Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is going to be busy in the paddock before the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) but is in great position to win his fourth consecutive edition of the race, with Gun Runner looking like the biggest obstacle.
Gun Runner is the 9-5 morning line favorite, but it would be no surprise to see Arrogate very close in the wagering by the time they load the field in the gate this afternoon.
At US Racing in early Breeders’ Cup Classic betting Gun Runner is 7-5 while Arrogate is listed at 9-5.
Baffert has three solid backups if Arrogate does not run back to his dazzling win in last year’s Classic.
Collected won the Pacific Classic (G1) beating his more esteemed stablemate, while West Coast has reeled off five in a row including the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1).
Note West Coast is a three-year-old and Baffert’s three wins have all come with sophmores—Bayern in 2015, American Phoarah in 2015 and Arrogate last year.
The forgotten Baffert runner is Mubtaahij, who is 12-1 on the morning line. He won the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita in his first start off a six-month layoff and is certainly eligible to move forward off that effort.
Standing in Baffert’s way is the Steve Asmussen trained Gun Runner, who has won his last three starts, all Grade 1 victories, by a combined 22 ½ lengths.
I am leaning toward the white-haired wonder to pull off the trifecta.
Let’s head out to Del Mar for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
DMR Race 12 The Breeders’ Cup Classic G1 (5:35 PT)
#1 Arrogate 2-1
#8 West Coast 6-1
#11 Collected 4-1
#5 Gun Runner 9-5
Analysis: Arrogate is the defending champ and much has been made about his two “disappointing losses” after winning eight in a row including this race last year and then the world’s two richest races. But , he really only tossed in a clunker in the San Diego ‘Cap (G2) upon his return from Dubai and off a four-month layoff. Yes, he lost the pacific Classic (G1) to his stablemate Collected but he was only beaten a half-length and earned a 114 Beyer. Now he comes back off a 77-day break for Baffert two is 28% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. I’m not completely sold he does not like the Del Mar surface and when you have Baffert and jockey Mike Smith in your corner I have to think he is going to return to his best here. The colt has worked sharply since his last outing and is primed to give Baffert his fourth Classic in a row.
West Coast faces older her but don’t forget Baffert’s three Classic wins were each with three-year-olds. Seven of the last 18 editions have been won by sophomores. The colt has won five in a row and trounced the field in the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1). He needs to step up a few more lengths to get close to his stablemate, but looks capable.
Collected is Baffert again. He wired the field in the Pacific Classic beating Arrogate. He has run four consecutive career top speed figs. He draws the outside post and he is not going to get away with an easy lead here.
Gun Runner is likely going off as the favorite and hard to knock his three Grade 1 wins since getting run down by Arrogate late in the Dubai World Cup (G1). He rolled over the field in those three starts but really did not beat much. He earned a career top in his Woodward win. Three exited that race to run back, runner up Rally Cry was sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), third Neolithic was second in the Fayette (G2) and fifth place finisher Discreet Love was fourth in the Pa Derby Championship. He is coming into this race as sharp as ever but tough to get too excited about backing him at 9-5 or 2-1 in this spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,5,8,11
TRI: 1,8 / 1,5,8,11 / 1,5,6,8,11
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race for the Breeders’ Cup from Del Mar on Nov.4. The Breeders’ Cup offers 13 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Del Mar.