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Breeders' Cup Contenders

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Last year's expected match-up between Triple Crown hero American Pharoah and multiple champion mare Beholder in the Breeders' Cup Classic, unfortunately, failed to materialize.

But while American Pharoah headed off the breeding shed, Beholder returned in 2016 and is on course for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, where she'll meet fellow popular champion Songbird.

However, the main discussion at this point is thus: who can stop California Chrome?

The 2014 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby winner has racked up win after win, including an effortless victory in the Dubai World Cup, and easily held defending champion Beholder by five lengths in the Pacific Classic. California Chrome gets the home field advantage, as the Breeders’ Cup Championships will be held at Santa Anita Park in 2016.

The brilliant chestnut’s main rivals in the older division currently stand with Frosted, Mubtaahij, Shaman Ghost, Hoppertunity and Dortmund.

The three-year-old division could have an impact on the Classic as well, but regardless of that whoever does best in the race may just end up crowned champion three-year-old male. This year’s Triple Crown season saw Nyquist, Exaggerator and Creator win the respective Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Throw in newcomer Arrogate’s track-record setting performance in the Travers Stakes, and the three-year-old division is anyone’s game right now.

The three-year-old filly division looks to be sewn up by Songbird, who has yet to taste defeat. She’ll face a stiff test in the Distaff against older runners like Beholder and Stellar Wind, who handed Beholder a loss in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes in late July. The Distaff could also include other sophomore runners such as Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia.

Flintshire is on course to try the Breeders’ Cup Turf for a second time, having just missed by a half-length in the 2014 running, and could see some familiar faces in the form of World Approval and Twilight Eclipse lining up.

Champion Tepin is readying for a title defense run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, which she captured last year over Mondialiste. That latter runner has come back this year to take the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million and could go in either the Mile or Turf.

The sprinting division seems to have found a new star in A. P. Indian, easy winner of both the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and Forego Stakes at Saratoga. Ballerina Stakes vixen Haveyougoneaway seems destined for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, as does By the Moon and defending champion Wavell Avenue.

The two juvenile races, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, will likely decide championship honors for those two divisions. Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer would have to ship to California from their East Coast bases, but American Pharoah’s two-year-old full sister, American Cleopatra, will be on her home ground in the Juvenile Fillies.

Del Mar Futurity victor Klimt would also be running out of his stall if he goes in the Juvenile for trainer Bob Baffert, while Practical Joke would have to hop plane to get from his trainer’s New York shedrow to California.