Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Breeders' Cup Top 10 - Classic

Classic Top 10 - July 14

1. Rail Trip (8)
2. Mastercraftsman (1)
3. Zenyatta (new)
4. Einstein (2)
5. Parading (3)
6. It's a Bird (5)
7. Quality Road (6)
8. Mine That Bird (7)
9. Well Armed (9)
10. Sterwins (10)

Dropped: Sea The Stars (4)

There have been a few changes to the Classic Top 10 since the first version back on June 16th but most of the changes to the rankings have to do with changes of sentiment from owners and trainers rather than results on the track.

Zenyatta makes her debut in the Classic Top 10 as the #3 candidate. The reason she's a new addition here is because her connections have intimated that she is actually possible for the Classic. Never before have they expressed a desire to take on the boys but now with Horse of the Year a little beyond their reach if they stay solely against California fillies the Classic is being put forth as an option. She is far from definite though. If she somehow winds up facing Rachel Alexandra before the Breeders' Cup and beats her the Classic will be less likely.

As for her actual chances of winning the race I think Zenyatta has a massive chance. She is simply better than most of the older horses out there. I have her third because no one is more impressive than Rail Trip was at Hollywood but also because I still think that good solid tactical is a better bet than late closers. We saw it happen to Life Is Sweet this past weekend. The race was over before she got going. Rail Trip and Mastercraftsman have the speed and ability to sit near the pace and open up on the field before the closers have a chance to land a blow.

Rail Trip made a massive jump from 8th to 1st overall because he laid down the gauntlet in the Hollywood Gold Cup and everyone else will spend the rest of the summer and fall trying to equal that level of performance. He earned a 111 Beyer which is the highest figure ever given for a synthetic route race. He has the speed to wire any field but he showed that he can rate just as easily and still finish with zest. It's hard to look at any race run by a horse like Einstein and believe that he has any shot against Rail Trip. The top three on my list seem like they're a class above the rest at the moment.

Rail Trip is also set to have a perfect buildup to the Classic. He'll likely race in the Pacific Classic then the Goodwood. That should leave him nice and fresh for the big day.

Parading and It's a Bird both suffered unfortunate reverses recently but I still consider both to be decent contenders for the Classic. Parading was 5th in the Gold Cup but was really studdish in the buildup. The filly Life Is Sweet got him all unravelled so I think we saw less than his best. If Zenyatta shows up he might have the same problem in the Classic but maybe she won't be there. On talent he's still good enough. My case for It's a Bird is hinged entirely on his preference for two turns. His latest reverse at Belmont might just be smoke and mirrors because it was not a two turn race. Some horses can get picky about configuration. It's a Bird deserves another shot. the horse that beat him, Dry Martini, is short on class in my opinion.

The other major mover on the list was Sea The Stars the current top horse in Europe. He has done nothing but impress this year but he moves down the list because his connections have all but shut the door on his Breeders' Cup participation. They have not said that they are specifically not coming to Santa Anita but they have said that he will only have 3 more races this year. The Irish Champion is set in stone as a target and the Arc has also been mentioned. That leaves just one race and it is more likely to be the King George or Juddmonte International than the Breeders' Cup Classic. If connections have a change of heart I'd embrace him again in an instant but right now it looks sketchy.

Up and comer Grazen runs this coming weekend in the Swaps. He is one that may have "Tiznow" type potential so I'll be keeping a close eye on him.

Asiatic Boy is consistent but I think he's not up to beating a group full of the best horses out there. Losing to a horse like Dry Martini while still running your best race makes you less than an ideal prospect.

A horse I have not included on my list is Globetrotter but it may be worthwhile to file his name away as a potential longshot just in case. Much like Sterwins he is primarily a turf horse right now but he has some back races on Polytrack that make him dangerous. Globetrotter was a decent 2yo for Graham Motion. He went 2 for 3 as a juvenile, he even won a G-3 stakes race on synthetics at Woodbine. But after his last race as a 2yo in November of 2007 he was injured, laid off and did not reappear until March of 2009 for John Sadler. He finished second in an 8f Turf race which was his first attempt on the sod. He won an allowance impressively next time out then finished second to Midships in the G-1 Whittingham. He's 6-3-2-0 lifetime. He has won a stakes race on synthetics and earned a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure on the turf. He has excellent tactical speed and very quick acceleration. We also know that he'll stay 10f. With only 6 career starts it's not unrealistic to think that this horse could improve. He might also get put back on the main track because of his 2yo form. Keep his name in mind and expect to see him sometime at Del Mar.

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