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Breeders' Cup Classic Picks 2017
Classic Entries and Odds
Looking at the recent past history of the Classic provides a mixed-bag of handicapping information. Over the past two years there have been wins at bottom-of-the-barrel odds, including 3-5 American Pharoah in 2015 and 8-5 Arrogate last year. At the same time, American Pharoah was the only favorite to win in the past 10 years - California Chrome was actually favored over Arrogate in 2016 - and there have been a couple double-digit winners in the past decade, making for average odds on the winner since 2007 at 6-1.
All along, the talk going into this year's Classic has been about the Big Two in Arrogate and Gun Runner, and questions regarding both as essentially the co-favorites. For Arrogate, there's the fact that despite reeling off seven straight wins in 2016-17, four Grade 1s, and putting more than $17 million in the bank, he's lost his last two, both on the Del Mar dirt course. It has been referred to by many as his "kryptonite".
Gun Runner, on the other hand was very good as a three-year-old capturing four graded-stakes wins and running third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby. He has been spectacular as a four-year-old, winning four-of five starts, the last three at the Grade 1 level, and the most recent of those by more than 10 lengths.
At the same time, he's 0-for-3 at the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. In fact, last year his connections decided to skip the $6 million Classic and run in the $1 million Dirt Mile. Two of those three losses have come at the hands (or, hooves) of Arrogate, and the last time they met, at the Dubai World Cup, Arrogate came from way back to win going away.
Basic sense would indicate it's more likely Arrogate can overcome his problems with Del Mar than Gun Runner can overcome his problems with distance. And it's not that Arrogate has never won on the Del Mar dirt, having taken his very last allowance race on the track just before he exploded into superstar status last year. It's a problem he can overcome, while if a horse like Gun Runner can't get the distance, he can't get the distance.
Strong Field Beyond the Big Two
One horse that doesn't have a problem with Del Mar is Collected, who beat Arrogate last out on the track in the (G1) Pacific Classic. It was his fourth win in a row, and sixth in his last seven starts. He's expected to be up on the early speed here, and hope the problems mentioned above keep the big boys off his back until he hits the wire.
Of the others looking to grab a piece, West Coast is a three-year-old who has followed much the same career path as Arrogate, in that he missed the spring Triple Crown series, and then burst on the scene with a huge win in the (G1) Travers Stakes. It's not impossible that he wins this, but it will be the toughest test of his career so far, going up against a very good group of older horses for the first time.
After knocking on the door in a handful of graded-stakes without getting any wins, Mubtaahij found himself with a new trainer and added blinkers last time out, and it appears that's what he needed to grab a solid win in the (G1) Awesome Again Stakes over a pretty good field at Santa Anita. Although speed-wise he seems a cut below the best here, even a small step forward could see him grab a minor reward.
The wild card in the field is Churchill, a very good turf horse over in Europe for trainer Aiden O'Brien. He has four Group 1 wins to his name out of seven wins in 12 starts overall, and last year was considered perhaps the best two-year-old across the pond. He's winless in his last four, however, and will be making his first start on dirt, first start in North America, and first start beyond one mile. That's asking a lot.
The Breeders' Cup Classic goes Saturday, November 4 from Del Mar race track in Del Mar, California. It's the last of nine races on Day 2 of the Breeders' Cup, with an expected post time of 8:35 PM Eastern.
- Arrogate (9-4)
- War Decree (33-1)
- Win The Space (100-1)
- War Story (100-1)
- Gun Runner (7-4)
- Mubtaahij (22-1)
- Churchill (16-1)
- West Coast (11-2)
- Gunnevera (25-1)
- Pavel (40-1)
- Collected (11-2)
- #1 - Arrogate
- #11 - Collected
- #5 - Gun Runner
- #6 - Mubtaahij
Don't miss one of the biggest races of the year even if you're nowhere near Del Mar race track by opening an account and betting the race with a quality online racebook.
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