Horse Racing

Breeders’ Cup Classic Preps Take Center Stage Saturday

One week after the Travers Stakes (G1) provided some clarity in the 3-year-old division relative to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), a pair of top-level races at the Classic’s 1 1/4-mile distance on both coasts Sept. 2 should continue to set the table for the $6 million race Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park.

Saturday’s tests are both Breeders’ Cup Challenge races for the Classic. At Saratoga Race Course, Lucky Seven Stable’s Rattle N Roll  is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) where eight older horses are entered with $1 million on the line. While the race is for 3-year-olds and older, no sophomores are entered. (Plenty of lucrative races restricted to 3-year-olds—including last week’s 1.25 million Travers at the Spa—are offered in the East.

Lucrative races for 3-year-olds are not as plentiful out West, where this year’s Haskell Stakes (G1) winner Geaux Rocket Ride  will take on older horses for the first time in his career. Trained by Richard Mandella, Pin Oak Stud’s Geaux Rocket Ride made his first three starts at Santa Anita—winning two of those races—before shipping to Monmouth Park for the Haskell where he posted a clear victory in that 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds. Now the son of Candy Ride   returns to Southern California for Del Mar‘s signature race as the 5-2 morning-line favorite. 

Geaux Rocket Ride already punched his fees-paid entry into this year’s Classic as the Haskell also is a Challenge race. The only other 3-year-olds among the 11 horses entered in the Pacific Classic are both familiar to Geaux Rocket Ride as Zedan Racing Stables’ Arabian Knight  led early as the 1-1 favorite in the Haskell before fading to third, and C R K Stable’s grade 1-placed Skinner , who finished third in this year’s San Felipe Stakes (G2)—a 1 1/16-mile test where Geaux Rocket Ride placed second.

The Pacific Classic provided the path to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic glory as Flightline   followed his 19 1/4-length victory at Del Mar with an 8 1/4-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. Both outcomes established record margins of victory for the respective races.

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The Jockey Club Gold Cup also has provided a recent path to Breeders’ Cup Classic glory. In 2019 Vino Rosso   finished first by a nose in the Jockey Club Gold Cup but was placed second for interference in midstretch, a decision that would award the win to Code of Honor . Vino Rosso would follow that effort with a 4 1/4-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the most recent year the race was contested at Santa Anita.

In 2019 the Jockey Club Gold Cup was contested on the final Saturday of September at Belmont Park, five weeks before the World Championships. The race has been moved to Saratoga and this year will be contested nine weeks before Breeders’ Cup.

Arcangelo  rocketed to the top spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic poll this week off his clear victory in the Travers (G1)—his first start since posting a clear victory in the Belmont Stakes (G1). The son of Arrogate followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the Travers. Seven years ago Arrogate followed his coming-out party in the Travers with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He then followed with 2017 scores in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1).


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