Horses that Can Win the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic
by Trevor Whenham - 10/24/2013
When the Breeders’ Cup Classic starts — the last race of this year’s Breeders’ Cup — there are likely to be as many as 13 horses in the starting gate. It’s a deep and interesting field. Not every horse has an equal chance of winning, though. Realistically, here are the nine horses that could win the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year (odds are from Bovada):
Game On Dude (3/1)
Last year this horse was the heavy favorite in the Classic, but he had a rough start, never recovered, and crossed the line in a completely irrelevant seventh place. Since then, though, he hasn’t lost. He has won all six races he has been in this year, including two at Santa Anita. He will be a lock for Horse of the Year if he wins here, and on paper he is the best older horse in training. The same was definitely true last year, though — perhaps even more so — and he was a major disappointment. That misfire and the deeper field this year should have his price at a slightly more attractive level. He’s the horse to beat.
Fort Larned (4/1)
We know Fort Larned can win this race because he did it last year. Since then, though, he has been inconsistent — two very impressive wins and two lousy efforts. His last outing was his best since the Classic last year, but he isn’t likely to have the speed bias this year that helped him so much in the Classic last year. There isn’t a lot of value at this price, but he is still a real contender.
Mucho Macho Man (6/1)
The second-place finisher last year is looking to take one step up the podium. His season was light on racing, and for the most part he didn’t quite look good enough. In the Awesome Again at Santa Anita at the end of September, though, he made a major statement. It was a dominant effort, and it proved that new jockey Gary Stevens is an excellent fit in the saddle. He’s always seemed good but not quite good enough throughout his career. Maybe this is where he finally proves what he is capable of. This price is higher than it will be at post time.
Flat Out (7/1)
This horse is a wily veteran in this field. He finished fifth in the Classic in 2011 as the post-time favorite, and was third last year. His season this year started well, and he has an impressive win in the Suburban to his credit. His last two outings have been less sharp, though, and in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last time out he looked like he was losing form. Experience and class are in his favor, but age is his enemy.
Ron the Greek (8/1)
While Flat Out was looking flat in the Gold Cup, Ron the Greek was doing his impression of Superman. He absolutely crushed the field. It was far beyond what we have seen before that, though — including last year when he was fourth in this race. If he could replicate that last performance then he would be tough to beat. I’m not entirely convinced that that is possible, though. He has not traditionally been a horse that can carry momentum forward.
Palace Malice (9/1)
This year’s Belmont winner has, according to the odds at least, the best chance to prove the value of this year’s three year old class. We know he can handle distance, and his sire Curlin has Classic credibility. He wasn’t good enough against Ron the Greek in the Gold Cup, though, and as we discussed earlier, I don’t know if Ron the Greek is good enough here. Still, having Mike Smith on board is a big asset on Breeders’ Cup day, and the horse will have benefited from running against older horses last time out. He’s intriguing at this price.
Will Take Charge (10/1)
Over the long term this is the three year old who likely has a brighter future than Palace Malice. After a rough Triple Crown campaign he had a very strong summer, including a nice win in the Travers. He’s facing older horses for the first time here, but he is rounding into form, and his massive strides should be able to keep him out of trouble in this field. He’s a serious contender, though the price needs to be higher than this to really make him worthwhile.
This horse almost died last year and has struggled with his health, so just being here is incredible. He has raced four times since June as he eases back into competition. He has yet to win, and he was beaten soundly despite finishing second to Mucho Macho Man in the Awesome Again, which is named for his sire, last time out. Still, he has improved each time out, and the raw talent he exhibited before his illness was stunning. Distance is no concern, either. If he goes off anywhere near this price he will be attractive.
Declaration of War (12/1)
You always have to consider the European challengers, and this is the best of that small group this year. He has won two Group 1 races this year, including last time out, so he is obviously capable of beating top horses. Europeans have often struggled travelling all the way across to California, though, and like so many of the Euro invaders, he has had most of his success on turf and has never seen true dirt. It’s a major question whether he can handle the move, and it makes sense to be skeptical given what history has taught us.
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