November 2, 2018
Breeders’ Cup Day has arrived
By Bob Ehalt
It’s time for the big showdown.
On Saturday, nine Breeders’ Cup races will take center stage at Churchill Downs for the 35th edition of the World Championships, but the big one will be the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
A full field of 14 will battle it out at the Kentucky Derby distance of a mile-and-a-quarter in what should be another memorable edition of one of America’s top dirt races.
Accelerate is the 5-2 favorite and looms as the horse to beat off a 2018 slate of five wins out of six starts. His lone loss was by a neck in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, but in his last two starts, he won the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita by 2 ¼ lengths and the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar by a landslide 12-length margin.
On the downside, he has never won outside of California and his trainer, John Sadler, is 0-for-41 in Breeders’ Cup races.
Plus, he will have to break from the outside post in the bulky and highly competitive field of 14 world-class Thoroughbreds.
The main threats figure to come from, who else, trainer Bob Baffert.
Baffert has an uncoupled duo of McKinzie and West Coast, either of whom could land in the winner’s circle.
McKinzie is listed at 6-1 in the morning line but is coming off the better last race of the two Baffert starters. He returned from a six-month layoff and posted a 1 ¾-length victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
McKinzie has won four of five starts with the lone loss coming when he was disqualified and placed second in the San Felipe Stakes (G2).
West Coast won the 2017 Travers for Baffert and owners Gary and Mary West. He was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and second in the Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup prior to taking a six-month break. In his comeback effort, he was second to Accelerate in the Awesome Again.
Another major threat is Catholic Boy (8-1), who won the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga in his last start.
The rest of the field includes Thunder Snow (12-1), Roaring Lion (20-1), Gunnevera (20-1), Lone Sailor (30-1), Pavel (20-1), Mendelssohn (12-1), Yoshida (10-1), Mind Your Biscuit (6-1), Axelrod (30-1) and Discreet Lover (20-1).