Horses that can win the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2014
by Trevor Whenham - 10/23/2014
The pre-entries are in, and we have a pretty good idea of what the field is going to look like for the Breeders' Cup Classic. There are 15 horses entered for just 14 spots, so there is at least one adjustment left to be made, but the real contenders are locked into their spots. Anything can happen in horse racing, but if everything goes according to form then there are five horses that can win the Breeders' Cup Classic. In a remarkable and virtually unprecedented development in this race, all five horses are three year olds. Given how the battle between the older horses was shaping up earlier this year, this is an unexpected situation, but injuries tore apart the field all but the three year olds. ( futures odds are from Sportsbook.ag):
Shared Belief (+120): This horse will almost certainly be the favorite in this race, and there is no question that he deserves it. The only thing that has been able to stop him was the injury late last year. On the track he has not made a single misstep in seven starts. Last time out he was aggressively attacked and had a brutal trip as a result, but he still came out on top. He's fast, versatile, tough, and almost impossibly classy. He also will have Mike Smith on board, and there isn't a guy you'd want to have in the irons more on Breeders' Cup day. He has beaten older horses twice, has won on this track, and has trained beautifully up to this race. If any horse wants to beat this one, they are going to have to have an extremely good day - and likely get some help from the setup of the race as well. Shared Belief is unquestionably the horse to beat.
California Chrome (+250): The race has been set up as a showdown between Shared Belief and California Chrome, though the enthusiasm for that has been impacted somewhat by the way things have gone for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ since June. He was flat in the Belmont, took three and a half months off, then had a disastrous no-show performance in his return to action in the Pennsylvania Derby. He'll be five months separated from his last win on race day, and he hasn't run against older horses. His last two races at Santa Anita were excellent, though, and he has trained very well. We also have seen how good he can be when at his best. The other four horses on this list have all shown that they have improved significantly since the spring, though, while it takes a leap of faith to believe the same about Chrome. There is no value to be had here, and I'll be looking to beat him on race day.
Bayern (+300): Shared Belief is the class of this field, but in terms of eye-dropping talent Bayern may have an edge - when he is on his game. In three of his last four outings he has dominated in ways that so few horses could even dream of doing. He has truly been unbeatable. In the fourth race, though - the Travers - he stopped cold after a decent start and was a very distant 10th. He's hit and miss, and getting the lead he absolutely needs early on could be tough in this field. However, if he gets his race then he's a massive factor. He has the best chance of beating the favorite but at least an equal chance of finishing way up the track.
Tonalist (+450): Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes to prove his stamina and his big-race ability. He was only okay in two races at Saratoga this summer, but then he uncorked a very nice win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at the end of September. His ability to handle the distance is more proven than any other horse on this list. He has never left the East Coast to race, though, and it is hard to believe that he is good enough if the others have their best days. I don't hate this horse, but I'd like him way more than twice as much at twice the price.
V.E. Day (+800): This horse is really listed here on the strength of just one race. He was the impressive winner of the Travers in a very gritty performance. It was his first step into big-time racing, and he showed he belonged. But then he came out next time in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and was a non-factor. You can potentially cross off that performance because he was bumped hard early on. He has only raced on the East Coast, and his training has been fine but not exceptional. It would be easy to rule him out, but sometimes young horses take a while to mature and grow. His breeding is exceptional, and we haven't seen his best yet.
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