Who would have thought the Breeders' Cup would have come up so
competitive? In many races there is an international flare added along with the
American star power. The all-around depth in each race is absolutely
astounding. Typically, there is always a clear race to handicap, always one
where the winner just seems to jump out, but not this year. Of all the races, I must say the Classic
does measure up.
Many might say it is a disappointment, and while it might be disappointing that
top three year olds such as Union Rags, Bodemeister, Paynter and I’ll Have
Another will not be there, make no mistake this year’s Classic is a very tough
and competitive group.
We’ll start off with the team with the home field advantage,
Game on Dude, Richard’s Kid, and Nonios. Game on Dude
is unbeaten over Santa
Anita in five starts. The track plays to his front running style and his proven
ability over 10 furlongs makes him a very deserving favorite. However, don’t make
the mistake of just giving this race to him. He has yet to face the quality
that will stand in his way in any of his 2012 starts. Richard’s Kid
been competitive, but this year he simply can’t seem to get by Game on Dude. I
would argue he’d do better in the Marathon.
is the best three year old
hope that is left to win the Classic. He has only had one bad race and that was
the Travers. That race is a toss for me. Why? Because for some reason most Monmouth
shippers just do not fare well when their next outing is at Saratoga. That start was sandwiched
inbetween two very good seconds, the first to Paynter in the Haskell, his first
run over conventional dirt, and the Awesome Again to Game on Dude. He has fired bullets in his last three workouts, signaling that he is peaking at just the
right time here.
Now lets take a look at the eastern invaders. Ron the Greek
could be argued as the top candidate, but only slightly. He did tank in his
last start, but since he had run no worse than second before that, I will be
willing to draw a line through it. The most appealing thing about this horse is
that, unlike most of his eastern counterparts, he has already raced and won
over Santa Anita. That win also came over 10 furlongs. Add in his consistency,
and that makes him Game on Dude’s main threat.
Others coming in are Fort Larned, Flat Out, Mucho Macho Man
and To Honor and Serve. Fort Larned
(left) could easily be called the fastest handicap horse in
the East with triple digit BSF in all but one start this year. He is a grade
one winner and has enough speed to tussle with the Dude up front. Flat Out
as honest as they come, and simply hasn’t run a bad race this year, even won
the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The question he must answer is can he run outside of
New York? Mucho Macho Man
, always the unlucky one. Again he has yet to run a bad
race. He has the speed, but is tactical enough to sit off a serious duel. He is
coming off a tough loss to To Honor and Serve, but don’t let that deceive you.
To Honor and Serve
just can’t seem to put back to back brilliance together, but
give him his trip and watch out. He is another that will make things
interesting up front.
Your longshots are Brilliant Speed, Handsome Mike, Alpha,
and Pool Play
. The latter of the bunch has the best chance to make a splash. He
is unbeaten on dirt and is one of the few with a win at 10 furlongs. He will
get a great set up, the question for him is he good enough to get the job done?
, while he should have no problem getting 10 furlongs, begs the
question as to why he is here? His dirt form isn’t bad, but he is clearly
better on synthetics. Odd placement, but anything can happen. Alpha
seems to be
a New York loving horse, however, observers are saying he has been looking
fantastic, so maybe he can surprise. Last is Handsome Mike
, who is coming off a
win in the Pennsylvania Derby. If that race is any indication one would think
he will go to the front. If he does that, there is not much chance of him
hanging around after the likes of Game on Dude, Fort Larned and To Honor and
Serve also vying for the lead.
Overall, the field came up well, very competitive. A total
of 9 grade one winners with 13 grade ones between them. The others are all are
all grade two winners, with two finishing second in grade ones. My person picks
in no particular order are Ron the Greek, Mucho Macho Man, and Nonios. Game on
Dude is tough as nails, though I think the speed will take its toll and set it
up for those tracking him.
No matter how the cards may fall, I can say I very much
enjoyed handicapping these races. Good luck to you all, and have a wonderful
and bountiful Breeders' Cup.