The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) will be run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track at Santa Anita on Saturday. It has attracted a field of eleven and there is a quarter-mile run into the first turn for them to sort themselves out.    

Top Breeders’ Cup Classic Picks

  • 11 Code of Honor
  • 8 McKinzie
  • 10 Vino Rosso
  • 6 Elate
  • 9 Mongolian Groom
  • $40 Win
    • 11
  • $1 Trifecta
    • 11 with All with All

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Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Notes

#1 MATH WIZARD was claimed for $25,000 earlier this year then was a close second in the Ohio Derby (G3) going this distance. He came back with a good third from post 10 in the Indiana Derby (G3) before being trounced in the West Virginia Derby (G3). Off that form, he went to the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and rallied down the middle of the track to beat a good field at 31-1. That was his best effort ever and it still won’t be enough to run with these.

#2 SEEKING THE SOUL won the Stephen Foster (G2) three starts back in June but did nothing in his last two starts against Grade 1 company. I know you are not supposed to leave Dallas Stewart out in big races on the dirt but I just can’t see this one being a part of this.   

#3 OWENDALE is a one-dimensional closer that won two grade three stakes races and an even fifth in between going 1 1/4 miles in the Travers (G1). His last two BRIS speed ratings of 103 puts him in the mix but he needs a fast pace and tiring track to have a chance.  

#4 WAR OF WILL is a very inconsistent sophomore colt that won the Preakness (G1) but hasn’t won since. He improved some in the Pennsylvania Derby when he raced on the pace and shows two good workouts here since then. Mark Casse adds blinkers for the first time and so Tyler Gaffalione might ride him aggressively.   

#5 YOSHIDA has won over $1 million on the dirt and over $1 million on the turf. When he races on turf, he drops way back and makes one run. Japanese-bred was a good second behind #8 MCKINZIE in the Whitney (G1) then missed by a length in the Woodward (G1). Last year, he was only beaten 1 3/4 lengths from post 10 in a wide trip and he picks up Mike Smith.   

#6 ELATE is undefeated in three starts going 1 1/4 miles. She looked fantastic when winning the Delaware Handicap (G1) but then lost a photo in the Personal Ensign (G1). She didn’t seem to have any excuse in the Spinster (G1) last out 27 days ago but she has high cruising speed which enables her to keep going and get that last furlong.  

#7 HIGHER POWER romped by five lengths to win the Pacific Classic (G1) going today’s distance. He earned a BRIS speed rating of 110 but that was 14 points higher than he ever earned before so if looks kind of tenuous. Last out, he was a well-beaten third in the Awesome Again (G1) and John Sadler has drilled him since then.

#8 MCKINZIE did nothing in this race last year and has raced at seven, eight, and nine furlongs since then. He was great in the Whitney then was second in the Awesome Again as a prep for this. Bob Baffert pulled Mike Smith off him and is going with Joel Rosario but he is not a sit-and-pounce rider. Not sure if he is going in the right direction but even his bad races put him in the mix against these.

#9 MONGOLIAN GROOM added blinkers but ran poorly on the turf. He came back in the San Diego Handicap (G2) and was a good second to Catalina Cruiser. He ran one-paced in his next two starts but woke up last out in the Awesome Again when he went to the front and never looked back. His connections said after the race that he was going to go to Korea but he shows up here and could be still in it a long way.

#10 VINO ROSSO shipped out here off a seven-furlong race and won the Gold Cup (G1) going this distance in slowish time. He came back at Saratoga with a good third behind # 8 MCKINZIE and #5 YOSHIDA going nine furlongs. Last out, Irad Ortiz Jr. put him on the lead in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and finished first by a nose only to be taken down for coming out on #11 CODE OF HONOR. He can get the distance and his latest running style gives Ortiz, Jr. more options.

#11 CODE OF HONOR is a May 23 foal that won the Fountain of Youth (G1) back in March at Gulfstream Park. He chased the pace next out in the Florida Derby (G1) but it was enough to go on to the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he was a good third on a sloppy track. He was tightened up at the top of the stretch but still ran well through the lane. Shug McGaughey took him off the Triple Crown trail and won the one-turn Dwyer (G3) then came back seven weeks later to win the Travers. Shug brought him back in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and he looked like he was going to win until #10 VINO ROSSO came out and bumped him. The son of Noble Mission has trained brilliantly since then and because of his age, has been able to improve as the year goes on.

McKinzie at Santa Anita for the 2019 Breeders' Cup
McKinzie at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup (Horsephotos.com)