The ultimate prize in thoroughbred racing is the ninth and final Breeders’ Cup race of the day, the $6 million Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic for 3-year-olds and up over 1 ¼ miles. A stellar field of 11 is slated as race 12 with an approximate post time of 8:44 p.m. ET.
This year’s edition provides so many storylines for each individual horse and their connections that the anticipation and aftermath could be something for the ages.
#10, Vino Rosso, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 4-1
Maybe it’s the name, the swagger, the owner, the trainer, I just have always liked Vino Rosso. He returns to Santa Anita for just the second time, since his last win by ¾ of a length in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes on May 27. In his last two starts, he finished third behind today’s morning-line favorite McKinzie and the up-and-coming Yoshida (JPN) in the G1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 3 and then won the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 28, where he posted a career-best 106 Beyer, but was dropped to second after a subjectable stewards’ inquiry decision to new winner and another of today’s entrants Code of Honor. He likes the track, has worked well all week and is ready to take back the mantle. The pick.
#7, Higher Power, Flavien Prat, 6-1
I’m throwing out the last, where he stumbled at the start and still managed to finish third in the G1 Awesome Again Stakes here on Sept. 28. I will look to his 5 ¼ length win in the $1 million G1 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 17 and hope he goes back to that for trainer John Sadler and red-hot jockey Flavien Prat, who took home the $2 million G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Friday aboard 45-1 longshot Storm the Court. Prat has waited over a month to show again what this horse can do and will be there right at the end. Runner-up.
#5, Yoshida (JPN), Mike Smith, 8-1
Coming off two strong Saratoga performances with a runner-up finish in the G1 Whitney (8/3) and a third-place showing in the G1 Woodward Stakes (8/31), Yoshida (JPN) is the talk of the week because of who is aboard him for the first time in jockey Mike Smith. Smith was supposed to be on today’s favorite McKinzie, but due to his second-place performance against longshot Mongolian Groom in the Awesome Again, trainer Bob Baffert wanted a new look and took Smith off the mount. As the old adage goes, ‘when one door closes, another one opens’ and Smith has gotten and will savor the opportunity to prove Baffert was wrong in his decision. Potentially an amazing storyline, but Yoshida (JPN) would have to do something he hasn’t done in 14 months - win. He’ll have a great shot to try and do that. Contender.
#11, Code of Honor, John Velazquez, 4-1
Code of Honor enters this race on a three-race win streak, but the feeling that he has to re-prove himself because of the aforementioned result with Vino Rosso is real. Then again he has nothing to prove, because it could literally come down to those two again to determine the outcome. This will be Code of Honor’s 10th career start (5-2-1) and seventh this year (4-1-1) and you know trainer Shug McGaughey and John Velazquez will be ready for the opportunity to change people’s minds forever by winning this. In the mix.
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