Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
By Peter Fornatale
The Classic wraps up the 2019 Breeders' Cup and although this may not be the strongest renewal ever run it is certainly open and intriguing.
The obvious place to start is McKinzie, a supremely talented individual but one who finds his stamina tested to its maximum over the 10-furlong trip of the Classic. In fairness, he only lost by a nose on his last try at the distance, although that was against an inferior rival at long odds-on. If we assume he'll stay, he's the one to beat, having won one of the key trials in the shape of the Whitney, which has been used as a Classic prep by Gun Runner, Fort Larned, Blame and Mucho Macho Man.
Many will see the value in opposing him, however, as he takes a nice chunk out of the market. The safer choice would be Code of Honor, would has the numbers and the stamina. He looks to be getting better as the year goes on and is another who has taken in key Classic preps, such as the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Fort Larned) and the Travers, which the last two 3-year-old Classic winners (American Pharoah and Arrogate) ran in. However, he has got the worst of the draw.
Vino Rosso provides a neat little form line between the two. He was thrashed my McKinzie in the Whitney but that was his first run for a couple of months and he appeared to be a bit rusty. He showed the benefit of that run next time in the Jockey Club when beating Code of Honor, finishing first but losing the race after an objection, which admittedly looked like the correct decision. That was his best race yet on form and figures and the extra furlong should him close the gap on McKinzie. He's good and is a leading player here, but the draw has not been kind to him either.
Fillies and mares tend not to win the Classic and Zenyatta is still the only filly to do so, which highlights what a task Elate faces in his spot. On the plus side, she is three from three over the distance and comes into the race off of a solid run in the Spinster, having run the brilliant Midnight Bisou to a nose in the Personal Ensign. There doesn't appear to be much juice in her price at 13-2, however.
Mongolian Groom had run over fourteen furlongs on turf as recently as June but landed the nine furlong Awesome Again on the main track last time out, beating McKinzie in the process. It's hard to know what to make of that all-the-way win at big odds but it's hard not to feel he was a little flattered.
He overturned previous form with Higher Power, who himself had tried turf earlier in the year but romped in the Pacific Classic, a won by Accelerate last year on the way to Classic glory. That is another performance that's tricky to explain and his run in the Awesome Again was more in line with his previous efforts.
Seeking The Soul finished fourth in the Awesome Again, and was well behind Higher Power in the Pacific Classic, but has the grindy style to run into a place here, and could even win if the race falls apart. Dallas Stewart is adept at getting horses to finish and run in the money in America’s biggest races. Math Wizard has spent most of his career at relatively minor tracks and looks up against it despite winning the Pennsylvania Derby last time out.
Math Wizard finished in front of War of Will there and the Preakness winner doesn't look to be in the form to win a race of this nature. In fairness, he was off a lay-off in the PA Derby and could come on again, but I can’t see him winning this.
Owendale was placed in the Preakness and had some decent efforts to his name, including when winning the Oklahoma Derby last time out. He didn't run badly in the Travers where he may have been a bit close to the inside and was a tad free. He is better ridden with some restraint and could run into a place if ridden in that manner.
Yoshida is yet to win this season and has no form over the distance, but he does have some figures that make him of interest in exotics. He was behind McKinzie in the Whitney, and ran a big number there, but has the same doubts as that opponent. Turning for home in this race last year I thought he was the winner and he just didn’t quite see out the trip.
VERDICT: He’s not a likely winner but I’m sticking with the idea that SEEKING THE SOUL is a good value each-way option at 33-1. CODE OF HONOR is still a square price at 9-2 and is the most likely winner for me. I will bet them both.