Breeders' Cup Classic 2015: Winners and Losers of the Draw

October 27, 2015 01:48pm


Post position can make or break a horse’s chances of winning. Factors such as run style, track configuration in relation to distance, or habitual gate antics all play a part in whether a post draw is good or bad. With just a field of 10 in this year’s edition of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, there were not any truly terrible draws, but some made out better than others. So who won the draw and who could have fared better? Let’s take a look at the field based on the post position draw.


1) Tonalist—Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist is not typically the quickest of breakers, and that could really hurt him here. Depending on where trainer Christophe Clement and jockey John Velazquez want him early, Tonalist could be in big trouble. Should they want him to be about third or fourth, like he is in the majority of his races, then Velazquez will need to expend some energy early in order to not get trapped on the rail. However, if he is going to come from way out of the clouds, a la Whitney Stakes style, then maybe PP1 is not so bad. Considering the lack of speed in this race, I would say Tonalist ought to be closer to the pace early on, making this a bad draw. Loser.


2) Keen Ice—Upset winner of the Travers Stakes Keen Ice is one of two in this field that has raced at Keeneland before. He finished off the board that day, running 5th in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity in just his second career start. A deep closer, post position should not have much of an impact on his chances.


3) Frosted—Though Frosted does have some early speed, the handsome gray does not usually go for the lead. The most exceptional anomaly to that statement obviously came in the Travers when he dueled with American Pharoah early and often, effectively taking them both out of the running for the win. I do not expect that to happen again, but I do believe Frosted and Joel Rosario will want to stay as close to American Pharoah as possible without ruining their own shot at Classic victory. Winner.  


4) American Pharoah—Triple Crown winner American Pharoah could not have drawn better. With no speed to his inside, the colt should have no problem clearing the three to his left and establishing the lead. Winner.


5) Gleneagles—In typical European turf style, Gleneagles likes to be covered up early before shaking lose and making his run in the stretch. This will be his first dirt start, and there is no telling how he will like getting dirt in his face. Breaking right in the center of the field does him no favors. Loser.


6) Effinex—Suburban winner Effinex makes one long, sustained run. Usually he is within about 3 lengths of the leader, but occasionally Effinex will sit further off the pace. Considering the level of competition, post position can only help this Mineshaft colt. For his run style, PP6 is as good as any.


     7) Smooth Roller—Awesome Again winner Smooth Roller is one of the wildcards in the Classic. The championship will be just his 5th career start. So far, Smooth Roller has shown speed in all of his races, but he has never been asked to go 1 ¼ miles. I think a more inside position would have been better, but 7 of 10 is not horrible.


     8) Hard Aces—Gold Cup winner Hard Aces has not lifted a hoof since getting his big win. Another that prefers to make one run, you can expect Hard Aces to be out of it early but steadily gaining ground throughout the race. Like with the other closers, post position does not really matter.


     9) Honor Code—Another deep closer, post position will have little impact on how Honor Code runs. He will either be able to run down the leaders or not, something contingent upon pace, not post position.


     10) Beholder—Initially I did not like this spot for the champion mare. She likes to be on or near the pace, and drawing the far outside post means that she will have to clear the field in order to get a ground-saving trip up front like she typically wants. After some consideration, I do see some advantages to this spot. She will avoid the out-of-the-gate jostling, think last year’s Classic break, and from there Hall of Famer Gary Stevens will be able to guide her closer to the rail in due time. Overall, winner.


Frosted, American Pharoah and Beholder turned out to be the real winners of the post-position draw. Frosted and American Pharoah both drew close to the rail which help them get ground-saving trips around the oval and make it easy for them to get an ideal position early. Beholder’s far outside post should keep her out of trouble during the initial jostling for position and allow her and Stevens to pick a good spot as they move in toward the rail. Tonalist and Gleneagles drew the short end of the stick. The former will have to expend crucial energy early to avoid traffic, and the latter is right in the middle of the field where he is sure to take a lot of dirt to the face. Gleneagles was already a toss for me, but I liked Tonalist until he drew the rail. Now I am on the fence as to whether or not to toss the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. As for the rest, being a closer has its advantages, namely when it comes to the gate as none of the other five will be worried about gunning to the front for a coveted position.

 

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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