At the end of August, I suggested three horses to avoid in the Kentucky Derby before the final entries even drew the following week. Those three also-rans, Sole Volante, Storm the Court and Necker Island, all missed the board, though Storm the Court did run better than expected with a good sixth-place finish out of 15 horses.
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Now, here is the same exercise again for the Breeders’ Cup three weeks before final entries are taken. This time, the premise will be tossing them out from “win” wagers rather than the entire trifecta. These horses will be difficult for bettors to ignore on top. But because of low speed figures, expected pace scenario or other reasons, they are tosses.
C Z Rocket – Breeders’ Cup Sprint
The change in this horse’s form has been difficult to believe.
After starting off the year with three off-the-board finishes, including a fifth in an Oaklawn $40k claimer, C Z Rocket was claimed afterwards into the Peter Miller barn and won five straight races. His last two wins came in the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), giving him a spot in the Breeders’ Cup.
Despite the storybook rise to the graded stakes ranks and a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, there are some flaws to him, betting-wise.
On the TimeformUS scale, C Z Rocket’s last three final figures were 111 in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, 116 in the Pat O’Brien and a 117 at Keeneland in an optional claiming race. Those numbers do not give the impression of a horse winning the Sprint in three weeks.
Even taking the raw, unadjusted figure of 121 for his Sprint Championship win, the number still looks too light to choose him.
In comparison, the untested Nashville ran a 130 on TimeformUS in his recent dominating win against allowance foes. What if Nashville flounders against graded stakes competition and the race opens up?
In that case, a 121 or less TimeformUS figure still feels low. Nashville’s own stablemate Yaupon shows a 123 on TimeformUS for his last two starts, and he is a rising 3-year-old that can improve further. Vekoma has a 124 and 125 for his summer wins in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Carter Handicap (G1). If Complexity starts, he brings a 128 figure from his Kelso Handicap (G2) victory over Code of Honor.
Speed figures aside, another concern is that C Z Rocket needed an all-out effort to defeat Flagstaff in his last two races, and Flagstaff is not any kind of special horse.
Vekoma and Complexity could go to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. If that happens, C Z Rocket still needs to deal with older horses such as Diamond Oops and Firenze Fire while bringing the unwanted betting attention of a horse on a winning streak.
C Z Rocket’s streak ends in three weeks. Could he fill out the superfecta? Maybe. But his best speed figures are not fast enough to take the top prize.
War of Will – Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
After seven subsequent starts and six losses since his 2019 Preakness win, it feels safe to label War of Will an average horse at the Grade 1 level.
In his four dirt starts after the Preakness, War of Will made the board only once, with a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). In his debut against older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he folded to ninth after setting the early pace.
The connections wanted to try him on turf this year, and he was off the board in the Shoemaker Mile (G1), before a narrow win in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) and a disappointing third with no excuse in the Woodbine Mile (G1) to a 7-year-old mare.
In the Maker’s Mark Mile, War of Will won by only a nose over Parlor in a blanket finish, and that horse missed the board in his next two starts. Raging Bull and Without Parole completed the superfecta, but those two closers lose often, despite the fact that Chad Brown trains them. Without Parole does not even own a win on this soil, or any win since June 2018.
As for the Woodbine Mile, he had a clear shot in the stretch run. The old mare Starship Jubilee outkicked him, and then his stablemate March to the Arch picked up second nearing the wire.
Of course, those are turf races and War of Will runs in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. But those four dirt starts after the Preakness win do not look appealing either.
Better options will arise than a horse with one win in his last seven starts. Not only is War of Will a toss from the win spot, but he probably could be left off all tickets.
Global Campaign – Breeders’ Cup Classic
This is a tougher one to toss because Global Campaign's recent 125 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his Woodward Stakes (G1) win shows improvement over his previous numbers.
But there are other factors to consider besides speed figures.
For one, Global Campaign does his best work either on the lead or close to the pace in routes. He set the pace in his Woodward and Monmouth Cup (G3) wins. In the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) last year, he gave chase in second to the overmatched Federal Case on the lead.
Global Campaign won using a mid-pack style in his April 25 comeback at Gulfstream in a seven-furlong optional claiming race, but it is easier for route horses with speed to settle farther back in sprint races.
In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Global Campaign either needs to set the pace with Authentic flanking him or press Authentic closely. Neither option sounds appealing. Plus, there are other speed horses that can weaken him, including Maximum Security and possibly Swiss Skydiver if she runs.
To knock his Woodward win as well, who did he beat? The runner-up Tacitus is a gutless horse who does not finish off races often, and one start later, he lost to two 3-year-olds in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). The third-place Prioritize went on to run fourth in that same race.
Before the Woodward, Global Campaign only won the Monmouth Cup by 1/2 lengths in a hard-fought win after briefly losing the lead to Bal Harbour, with the out-of-form Math Wizard closing late for second.
If he runs, Global Campaign is a toss from the win spot in the Classic.