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Arcangelo, Arabian Knight Top Early Contenders for Breeders' Cup Classic

We’re about seven weeks out from the Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred racing’s $31 million, 14-race, two-day celebration featuring many of the world’s best horses vying for year-end championships.

The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), as usual, is the grand finale in the 40th year of the event, set for Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park

There’s a maximum field of 14 for the 1 ¼-mile Classic, and there are 16 contenders, according to the Breeders’ Cup website. The list at this point is more like 12-14.

Forte, Coady Photo

Arabian Knight

Does Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert have himself a fifth Classic winner? After the Uncle Mo colt held on to beat Geaux Rocket Ride by a neck in the 1 ¼-mile Pacific Classic, you’ve got to consider him a top choice. He’ll likely be in front with hopes he’ll hang on at the finish.


This is getting a bit tougher to predict. While Forte was a champion at 2, he’s been a notch below the best runners in 2023. However, with a Jim Dandy win sandwiched between a runner-up finish in the Belmont and a fourth in the Travers, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher’s star remains a prime contender.

Bright Future

With Javier Castellano aboard, Bright Future held off Proxy in a stretch duel to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup by a nose. The 4-year-old chestnut son of 2007 Classic winner Curlin has finished in the top 3 in six of seven career starts. Castellano most likely will be aboard Arcangelo in the Classic.

Geaux Rocket Ride

First off, wouldn’t it be nice if Hall of Famers Richard Mandella and jockey Mike Smith could win a Breeders’ Cup race together? Of Smith’s 27 BC wins, none have been for Mandella, who has nine BC wins – all of them at Santa Anita. As for the horse, the 3-year-old son of Candy Ride is not so far from unbeaten in five career starts … he won in his debut, ran second in the San Felipe (G2), 2 1/2 lengths behind Practical Move, then won the Affirmed Stakes, the Haskell, and was second by neck to Arabian Knight in the Pacific Classic. This is one tough colt and Smith has a knack for coming through in spots like this.





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