By Shawn Rychling
The Chinese are purported to have a saying and it goes something like this: “May you live in interesting times.”
It is actually seen by some as a curse, because times of peace and prosperity are generally not interesting at all, and we’d much rather live in those times than the kind that might be called “interesting.”
That said, it is safe to say we live in interesting times right now and not only due to the current occupant of the White House and the general political climate the world finds itself embroiled in.
And so it is true of horse racing as we approach for sure the most interesting time of the year in the sport. The annual Breeders’ Cup is just a week away and will take place at sunny Del Mar this year. The Cup will feature 13 Grade I races over two days in what has become the yearly Championship Day for the sport since its inception in 1984.
This year’s Classic is naturally in the spotlight as it will be the final race for Arrogate who exploded on the racing scene just 14 months ago with a 13-length romp and track record in winning the Travers at Saratoga with a speed figure of 122. After dispatching of California Chrome in the Classic last year and again in the Pegasus last January, Arrogate won in Dubai and then has since lost twice. His most recent race, the Pacific Classic in August, was a lot better than his San Diego so rivals should not take him lightly.
Trainer Bob Baffert will have Arrogate ready and better because this year’s Classic field is much deeper than last year’s top heavy crew. Here’s a look:
- Gun Runner may be the best horse in training right now after destroying two Grade-I fields at Saratoga and having won 5 of 6.
- Collected beat Arrogate on the Pacific and has won 6 of 7
- West Coast is just a 3-year-old and won the Travers for Baffert as well as 5 races in a row
- Diversify has won 3 in row impressively and enters off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup
- Keen Ice has found his legs again after the Dubai trip with three straight 100-plus figs
- Pavel is lightly-raced and may be ready to take a big step forward off the Jockey Club show.
The Classic seems like a wide open race and it is just 1/13th of the Cup. Interesting times indeed.
Along those lines, interesting is never the way we have described the opening of Aqueduct in the past. More like “depressing.”
However, this year is different as NYRA gets ready to open the track on Friday, Nov. 3. The same day the Breeders’ Cup begins. The excitement this year is that the inner track has been replaced with a second turf course and the main track has been winterized so the entire meet can remain on the outer surface. The change means better racing as 1-mile and 7 furlong races may be run on dirt and more turf racing can be accommodated. The photos of the new layout look fabulous and will make for an “interesting” Aqueduct stand.
But don’t forget still one weekend of Belmont to go. Find out how to get all our Hot List analysis at Interbets.com