Breeders’ Cup Classic: American Pharoah Goes for Grand Slam

American Pharoah is seeking to add the Breeders' Cup Classic to his accomplishments. (Photo credit: Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

American Pharoah is seeking to add the Breeders’ Cup Classic to his accomplishments. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

The Breeders’ Cup has been around since 1984 and after three decades of championship racing we will witness a Triple Crown winner go for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) for the very first time.

The Bob Baffert trained American Pharoah will be looking for the “Grand Slam”, adding the Breeders’ Cup Classic to his victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Despite a loss in in his most recent outing, a runner up finish in the Travers (G1) at Saratoga, the colt is the solid +160 betting favorite in the latest odds at BetOnline.

While there is no doubt the colt is talented, he is going to face a tough group on Oct. 31 and will be trying to win the race off a two-month break. We have not seen a Classic winner with such a break since Invasor, who won the 2006 Classic off a 92-day break. That colt’s final prep was a victory in the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga.

The last seven Classic winners had a break of 42 days or less.  Baffert’s Bayern won last year’s Classic off a 42-day break, his last prep coming in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Parx.

Three-year-olds have won the Classic 10 times, Bayern the first last year since Raven’s Pass got the job done in 2007.

Trainer Bob Baffert is looking for back to back wins in the Classic with American Pharoah. (Photo credit: Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

Trainer Bob Baffert is looking for back to back wins in the Classic with American Pharoah. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

The question that has to be asked is whether American Pharoah, who figures to go off at odds of somewhere between 8-5 and 5-2 depending on the size of the field, is an underlay.

His career best Beyer Speed Figure is a 109 which he earned in his Haskell Invitational (G1) win at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, his first start after winning the Triple Crown. He regressed slightly with a 105 in the Travers.

There are four foes he will meet in the Classic that have run higher numbers in one of their last two starts, five if we include Liam’s Map, who now seems more likely to go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Beholder earned a 114 Beyer for her win in the Pacific Classic (G1) over the boys at Del Mar on Aug. 22. She is currently the second choice in early wagering at BetOnline at +300.

Honor Code did not get a good pace set up in the Kelso Handicap (G2) in his last start but popped Beyers of 113 for his Whitney win and a 112 for his victory in the Met Mile (G1). BetOnline has him at +750.

Smooth Ruler has burst on the scene with his win in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita in just his fourth career start. He earned a 111 Beyer for his win and is at early Classic betting odds of +1200.

Tonalist earned a 109 Beyer for his win the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and earned a 110 in his third place finish in the Whitney in his previous start. He has earned a Beyer of 105 or better in each of his last seven starts.  His current price at BetOnline is +650.

Toss in Pennsylvania Derby (G2) winner Frosted (last out Beyer of 106), Travers winner Keen Ice (106), Jockey Club Gold Cup runner up Wicked Strong (102) and the European shipper Gleneagles (winner of three straight Group 1 races),  and American Pharoah is really going to have to bring his “A” game.

We still have a little over two weeks, but at least at this point the Triple Crown winner sure looks like an underlay for the Classic.


Michael Dempsey’s Breeders’ Cup Report

Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the card from Keeneland on Oc. 30-31.

The Breeders’ Cup offers 12 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Keeneland.

In 2013 on Breeders’ Cup Saturday Mike nailed seven recommended exactas, paying $53.20, $19.00, $23.20, $58.00, $66.60, $107.80, and $33.60!


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