickly rose to the forefront of his division off victories in a pair of grade I “Win and You’re In” races for the Classic over older horses; Del Mar’s TVG Pacific Classic (GI) in August and Santa Anita’s Awesome Again (GI) on September 27. Shared Belief, with the Breeders’ Cup’s all-time winningest rider Mike Smith aboard, will put his perfect 7-for-7 record on the line in the Classic and would be odds-on to win Horse of the Year, as well as the 3-year-old championship, with a win.

Robert Evans’ Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement, has built an impressive resume of his own and would warrant a long look for both titles with a Classic win. The son of Tapit didn’t break his maiden until January at Gulfstream Park but gained national attention when he upset California Chrome in the Belmont, then secured an automatic berth into the Classic when he beat older horses in Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) on September 27.

Kaleem Shah’s front-running Bayern has been a tough competitor all year.  He captured Belmont’s Woody Stephens (GII) in June and had dominant wins in Monmouth Park’s “Win and You’re In” William Hill Haskell (GI) in July and in the Pennsylvania Derby in September for trainer Bob Baffert. The son of Offlee Wild will try to extend his high cruising speed to 1 ¼ miles in the Classic.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens has decided to pre-enter Travers Stakes (GI) winner V.E. Day for owner Magalen Bryant, and the son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel should relish the 1 ¼ mile distance. The remaining group of 3-year-olds pre-entered for the Classic includes C R K Stable’s Candy Boy, third in the Pennsylvania Derby for John Sadler; and Toast of New York, a synthetic specialist who was second to Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic and a winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai back in the spring for Jamie Osborne.

The Classic has been won by older horses in 10 of the past 12 runnings, with Curlin in 2007 and   Raven’s Pass in 2008 being the only 3-year-olds to win in that stretch. This year’s group is led by a pair who secured automatic starting berths in the Classic with grade one “Win and You’re In” victories: Southern Equine Stable’s 4-year-old Moreno, a son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, who won Saratoga’s Whitney in August for trainer Eric Guillot, and Gallant Stable’s Majestic Harbor, who rolled to victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June for trainer Sean McCarthy. KM Racing Enterprise’s Imperative, who won the Charles Town Classic (GII) in April for George Papaprodromou; Godolphin Stable’s  Footbridge, who was third to Shared Belief in the Awesome Again; Cigar Street, winner of the Homecoming Stakes at Churchill Downs for trainer Bill Mott;  Thomas Coleman’s homebred Zivo, who won Belmont’s Suburban (GII) at 1 ¼ miles and was second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup for Chad Brown, and Big Cazanova (ARG), a group one winner in South America last year, round out the pre-entries for the Classic.

Friday’s headline event is the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up. Juddmonte Farms’ Close Hatches was the undisputed divisional leader off a 4-for-4 record this year for trainer Bill Mott but will need to rebound from an extremely disappointing fourth-place finish at 1-5 in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Juddmonte Spinster (GI) on October 5. The 4-year-old daughter of First Defence, who was second to Beholder in last year’s Distaff, won Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom (GI)  in April, the Phipps and Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign (GI)  in August to take charge of the division. Close Hatches is 9-for-13 lifetime starts for Mott, who has won the race an unprecedented five times.

The undisputed queen of the 3-year-old fillies is Ron Winchell’s homebred Untapable, who has dominated her rivals in all five starts against her peers this season for trainer Steve Asmussen. The daughter of Tapit won her first four starts of the year, including Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks (GI) in May and Belmont’s Mother Goose (GI) in June, by 31 lengths but then was a disappointing fifth when favored in Bayern’s “Win and You’re In” William Hill Haskell  at Monmouth Park in July. Untapable rebounded with a win in Parx Racing’s Cotillion (GI) September 20 and will put her 7-for-10 career record on the line when she tests older fillies and mares for the first time in the Distaff.

Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith’s Belle Gallantey, who won Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Beldame (GI) September 27 for Rudy Rodriguez; Jerry Namy and trainer Philip Sims’ Don’t Tell Sophia, who upset Close Hatches in the Spinster; Hronis Racing’s Iotapa, who won the local Vanity in June and “Win and You’re In” Clement Hirsch at Del Mar in August and was third in the Zenyatta for John Sadler; and Loooch Racing Stable and Chris Dunn’s Ria Antonia, who upset last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was second in the Spinster for Tom Amoss, and Valiant Emilia (PER), who won the “Win and You’re In” Cesar del Rio in Peru in June, now under the care of trainer Gary Mandella  in the U.S,  have all been pre-entered.

While the Classic and Distaff figure to have deserving and identifiable favorites, the $3 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf are shaping up as deep and wide open affairs. The Turf, run over 1 ½ miles, is led by Flaxman Holdings’ homebred Main Sequence, who has done little wrong in winning all three U.S. starts—in grade I company—for trainer Graham Motion: Monmouth Park’s “Win and You’re In” United Nations in July, Saratoga’s Sword Dancer in August and Belmont Park’s “Win and You’re In” Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) September 27. The 5-year-old son of Aldebaran is 7-for-17 lifetime in a career that started in Europe and has had a nose for the finish line in his three starts this year, as all three wins have come in photo finishes.

Coolmore’s defending Turf champion Magician (IRE) will also attract support for Aidan O’Brien. The 4-year-old son of Galileo, has won just once this year, but has been second in three group one races, including the Arlington Million. Two Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners in Michael House’s Big John B, who won the Del Mar Handicap (GII) in August for Phil D’Amato and Andrew Bentley’s Hardest Core, who took the Arlington Million (GI) August 16 for Eddie Graham, also merit respect as do Phipps Stable’s homebred Imagining and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Twilight Eclipse, who have lost photo finishes to Main Sequence for Shug McGaughey and Tom Albertrani, respectively. In addition to Magician, Europe figures to send formidable foes in  Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flintshire (GB), who was last seen finishing second to Treve (FR) in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe; Andrew Black and Owens Promotion’s Brown Panther (GB), winner of the Irish St. Leger (GI) on September 14 and Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s Telescope (GB), for trainer  Michael Stoute, a four-time winner of the Turf, who won the Hardwicke Stakes (GII) at Ascot and was third in the Juddmonte International (GI) at York this summer.

The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 ¼ miles,  is led by  Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Stephanie’s Kitten, who could be the favorite off her sharp win in Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Flower Bowl (GI) September 27 for trainer Chad Brown. Juddmonte’s homebred Emollient earned an automatic berth into the race when she won the local course and distance prep, the “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive (GI) September 27 for trainer Bill Mott and will look to better her fourth place run in last year’s race.  Tough competition should come from Fiesolana (IRE), who earned an automatic Filly & Mare Turf bid with her win in Leopardstown’s Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron (GI) in September for trainer Willie McCreery and the Niarchos Family and defending champion Dank (GB), who has started just twice this year, most recently a fifth place finish in Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot.

Wise Dan’s defection from the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile has opened up the race considerably as 25 horses have been pre-entered. Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino’s Obviously (IRE), who won the “Win and You’re In” Shoemaker Mile (GI) at Santa Anita in June for Phil D’Amato, has been third and fifth, respectively, in the last two editions of the Mile at Santa Anita.  Braly Family Trust’s Tom’s Tribute, who won Del Mar’s Eddie Read (GI) and Del Mar Mile (GII) this summer for Jim Cassidy, is in the best form of his career and looms a major contender as well.

The Europeans counter with Al Shaqab Racing’s Toronado (IRE), who won the group one Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Richard Hannon. The 4-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf winner High Chaparral (IRE) lost the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp (GI) by just a head in his most recent start on September 14. Qatar Racing’s Trade Storm (GB), who won the “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI) September 14 for David Simcock has been pre-entered. Wertheimer et Frere’s Anodin (IRE), a full-brother to three-time Mile winner Goldikova (IRE), who was second in the “Win and You’re In” Jacques le Marois (GI) at Deauville in August for Freddy Head and was third to Toronado in the Queen Anne, could also be formidable.

The $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint is oversubscribed with 21 horses pre-entered. Run at six furlongs, the Sprint will bring together a quartet of “Win and You’re In” stars who will look to dethrone defending champion Secret Circle:   Antonino Miuccio’s Palace, who won Saratoga’s Vanderbilt (GI)  in July and the “Win and You’re In” Forego (GI) in August for trainer Linda Rice; Good Friend Stable’s Private Zone, who defeated Palace in Belmont Park’s “Win and You’re In” Vosburgh (GI) September 27 for trainer Alfredo Velazquez, and Yuk Tak Cheung’s Rich Tapestry (IRE), who  came from Hong Kong and upset Secret Circle in winning his U.S. debut in the “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI) October 4 for trainer C W Chang; and Midwest Thoroughbreds’ homebred Work All Week, who remained undefeated in nine dirt starts when he won Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (GIII) October 3 for trainer Roger Brueggemann.

The DraftKings Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, run at seven furlongs, could be the most balanced race of the weekend, with trainer Wesley Ward’s Judy The Beauty, who was second in the race last year, leading the way. Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Artemis Agrotera, who earned an automatic bid in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Ballerina (GI) in August for trainer Mike Hushion, Eugene Melnyk’s homebred Leigh Court, who won Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In”  Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) October 4 for trainer Josie Carroll, Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Midnight Lucky, who dominated Churchill Downs’ Humana Distaff (GI) in May in her only start of the year for Baffert, and Treadway Racing’s Sweet Reason, a one-turn dynamo who won Belmont’s Acorn (GI) in June and Saratoga’s Test (GI) in August for trainer Leah Gyarmati, are also major contenders.

The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, run at about six and a half furlongs, is contested over one of the world’s most challenging turf courses in Santa Anita’s undulating hillside course. The race is oversubscribed with a record 29 horses. Tarabilla Farm’s Home Run Kitten and Pamela Ziebath’s homebred Ambitious Brew, the 1-2 finishers over the course and distance in the Eddie D. (GIII) September 26, will attract attention for trainers David Hofmans and Marty Jones, respectively. Riverside Bloodstock’s Dimension (GB) looked good winning the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash for trainer Conor Murphy. The second and third place finishers in last year’s Turf Sprint, Reneesgotzip and Tightend Touchdown, should also bear watching.

W C Racing’s Goldencents figures one of the shorter prices of the weekend when he looks to defend his title in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, which is run at two turns at Santa Anita, and is limited to 12 starters. The 4-year-old son of Into Mischief, who will be trained by Leandro Mora, blitzed the field in last year’s renewal and has held his form this year through an abbreviated campaign for then-trainer Doug O’Neill. Goldencents may be just 1-for-4 in 2014 but did secure a Dirt Mile berth in Del Mar’s “Win and You’re In” Pat O’Brien (GII) in August and was second in his three other starts, all in grade I’s.

Haras Don Alberto’s Bronzo (CHI), who earned a Dirt Mile berth in the “Win and You’re In” Copa De Oro De Chile (GII) at Hipico Chile in June for Jorge Andres Inda; Kaleem Shah’s Fed Biz, who almost upset Shared Belief in Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Awesome Again (GI) September 27 for Bob Baffert; Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, second in the race last year for Kenny McPeek, and Ron Winchell’s homebred Tapiture for Steve Asmussen, also figure as key contenders.

The 1 1/16-mile $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has brought stars from the east and Midwest, but it’s California’s American Pharoah who headlines the field. A bay son of Pioneerof The Nile, American Pharoah broke his maiden in the Del Mar Futurity (GI) in September then backed that win up with a dominant score in the track and distance “Win and You’re In” FrontRunner (GI) September 27 to move his lifetime record to 2-for-3. Across the country, Carpe Diem built on his debut win at Saratoga when he remained undefeated in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI). The son of Giant’s Causeway stretched out from five and a half furlongs in his debut to win the Futurity at the Juvenile’s 1 1/16-mile distance and looks primed to take the next step at Santa Anita. Daredevil, a son of More Than Ready, looked equally impressive winning Belmont Park’s “Win and You’re In” Champagne (GI) October 4 and, like his stablemate, will also put his 2-for-2 career record on the line in the Juvenile, though he has yet to start on a fast track or at two turns.

The 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is led by Sienna Farm’s Angela Renee, who earned an automatic berth into the race with her win in the track and distance Chandelier (GI) September 27 for Pletcher. Jay Em Ess Stable’s By The Moon  won Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Frizette (GI) October 4 for trainer Michelle Nevin and will attract her fair share of support, as will GSN Racing’s Cristina’s Journey, who stayed undefeated in two starts for trainer Dale Romans when she won Churchill’s “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas (GII)  on September 6.

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A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 13 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile (12). Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts.  The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 20, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields.  The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) ranked all horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races.  After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Monday, Oct. 27 by 10:00 a.m. (PT).  At the time of entry, a maximum of 14 horses (or 12) will be accepted for each race based on the order of preference established at pre-entry.

There will be up to two (2) also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 8:00 a.m. PT, Friday, Oct. 31.

About Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships.  The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 grade one races with purses and purses totaling $26 million will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be shown live and in primetime on NBC from 8-9 p.m. ET, November 1. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site,www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms, FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Breeders’ Cup Racetracks Chosen for Next 3 Years

The Breeders' Cup at KeenelandJune 24, 2014
The Breeders’ Cup is delighted to announce the locations of the next three Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Over the next three years, the Breeders’ Cup will be traveling across the nation to some of the most iconic horse racing venues.

The 2015 Breeders’ Cup races into Lexington, Kentucky, the heart of Kentucky’s Blue Grass Country and thoroughbred racing, as Keeneland Race Course hosts its first ever Breeders’ Cup.

In 2016, the Breeders’ Cup will make its record ninth appearance at the beautiful Santa Anita Park, home to some of the event’s most stunning finishes.

Then in 2017 the Breeders’ Cup will be hosted down the California Coast at Del Mar, where the surf meets the turf, for the first time ever.