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Every sport has a definitive year-ending event to crown its champions. In Thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup World Championships is the culmination of the horse racing season worldwide and the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic is the defining event of the international racing season.The Breeders' Cup Classic, run at 1 1/4 miles, draws the top international Thoroughbreds year after year. It is open to horses 3-years-old and older and is limited to 14 starters.
With every major prep and every "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race in the rearview mirror, the 37th Breeders' Cup at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky is in full focus as racing's World Championships beckon Novemeber 6-7.
Although there are 14 races and more than $31 million in purses and awards at stake, the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) will garner the most attention. This year's Classic figures to not only decide Horse of the Year, but is shaping up as one of the very best in the race's long and storied history.
Race 12 at Keeneland on Saturday, November 7 - Post 5:18 PM
|2||Tiz the Law||3-1||Manuel Franco
|3||By My Standards||10-1||Gabriel Saez
|4||Tom's d'Etat||6-1||Joel Rosario
|Albert Stall, Jr.|
|5||Title Ready||30-1||Corey Lanerie
|6||Higher Power||20-1||Flavien Prat
|7||Global Campaign||20-1||Javier Castellano
|8||Improbable||5-2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|10||Maximum Security||7-2||Luis Saez
In beating the field in Belmont's Suburban Stakes (G2) by 8 ¼ lengths July 4 and pushing his lifetime earnings to almost $3 million, Tacitus returned to his winning ways after beginning the year with a fifth-place finish in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world.
The Suburban saw the striking gray 4-year-old return to his 2019 form when victories in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Wood Memorial (G2) earned him a place in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished third as one of the favorites. Next, he was runner-up in the Belmont Stakes (G1), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Travers Stakes (G1) before ending the year with a third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) against older horses.
Tacitus is trained by Bill Mott, who started his career at 16 in his native South Dakota. Later, he was an assistant to Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg before going out on his own. In 1998, at the age of 45, Mott became the youngest trainer inducted into the Hall of Fame. He has won three Eclipse Awards and 10 Breeders' Cup races, including victories in the Classic with Cigar and Drosselmeyer. Mott trained Country House, who won the 2019 Kentucky Derby after the disqualification of Maximum Security. In June, he became the seventh trainer in North American racing to win 5,000 races.
Tacitus was bred by owners Juddmonte Farms and has a blockbuster pedigree: his father is Tapit, currently one of the most dominant sires. Close Hatches, his mother, won the Eclipse Award for champion older mare in 2014. Tacitus, named for the great Roman historian, was her first foal. He has a 2-year-old full brother named Maximus Aurelius.
Like Tacitus's royal lineage, Juddmonte Farms is owned by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who has extensive business interests. Juddmonte, which has properties in the United States, Ireland and the UK, has won four Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Owner and five for Outstanding Breeder. They've won seven Breeders' Cup races, including the 2016 Classic with Arrogate, who set a North American record with more than $17 million in earnings.
When he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) June 20, Tiz the Law accomplished what owners Sackatoga Stables had hoped to do in 2003 with Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). For that '03 Belmont, the partners-several who are friends from a Sackets Harbor, NY high school who first conceived of the stable at a barbecue-arrived in four school buses, their signature transportation, on a rainy day, weather that left them wondering "what if" years after Empire Maker upset their Triple Crown dreams.
Tiz the Law has returned the owners and trainer Barclay Tagg, 82, a former steeplechase rider, back to heights of the game they haven't experienced since Funny Cide. The Belmont was an unusual affair thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic - the shortened race was held in front of a spectator-free grandstand, and for the first time in history, it was the first leg of the Triple Crown, rearranged due to Covid-19. About half of Tiz the Law's 35 owners gathered at a restaurant in Saratoga, where many of them now live, since they weren't permitted to attend the race.
Tiz the Law also made history as the first New York-bred to win the Belmont since 1882. However, as the heavy favorite, his win was hardly unusual.
The bay colt was purchased by the modest-sized stable for $110,000 and won his debut at Saratoga last summer. He followed this with a win in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont, giving racing fans a preview of what was to come in 2020.
After closing out his juvenile season with his only career loss to date in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill, where he ran third by less than a length on a sloppy track, he began his 3-year-old season as a force to be reckoned with.
He has won three straight this year - the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park and then the Belmont Stakes. The colt, whose style is to sit just off the early pacesetters before making his move, has won all of his races by at least three lengths.
Tiz the Law is a play on his parents' names. His father, Constitution by Tapit, ranked second behind American Pharoah on the 2019 sire list, and his mother Tizfiz is by two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow.
By My Standards continues the elite status he flaunted last year during his 3-year-old season. On the sidelines since finishing unplaced in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) last May, he returned to action in February with three consecutive victories that included the New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) and Oaklawn Handicap (G2).
"We gave him plenty of time and gave him an opportunity to be all that he can be," said owner Chester Thomas, who campaigns as Allied Racing Stable. The operation's first Breeders' Cup starter was Mr. Money, the fourth-place finisher in the 2018 Juvenile (G1).
Thomas purchased By My Standards for $150,000 at the 2018 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s April 2-year-olds in training sale. Eleven months later, the colt won the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) to stamp himself as Kentucky Derby material. Participating in the "Run for the Roses" fulfilled a dream for Thomas, a longtime resident of Western Kentucky. His interest in Thoroughbred racing was inspired in part by attending the 1982 Derby and cashing a ticket on longshot winner Gato Del Sol. He attempted college before trying to learn to be a jockey's agent. When that did not pan out, the risk-taking entrepreneur found work in the Western Kentucky coal mines. Eventually he started and later sold his own coal mining business.
By My Standards is trained by Bret Calhoun, who annually ranks among the nation's leading trainers with his stable based year-round in Kentucky as well as Texas in the summer and New Orleans in the winter. A Dallas native, Calhoun grew up going to the races with his father, who dabbled as an owner and trainer. Since obtaining his trainer's license in 1993, Calhoun has won more than 3,000 races including two Breeders' Cup events in 2010-the Turf Sprint (G1) with Chamberlain Bridge and Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) with Dubai Majesty, who was honored as that year's champion female sprinter.
By My Standards' father is two-time Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents.
At 7 years old, Tom's d'Etat seems to be in his prime. He lengthened the hot streak he started last October to four stakes victories with a 4 ¼-length romp in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs June 27 that missed the track record by just .02 seconds. This victory earned him an automatic berth to the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) as part of the "Win and You're In" Challenge Series. He has also won the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, Clark Stakes presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) at Churchill and the Oaklawn Mile at Oaklawn Park during his streak. These wins bring his lifetime record to 11 wins, with 6 in stakes, from 18 starts and his earnings to over $1.6 million.
The veteran's career is peppered with lengthy layoffs. His first race was in May 2016, and he earned his first stakes win in December 2018. However, Al Stall Jr., his trainer, believes these breaks may be the reason he is running his best as an older horse.
Tom's d'Etat's owner, G M B Racing, was founded by Tom and Gayle Marie Benson, who also owned the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans. Gayle continues to be at the helm of each following Tom's death in March 2018. He owned horses in the 1970's and 1980's, and the couple reentered racing in 2014 after attending the Kentucky Derby and visiting Belmont Park. Shortly after, they purchased a 600-acre horse farm in Paris, Kentucky, where they enjoyed spending weekends. Many G M B horses are named for Tom, including 2016 Kentucky Derby runners Tom's Ready and Mo Tom. Tom's d'Etat refers to the Mardi Gras parade Krewe d'Etat.
Stall is a fellow New Orleanian and lifelong Saints fan. His father and grandfather were horse breeders and owners, and Al Sr. served as the chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission for many years. Stall Jr. also won the Stephen Foster in 2010 with Blame, who went on to upset Horse of the Year Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The handsome bay horse, who was purchased for $330,000, will stand at WinStar Farm at the conclusion of his racing career.
Over the past three years, Title Ready has resided largely in the Grade 2 and Grade 3 ranks with a few allowance-optional claiming races mixed in, and he's amassed more than $500,000 in earnings without winning a stakes race. He faces the biggest test of his career by far in the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Classic and will carry high odds for a trainer in Dallas Stewart who has lit up the tote board in marquee races before.
Title Ready started off his 5-year-old season in 2020 with a game win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Keeneland, rallying to score by a head, and since then ran an even fifth in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs won by By My Standards and then a late-running third in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes back at Keeneland on Oct. 10.
His recent good form at the Breeders' Cup's home track is a positive, and as a deep closer in a field with some speed, he could get a beneficial pace setup on Saturday. If this longshot runs his very best race - comparable to his close second last year to eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso in the Grade 3 Discovery Stakes - he could boost the trifecta and superfecta payouts with a late rally. Granted, that's a big if.
Last year's TVG Pacific Classic victor hasn't reached the winner's circle in six starts since then, although he's raced competitively in marquee races on occasion. Higher Power will be one of the longest shots in the Breeders' Cup Classic field come post time and projects as a trifecta and/or superfecta filler against this tough field.
He finished third in last year's Classic but was 8 1/2 lengths behind winner Vino Rosso, and overall his best effort since the 2019 Pacific Classic came in June of this year, when he checked in 3 1/4 lengths behind Improbable in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup.
He has not started since finishing fourth in this year's Pacific Classic to Maximum Security and has been training steadily at Keeneland in recent weeks, which is a positive sign. Look for him to sit near the back of the field through the first mile and then methodically grind into gear with the goal of picking off some horses in the stretch. Stamina is not an issue for Higher Power in this 1 1/4-mile race, but finishing speed definitely is. John Sadler and Hronis Racing won the 2018 Classic with Accelerate.
Global Campaign's latest rally on the trail to Breeders' Cup candidacy yielded a win in Saratoga's Woodward Handicap (G1). The bay colt cleared the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of the field in a front-running effort, defeated favorite and multiple graded stakes winner Tacitus and paid $7.80 to win. It was his sixth win in nine starts and the first Grade 1 for trainer Stanley Hough, 72, since 2004.
The 4-year-old was coming off a victory in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3), a race that answered questions for Hough.
"I gained a lot of confidence in [that] race when he took a couple challenges and drew off a bit," he said. "I thought that was a good sign. One thing about this horse: If he's ever gotten to the lead at some point or another, he's won the race. The only time he hasn't won, he never got the lead. I think he's definitely cut out for this distance."
Global Campaign opened his career as a 3-year-old with back-to-back scores at Gulfstream in 2019. Later that year, he took Belmont Park's Peter Pan Stakes (G3). After finishing third in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga (G2), he took some time off because of minor foot issues.
Hough described him as a rambunctious 3-year-old, but said he is finally maturing. He said he was "more than satisfied" after the Woodward.
"He beat a good horse," Hough said. "We're all excited. It's a great win. That's what the game is all about."
Global Campaign is owned by Sagamore Farm and WinStar Farm. Alfred G. Vanderbilt was at the helm of Sagamore Farm for many years, and Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, purchased it in 2007.
Hough stepped away from training in 2012, but came back to the role in 2018 to train for Sagamore. This would be his first time to saddle a Breeders' Cup contender since his return.
Global Campaign is the son of Hall of Famer Curlin, who also won the Woodward and the 2007 Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). His mother's name is Globe Trot.
With a bright chestnut coat highlighted by white legs and face, Improbable is hard to miss. At the end of his races, he is usually seen in the first or second position, but he sometimes gains more than his share of attention before the action begins.
Improbable has developed a reputation for getting antsy in the starting gate, a quirk that his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and other connections have difficulty explaining.
"I don't know why," Baffert said two weeks after Improbable was second in the Oaklawn Mile stakes April 11. "You take him in the morning and you could set a bomb off in the gate and he won't move. He knows. He's smart."
After the Oaklawn Mile, Baffert rerouted Improbable to Santa Anita where he capitalized on a home court advantage and cruised to victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes (G1) June 6.
"He's matured, (but) he still has his antics in the gate a little bit," jockey Drayden Van Dyke said immediately after the race. "They put some pads in the gate today. I think it helped him. Also, he was comfortable running at his home base. When he travels, he seems to have more troubles at the gate."
Improbable, the official fourth-place finisher as the favorite in the 2019 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), will be making his second Breeders' Cup Championship appearance after checking in fifth in the Big Ass Fan Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year. He was purchased by co-owners Maverick Racing (a division of WinStar Farm) and China Horse Club for $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Improbable is bred for Breeders' Cup success. His father, City Zip, is a half-brother to 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Ghostzapper, and his maternal grandfather A.P. Indy won the 1992 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Setting the stage for a potential rematch in the Longines Breeder's Cup Classic, Authentic upset Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby, holding off the favorite's late challenge and pulling away to win by 1 1/4 lengths. At 8-1 odds, the bay colt gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his sixth Derby win, which tied the record set by conditioner Ben Jones 68 years ago.
The Derby improved his record to five wins and one second in six career starts, including four graded stakes victories. The first two came at Santa Anita: the Sham and the San Felipe. He won the former by 7 ¾ lengths. In the latter, he beat Honor A. P. by 2 ¼ lengths. Both horses made their next start in the RUNHAPPY Santa Anita Derby, and this time, A. P. Honor turned the tables and handed Authentic his one loss to date.
Authentic's win in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, his last race before the Derby, insured his place in the Classic because the race is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. Just as in the Kentucky Derby, he led every step of the way and held off late challenger Ny Traffic.
Baffert leads all trainers in Breeders' Cup history with $30,065,000 in earnings and is tied with Chad Brown with 15 victories, including three Classics in a row with Bayern, American Pharoah and Arrogate. D. Wayne Lukas leads all trainers with 20 victories. American Pharoah's 2015 Triple Crown sweep was the first in 37 years. Three years later, Baffert repeated the feat with Justify.
Authentic, who was purchased for $350,000, is owned by Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stable and Starlight Racing. He will stand at Spendthrift at the conclusion of his racing career. Spendthrift brought MyRaceHorse into the partnership, who sold shares to the public for as low as $206.
His father, Into Mischief, was last year's champion general sire, and his progeny includes two Breeders' Cup winners.
The horse who counts the fourth-highest earnings in history by a North American Thoroughbred could have been claimed for $16,000 in his debut. In his only race as a 2-year-old, Maximum Security demolished 10 rivals at Gulfstream Park, setting the pace to win by nearly 10 lengths.
A year later, he was named the Eclipse Award Champion Three-Year-Old Male for 2019.
Maximum Security launched his career with four straight wins, capped by a gate-to-wire score in his first stakes attempt, the Florida Derby (G1). The trophy came with 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and five weeks later, again setting the pace, he crossed the wire first in the Run for the Roses. Instead of adding a fifth win to his streak, however, he was disqualified for interference and placed 17th.
With no Triple Crown within his reach, Maximum Security skipped the Preakness Stakes (G1) in favor of the TVG.com Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park in July. In preparation, he first ran in Monmouth's TVG.com Pegasus Stakes, finishing second by a length after setting the pace-the only time through 11 starts he hasn't been first to the wire. In the Haskell, he raced just behind the leader, battled hard late, and won by 1 1/4 lengths.
After a bout with colic extended a hiatus to three months, Maximum Security went right back to winning, ending his 3-year-old season with wins in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont and the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct.
After the Cigar Mile, the colt's team saw the first of two changes: Owners Gary and Mary West, who also bred the colt, sold a 50 percent interest in him to worldwide industry powerhouse Coolmore. Coolmore horses generally race as the partnership of Mrs. John (Susan) Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. Earlier this year, Maximum Security was transferred to two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert.
Maximum Security started his 4-year-old season where he left off, winning the $20 million Saudi Cup in February and then returning from a five-month break in July for a hard-fought win in the San Diego Handicap (G2), his first start in California. In August, he set all the pace in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) for his sixth win in a row.
Maximum Security was the third of three consecutive Eclipse Award winners for the Wests, following West Coast, 2017 Champion Three-Year-Old Male, and Game Winner, 2018 Champion Two-Year-Old Male. In 2013 the Wests won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Maximum Security's father, New Year's Day.
The Wests built their fortune in telecommunications and now operate West Health. Susan Magnier is the daughter of renowned Irish trainer Vincent O'Brien and wife of John Magnier, managing director of Coolmore Stud. Englishman Michael Tabor built and sold a betting company he had grown to 114 locations. Fellow Brit Derrick Smith found success first as a trading director for the British betting company Ladbrokes and then in property and currency trading.
|Breeders' Cup Race||Grade||Purse||Date|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint||II||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Sprint||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Mile||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Distaff||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Turf||I||$4,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Classic||I||$6,000,000||November 7|
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