The biggest two-day betting opportunity in thoroughbred horse racing is the Breeders’ Cup and this year’s event is at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.Let's check our top sports picks.
The Breeders’ Cup brings the world’s top horses together in one place for a jam-packed race card of 13 distinctly different events with prize purses ranging from $1 million and the way up to $5 million for the signature event; The Classic. The highlight of this year’s main event will be Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s final run in what has been an amazing racing career.
While the final field for each of the 13 races on the card has yet to be set, we do have a good idea of some of the top contenders that will be racing in this year’s Breeders’ Cup after locking-up a guaranteed spot with a victory in series of challenge races as automatic qualifiers. The following is a brief look at my top contender for three biggest events on this year’s race card.
The Turf is for three-year old thoroughbreds and up and it is contested on grass over a distance of 1 ½ miles. The total prize purse for this race is set at $3 million.
If you are looking for a solid contender in this year’s Turf, I would put Big Blue Kitten at the top of the list. This is a veteran seven-year old horse that has a world of experience when it comes to major stakes horse racing and this season alone he has placed first or second in five graded events. Last time out at Belmont Park in late September he bested the field in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. This followed a victory in this year’s Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in early July and a second-place run in the Grade 1 Arlington Mile at Arlington Park on Aug. 15.
He is trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Joe Bravo. Over the course of his highly successful racing career, Big Blue Kitten has finished in the money an amazing 22 times in his 29 starts with total prize winnings of more than $2.6 million.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile is for three-year old thoroughbreds and up. It is contested on grass over a distance of a mile and the prize purse for this race is set at $2 million.
The horse at the top of sports pick list for this year’s Mile would be Grand Arch. This six-year old gelding locked-up a spot in the field with a victory in this year’s Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 3. This followed a first-place run in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 15.
Trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Luis Saez, this veteran horse has finished in the money in 18 of 22 lifetime starts
The highlight of the two-day event is the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a total prize purse of $5 million. This race is for three-year old thoroughbreds and up and it is contested on dirt over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
It is pretty obvious that American Pharoah will be favored to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and I probably would not bet against him, but one horse I still have my eye on as a legitimate contender is Tonalist. This four-year old colt is coming off a huge win in this year’s Grade 1 Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 3. Trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by John Velazquez, he has now finished in the money in all five races he has run this year.
Tonalist has made 13 lifetime starts with five victories, four second-place runs and two finishes in the show position. His biggest claim to fame was a stirring upset of California Chrome in last year’s Belmont Stakes to spoil that horse’s Triple Crown bid. The big question would be does he have what it takes to topple another fabled champion in the year’s Classic?