This year’s Classic is tough. While I believe it isn’t the most difficult race, it has a lot of talent, both young and old. California Chrome returns to California for a chance at the top title; Shared Belief tests his undefeated streak in the toughest race of his career; Bayern tries to prove he can go the distance and give Baffert another Breeders Cup title, and his first Classic; Candy Boy tries to get past that second spot; Zivo wants to show that he can fit in to this group; Toast of New York wants to show his skill on dirt; Footbridge wants to give Godolphin a win in this spot; V.E. Day wants to break the curse of the Travers; Tonalist tries to win big outside of Belmont; and Mike Smith tries to get win number 4 in the Classic. In this race, speed up front will be the key. California Chrome, Shared Belief, Moreno, Tonalist, and Majestic Harbor all like the front. A fast enough pace could kill Moreno and Majestic Harbor’s chances. The other three shouldn’t be too winded by the turn for home. California Chrome, however, could get weary on the stretch from this. Shared Belief has proved to stay the pace no matter what, so there shouldn’t be a problem there. Tonalist will be there, but not as strong in the end. Of course Bayern should be near the pace, but I don’t expect him to go right to the front. Baffert learned in the Travers that Bayern can’t stay the mile and a quarter from up front. Keep him back a little. He should be off just on the turn for home. Imperative and Prayer for Relief will try to test the pace and push the leaders. But neither has enough class to get by near the end. Then behind them will be Toast of New York, a mid-pack stalker. He has been very good on synthetic and has been one of the closest to beating Shared Belief (and the closest of the horses in this race). The question is with his dirt skill. Toast of New York’s sire, Thewayyouare was 4 for 5 on turf; however, his progeny this year have done well on dirt in the US, finishing in the money most of the time. Dirt will not be a question for this horse, in fact, I see him improving with the dirt. In the back of the pack will be Zivo and Candy Boy. Candy Boy is the obvious better closer and has shown his prowess at Santa Anita in the spring. His return to the course will only help, but the Classic has not been kind to closers, so while the course may help, the race may not. Zivo, on the other hand, has been stepping up in class over the past few races. After 5 straight wins, and 6 of last 7 in New York company, he stepped up to face graded winners and beat them in the Suburban and then ran a closing 4th in the Whitney and a close second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Zivo has done well to step up.
Now, there is the picture. How will that picture factor into who will win? I see three horses coming down the stretch unscathed by the race, the undefeated Shared Belief, the foreigner-turned US racer Toast of New York, and the New Yorker Zivo. Shared Belief and Toast of New York will be dueling like in the Pacific Classic. With just barely a half of length between them, Zivo will be fast closing. Of course one of the two dueling horses will come out on top and the other will fall to second. Zivo won’t catch either of them, but will be strong enough to finish in 3rd. My projected finish: Toast of New York over Shared Belief over Zivo over Tonalist to round out the super. Good Luck, and may this Breeder’s Cup bring many joys!
EDIT: A horse I would watch out for is Cigar Street. When I was originally looking at him, I saw him a cut below this group. It wasn’t until I saw his workouts that I was struck with confusion. This horse is definitely not a cut below, and is one to watch. I am including him in my exotics. Cigar Street may through a wrench into this race and could come at a price. Expect this years exotics to pay huge!
PICK 6 Ticket:
- Turf Sprint: No Nay Never, Undrafted
- Juvenile: The Great War, Daredevil
- Turf: Flintshire
- Sprint: Rich Tapestry
- Mile: Toronado, Anodin, Tourist, Mustajeeb
- Classic: Toast of New York, Shared Belief
UPDATED PICK SHEET BELOW: