The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the feature race and the richest of the 13 Championship races held over the two days at Santa Anita. This contest is worth a staggering $6,000,000 and there is a mouth watering line up once again for this year’s renewal.
CALIFORNIA CHROME has gone six starts undefeated this year and the Art Sherman trained superstar has amassed a huge $13,400,000 worth of prize money in his career to date. He finished third in this race back in 2014, beaten a neck by the winner Bayern who was trained by Bob Baffert. He has a decent draw in Stall 4, but it shouldn’t be too important over this trip with only ten runners going to post. Victor Espinoza will be keen to break out of the stalls fast and grab an early initiative and, if successful, it is hard to see this horse being turned over. He showed huge versatility to go and win twice in Meydan earlier this year and he has destroyed horses such as Dortmund and Beholder in recent starts. He really is in the form of his life and looks the one to beat on Saturday night.
1 EFFINEX – Ran an excellent race in last year’s renewal to chase home American Pharoah into second place at Keeneland. Won a Grade 1 and Grade 2 since, but he was put in his place in the Whitney Stakes coming fourth to Frosted at Saratoga in August. Good second to Hoppertunity in the Grade 1 Gold Club Stakes at Belmont Park last time out, but more is needed. Place claims at best.
2 FROSTED – Failed to land a blow in this race last year, finishing seventh of the eight runners behind American Pharoah. Went on to win a Group 2 in style at Meydan in February, but was 5 lengths behind California Chrome when fifth in the Dubai World Cup in March. Won a Grade 1 at Belmont Park by a staggering 14.5 lengths in June before landing the Whitney Stakes in August. Solid third in the Woodward Stakes last time out and although he has solid each way claims, it remains to be seen whether he can trouble California Chrome.
3 KEEN ICE – Ran a solid race last year back in fourth, albeit beaten 12.5 lengths. He ran two poor races at Meydan in the winter and disappointed last time out when he could only finish third in a claimer, going off a strong even money favourite. Easy horse to oppose.
4 CALIFORNIA CHROME – Two time Classic winner, landing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2014. He is as tough and as sound as they come and is now seeking his seventh victory in a row. He finished third in this race in 2014 and this looks like a golden opportunity for him to go two better.
5 WIN THE SPACE – Two time winner at Santa Anita, but they were both claimers and he looks way out of his depth in this company. Beaten 8 lengths by California Chrome in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar this year and was 7 lengths behind the same horse in the Awesome Again Stakes last time out. Hard to fancy.
6 MELATONIN – Progressive five-year-old who has won four of his eight starts to date. Won all three starts at Santa Anita this year and only found Effinex too good in the Oaklawn Handicap – his only defeat this year. He could have more improvement to come, so it would be foolish to completely dismiss him.
7 WAR STORY – Finished well back in eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland this time last year. Won an allowance race by 9 lengths, but went off the 5/100 favourite that day, so that was expected. Well beaten behind California Chrome in the Pacific Classic Stakes in August and although he was second in a moderate affair last time out, he realistically has no chance here.
8 SHAMAN GHOST – Very capable four-year-old colt who has notched up six wins from his ten starts to date. Bolted up in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park in June, but was no match for Effinex next time out. Beat Frosted in the Woodward Stakes last time out so he could reach the frame with a repeat effort. Each way chance.
9 HOPPERTUNITY – Bob Baffert trained five-year-old who was only two lengths behind California Chrome when third in the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita back in January. Finished third in the Dubai World Cup behind our selection and comes here off the back of a Grade 1 success, so a place is not out of the question.
10 ARROGATE – This Bob Baffert trained three-year-old colt is highly thought of and he looks the chief threat to California Chrome. He has won four of his five starts to date and looks highly progressive. Three of those were very weak races, but he crucified the field in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes in August, beating stablemate American Freedom by 13.5 lengths. He is an extremely exciting prospect and looks sure to give the favourite plenty to think about.