Knicks Go and Essential Quality are stablemates, travel mates from East Coast to West Coast and now – after Monday’s post-position draws – they are gate neighbors for Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
Essential Quality will start from post 4 in the nine-horse Classic field as the 3/1 second favorite. Knicks Go, your 5/2 favorite courtesy of Jon White’s morning-line, drew post 5. Keeping an eye on the Brad Cox duo from opposite ends are the co-4/1 third favorites: Hot Rod Charlie (post 3) and Medina Spirit (post 8).
“We love it. We are going into the race with a really nice horse and if you have a nice horse, you’re going to have a good race,” Hot Rod Charlie’s assistant trainer, Leandro Mora, told the Breeders’ Cup notes team.
Those four favorites all own Grade 1 wins this season. So does Pacific Classic champion Tripoli (post 1, 15/1), Woodward Stakes winner Art Collector (post 6, 8/1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Max Player (8/1). Missing from that club, but not the field, are Grade 2 San Diego Handicap winner Express Train (post 2, 20/1) and longshot 3-year-old Stiletto Boy (30/1).
Aga Khan’s Tarnawa seeks Breeders’ Cup Turf repeat
Defending Turf champion Tarnawa, who won the second richest race of the Breeders’ Cup at 8/1 last year, carries much lighter odds into her post 13 this year. She opens at 9/5 in the $4 million race after finishing second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Speaking of light odds, prohibitive favorite Letruska and her 8/5 odds start from post 6 in the $2 million Distaff. She’s looking for not only her sixth consecutive victory and seventh this year, but a statement win that could make the 5-year-old mare the Horse of the Year.
It’s in two of Saturday’s sprints where White slapped even lower odds than that on the favorites. Jackie’s Warrior, a neck away from being undefeated at one-turn races, brings 6/5 odds into the $2 million Sprint. He’ll start from post 2 in the nine-horse field.
Life Is Good a good favorite in Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
Jackie’s Warrior’s rival in August’s H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga, Life Is Good, is also a neck away from being perfect. That neck belonged to Jackie’s Warrior in the Jerkens. Life Is Good brings his 4/5 favorite status into post 5 for the $1 million Dirt Mile.
And then, there’s the biggest favorite in the field: 3/5 Gamine in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint. White wasted little effort here, cognizant of the 4-year-old Bob Baffert trainee’s 9-for-10 record and five-race winning streak. Then again, White didn’t have much work to do here, considering this race carries the smallest field in the Breeders’ Cup: six horses. Gamine will defend her title in this race from post 5.
European shipper Space Blues brings 3/1 favorite status into post 3 for the $2 million Mile. The 5/1 second favorite is California-based Mo Forza, who starts from post 3. He’s won three races at Del Mar, including the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile this summer.
War Like Goddess unbeaten at this distance
Bill Mott’s War Like Goddess looks for her seventh win in eight starts in the $1 million Filly and Mare Turf. She’ll start from post 7 as the 7/2 favorite, understandable, given her 3-for-3 record at 1 3/8 miles.
Last year’s Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal tries for the Breeders’ Cup double in the Turf Sprint. The Wesley Ward charge opens as the 7/2 favorite from post 3 in the $1 million race. Defending champion Golden Slippers starts on the rail at 6/1.