A trio of Breeders' Cup Classic prep races this past weekend concluded the prep season for North America's richest race, and none of the performances were good enough to crack my top seven.
The Classic is Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park, and my most likely winner is a horse who has not raced since Aug. 5: White Abarrio, who won the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. Based on futures markets overseas, White Abarrio figures to offer value, too, as he is trading between 8-1 and 12-1.
He was impressive in the Whitney and, more importantly, had the performance figures to back the visual impression: He is the fastest horse so far this year. His Beyer Speed Figure from Daily Racing Form is 110, the joint highest of the year at a mile or more on dirt. He earned a 107 Brisnet Speed Rating for his Whitney.
So what of what we saw this weekend? I rated Woodward (G2) winner Zandon highest because his run style figures to work best for the pace dynamics already present for this race. That is, there is a lot of front-end gas. To that end, I see Awesome Again winner Slow Down Andy up against it, as there are several other expected front runners who are faster to boot.
That leaves only the Lukas Classic (G2) exacta of Clapton-Trademark. Both have license to improve as the field takes more focus. They closed into a fast pace in the Lukas, and a similar Classic could make either interesting at decent prices.
Lastly, there are two Japan-based horses on my least, and I greatly prefer Ushba Tesoro given his recent form. Kentucky Derby darling Derma Sotogake will have to fire what would by far be his best race ever off a layoff.
In the video below, the Paddock Prince & I discuss our respective top contenders lists for the Classic.