Breeders' Cup Classic Betting Tips, Stats & History

Saturday’s excellent Breeders’ Cup card from Churchill Downs doesn’t have a race which is anything less than enthralling amongst the nine on offer. The best of the bunch however is very much saved until last with the contest most synonymous with this prestigious meeting: The Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Note: Race time and date listed in GMT. The local time for the race is 8:44PM Eastern Time Saturday 2nd November 2019.

Race Info

1m2f is the trip for this Grade 1 contest. Set to be run on fast dirt this year, the race offers a whopping £4,346,457 in total prize money. Not bad for a mile and a quarter’s work!

Going Distance Grade Prize Money Runners EW Terms
Dirt 1m2f Grade 1 £4,346,457 11 Runners 1/5 1-3

Breeders' Cup Classic Betting Tips

Santa Anita, 00:44 Sunday 3rd November 2019

Headed into the 2014 season, three trainers had saddled the winner of this titanic contest on two separate occasions, but none had yet won it three times. Prior to that 2014 renewal, Bob Baffert had yet to enter the winner’s enclosure here, but thanks to a quickfire hattrick with Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016), it is US legend Baffert who now stands alone as the most successful trainer in the history of the race.

When looking at the men in the saddle, it is the veteran Mike Smith who boasts the best record amongst this year’s riders. Sitting on four wins in total, Smith needs just one more success to move into a tie for the all-time lead in the race amongst jockeys. He gets the leg up on last year’s fourth, Yoshida, this time around and certainly can’t be ruled out.

This hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for favourite backers in recent times, with just the one market leader coming home in front in the past 10 renewals. Returning a level stakes loss of 8.33 units over this period suggests the jolly is not likely to be the best option and with such depth of quality that isn’t too surprising.

McKinzie – 3/1

Given his record in the race, it looks interesting that Baffert relies on just the one entry this year, in the shape of his four year old Street Sense colt, McKinzie. The mount of Joel Rosario has been a model of consistency in 2019 – finishing in the first two in all six of his starts. Now a four-time winner in Grade 1 company, he is also thoroughly proven at this level, and could scarcely be in better hands for the task at hand.

Detractors will however point to the fact that he has already had one crack at this race, when beaten out of sight in last year’s renewal. That did come at Churchill Downs though, and he was beaten so early that day that surely something must have been amiss. Now a stronger horse, and back at a track where he has never finished outside of the first two in seven runs, he seems unlikely to be too far away. He likes it here, which not all his rivals do and 3/1 certainly seems fair enough to us.

Code Of Honour – 4/1

Three year olds have landed three of the past five renewals of this race and are strongly represented once again this year, with four of the 11-runner field hailing from that age group. The likes of Math Wizard and Owendale will likely have their supporters, but the most likely winner from amongst the younger contenders would look to the Claude McGaughey III-trained, Code Of Honour.

Sired by Frankel’s full brother, Noble Mission, this one heads into the race seeking a four-timer on the back of a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont Park last time out. He did actually cross the line in second that day, following a prolonged battle with Vino Rosso, but was subsequently awarded the race in the steward’s room. Highly likely to still be improving, expect to see this one doing all his best work late.

Vino Rosso – 9/2

Santa Anita is a track which can favour the front runners, with each of the past four editions to have been held here having been won by a runner who either made all, or raced right up with the pace. As such the one to be on may well be the aforementioned Vino Rosso. A son of the mighty Curlin, this one has just the one Grade 1 success to his name, but significantly that win did come over this track and trip back in May.

To our eyes he was pretty unlucky to be demoted to second behind Code Of Honour in that Belmont Park contest last time out, as any interference only looked to be very minimal. Code Of Honour had every chance to go past him that day, and still couldn’t do it, and it may prove to be a similar story here. There isn’t much between any of the main contenders here but at slightly longer odds of 9/2 we think the best value is offered by this impressive four year old.

Recent Winners

2019 Vino Rosso 4/1 Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jnr
2018 Accelerate 9/2 John Sadler Joel Rosario
2017 Gun Runner 11/4 Steven Asmussen Florent Geroux
2016 Arrogate 7/4 Bob Baffert Mike Smith
2015 American Pharoah 4/6 Bob Baffert Victor Espinioza
2014 Bayern 7/1 Bob Baffert Martin Garcia
2013 Mucho Macho Man 4/1 Kathy Ritvo Gary Stevens
2012 Fort Larned 9/1 Ian R Wilkes Brian Hernandez Jnr
2011 Drosselmeyer 20/1 William Mott Mike E Smith
2010 Blame 11/2 Albert Stall Jnr Garrett Gomez


Racehorses at the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Racecourse
jondoeforty1, flickr

Starring as the main attraction of the elite Breeders’ Cup World Championships is the one and only Breeders’ Cup Classic. Widely considered to be the most prestigious race held in North America, the Grade 1 contest is one that’s long attracted horses and trainers from across the globe. It once stood as the richest horse race on the planet too but these days its huge $6m jackpot is only good enough for a place in the top five. We knew we were in the wrong line of business!

Like with all other races taking place during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, it has no fixed home with a different racecourse hosting the event each year. It always takes place on a left-handed course though over a distance of one-and-a-quarter miles. Qualification for the race is straightforward with any hopeful horses simply needing to win one of the many Breeders’ Cup Challenge races that take place all over the globe. Initially there were 24 of the ‘Win and You’re In’ events but seven years later this total had reached a massive 71.

Pharaoh secures historic Grand Slam

American Pharoah at the Belmont Stakes
New York Racing Association, Wikimedia Commons

America’s Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is awarded to any three-year-old horse talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. A trio of horses completed the feat in the 1970s but there was a long wait for the next, the drought broken only by the superb American Pharaoh in 2015. Not content with just three huge victories, the Bob Baffert-trained horse then struck gold in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, now the fourth leg of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing. Never before had a horse triumphed in all races and it will take a true legend to pull it off again. We expect to be in for a lengthy wait.

Baffert on top

If there’s one man you can count on having a Breeders’ Cup Classic presence then it’s Bob Baffert. The Arizona-born trainer has had at least one runner in the mix for this race every year since 2008, although it took him a few years before he enjoyed a first taste of success.

Chart Showing Bob Baffert's Breeders' Cup Classic Record Between 2008 and 2019

Despite some strong contenders in early renewals, it wasn’t until 2014 when one of North American racing’s biggest names celebrated victory. Having ended the wait, Baffert strung together another two victories for an unprecedented hat-trick. This short burst of success is enough to make him the leading all-time trainer for this event and you can be sure he’s not done just yet.

Watch those speed figures

One of the main differences between British and American racing is the focus on times and statistics. The sheer variation among British racecourses and underfoot conditions means that previous performances are often hard to compare, or at least there is generally little interest in such comparisons.

Across the Atlantic though, things are more standardised and this allows racing fans to be a little more scientific in their approach, also a reflection of American sports’ love of number-crunching, data and stats. One thing you’ll no doubt see when doing your Breeders’ Cup Classic research are speed figures. Some prefer to use the Equibase Speed Figure while others opt for the Beyer. The latter is definitely something to watch out for as 21 of the last 24 winners of this race all posted a Beyer Speed Figure rating of 100+ last time out.

Tiznow strikes twice

Tiznow in Stables
edlitmus, flickr (Image Cropped)

Some truly great names have gone on to win this race but Tiznow is the only horse who’s managed to do so twice. This achievement saw his name added into the racing Hall of Fame in 2009 and rightly so given just how hard a task it is to pull off.

Initially he wasn’t set to take part in the 2000 edition of the race but two fine victories leading up to the big occasion saw him supplemented for a fee of $360,000. A most worthwhile investment it turned out to be as Tiznow gamely held off Giant’s Causeway in a finish that that won NTRA’s Moment of the Year. It’s an award he claimed again a year later as a gutsy display from the fourth favourite saw him edge out Arc winner Sakhee by a nose.

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