2013 Breeders Cup Classic – 1 1/4 Miles Dirt (Race 12, Post Time: 5:35 Pacific Time)
1. Last Gunfighter (20-1) – We last saw him in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup where he finished 5th beaten 10 1/4 lengths. That day he finished behind Ron The Greek, Palace Malice, and Flat Out, all of whom are entered in this race. That was his first try at the 10 furlong distance he will see again on Saturday. It is tough for me to endorse here.
2. Paynter (12-1) – It is wonderful to see Paynter compete at this level given how serious his health problems were. He could not hold on to win the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap losing by 1/2 of a length. He tried going cross country in the Grade 1 Woodward, but finished last of 5. He last raced here at Santa Anita where he finished 2nd by 4 1/4 lengths. Sentimentally, I like Paynter, but when it comes to wagering, I will make him beat me.
3. Planteur (IRE) – This guy has plenty of class coming into this race having run in plenty of Group 1’s and doing very well in several. He has raced in France, Hong Kong, Dubai, and now the United States. This will be his first start on traditional dirt. He has run well in the Dubai World Cup finishing 3rd twice. It is hard to like this guy from a win standpoint.
4. Moreno (15-1) – It took him until his 10th start to break his maiden, but he has been very good since then. He won the Grade 2 Dwyer by 7 lengths, finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, got nosed out and finished 2nd in the Grade 1 Travers, then finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby. All 4 of those races took place against fellow 3 year olds. He will also have company on the lead from Fort Larned and Game on Dude. Tough to endorse if he wants to take them gate-to-wire.
5. Declaration of War (10-1) – This fella has been wonderful over Europe – on grass. 6 straight Group 1 starts and he has 2 wins to show for that. Distance is not a problem as he won the Group 1 Juddmonte International going 1 5/16 miles at York. I cannot help but think of another Aidan O’Brien trainee by the name of George Washington who also tried the Classic after a similar campaign. I think he handles dirt and I think he can be a factor. I will use him on top.
6. Mucho Macho Man (5-1) – He ran in this race last year, finishing 2nd by half of a length to Fort Larned. His latest race was superb in the Grade 1 Awesome Again. He sat off the pace and made a bold move on the turn to take the lead heading into the stretch. He did not relinquish that lead as he won by 4 1/2 widening lengths. He’s my top pick to win this race.
7. Fort Larned (6-1) – He won this race last year in gate-to-wire fashion. 2013 got off to a poor start when he stumbled and dropped his jockey in the Grade 2 Gulstream Park Handicap. Then he finished 5th of 10 in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He bounced back in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster winning by 6 1/4 lengths. He did win the Homecoming Classic last race going gate-to-wire. I do not like his chances to repeat this year because he will not get away with an easy lead.
8. Palace Malice (10-1) – He has been a very good horse since his Kentucky Derby Pace meltdown. He won the Grade 1 Belmont, won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, and finished 4th by 3/4 of a length in the Grade 1 Travers (arguably he was the best horse in that race). His last race was his first against older horses and he finished 2nd by 6 3/4 lengths to Ron The Greek. He should rate off the speed and I give him a big shot at winning this race. Must use especially if he is near his 10-1 morning line.
9. Game On Dude (8-5) – He has been perfect this year. He has won all 5 races this year with ease and won each impressively. He raced in the Breeders Cup Classic last year where he disappointed as the 6-5 favorite and finished 7th beaten 15 lengths. There is no doubt he can win this race, but I am not sure he will be able to do so with so much pace pressure from Moreno and Fort Larned. He can win, but I am going to bet he doesn’t.
10. Will Take Charge (12-1) – He has done very well since his Triple Crown debacle. He has 2 wins and a second, all of those races against only 3 year olds. This race will be his first race against older horses. His Grade 1 Travers win was very impressive and also came at today’s distance of 10 furlongs. I am not going to leave him off my tickets.
11. Ron The Greek (8-1) – According to reports, he will scratch from the race due to a quarter crack.
12. Flat Out (12-1) – This will be his 3rd straight year participating in the Breeders Cup Classic. He was 5th in 2011 and 3rd in 2012. This guy has danced every dance and has been very respectable. He should get the pace he needs to close into, but based on his races he does not seem to be as good as others in here. Maybe he can get up for 3rd or 4th.
I really like #6 Mucho Macho Man and will key in on him in this race. I will wheel him up and down in the exacta with the 5-8-10. As a saver, I will put a little money on #5 Declaration of War and possibly #8 Palace Malice if his odds are good enough.