Breeders’ Cup Classic 2018: Projected field, odds

In the absence of retired Triple Crown winner Justify, it appears nobody’s ducking the challenge of a large field in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic set for Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

The 1 1/4-mile Classic looks to feature an eclectic mix of sophomores and older horses, plus includes its share of international contenders.

Super Screener tip: According to Horse Racing Nation’s handicapping system, just six of a possible 32 in the money slots were filled by 15-1 shots or higher in previous Classics run at Churchill Downs. Click here for more secrets to winning on the Breeders’ Cup.

Get a look below at the prospective field, which will be limited to 14 starters. Odds listed are the final prices from Pool 2 of the Classic Future Wager conducted earlier this month. Expect slightly lower odds on race day, as the Future Wager had 20 interests.

Accelerate, 3-1 [Lookin At Lucky — John Sadler — 21: 9-5-5 — $2,492,480] He’s making a case for Horse of the Year with Justify’s record set in stone and has looked like a different horse since adding blinkers. The anticipated favorite acted up at the gate in his final prep, the Awesome Again (G1), but appeared to get to the bottom in winning with a wide trip.

Axelrod, 66-1 [Warrior’s Reward — Michael McCarthy — 10: 4-2-1 — $732,925] Purchased by the Phoenix Thoroughbreds group since running second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), he remains in McCarthy’s care. The late-blooming 3-year-old has won a pair of Grade 3 events, the Indiana Derby and Smarty Jones Stakes.

Bravazo, 34-1 [Awesome Again — D. Wayne Lukas — 14: 3-3-2 — $1,116,528] Lukas has saddled him in every major spot for the sophomores, and it appears the Classic is next. Bravazo is, if anything, inconsistent, following placings in the Haskell (G1) and Travers (G1) with a puzzling seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

Catholic Boy, 7-1 [More Than Ready — Jonathan Thomas — 9: 6-1-0 — $1,842,000] The switch back to the main track in the Travers (G1) made him a top-level winner on both surfaces. Connections have elected to train up to the Classic, taking an approach similar to other recent 3-year-old winners American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016).

Discreet Lover, 52-1 [Repent — Uriah St. Lewis — 44: 7-7-7 — $1,354,060] St. Lewis owns and trains this hard-knocking $10,000 purchase, known for hitting the board in major spots until his breakthrough, rallying win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). That performance put him on the vet’s list, but he’s back to work for the Classic, which will mark a career finale.

Gunnevera, 28-1 [Dialed In — Antonio Sano — 18: 6-4-2 — $3,091,800] The fan favorite will make his third start off the layoff in the Classic having suffered a cut hoof in the Dubai World Cup. He was second in the Woodward (G2) last out and won’t mind going a bit farther here. It’s reasonable to think we haven’t seen this 4-year-old’s best yet.

McKinzie, 6-1 [Street Sense — Bob Baffert — 5: 4-1-0 — $906,000] Baffert’s original No. 1 for the Derby missed much of the year due to a strained hock but returned with authority, winning the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) off the bench, and with a front-running effort. The Classic will mark his first start at 10 panels.

Mendelssohn, 10-1 [Scat Daddy — Aidan O’Brien — 11: 4-2-2 — $2,317,137] Last year’s Juvenile Turf winner has long been pointed to the Classic. More recently, Mendelssohn’s races have indicated he’ll be a pace factor, though it remains a question how long he can carry that early speed. The Coolmore charge will be off to stud in 2019 and could use a resume boost.

Mind Your Biscuits, 15-1 [Posse — Chad Summers — 24: 8-10-3 — $4,279,566] Formerly known as a top sprinter, this one’s now just a top horse regardless of distance. He proved it by running second in the Whitney (G1) before winning the Lukas Classic (G3) around two turns. Other Breeders’ Cup options are possible, but the Classic is in his scope.

Pavel, 31-1 [Creative Cause — Doug O’Neill — 11: 3-1-1 — $1,375,000] Just when his class was questioned most, Pavel won the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) and at the same time proved he likes the surface at Churchill. He’s training up to the Classic after second by 12 1/2 lengths to Accelerate in the Pacific Classic (G1).

Seeking the Soul, 78-1 [Perfect Soul — Dallas Stewart — 21: 6-4-5 — $1,482,542] With a last out Ack Ack Stakes (G3) win at Churchill, this previous Grade 1 winner ran himself into consideration for the Classic. Stewart has a penchant for hitting the board in major races when facing long odds. Again?

Thunder Snow, 13-1 [Helmet — Saeed bin Suroor — 20_ 7-6-2 — $8,531,476] The Dubai World Cup winner will be back on the dirt for the first time since March in the Classic — and back under the Twin Spires, where in 2017 he bucked at the start of the Kentucky Derby. No longer just a punch line, the colt was second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in his final prep.

Toast of New York, 69-1 [Toast of New York — Jamie Osborne — 11: 4-4-0 — $3,047,814] Four years and four starts ago, he was second by a nose to Bayern in the Classic. Since brought back to the races from stud duty, Toast of New York has been spotted confidently but not necessarily delivered. Last out, he was second in the Lukas Classic (G3).

West Coast, 6-1 [Flatter — Bob Baffert — 12: 6-5-1 — $5,743,800] Lightly raced this year, the reigning 3-year-old champion has run second in his last three starts: the Pegasus World Cup, Dubai World Cup and Awesome Again (G1). The last of them was a much-needed effort off the bench. West Coast promises more in the Classic.

Yoshida, 9-1 [Heart’s Cry — Bill Mott — 11: 5-3-0 — $1,289,770] Following Catholic Boy’s turf-to-dirt score at Saratoga, Yoshida did so to win the Woodward (G1) against a sizable field. Also this year he’s run at Royal Ascot against the world’s best and won a Grade 1 on U.S. grass.

Also possible: Collected, Honorable Duty, Roaring Lion

 

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