Las Vegas, NV - The Main Event on a busy weekend of racing at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky - the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic is on tap for Saturday, October 31. A generous purse of $5 million will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to go 1 1/4 miles on Keeneland's main track.
A field of 10 will give it a go in the Breeders' Cup Classic - - race 11 on Keeneland's stacked Breeders' Cup Saturday card. Post time is 5:35 PM. Let's take a look into the past performances of all 10 entries for this prestigious Grade 1 stakes - most of which will likely be chasing American Pharoah as he tries for the North American Grand Slam.
American Pharoah 4-5 - the 12th horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes - the first since Affirmed in 1978 will try to bounce back after an improbable loss - a second place finish behind Keen Ice in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes August 29. Before that was a sensational eight race win streak. 2-year-old Champion male of 2014 American Pharoah's only other blemish came in his debut. His eight race win streak includes the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park August 2, the Belmont Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths June 6, the Preakness Stakes May 16 by an impressive seven lengths after a statement win in the Kentucky Derby in May 2. They followed wins in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby by an incredible eight lengths April 11, in the Graded 2 Rebel Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths in March, the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes September 27 and a terrific 4 3/4 length win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity September 3. American Pharoah has been the most dominant horse on the planet the last 14 months but has a big question to answer here as the only Triple Crown winner to ever enter the Breeders' Cup. Victor Espinoza gets the return call from gate 4 in what is likely American Pharoah's last career race.
Beholder *SCRATCHED* - 2012 Eclipse Award winner as 2-year-old filly, 2013 Champion 3 Year Old Filly and nine time Grade 1 victor has 20 career starts with 15 wins and three second place finishes - the only times she hasn't finished first or second came in her debut and a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes just over a year ago. She enters on a nice six race win streak - the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes last time out September 26, the Grade 1 Pacific Classic August 22 over males by 8 1/4 lengths, the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes by an incredible seven lengths August 1, the Grade 1 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita June 13, the minor Santa Lucia Stakes in April and the 2014 Zenyatta Stakes in September (which she won three straight years). She won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2013 but has just eight starts since - seven wins. She is a two-time Eclipse Award winner for a reason - she is mighty impressive and despite being lightly raced the last 20 months is a serious contender against the boys. Gary Stevens will be in the saddle of the morning line second choice from the outside post 10.
Tonalist 4-1 - Christophe Clement trained colt has placed in 12 of 14 career starts. He finished fifth in this race last year but has been impressive since. He enters off a repeat win in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park October 3 and also had a win by 3 3/4 lengths with a scintillating 111 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 2 Westchester Stakes on that track in May, a second in the Grade 1 Met Mile in June, a second behind Effinex in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes in July and a third two starts back in the Grade 3 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga August 8. Tonalist won the 2014 Belmont Stakes and the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes here last May - he has been in every race the last 18 months. John Velazquez gets the call hoping to maintain Tonalist's competitiveness from the rail at a distance that is definitely in his wheel-house.
Honor Code 5-1 - Shug McGaughey trainee has 10 career starts with six wins, two seconds and a third place finish. He was on the Triple Crown trail last year before sustaining an injury to his right leg and was out of racing between March and November of 2014. This year he had a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March, a good in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park June 6 and a nice win in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes August 8 at Belmont Park. Last time out was a third as favorite in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park October 3. Honor Code has been in every race he's been in and should be again Saturday. Javier Castellano rides from post 9.
Keen Ice 8-1 - broke maiden in his second career start for trainer Dale Romans and has placed in five of nine starts since - the best of which coming last time out - a win over American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes August 29. Before that was a good second behind American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational August 2 and a respectable third in the Belmont Stakes June 6. He also had a seventh in the Kentucky Derby and a fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana. Keen Ice has gotten consistently better the last four months and is an interesting 12-1 this week. Irad Ortiz rides from gate 2.
Frosted 12-1 - Kiaran McLaughlin trained colt raced in stakes company for the first time November 29 and finished a respectable second as 9-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct and followed that with another good runner-up finish - behind Upstart in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream January 24. He has placed in his last four starts ahead of this race - last time out was a good win in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 19 after a third behind Keen Ice and American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes August 29 and consecutive runner-up finishes - behind Texas Red in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes August 1 and behind American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes June 6. He also had a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby and a huge statement with a win by two lengths in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 4. Frosted is another of the hot entries ahead of this race. Joel Rosario had the mount from post 3.
Smooth Roller 12-1 - will make just his fifth career start Saturday after posting two wins to start his career, a fourth in his stakes debut - the minor Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar August 26 and a terrific win last time out in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita September 26. Smooth Roller has won three of four career starts and will be looking for a second straight Grade 1 score. Tyler Baze gets the call on this up and coming gelding from post 7.
Gleneagles 20-1 European invader Irish bred Aidan O'Brien trained colt has seven wins and a third place finish in 10 career starts at home. He enters off a disappointing sixth at Ascot October 17 but he won three straight prior to that. He did finish third in the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere - Grand Criterium at Lonchamp a year ago so we know he can run. Ryan Moore will be in the reins of this intriguing colt from post 5.
Effinex 20-1 - has six starts this year for trainer James Jerkins - three wins - the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park July 4, the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct in April and an Allowance Optional Claiming in March. His last two starts have been OK - a third last time out in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup October 3 followed a fourth in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes September 5. Effinex looks for his first Grade 1 score from gate 6 with Mike Smith guiding him.
Hard Aces 30-1 - John Sadler trainee looked awfully impressive three starts back - winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita over Catch a Flight and Hoppertunity June 27 but hasn't looked good in two starts since - a sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 26 followed a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 22. His win followed a third in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes May 30 and off-the-board finishes in his previous two starts - both graded stakes. Hard Aces has two wins and a third place in seven starts this year and enters in sketchy form. Joe Talamo has been tabbed to ride from gate 8.
Race 11 on Keeneland's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:35 PM.
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
||Claude McGaughey III