Breeders’ Cup Draw: Baffert’s Classic Trio Draw Outside Posts 8-9-10; Improbable 5-2 Favorite; Swiss Skydiver Going in Distaff
By Richard Rosenblatt
A little more drama was added to the Breeders’ Cup on Monday: Preakness-winning filly Swiss Skydiver will take on champion Monomoy Girl in the $2 million Distaff rather than challenge the boys again – Improbable, Maximum Security, Authentic and Tiz the Law among them — in the $6 million Classic (G1).
While the decision to enter Swiss Skydiver in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff was not a surprise, it became official at the Breeders’ Cup post-position draw.
The $31 million Breeders’ Cup begins Friday with five races for 2-year-olds, including the BC Juvenile (G1) featuring unbeaten Jackie’s Warrior, made the 7-5 morning-line favorite in a full field of 14.
On Saturday, nine BC races are on card at Keeneland Race Course, capped by the 1 ¼-mile Classic. Racing fans are in for a treat in the 10-horse showdown that includes Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz the Law and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s trio of multiple-Grade 1 winner Improbable, Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic and star-crossed Maximum Security.
Improbable, winner of the Awesome Again (G1) in his most recent start, was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Classic, leaving from post No. 8. Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg, drew the No. 2 post and was the second choice at 3-1.
Maximum Security, the DQ’d 2019 Kentucky Derby first-place finisher, is 7-2 and drew the No. 10 post. Authentic leaves form the No. 9 post.
“That was crazy,’’ Baffert said of his three horses drawing the outside posts. “They’re going to be easy to watch. They have to break well.
“Improbable, he deserves to be the favorite. They all have speed and those jockeys will work it out. The riders I have are smart, they know their horse and are going to ride their own horse. And the horses are doing well. If they show up, they have to bring their ‘A’ game.”
The Distaff drew a field of 10 fillies and mares. Monomoy Girl, the 2018 Distaff winner who missed all of 2019 but is 3-0 in 2020, was made the 8-5 favorite from post No. 10. Swiss Skydiver drew the No. 5 post and is 2-1.
Tagg was not thrilled with an inside post, but said, “I’d rather have that than the 15 in a 15-horse race. He’s fit, he’s healthy, he’s doing well. I can’t do any more for him.”
Swiss Skydiver, owned by Peter Callahan and trained by Ken McPeek, was cross-entered in the Classic and Distaff, but in the end the 3-year old Alabama (G1) winner will race against other females.
“The Distaff just made more sense,” McPeek said.
This Classic, in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic that reshuffled the racing schedule, looks to have one of the most competitive fields in years. The results of the race likely will determine Horse of the Year, and several divisional championship.
A total of 184 horses, including 37 competing internationally, were entered for the two-day, 14-race Breeders’ Cup. It’s the second time the event is being held at Keeneland.
Golden Pal, second in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot and winner of the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a full field of 14 with three also-eligibles. Golden Pal, one of four entries for trainer Wesley Ward, leaves from the outside No. 14 post.
Shadwell Stable’s Mutasaabeq is the 5-1 morning-line choice in a field of 14, drawing the No. 6 post with Luis Saez aboard. The Into Mischief colt won the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 4.
Princess Noor, trained by Baffert and unbeaten in her three starts, tops the seven-horse field as the 9-5 favorite; she drew the No. 7 post and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Simply Ravishing and Dayoutoftheoffice are 5-2 co-second choices.
Aunt Pearl, with Florent Geroux gaining the mount for trainer Brad Cox, is the 3-1 morning-line choice in a full field of 14 with two also eligibles. The unbeaten filly drew the No. 5 post. Co-second choices are Plum Alley and Campanelle, each 4-1.
Gamine, another Baffert trainee, tops the field of nine as the 7-5 choice, with 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress next at 3-1. The 7-furlong sprint should be a speedy one as long as the favorites get a clean break. Gamine, with John Velazquez getting the call, drew the No. 2 post; Serengeti Empress leaves from post No. 7.
Gamine romped in the Test (G1) by seven lengths and in the Acorn (G1) by 18 ¾ lengths. She ran third in the Oaks in her most recent start.
Got Stormy, last year’s runner-up in the Mile, drops down in distance and is the slight 7-2 morning-line favorite over Imprimis and Leinster, both at 4-1. A full field of 14 was entered with four also eligibles.
A bunch of runners from Triple Crown races are in this full field of 12, but it’s trainer Chad Brown’s Complexity who was made the 2-1 top early choice. The 4-year-old colt won the Kelso (G2) in his previous start after finishing second in the Forego (G1). Art Collector, winner of the Blue Grass over this track, drew the rail; Complexity leaves from the No. 10 post. 2019 Preakness winner War of Will is 10-1.
Rushing Fall, trained by Chad Brown, is the 5-2 early choice in a field of 14, and drew the No. 6 post. Sistercharlie, the 2018 winner of this race, is 6-1 and drew the No. 2 post.
This 6-furlong dash always seems to produce surprises, and the draw was an interesting one with Vekoma, the 3-1 favorite, drawing the outside No. 14 post. Vekoma, winner of the Met Mile (G1) and 3-0 in 2020, takes on the likes of C Z Rocket (7-2) and Yaupon (7-2).
Ivar, a 4-year-old bred in Brazil, is the 4-1 favorite in a race traditionally won by European runners. Trainer Chad Brown’s Uni, the defending champion in the race, is back and listed at 5-1. Ivar comes into the race off a win in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 3. A field of 14 was entered, and one also eligible.
A year ago, Bricks and Mortar won the Turf to clinch Horse of the Year honors. On Saturday, a field of 10 goes to the post, with trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Magical the 5-2 favorite over second choice and stablemate Mogul at 4-1.
The races will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN. Coverage begins Friday on NBCSN from 2-6 p.m. ET. Live coverage continues Saturday on NBCSN from 12-2:30 p.m., and on NBC from 2:30-6 p.m.
|2||Tiz the Law||Manuel Franco||3-1|
|3||By My Standards||Gabriel Saez||10-1|
|4||Tom’s d’Etat||Joel Rosario||6-1|
|5||Title Ready||Corey Lanerie||30-1|
|6||Higher Power||Flavien Prat||20-1|
|7||Global Campaign||Javier Castellano||20-1|
|8||Improbable||Irad Ortiz Jr||5-2|
|10||Maximum Security||Luis Saez||7-2|
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.