Breeders’ Cup Classic Selections and Analysis

Breeders' Cup Classic

Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, seen here winning the 2016 Classic aboard Arrogate is off McKinzie and will ride Yoshida in this year’s race. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) will close out the two-day championships with a field of 11 lining up to go 1 ¼ miles on the main track at Santa Anita.

The race most likely will not decide Horse of the Year honors as it usually does, but it does bring together an interesting group that includes the mare Elate who is seeking to follow in the footsteps of Zenyatta, who beat the boys in the Classic in 2009.

The Bob Baffert trained McKinzie is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt could not run by 25-1 longshot Mongolian Groom in the Awesome Again (G1) in his final prep. The colt tossed in his lone dud in last year’s Classic where he finished 12th beaten 31 lengths.

Baffert elected to replace Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who had ridden the colt in all 13 of his previous outings.

“It was very frustrating to lose the Met Mile because he was so good that day. I really don’t blame Mike (Smith) that much,” Baffert said.  “He had to make a decision there and he made the wrong one.”

Code of Honor Takes on Elders

Code of Honor was placed first thanks to a disqualification in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) last out at Belmont Park. He was beaten a nose by Vino Rosso but that foe interfered with him in deep stretch.

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“I think he shipped really well,” said his trainer Shug McGaughey said. “Obviously, I wish it was on the East Coast, whether it was at Belmont, or Keeneland or Churchill. I really liked it when it was in the East at Gulfstream. But it’s where it is and he seems to have shipped out here really well. He’s gotten hold of the track really well.”

Elate will be happy to get away from Midnight Bisou, who is the 6-5 morning line favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott elected to try her against the boys since she is perfect in her three starts at 1 ¼ miles.

Classic Won’t Decide Horse of Year

By the time the Breeders’ Cup Classic goes off at 5:44 PT the Horse of the Year likely will already be decided. Bricks and Mortar can garner some votes by winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) which would give him five Grade 1 races in 2019.

Midnight Bisou is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and is perfect in seven starts this year, three of those wins Grade 1’s.

Mitole has three Grade 1 wins including the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and his connections could have an argument if the colt wins the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Click here for Michael Dempsey’s Breeders’ Cup Report. 

Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Santa Anita

Santa Anita Race 12 The Breeders’ Cup Classic G1 (5:44 PT)

#11 Code of Honor    4-1

#8 McKinzie   3-1

#10 Vino Rosso   4-1

#6 Elate   6-1

Code of Honor

The three-year-old stalked the early pace and finished gamely to just miss by a nose in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) but was bumped in the stretch by Vino Rosso and placed first. The colt as a smart looking winner of the Travers (G1) two back. After getting placed second in the Kentucky Derby (G2) Shug skipped the Preakness and Belmont and he landed in the Dwyer (G3) which he won easily. The colt has shown he can handle 1 1/4 miles and while he has earned back to back career tops there still seems to be something left for another move forward. Three-year-olds have won 5 of the last dozen Classics. Shug is 0 for 8 in the Classic but has a couple of seconds and a third. The colt should get a good stalking trip with Johnny V aboard. There is enough of a run to the first turn the post should not be an issue.


The Bob Baffert trainee tossed in his lone dud of his 13-race career in this race last year. That was at Churchill Downs and he has done some of his best running over the surface here, landing in the exacta in all seven trips. His win in the Whitney (G1) two back was sharp and earned a career top number, beating Yoshida by 1 3/4 lengths with Vino Rosso third. He could not catch Mongolian Groom last out in the Awesome Again (G1) which was surprising, but the pace was soft. The distance is q question mark although he was only beaten a nose in the Santa Anita ‘Cap (G1) to Gift Box back in April. Baffert won the Classic three years in a row from 2013 to 2015, each with three-year-olds and two of the three came into the Classic off losses. The switch to Rosario should be a non-factor. I really thought I was coming into the race with this guy a play against, but he really looks good although anything less than his 3-1 morning line looks like an underlay.

Vino Rosso

This colt set the early fractions and battled on gamely to prevail by a nose in the Jockey Club Gold Cup but as DQ’d. The Pletcher trainee won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) three back as our top pick at 4-1 at 1 1/4 miles. After going 1 for 7 as a three-year-old he has matured, shown more tactical speed and is a threat here. Does Irad send him early again? he might be better suited sitting just off the pace. Pletcher is 0 for 13 in the Classic with one second and one third.


The mare takes on the boys and is perfect in three trips at 1 1/4 miles. I really like Blue Prize, but she should have been able to hold that foe off last out in the Spinster (G1). Her best effort this year was a tough nose loss two back to Midnight Bisou in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga. The winner came back to win the Beldame (G2) and will be a solid favorite in the Distaff. Mott is 2 for 15 in the Classic. She is going to move forward off her Spinster effort and that should put her in the mix here but likely needs a career top to win here.


WIN: #11 to win at 3-1 or better.

EX: 8,11 / 6,8,10,11

TRI: 8,11 / 6,8,10,11 / 5,6,8,10,11



NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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