Breeders' Cup Contenders
2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders
The field for the Breeders’ Cup Classic varies each year. For the 2016 rendition, there will be nine contenders vying for the chance to win the marquee race at the World Championships. This year’s starters will be highlighted by established legend California Chrome and newcomer Arrogate.
The list of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Stakes contenders is listed below. The race will run on Saturday, November 5th out of Santa Anita Park.
No horse has had a stronger 2016 campaign than California Chrome. The 2014 Horse of the Year returned from injury capture a Meydan Handicap, the Dubai World Cup, San Diego Handicap, Pacific Classic and the Awesome Again Stakes in rampant succession. During this run, he demoralized known opponents like Dortmund Keen Ice and Hoppertunity but also managed to best Beholder in the Pacific Classic. He will enter the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic with the experience, maturity and talent that few rivals can match. California Chrome is the even money favorite.
Arrogate has surged in to the spotlight after a masterful performance in his stakes debut at the Travers, where he posted the fastest winning time in that race’s history. Not only that, but the Bob Baffert trained star completely dusted some of the best known three-year-old colts of this year’s class including Gun Runner, Creator, Destin and Exaggerator. Though the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic will be just his second major challenge at the top level, many expect him to give California Chrome a serious run for his money. Arrogate could truly be the best colt in the country. Some have gone as far to say that he is the best racehorse currently in the sport.
Melatonin is a five-year-old gelding who shocked everyone with a win in the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. His win in the latter produced a time of 1:59.79 over a distance of 1 ¼ miles, meaning that he has the pace to really upset the balance of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer David Hofmans will have to hope for his best, which might not be a problem. The only loss that Melatonin suffered was as a runner-up in the Oaklawn Handicap to Effinex. His connections will be hoping that running at Santa Anita Park will supply Melatonin with the home track advantage he needs.
The popular Donegal Racing product will run in his second Breeders’ Cup Classic after finishing fourth last year. Since then he has had an up-and-down season, which included a tough trip in the Dubai World Cup where he finished eighth. Keen Ice has his fan base and is also a son of Curlin, but it will be tough for him to keep pace with the two favorites. Oddsmakers have him pegged as a longshot in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has plenty of experience, and is still the only horse to have beaten American Pharoah.
Few horses produce as steadily as Hoppertunity. Since finishing fifth during a maiden special weight in 2014, Hoppertunity has never fallen below fourth overall and has wins in the 2014 Rebel Stakes, 2014 Clark Handicap and 2015 San Pasqual Stakes to his name. While always a competitor at heart, Hoppertunity has the auspicious honor of losing to California Chrome on five different occasions. Barring a miracle, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic may be his sixth.
Frosted is one of the strongest offspring to come out of leading sire Tapit, which is why the oddsmakers are likely to keep him in the proverbial mix. It helps that Frosted has spent the 2016 season having quite the resurgence. He won the Al Maktoun Challenge Round 2 at Meydan before finishing fifth in the Dubai World Cup. Returning stateside, the Godolphin product torched the Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney before behind upended in the Woodward Stakes during his final prep for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Will that third place finish at the Woodward haunt him, or is he ready to rebound and show his winning form once again?
Effinex was the runner-up to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and returns to give it yet another try. He has had a strong season, which included wins in the Oaklawn Handicap and the Suburban Handicap along with a runner-up finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Effinex also suffered unfortunate outings in the Stephen Foster Handicap, where he placed sixth, as well as a fourth place finish in the Whitney. This is still the same horse that had a marvelous 2015 season that included a 4-1-1 record in 7 starts, so there’s always hope that he could flash his best on the biggest stage.
Win The Space
If there was ever a horse looking for a breakthrough moment, it’s likely Win The Space. The four-year-old opened the year with a win in an allowance, but then fell to second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita before finishing third in the San Diego Handicap. He trailed all the way to ninth in the Pacific Classic but warded off fears of his regression by running to third in the Awesome Again Stakes.
War Story started his campaign late, but won an allowance handedly before heading to the Pacific Classic where he could not compete with the three-headed behemoth of Caliofrnia Chrome, Beholder and Dortmund. He finished seventh in that race, and may not fare much better considering how stiff the competition is in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Oddsmakers are sure to peg him as a longshot.
2015 Breeders' Cup Contenders
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.