Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s “Dream Team” trio of will star in the $6 million Classic this weekend as the two-day international racing extravaganza known as the Breeders’ Cup returns to Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
Baffert’s 4-year-old colt Improbable was installed Monday as the 5-2 in Saturday’s Classic, which drew 10 horses. But the list of contenders in the marquee race is deep, and upset possibilities abound.
The Classic, run at 1 ¼ miles, will cap the nine Breeders’ Cup races run Saturday, November 7 2020. Read our predictions and betting guide here. Get 100% bonus with bet365 in NJ. Here is their race overview.
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Friday’s card will showcase racing’s emerging stars, with five races devoted to 2-year-olds.
As it generally does, the 1 1/14-mile Classic will grab most of the attention in the 37th running of the Breeders’ Cup series. But serious horseplayers will want to open their wallets earlier, as the contentious undercard races often offer some of the best betting of the year. Wagering will be widely available, but check with your preferred online or in-person provider in advance to ensure there aren’t any hangups.
The Breeders’ Cup kept its spot on the racing calendar despite the delays and cancellations that the coronavirus pandemic inflicted on many other key races and meets. But the disruptions from the spring and summer are likely to be felt.
For example, European runners are likely to be particularly dangerous in the Turf and Mile turf races, as many contenders are shipping in relatively fresh after missing some of those rescheduled or canceled races overseas.
But the Classic is why we’re here, so let’s cut to the chase.
First, a look at the field:
2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Tacitus Bill Mott Jose Ortiz 20-1
2 Tiz the Law Barclay Tagg Manny Franco 3-1
3) By My Standards Bret Calhoun Gabriel Saez 10-1
4) Tom’s d’Etat Al Stall Joel Rosario 6-1
5) Title Ready Dallas Stewart Corey Lanerie 30-1
6) Higher Power John Sadler Flavien Prat 20-1
7) Global Campaign Stanley Hough Javier Castellano 20-1
8) Improbable Bob Baffert Irad Ortiz Jr. 5-2
9) Authentic Bob Baffert John Velazquez 6-1
10) Maximum Security Bob Baffert Luis Saez 7-2
Breeders’ Cup Horses 2020 Preview
Improbable, winner of three straight Grade 1 stakes; Kentucky Derby winner Authenticate, one of two 3-year-olds in the field; and Maximum Security, a seven-time graded stakes winner – drew the outside three gates in the race. But the positions should not cause them too much difficulty, since Authenticate and Maximum Security both have speed to cut across the field and get near the rail before the first turn, while Improbably should be able to pick a spot midpack that will keep him out of the crowd and give him a clear shot at the leaders at the top of the stretch.
Tiz the Law
The other 3-year-old in the field – could be compromised by the draw of post 2, as the speedy stalker has appeared uncomfortable when racing inside in a previous race and Franco will have a tough time guiding him to his customary outside stalking position from there.
The pace of the Classic is a tricky to project. Authentic appears the most likely pace-setter, but By My Standards, Global Campaign, Maximum Security and Tiz the Law all are accustomed to racing within one or two lengths of the lead in the early stages. That could lead to an early challenge if one of the other riders decides the front-runner is going too comfortably and is likely to produce slightly faster than average fractional times (a bit above 1:36 to the mile for high-class horses, according to my calculations.)
That would seem to set up the race for an off-the-pace runner to track down the leaders in the late going.
Those factors point to Improbable as the most likely winner, given the son of City Zip enters the race off three straight Grade 1 victories – the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita – and runs from off the pace.
Improbable, who will be ridden by 2020’s leading jockey by earnings Irad Ortiz Jr., flashed talent at 3, but it took another year for Baffert to find the consistency that has been his hallmark this year. His only defeat occurred in his comeback race, the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile on April 11, when he finished second after surrendering the lead in deep stretch.
He was probably a short horse that day, but now he’s at the peak of his powers and looks tough to deny in this spot.
The horse with the best chance of doing that Is likely Tom’s d’Etat, who has been rested three months for this race after finishing third to Improbable in the Whitney on Aug. 1.
Tom’s d’Etat stumbled and broke slowly that day, and was left with too much work to do in the stretch, rallying moderately down the center of the track to finish third, 2 ½ lengths behind the winner and a half length behind runner-up By My Standards.
Trainer Al Stall has put a series of bullet workouts into the 7-year-old son of Smart Strike, who earlier this year was the clear leader in the older horses division after victories in the Clark and Stephen Foster stakes at Churchill Downs and the Fayette Stakes (Gr 2) at Keeneland, in preparation for this engagement.
As for betting, I’ll box my top two in exactas and trifectas, spreading out in the third slot with a couple other logical contenders – like By My Standards and Global Campaign — in hopes of getting a real long-shot into the mix.
Where to watch Breeders’ Cup races
In addition to being livestreamed and simulcast, the Breeders’ Cup races will be nationally broadcast by NBC and NBC Sports and on cable via TVG over the two days they are run.
On Friday, all five Breeders’ Cup races will be shown on NBC Sports (NBCSN) during a broadcast from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. ET., as well as livestreamed.
On Saturday, the Breeders’ Cup action on NBC starts at noon ET. The first four races will be shown on NBCSN from noon-2:30 p.m. ET, and the final five on the main NBC channel from 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. ET. All will be livestreamed via NBCSN.
The $6 million Classic has an estimated post time of 5:13 p.m.
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