Breeders Cup Classic (Churchill Downs) Betting Tips & Preview – Saturday 3rd November 2018

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.

The absence of this year’s Triple Crown winner, Justify, lends a wide-open look to the race this year. There is a pretty strong trainer trend in evidence though and we will be backing Bob Baffert to do it once again in 2018.

Top Tips

McKinzie to win @ 9/2

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

1m2f is the trip for this Grade 1 contest, set to be run on the dirt track at Churchill Downs and offering a total of over £4million in prize money. This is just about as good as flat racing gets so be sure to tune in.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Dirt 1m2f Grade 1 £4,088,889 14 Runners 1/4 1-3

Recent Winners

Fans of trainer trends will no doubt gravitate straight to the legendary US trainer Baffert here, with the brilliant handler sending out three of the past four winners. Collected, McKinzie and West Coast go for Baffert this time around though, so there are more decisions to be made even if you do want to back Baffert.

For those that like age trends, it’s worth noting that the younger runners in the field have fared best in the past decade. With four wins apiece for the three and four year olds, as opposed to just two for the five year olds, this gives another angle in to the race.

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

Analysis: Back Bob For Win Number Four

This has been a mightily tough prize to wrest from the clutches of the US trainers over the years, with the prize staying on home soil in each of the past nine seasons. That stat speaks against the three European runners in the field.

In terms of the draw for this race it seems that middle has been the place to be regardless of which track this has been run at, with nine of the past 10 winners emerging from stalls four to nine.

One Last Roar From The Lion?

John Gosden was the last man to make a dent in the US dominance of this race when saddling Raven’s Pass to victory in 2008. He may well have the best chance of the raiding party once again this year in the form of the remarkable Roaring Lion. Since finishing third in the Derby, this one has gone on to win four consecutive races, all in Group 1 company. He is unbeaten in four starts at around this trip and heads here for one last hurrah before embarking on a career at stud.

The main question with him doesn’t concern his undoubted talent, but rather the fact that he will be running on dirt for first time here. He is by a US stallion in Kitten’s Joy though, and having won on ground ranging from soft to good to firm, he appears to be a versatile sort.

Catholic Has A Prayer

If judging this solely on the most recent performances of the runners in the field, the one to be on may well be the Jonathan Thomas-trained Catholic Boy. The odd one out in this field is neither a colt, a gelding nor a filly, but rather a rig, i.e. a horse who hides his masculinity from the world in his stomach – interesting for a runner trained by a Jon Thomas.

Regardless of his somewhat unusual make up though, he certainly can run and simply blew Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelsohhn – who also goes here – away in the Travers Stakes last time out at Saratoga. The winning margin was four lengths that day but could easily been more had he been pushed right out and this one looks a threat to all.

Baffert Mckin It Look Easy Again?

Bob Baffert’s three previous winners of this all have one thing in common, they were all three year olds. That fact suggests that of his trio, it may well be the Street Sense colt, McKinzie who holds the strongest claims this year.

Four from four in his career to date, his only defeat came to the talented Bolt D’Oro in a race which appeared to take something out of him and led to him missing his Triple Crown targets. Those issues may prove a blessing in disguise though as he arrives a fresher horse than many of these and he looked better than ever when landing the Pennsylvania Derby last time out.

Final Verdict: McKinzie To Win

Our heart says Roaring Lion here, but with the surface such an imponderable and with the colt having already endured a few tough races this season, it will likely take a herculean effort for him to take this. Moreover, at the odds we just don’t feel the value is there.

Overall it may well be best to stick with the recipe which has proved so successful here in recent years, namely a Bob Baffert-trained three year old. McKinzie has endured something of an interrupted campaign to date but can begin making up for lost time by landing the big one.

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