Here is the Field for 2021 BC Classic

BC Classic (Grade 1)- $6,000.000 Purse
DMR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
November 6, 2021

The Breeder’s Cup Classic is a race that we all dream of winning one day. Some have reached that, and look to add to their Classic wins while others probably know it is a longshot at best. On Saturday, this great race will run for the 19th time as Aer Stables, Fractious, Maxmillion Farm, Asgar, Keikowin Racing, and Jive Inc all look to make this the year that they can call themselves a BC Classic winning trainer. However, Mb Stables, Smokey Stover, John Henry, and Nakamura Stables seek to add to their legacies and will not make matters easier for them. Should Mb Stables win, he would tie Australia Wide with three wins in the race. Australia Wide also holds the distinction of being the only trainer to win this race twice with the same horse as Whats Up won the race in 2009 and 2011. John Henry will have two chances here to duplicate that feat as he brings both Splash Mountain (2018 winner) and Charleys Latte (2020 winner, with Estero Farms) to the race. It’s hard to say that any winner in this race would be an upset, but some come as more of a surprise than others. Some of the longest shots on the board to win this race are actually some of the more recent winners, surprisingly enough:Black Mojo (29/1 in 2017), Charleys Latte (23/1 in 2020), Twin Towers (17/1 in 2019), Splash Mountain (14/1 in 2018). Even Commanding was 14/1 in 2013, the same year he was 52/1 when he won the KYD. The race has been dominated by three year olds of late, with the threes winning the race seven times in the last eight years. Let’s take a look at those who we’ll be watching in 2021!

#1- Howl Of The Hound (Mb Stables, ridden by E Jaramillo)- If you are looking for a three year old to carry on the streak of their age group in the race, then the horse who had us all talking during the spring would seem to be the one to pick. Winning the KYD and the PRK is a true rarity within our game. If you have a recency bias though, you might be a little skeptical as after all, Howl Of The Hound has not won a race since the PRK. He’s been excellent since then, and if this was any other horse, you would look at his last four races and be impressed, not questioning them. Howl Of The Hound will still be a factor in the BC Classic, and it would be a great exclamation point on a fantastic season.

#2- Graveyard (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- Of the three Mb Stables entries, this is probably the least appealing. Scary, isn’t it? As after all, there is plenty that is appealing about Graveyard and his four year old season has been the best year of his career thus far. He’s won three times this year, and if you want to go back a bit into 2020, he has four wins in his last seven races. That includes winning the Marathon, the former BC race, last year. In 2021, his biggest score is the Pacific Classic, coming from well off the pace to get the win. Let’s not forget that it’s not very easy to win with that style right now, either. He didn’t show up in the Woodward, but he can bounce back from that.

#3- Splash Mountain (John Henry, ridden by J R Velazquez)- As a three year old, Splash Mountain won the BC Classic and now he is back again to try and become the second horse ever to win it twice. This will also be his fourth career BC start, as he also raced in the Classic in 2019, and finished fifth. Last year, he opted for the Dirt Mile, and did not have one of his better races. The durability of this horse is impressive as he continues to perform at a high level, and that was proven in his last race when he won the Grade 1 Woodward by a length, earning a 101 SRF for the effort. That victory was his third in five starts, and also in that stretch, he won the Grade 2 OP Handicap as well as the Grade 2 Suburban. All of his races this year have been strong performances, so we should not doubt the ability of this veteran making his 42nd career start to make history. It’s been an incredible ride.

#4- Tactical (Mb Stables, ridden by T Gaffalione)- For various reasons, we don’t have many great rivalries within our game. There are some, but they seem to be short lived. In the past, I have written about how Splash Mountain and Tactical could actually be one of those rivalries, but their paths have not crossed much lately. One year after Splash Mountain won the BC Classic, Tactical nearly did so, but had to settle for second in a photo. He would be back in the Classic last year, but did not finish in the top half of the field. He’s been fine this year, winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at SA, but it has mostly been a year of close calls for him.

#5- Cheesy (Keikowin Racing, ridden by V Espinoza)- Early in the year, Cheesy ran off a three race winning streak, all in KYD preps which earned him the distinction of being one of the favorites for the KYD itself. And he would nearly pull it off, making a strong bid late to nearly take the race away from Howl Of The Hound. Since then, we have only seen him on the track twice, and one of them was his disappointing effort in the BEL. He would resurface in the Travers and run third to remind us that he was still a force, but we have not seen him since. Maybe it will be good that he is lightly raced coming into this.

#6- Locamotive (Aer Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- In covering the KYD prep races, Locamotive was the horse that impressed me more than any other. His wins in both the Holy Bull and the Wood Memorial seemed to position him to be a great contender for the KYD, and he would end up turning in a great race. Unfortunately for him, that meant having to start from post #20, but he would still wind up third. In July, he would win the Haskell, so he still seemed as though he was one of the better horses in the division but that would be the last time we would see him in a stake before the BC Classic. His last two starts have been allowances, and he didn’t win either of them. Naturally, that is not encouraging, but let’s see if he can get back on the fast track again.

#7- Charleys Latte (John Henry, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- The winner of the BC Classic last year would become the first horse to ever win the race in consecutive years. If he did, he would do it for different trainers since Estero Farms owned him last year. John Henry picked him in private sales for $600.000 in April, and has raced him four times, earning wins in the first two races. Those would be the Grade 2 Alysheba and the Grade 2 Foster, which was in late June. He has not won either of his starts since then, though there has not been much change in the SRF’s that he has been putting out and there was not anything concerning in his fourth place finish in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic last month. Last year, he went five starts without a win before the BC Classic, so maybe he has everyone right where he wants them.

#8- Contradiction (Aer Stables, ridden by S Ryan)- In late September, Contradiction was able to win the PA Derby, snapping a winless streak that lasted eleven months and nine races. For the most part, he was very good and consistent during that stretch, with a series of third place results allowing him to take part in the KYD. Both that race and the BEL would be large disappointments, placing 12th in each, but in between them his performance in the PRK contradicts those results, since he was second. Those races, and the PA Derby are the only Grade 1’s that he has been in. His start will be critical, since those poor races showed him left behind right from the gate. When closer to the front early, he is dramatically more productive.

#9- Gran Z (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J Lezcano)- Over the years, Maxmillion has had some strong runs in the BC Classic, such as finishing second with Combat Wombat, but up to this point, this is a race that has eluded one of the game’s top trainers. Last year, he finished third in the race, and that was with Gran Z. He entered the race off wins in the SD Handicap and the Awesome Again, before hitting the board in the Classic. Here we are a year later, and those are still the last two races that he has won. He’s been second in three of his last four: the PIM Special, the Pacific Classic, and the Woodward. So, imagine if they were all one spot better. Then, we’re talking about a red hot horse. He may very well get it done here.

#10- Breath Of The Wild (Smokey Stover, ridden by G Saez)- Most of us know that the trainer is very high on the potential for Breath Of The Wild to be an excellent sire in the future. With his bloodlines, that excitement is understood but in the present Breath Of The Wild can accomplish something that would only increase his sire value down the road, and win the BC Classic. The three year old might be getting hot at the right time, as he went most of 2021 underachieving in big races. His last two, however, have been wins, first being the $250.000 Albany and then winning the Grade 1 Awesome Again at SA last month. It could be tough to pick him over others in this race, but he definitely needs to be considered.

#11- So Profound (Asgar, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Here’s a horse that has been very successful in his career but does not seem to get talked about all that much. He’s just a little bit shy of $3,000.000 in career earnings, and part of that was from finishing third in the BC Dirt Mile last year. But he’s done much more than that over the course of this year with three consecutive Grade 1 wins. First, it was the Metropolitan Handicap in June, then the Whitney in August (in a dead heat), and then the JC Gold Cup in September. He’s been resting since then. In his last seven races, he has registered triple digit SRF’s in six of those races. You could even go back further, before the streak, and say he could have won a couple more with a little bit more luck at the wire. Also appealing is that he is able to win either from being near the front, or closing late. Much to like here, and Asgar would love to earn his first BC Classic trophy!

#12- War Chant (Jive Inc., ridden by A Cedillo)- One of the handful of great horses that Aer Stables had for the triple crown chase. War Chant did not win any of the prep races, but with second place finishes in the Southwest and the Rebel, there was much to be excited about. He would bypass the KYD, and was seen in the PRK as being one of the biggest threats to Howl Of The Hound. He’d be second that day, but would get his TC win a race later in the BEL. That would be his last race for Aer, who sold him to Jive Inc for $1,600.000. With Jive, the results haven’t been there, with three starts out of the money, missing by three lengths each time. The Impactful colt last ran fifth in the Woodward.

#13- Grayte Cruise (Fractious, ridden by D Davis)- The gelding by Z Grayte One started his career hot, winning his first three races which would include the Grade 3 Southwest. After that, he would disappoint in the AR Derby, and less than a week later would find himself sold by former trainer Gdp Inc for $700.000. With Fractious, Grayte Cruise would finish second in the Affirmed before ultimately picking up his signature win up to this point, the Travers at SAR. A month later, he ran well again in the PA Derby, placing second. He’s been doing this with a come from behind style, and it is tough to win these days with that racing style. That will make it an added challenge for him here, and the post draw did Fractious no favors.

#14- Space Commander (Nakamura Stables, ridden by V R Carrasco)- Here was the unlucky one in the post draw. Space Commander would love to get revenge on Charleys Latte, since as you will recall, he finished second to him in a close photo in last year’s BC Classic. He had to do that from post #11, so perhaps that makes this post a little easier to swallow. He also won from post 11 in the Pegasus World Cup, so there is some precedent to him doing well from these spots. After the Pegasus, his 2021 would see two more Grade 1 wins but unbelievably, each were in a dead heat. In the Gold Cup, he had to split the purse with Tactical, and in the Whitney, he had to share with So Profound. If he wins here, the trainer would rather not have to share again.

Prediction: 11-3-1-9

— NS



Categories: BC 2021, Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES, THE BREEDERS CUP

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