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Updated on 11/02/2015 9:52AM
Breeders' Cup Classic: American Pharoah faces strong cast in career finale
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Keeneland suffered a major blow Thursday when Beholder, the race’s second choice, was withdrawn from the race after bleeding during her gallop that morning, trainer Richard Mandella said.
“Obviously, when you see that, you can’t put her under the stress of a race,” Mandella said.
Beholder, a two-time champion mare, would have been trying to win a third different Breeders’ Cup race, an unprecedented feat. Her absence leaves a field of nine, and the loss of a major pace presser enhances the chances of American Pharoah, the Triple Crown winner, who is making his final start on Saturday. He will become the first Triple Crown winner to compete in a Breeders’ Cup, which began in 1984, six years after Affirmed won the Triple Crown.
The Classic still includes a Triple Crown winner, the two top older males in the country, one of the best horses in Europe, and a couple of 3-year-olds who appear to be reaching their career-best form.
American Pharoah will be strongly favored, both because of his star status – being the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed and only the 12th ever – and because of a race shape that, on paper, has him as the controlling speed.
But this is a big ask. He will be entering the Classic off a layoff of more than two months, will be racing 1 1/4 miles without a recent prep, will be facing older horses for the first time, and will be racing over a track on which he will not have set foot until Friday.
His recent workouts, though, give every indication that American Pharoah will fire his best shot. But bettors will have to ask if taking a short price is worth it. American Pharoah was 8-5 on the initial line of Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, and 6-5 on the track morning line of Mike Battaglia, and that was prior to the scratch of Beholder, so he will be an even heavier favorite now.
The task for the late runners got a lot more difficult because the horse adjudged to tackle American Pharoah the strongest and the earliest is now out.
Those late runners do pack a punch. Honor Code showed a devastating turn of foot when winning both the Met Mile and the Whitney, Grade 1 races that stamp him as the best older male in the country. Like American Pharoah, this will be the final start of his career, but unlike American Pharoah, this will be his first start beyond 1 1/8 miles. He has done his best with plenty of pace to run into, so the early dynamics of the race could determine his fate.
Tonalist was second in the Met Mile and third in the Whitney, both times to Honor Code, but he enters the Classic off a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup for the second straight year, so 1 1/4 miles is right in his wheelhouse.
Irish raider Gleneagles will be making his first start on dirt and his first start beyond a mile, and though his pedigree suggests he’s a turf horse, there is no denying his quality – he has won four Group 1 races – nor that of his world-class team of trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore.
Frosted and Keen Ice have spent most of the year in the shadow of American Pharoah, but both have given him trouble.
Frosted, fourth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont, was American Pharoah’s early nemesis in the Travers, and even if he changes tactics – as expected – this time, he clearly is on the improve, coming off a win in the Pennsylvania Derby when reunited with his favorite jockey, Joel Rosario, who is back aboard.
Keen Ice has progressed with every race and comes off the best performance of his life when defeating American Pharoah in the Travers.
“He’s no longer a victim of pace,” said trainer Dale Romans.
Smooth Roller should be closest to American Pharoah early, but his light training pattern since arriving here does not inspire confidence.
Effinex has won twice at 1 1/4 miles this year, including over Tonalist in the Suburban Handicap.
Hard Aces won the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June but was no factor in either of his subsequent starts, both at 1 1/4 miles.
4-19-36.plus 9-14-326,plus 1-49-326,,, anything else does not matter!AP is good but just in case the other two horses, 1 and 9 find a way to beat him on the stretch... Nonno`s system; 2 and 7 WPS ! Total $ 60.
With Rosario back on Frosted he will probably make the mistake of not trying to force the pace on AP. Beholder is scratched. Can Smooth Roller do it? Probably not for long enough. Will an above average horse who had almost perfect pace set ups be called great? Yes, especially if none of the others have the sense to realize that they can still get a big chunk of money while taking a risk.
Tonalist with Keen Ice with AP with Frosted
listen,we all have opinions so here is mine, this race is paceless,ap will have it all his own on a soft 48 first half. all will be afraid to go too soon(lezcano in the travers) since espinoza will make any pay who come too soon. so, as always pace makes the race,on paper beholder from her outside post will be placed about 2 or 3rd early and be the first to engage ap since stevens is no fool and wlll sense a soft pace. beholder will look ap in the eye and fade. rosario will be patient and after beholder he will take his shot on frosted,i cant know whether he will get by or not but in my opine it will be close between ap and frosted and with frosted at double digit odds maybe this time. i do not like honor code,total victim of a paceless race,tonalist is a clasic grinder with no turn of foot,mile and half would be his best shot as he can rurn 12's all day.as for keen ice he got a dream trip in the travers ,not this time. forget the rest. ive been around for a while(68) years old and this race seems to me like a lock exacta box,ap and frosted. forget all the triple digit beyers,time is relevant in all races,this race will be decided the first 3/4's. good luck to all
Gleneagles ran 1mile2 a couple of weeks back in the group 1 champions stakes at Ascot, he didn't win because the ground was too soft, I don't really see him doing much of anything on dirt as he is a good/firm ground horse so I think the dirt will be his down fall, though I would love a British horse to win.
DO NOT LOOK PAST SMOOTH ROLLER - Understand the fresh horse advantage as Awesome Again Stakes was even better than the excellent Beyer. This horse rolls at the odds of 14 to 1.
If Honor Code had won his last in the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont , he would be the favorite come post time in this Classic. He didn't , so he is 6/1 . 6/1 on a horse that has triple digit buyer #s in his last 5 out of six races. This race is so set up on paper for Honor Code. Nonsense to hear if he shows up, he is in, he'll win this race, Honor Code guys and gals, Honor Code
Friday October 23rd BREEDERS CUP WAGERS $30 win $20 place 1st race - BUMP START 2nd race - MAKOO 3rd race - EARLY ENTRY 4th race - TWEET KITTEN 5th race - RACE DAY 6th race - CAMELOT KITTEN 7th race - LEA & WAR STORY 8th race - SAPPHIRE KITTEN 9th race - SHEER DRAMA $0.50 trifecta box ALL 10 races 1/2/5/7 6/3/2 5/6/9 1/2/4 7/3/2 $0.50 pick - 3 6th race - 5/6/7/9/12/14 - 3/5/11 - 2/3/7/10/13 7th race - 3/5/11 - 2/3/7/10/13 - 7/11/13/14 8th race - 2/3/7/10/13 - 7/11/13/14 - 6/8/13 $2 daily double 6th race - 5/6/7/9/12/14 over 3/5/11 7th race - 3/5/11 over 2/3/7/10/13 $1.00 exacta box 4th race - 1/4/5/11/12 6th race - 5/6/7/9/12/14 7th race - 3/5/11 8th race - 2/3/7/10/13 9th race - 7/11/13/14 $0.50 pick-4 6th race - 7/9/12/14 - 3/5/11 - 2/3/7/10/13 - 7/11/13/14 7th race - 3/5/11 - 2/3/7/10-13 - 7/11/13/14 p 6/8/13 All these wagers total $971.00 “MAY THE HORSE BE WITH YOU”
Last thing I want to see is another Zayat or narcissistic Baffert in the winners circle -- Love the horse though... Cant stand the connections. Greedy, fake, and slimy people....Remember what Zayat's did to Nehro - inexcusable -- they should be banned from the sport like Ernie Paragallo...