Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar...
Breeders' Cup Classic
Saturday, 4th November
Arrogate (Bob Baffert, USA/Mike E. Smith)
Top-class performer who was unraced at two years. Beaten on debut but has become world's leading money earner since, winning next seven races, including Travers Stakes at Saratoga (beat American Freedom by 13½ lengths, dominating from front) and this race at Santa Anita (by ½ length from California Chrome, pair well clear) in 2016. Won Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream and Dubai World Cup at Meydan (beat Gun Runner comfortably by 2¼ lengths) in early-2017, but not been in same form in two starts here since. Connections convinced he's back to his best but now has a bit to prove.
War Decree (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland/Seamie Heffernan)
Half-brother to winner in US by Elusive Quality. Finished 2½ lengths fifth to Brametot in Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on second outing this year and won first race away from turf when beating Absolute Blast by 2¼ in Diamond Stakes at Dundalk last time. Usually races prominently so track should suit, and likely to improve further, but needs to take form up another notch.
Win The Space (George Papaprodromou,USA/Joseph Talamo)
Won optional claimer at Santa Anita in 2016, but pulled up twice later in year, including in this race. Not seen out this season until August, but better than ever when 1½ lengths third to Mubtaahij in Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita last time, staying on. Usually wears blinkers (not latest outing).
War Story (Jorge Navarro, USA/Jose Ortiz)
Eighth behind Arrogate in this race in 2016 and left Mario Serey Jnr after final outing that year. Won Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes at Belmont in June, but below-form fourth behind Gun Runner at Saratoga last two starts, in Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, and looks up against it.
Gun Runner (Steven Asmussen, USA/Florent Geroux)
Top-class performer who was second in Dirt Mile at last year's Breeders' Cup and whose four wins this term include Whitney Stakes at Saratoga (beat Keen Ice 5¼ lengths) in August and Woodward Stakes on last-named course (beat Rally Cry 10¼ lengths) in September. Good 2¼ lengths second to Arrogate in Dubai World Cup at Meydan on other start this year. Continues to string together one top-class performance after another, and a major player as a result.
Mubtaahij (Bob Baffert, USA/Drayden Van Dyke)
Finished 3¾ lengths second to California Chrome in Dubai World Cup at Meydan in 2016, and ran creditably in US (for Kiaran McLaughlin) later in year. Below form in latest Dubai World Cup (poorly drawn when 9 lengths fourth to Arrogate), but blinkered for first time when winning Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in September by 1½ lengths from Midnight Storm. Place claims at least.
Churchill (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
Successful on five of six starts at two years (only defeat coming on debut) and continued where he left off when landing 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (by length from Barney Roy) and Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh (by 2½ lengths from Thunder Snow), both in May. Placed since in International Stakes at York (2 lengths second to Ulysses) and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot (1½ lengths third to Persuasive), but yet to race on this surface and question marks as a result.
West Coast (Bob Baffert, USA/Javier Castellano)
Like stablemate Arrogate, was unraced at two years, but has since developed into a high-class performer, wins including Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby, Travers Stakes at Saratoga (by 3¼ lengths from Gunnevera) and Pennsylvania Derby at Parx (beat Irap by 7¼ lengths, leading around home turn and storming clear). On a steep upward curve and may well improve further, so plenty to like about his chance.
Gunnevera (Antonio Sano,USA/Edgard Zayas)
Very smart performer who won Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream in March and non-graded event on same course in August. Good 3¼ lengths second of 12 to West Coast in Travers Stakes at Saratoga last time, running on late, but a bit of work to do in order to turn the tables.
Pavel (Doug F. O'Neill, USA/Mario Gutierrez)
Didn't make debut until July, but has quickly made up into a very smart performer, winning maiden at Santa Anita and Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx in September. Good 1¾ lengths third to Diversify in Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont last time, chasing leader throughout, but likely needs to take another step forward here.
Collected (Bob Baffert, USA/Martin Garcia)
Missed second half of 2016, but has developed into a top-class performer this year and is unbeaten in last four races, namely listed race, Grade 2 Californian Stakes and Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes (by 14 lengths), all at Santa Anita, and Pacific Classic at Del Mar (by ½ length from Arrogate, making all at sound pace and going clear 2f out). Has plenty of tactical speed, and respected on recent form, but chance compromised by widest draw.
Timeform Breeders' Cup Classic 1-2-3
1. West Coast
3. Gun Runner
Timeform Analyst's Breeders' Cup Classic Verdict
In summary this looks an open renewal, so the rapidly improving WEST COAST could be the one to side with. It's hard to argue with the manner of his recent victories and with potential for better still, he could bridge the gap with higher rated rivals here. Last year's winner Arrogate and Gun Runner are fancied to be firmly in the mix, however.