Breeders' Cup Classic 2018: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide
Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Trainer has a great recent record in this race so is definitely another to consider..."
Timeform on Mckenzie
1. THUNDER SNOW (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon)
High class on dirt, and proved better than ever at Meydan earlier in year, winning Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in February and Dubai World Cup (by 5¾ lengths from West Coast, enterprisingly ridden) in March. Back to form (though made move bit too soon) when neck second to Discreet Lover in Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont last time, edging ahead final 1f but caught near line. Drawn to attack and not discounted.
2. ROARING LION (John Gosden/Oisin Murphy)
Attractive colt who made low-key reappearance in the Craven, but has since developed very well, winning the Dante Stakes at York (by 4½ lengths) in May, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown (beat Saxon Warrior by neck) in July, the Juddmonte International Stakes at York (by 3¼ lengths from Poet's Word) in August and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown (by neck from Saxon Warrior) in September. Dropped back in trip (didn't need to improve) to complete 4-timer in the 13-runner Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last time by neck from I Can Fly, staying on to lead final 100 yards. This will be his first start on dirt, so needs to prove effectiveness on the surface, but has the form to figure.
3. CATHOLIC BOY (Jonathan Thomas/Javier Castellano)
High-class on dirt. Finished fourth in Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar (behind Mendelssohn) in 2017, and has won his last 3 starts this year, namely Grade 3 Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont in June, Belmont Derby (by head from Analyze It) in July and Travers Stakes at Saratoga (improved form, by 4 lengths from Mendelssohn, leading entering straight and storming clear) in October. One of the leading form players who commands maximum respect.
4. GUNNEVERA (Antonio Sano/Irad Ortiz Jr)
Very smart performer at best. Finished 3¼ lengths second to West Coast in Travers Stakes at Saratoga and 6¼ lengths fifth to Gun Runner in this race at Del Mar on last 2 starts in 2017. Bit below that level this year, though won optional claimer at Gulfstream in August. Placed in Pegasus World Cup there (13¼ lengths third to Gun Runner) in January and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga (2 lengths second to Yoshida) in September.
5. LONE SAILOR (Thomas M. Amoss/James Graham)
Won 11-runner Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington last time by a nose from Believe In Royalty. His best effort yet came when fifth in Preakness Stakes at Pimlico (2 lengths behind Justify) in May, and has a bit to find on form.
6. MCKINZIE (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith)
High-class form in finishing first past the post in all 3 starts this year, namely Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January, Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita (demoted after beating Bolt d'Oro by a head) in March and 9-runner Pennsylvania Derby at Parx (first race for 6½ months, by 1¾ lengths from Axelrod, going clear early in straight and keeping on well despite flashing tail) in September. Trainer has a great recent record in this race so is definitely another to consider.
7. WEST COAST (Bob Baffert/John Velazquez)
Top-class performer who developed well in 2017, winning 6 times, including in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga and Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. Finished good 3½ lengths third to Gun Runner in this race at Del Mar final three-year-old start. Has finished econd all outings this year, in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream (2½ lengths behind same rival), the Dubai World Cup at Meydan (beaten 5¾ lengths by Thunder Snow) and Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (first race for 6 months, 2¼ lengths behind Accelerate, sticking to task when headed). Likely to have been primed for this given trainer's recent record in the race and has to be high on the shortlist.
8. PAVEL (Doug O'Neill/Mario Gutierrez)
Very smart performer who finished in rear in this race at Del Mar in 2017. As good as ever when winning Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June by 3¾ lengths from Honorable Duty, leading over 1f out, but below that form when 12½ lengths second of 7 to Accelerate in Pacific Classic at Del Mar latest outing.
9. MENDELSSOHN (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
Very smart on all-weather/dirt. Won Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in 2017, and successful in listed race at Dundalk in March prior to putting up stunning performance to win UAE Derby at Meydan later in month by 18½ lengths from Rayya (made all). Creditable efforts last 2 starts, in Travers Stakes at Saratoga (4 lengths second to Catholic Boy) and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont (2 lengths third to Discreet Lover, getting involved in overly-strong pace) and another bold bid expected.
10. YOSHIDA (William I. Mott/Jose Ortiz)
Won Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in May and 14-runner Woodward Stakes at Saratoga (switched to dirt, by 2 lengths from Gunnevera, leading inside final 1f) in September. Respectable 1¼ lengths fifth to Accidental Agent in Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on second outing. This represents a completely different test.
11. MIND YOUR BISCUITS (Chad Summers/Tyler Gaffalione)
Third in Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar (3 lengths third to Roy H) in 2017. Successful this year in Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan (for second successive year, by head from X Y Jet) in March and 8-runner Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs (by 4¾ lengths from Toast of New York) in September. Second in between, in Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont (beaten short head by Bee Jersey) and Whitney Stakes at Saratoga (3½ lengths behind Diversify). First try at this trip.
12. AXELROD (Michael W. McCarthy/Joe Bravo)
Won Grade 3 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand in July and Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx (by 4 lengths from Diamond King) in August. Produced best effort when 1¾ lengths second of 9 to Mckinzie in Pennsylvania Derby at Parx last time.
13. DISCREET LOVER (U. St Lewis/Manuel Franco)
Won Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct in April and 8-runner Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont (by neck from Thunder Snow, racing well off pace and coming with a strong run to lead close home) in September. Third in Whitney Stakes at Saratoga (4 lengths behind Diversify) in August and has each-way claims.
14. ACCELERATE (John W. Sadler/Joel Rosario)
Top-class performer who has won 5 of his 6 starts this year, namely Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita in February, the Santa Anita Handicap in March, the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, the Pacific Classic at Del Mar (by 12½ lengths from Pavel) in August and the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (landed odds by 2¼ lengths from West Coast after playing up in the stall and being slowly away) in September. Only defeat when a neck second to City of Light (pair well clear) in Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn, and looks a worthy favourite here despite a wide draw.
15. COLLECTED (Bob Baffert/Joseph Talamo)
High-class performer who won 4 times in 2017, notably in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar (by ½ length from Arrogate). Finished 2¼ lengths second to Gun Runner in this race at Del Mar last year, but seen out only twice this year, in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream (seventh behind Gun Runner) and listed race at Parx (off 8 months, and finished 6¾ lengths fourth of 5 to Aztec Sense). Has a bit to prove but could still run into a place.
16. TOAST OF NEW YORK (Jamie Osborne/Julien R. Leparoux)
High-class performer in 2014, when successful in UAE Derby at Meydan and runner-up in Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar and this race at Santa Anita (beaten a nose by Bayern). Missed 2015 and 2016, and made winning return in 4-runner minor event at Lingfield on only outing in 2017 by length from Petite Jack. Seen out only twice this year, 8 months apart, in Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream (last of 12 behind Gun Runner) and Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs (4¾ lengths second to Mind Your Biscuits, taking second final ½f).
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Timeform's Breeders' Cup Classic Analyst Verdict
In summary, Bob Baffert sends out two runners with legitimate claims—even in the absence of Triple Crown winner Justify, and it could be worth taking a chance on the unexposed Mckinzie. Interestingly, Baffert had held high hopes for him in the Triple Crown races before injury intervened and he is fancied to start making up for lost time, with Accelerate and Mendelssohn others to note in an open renewal.
Timeform's Breeders' Classic Mile 1-2-3