By Emily Shields
Now that the last of the prep races have been completed, the field for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) is coming together.
Despite losing in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita September 28, McKinzie remains a top choice for trainer Bob Baffert. He will have a new rider, however, as Baffert is opting to replace Mike Smith. McKinzie has been a grade 1 winner every year he has raced, including the Whitney at Saratoga two starts back, and won the grade 1 Malibu here at Santa Anita in December.
Code of Honor is fresh off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park, being elevated to victory after the disqualification of Vino Rosso. Code of Honor is the leading three-year-old in the country after a win in the Runhappy Travers (G1) and the Dwyer Stakes (G3) earlier this year.
Vino Rosso already has a grade 1 victory at 1 ¼ miles at Santa Anita after taking the Gold Cup there in May. The son of Curlin defeated Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Gift Box that day, as well as Mongolian Groom and Higher Power. Those two went on to win grade 1 races later in the year.
Mongolian Groom took the Awesome Again over McKinzie in a shocker. The son of Hightail is only three for 16 lifetime but has gotten better this year for trainer Enebish Ganbat. He was third in the Pacific Classic and fifth in the Woodward at Saratoga after missing to Catalina Cruiser in the San Diego at Del Mar. He ran that top rival to a length. Mongolian Groom has earned $579,141.
Higher Power was a crushing winner of the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic. John Sadler trains the son of Medaglia d’Oro for Hronis Racing; that team won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic with Accelerate. He stumbled badly at the break of the Awesome Again and didn’t run his best race, finishing third, but he has a victory over the track this year and has not been worse than third since June 1.
The biggest question mark is with Omaha Beach. Will the son of Into Mischief springboard from his Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) victory into the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Classic? Or will trainer Richard Mandella keep him shorter, at either a sprint or a mile?
Other Classic possibilities are Yoshida, Tacitus, Owendale, Math Wizard, and Preakness Stakes winner War of Will. Watch all the action leading into the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on TVG.
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