Breeders Cup Classic Race & Pace Analysis

Breeders' Cup Classic

When the 2013 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships take place on November 5 and 6, champion horses from all over North America and as far as Europe and Japan will be pitted against one another. Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, which has the world's biggest dirt race course of any thoroughbred track, will play host to eight major races on a single championship day card: Breeders' Cup Classic, Distaff, Filly & Mare Turf, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Mile, Sprint, Turf. Breeders' Cup Classic race and pace analysis point to strong contenders being Lookin At Lucky Musket Man Richard's Kid First Dude Awesome Gem and Zenyatta.

The Breeders' Cup Classic is so named for a reason. Of the eight races on the championship day card, the Classic has all the ingredients of, well, a classic: Horse of the Year considerations, a stacked field, and an ambiguous pace scenario, to name a few. Look at race contenders with strong speed scores, and study their running styles in past performances. Some will be close stalkers, others will rate. Race contenders would do well not to tear it up on the front end too early. A deeper closer is a possible winner, although the pace scenario is less than perfect for this. Expect respectable fractions to be set, but nothing crazy fast.

There have been only eight repeat winners in the same BC race during the past 26 world championships. Five of them happened in this century: Tiznow won the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2000 and 2001; High Chaparral won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2002 and 2003; Midnight Lute won the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 2007 and 2008; Conduit won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2008 and 2009; and Goldikova won the Breeders' Cup Mile in 2008 and 2009.

Zenyatta will be gunning for win number 20 in a racing career that started on Nov. 22, 2007. Her string of victories includes 11 Grade 1s, including the 2008 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic and 2009's Breeders' Cup Classic. With her Oct. 2 victory in the Lady's Secret Stakes, Zenyatta tied the modern North American thoroughbred streak of Peppers Pride, unbeaten in 19 consecutive contests, all in New Mexico.

The main track at Churchill Downs, which hosts a record seventh Breeders' Cup Nov. 5-6, is much different than any other dirt surface in the United States. Most tracks are comprised of limestone with dirt on top. The Louisville venue has no such base while the track is mixed with a deep layer of soil, clay and organic materials several feet underneath the surface.

Churchill Downs is way different up to 24 hours following a rainstorm. It just might become the best strip in racing, one expert says, because the main track turns faster compared to its dry, unusually deep surface that many horses don't like. Annual rainfall in Louisville is evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month is May when the Kentucky Derby is staged - 4.49 inches. November averages 3.62 inches.

The bottom line at the Breeders' Cup Classic is whether or not there is enough early speed to set it up for a late run. It can be stolen on the front end, and settled by less than a length, possibly a blanket finish including several horses.

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