Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go and Godolphin’s Essential Quality, both trained by Brad Cox, have been installed as the top two choices on the morning line at 5-2 and 3-1 respectively, for Saturday’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) run at 1 ¼ miles on the main track, the climax of the 38TH Breeders’ Cup World Championship races to be run Friday and Saturday (Nov. 5-6) at Del Mar.
The Classic, with a field of nine, is the richest of 14 Championship races worth more than $31 million in purses and awards to be run over the two days at Del Mar and will be televised live on NBC, NBCSN and TVG. The Classic will be broadcast live at 8:40 p.m. ET on NBC.
Five Championship races will be run on Future Stars Friday with all Breeders’ Cup tests that day being for 2-year-olds. Highlighting the day will be the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), races that will determine early favoritism for the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.
The 169 horses entered include 16 also-eligibles. Included in the entries are seven winners from last year’s Championships at Keeneland: Knicks Go (Dirt Mile), Essential Quality (Juvenile), Tarnawa (IRE) (Turf), Audarya (FR) (Filly & Mare Turf), Gamine (Filly & Mare Sprint), Golden Pal (Juvenile Turf Sprint) and Glass Slippers (GB) (Turf Sprint).
Knicks Go, a wire-to-wire winner of the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year, enters the Classic and his first test at the 1 ¼-mile distance on a three-race win streak with a combined margin of victory of 18 ¾ lengths.
Joel Rosario, who has been aboard for Knicks Go’s past eight starts, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position five.
Essential Quality also brings a three-race win streak into the Classic with the most recent victory coming in the Travers (G1) going 1 ¼ miles. Luis Saez, who has been aboard for the past eight starts by Essential Quality, has the call Saturday and will break from post position four.
Co-third choices on the line at 4-1 are a couple of 3-year-olds in Medina Spirit and Hot Rod Charlie.
Zedan Racing Stables’ Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit is trained by four-time Classic winner Bob Baffert. Medina Spirit enters the Classic off a front-running 5-length victory in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 2.
John Velazquez, who won last year’s Classic on Authentic for Baffert, retains the mount on Medina Spirit and break from post eight.
Hot Rod Charlie is trained by Doug O’Neill for the partnership of Roadrunner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing, LLC and Gainesway Stable. Hot Rod Charlie enters the Classic off a 2 ¼-length victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) under Flavien Prat, who retains the mount. Hot Rod Charlie will break from post position three.
One of the heaviest morning-line favorites is St. George Stable’s Letruska at 8-5 for the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in which she heads a field of 11 fillies and mares.
Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska has won her past five starts and is six for seven in 2021 with the victories coming at six tracks and the past three at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Distaff. Four of her victories came in Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount and will break from post six.
The second richest race of the Championships, the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) which drew a full gate of 14 and two also-eligibles, is headed by Tarnawa (IRE), who beat the boys in this race last year at Keeneland.
Owned by the H.H. Aga Khan Studs and trained by Dermot Weld, Tarnawa (9-5 on the morning line) has won one of three starts in 2021 and enters this year’s race off a runner-up finish in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). Colin Keane, who was aboard for the victory at Keeneland last year, will ride Saturday and break from post position 13.
Also back to defend a title is Mrs. A.M. Swinburn’s Audarya (FR) in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) to be contested at 1 3/8 miles over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course with a field of 12.
Trained by James Fanshawe, Audarya (5-1 on the morning line in the field of 12) comes into this year’s race off a fourth-place finish in the Prix de l’Opera Longines (G1). William Buick has the mount and will break from post 12.
The morning-line favorite for the race at 7-2 is George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess. War Like Goddess has won her past four starts and is undefeated in three starts at the 1 3/8-mile distance for trainer Bill Mott. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post position seven.
The $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) presented by PDJF, drew a field of 14 and two also-eligibles headed by 3-1 morning line favorite Space Blues (IRE). Owned and bred by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby, Space Blues enters the Mile off a victory in the Qatar Prix de la Foret (G1) last month. William Buick has the mount and will break from post position three.
Topping the U.S. contingent is Bardy Farm and OG Boss’ Mo Forza. Trained by Peter Miller and 5-1 on the morning line, Mo Forza has compiled a 6-3-2-0 record at Del Mar and has won the past two renewals of the Del Mar Mile (G2). Flavien Prat will ride from post six.
Two of Saturday’s heaviest morning-line favorites are in the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) going 6 furlongs and the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) going 7 furlongs.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior is a neck away from being undefeated in one-turn races in 2021 and enters Saturday’s Sprint off a 6 ¾-length romp in the Gallant Bob (G2) at Parx on Sept. 25. Listed at 6-5 on the morning line in the field of nine, Jackie’s Warrior is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post two.
In the Filly & Mare Sprint, Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine is the 3-5 morning line favorite to repeat in the race she won by 6 ¼ lengths in track-record time last year at Keeneland. Trained by Bob Baffert and to be ridden by John Velazquez from post five in the six-horse field, Gamine is undefeated in four starts at the 7-furlong distance.
WinStar Farm and CHC Inc.’s Life Is Good is the 4-5 morning-line favorite for the $1 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) that drew a field of eight.
A neck away from being perfect in five starts, Life Is Good won the 1-mile Kelso Handicap (G2) by 5 1/2 lengths in front-running fashion. Now trained by Todd Pletcher, Life Is Good will break from post five and be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Westerberg’s Golden Pal, who kicked off last year’s World Championships at Keeneland with a gate-to-wire victory in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), is the 7-2 morning-line favorite in a field of 12 with six also-eligibles for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) to be contested over 5 furlongs.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Golden Pal will be attempting to become the fifth horse to win different Breeders’ Cup races. He comes into Saturday’s race off a 2 ¼-length victory in the Woodford (G2) at Keeneland last month. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount and will break from post three.
An East-West matchup of undefeated Grade 1 winners headlines a field of 12 entered for the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance to be run at 1 1/16 miles.
Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud and Peter Brant’s Jack Christopher is 2-for-2 and owns a victory in the Champagne (G1) for trainer Chad Brown. Listed at 9-5 on the morning line and breaking from post one, Jack Christopher will be ridden by Jose Ortiz who teamed with Brown to win the 2017 Juvenile with Good Magic.
Speedway Stables’ Corniche is 2-for-2 and owns a victory in the American Pharoah (G1) for four-time Juvenile winning trainer Bob Baffert. Listed at 5-2 on the morning line, Corniche will be ridden by Mike Smith from post position 12.
The $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be run at 1 1/16 miles drew a field of six headlined by L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ undefeated Echo Zulu.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the two-time Grade 1 winner has won her three starts by a combined 16 ¾ lengths. Listed at 4-5 on the morning line, Echo Zulu will break from post six and be ridden by Joel Rosario.
The top challengers to Echo Zulu are 5-2 co-second choices Juju’s Map, winner of the Alcibiades (G1), and Hidden Connection, winner of the Pocahontas (G3).
Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map has won her past two starts by a combined 10 lengths under Florent Geroux. Trained by Brad Cox, who won this race in 2019 with British Idiom, Juju’s Map will break from post position five.
Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds’ Hidden Connection is 2-for-2 with the victories coming by a combined 16 ¾ lengths. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Hidden Connection will be ridden by Reylu Gutierrez and break from post two.
Completing the Friday lineup is:
$1 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) — Rabbah Bloodstock’s Dubawi Legend (IRE) is the 4-1 morning-line favorite for the 1-mile test that drew a field of 14 and two also-eligibles. Trained by Hugo Palmer, Dubawi Legend will be ridden by James Doyle and break from post position 14.
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) — Bobby Flay’s homebred Pizza Bianca is the lukewarm 5-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 for the 1-mile race. Runner-up in the Natalma (G1) at Woodbine in her most recent start, Pizza Bianca is trained by Christophe Clement and will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post position one.
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) — Hat Creek Racing’s undefeated Averly Jane is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of 12 and two also-eligibles for the 5-furlong dash. Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard Averly Jane who will exit post position eight for trainer Wesley Ward who has won this race the past two years with Four Wheel Drive and Golden Pal.