Breeders’ Cup Contenders

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With the gates now known we have our final contenders for the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs across November 2 & 3.

Sudden bursts of form, as seen in the past by horses such as Good Magic and Arrogate, or on the negative side injuries such as the one that has curtailed Justify’s career mean our 14 championship races have had ever changing faces.

It’s great practice to keep a check on the current odds in the Breeders’ Cup races to see what horses are currently more fancied than others.  Check that out here, but for now we can take a look at a handful of early contenders for the major races in Louisville.

Leading Breeders’ Cup Contenders

Breeders’ Cup Classic:

Run over 11/4 miles on dirt, the classic brings the curtain down on the championships and is the most coveted prize.

  • Accelerate (John Sadler)
    Very well named for a horse that has suddenly sprung to Breeders’ Cup Classic contention, the five-year-old put in probably the performance of the season at Del Mar in late August beating Pavel by an astonishing 121/2 lengths and a repeat of that would see him win this.
  • Catholic Boy (Jonathan Thomas)
    Although the Travers Stakes was tactical in the end, you cannot argue with this 3yo’s performance in beating Mendelssohn by four lengths to complete three straight wins.
  • Good Magic (Chad Brown)
    Lasy year’s Juvenile champion came right back to form with a great win in the Haskell Invitational during the summer but flopped last time. A big performance on the day would be no surprise.
  • Mckinzie (Bob Baffert)
    The son of Street Sense just keeps getting better and his Pennsylvania Derby win at Parx has put him right in the picture here
  • Roaring Lion (John Gosden)
    A horse that started out with defeat on several occasions, this gutsy type has gone on to win four straight Grade 1 races in the UK and Ireland on various surfaces and distances and may look for one last hurrah here.
  • Thunder Snow (Saeed bin Suroor)
    Beat West Coast easily in Dubai and if that form can be taken literally then the four-year-old has an outstanding chance. His return to action in England went badly but he is not yet out of this after a fine second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
  • West Coast (Bob Baffert)
    Probably flying the flag for the older generation, this admirable colt was placed in last year’s Classic, the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup and must be considered a leading light.

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Breeders’ Cup Mile:

The mile is run on the turf and precisely because of that has often been dominated by the Europeans who will have a strong hand once again.

  • Expert Eye (Sir Michael Stoute)
    Described before his devastating Goodwood win when a juvenile as Sir Michael’s most precocious ever colt, he is reaching his peak as a three-year-old and would love these fast turf conditions.
  • I Can Fly (Aidan O’Brien)
    Second to Classic contender Roaring Lion last time in a championship race over a mile, the filly is a real improver.
  • Oscar Performance (Brian Lynch)
    The Woodbine Mile winner comes into this as a leading contender although it would take another career best performance to beat the European’s on the grass.
  • Polydream (Freddie Head)
    The French fancy flopped at Longchamp on Arc day but remains a high class filly and one who may relish conditions at Louisville.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint:

A six furlong dash on the dirt, blink and you miss this one though that would be a bad idea with so many awesome thoroughbreds taking their chance.

  • Imperial Hint (Luis Carvajal)
    Experienced and only beaten by one length in this race last year, Imperial Hint has obvious qualities and sprung to prominence with his top class run in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga during the summer.
  • Limousine Liberal (Ben Colebrook)
    Although this horse has run behind fellow contenders Promises Fulfilled and Whitmore, he has also beaten the last named horse and rates a fair contender.
  • Promises Fulfilled (Dale Romans)
    October’s Grade 2 win at Keeneland has put this three-year-old colt right in there with a chance and you can bet he will have been prepared to the max.
  • Roy H (Peter Miller)
    Third in Dubai at the start of the year and also last year’s champion; the six-year-old is once again a leading contender to take the Sprint crown after a good reappearance at Del Mar in July.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile:

11/16 miles is the distance for this race and it is quite a test for these young horses, the race being won last year by current Classic contender Good Magic.

  • Complexity (Chad Brown)
    Very much in the running after bullying the opposition in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont recently, but despite that awesome performance his trainer is a little concerned about that little extra distance in this race. He remains a colt of great potential.
  • Game Winner (Bob Baffert)
    The superstar trainer scored a record 14th Del Mar Futurity with this colt back in early September and he followed up easily in the Grade One American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita to make it a perfect prep for this race. He is many people’s pick already.
  • Gunmetal Gray (Jerry Hollendorfer)
    Beaten by Game Winner in the American Pharoah last time but he is an inexperienced horse, bound to improve and one who may appreciate this distance.
  • Mind Control (Gregory Sacco)
    A Grade One winner now after his Hopeful Stakes victory at Saratoga, this is an improving horse but one that’ll need to handle the step up in distance having shown roar speed so far.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf:

The one mile distance and the fact that is it on the grass brings in some powerful overseas contenders, many of whom are being aimed at English, Irish and French classics next year.

  • Anthony Van Dyck (Aidan O’Brien)
    A leading light for the Irish champion trainer who landed a world record 26 Grade One wins last season and who trained the winner of this race in 2017, Mendelssohn. He’s been running over seven furlongs but is current favorite for next year’s 11/2 mile Derby at Epsom.
  • Current (Todd Pletcher)
    A nice win in a very valuable race at Keeneland has put this horse on track for a go at this race and he holds every chance.
  • Forty Under (Jeremiah Englehart)
    A rare turf contender for the "home" team, this son of Uncle Mo has the breeding to take a close hand in this but has not quite shown the requisite level of form as yet having won at Grade 3 level.
  • Line Of Duty (Charlie Appleby)
    The superstar trainer is no stranger to American Grade 1 wins nor to handling improving horses so it would be no surprise to see this one streak home.
  • The Black Album (Jane Soubagne)
    A French contender and one that’ll be very interesting going up to this distance. He’s been doing his best work over six and seven furlongs so far but is bred to be a classic distance horse so this could be right up his alley.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff:

The females run over 11/8 miles on the dirt track this time with an anticipated battle between two in-form fillies.

  • Abel Tasman (Bob Baffert)
    Now with Baffert, she was beaten at odds of 1-10 last time but remains a filly of tremendous value and if making the race should be right up there with the best of them.
  • Midnight Bisou (Steve Asmussen)
    Goes down as a winner against Monomoy Girl after Brad Cox’s filly was disqualified last time and Steve Asmussen will be out to prove she can do it on a level playing field too.
  • Monomoy Girl (Brad Cox)
    Straightforward and consistent, this three-year-old filly has all the right attributes to be a leading fancy in this race and has been among the favorites for some time now.

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf:

Another race the European horses tend to do well in and this could be a high class renewal over the 13/8 mile distance.

  • Magic Wand (Aidan O’Brien)
    She has won and lost battles against Wild Illusion this season but her trainer is hoping these faster conditions can show her off in a better light.
  • Sistercharlie (Chad Brown)
    On breeding she should relish this challenge, the former French trained filly having improved nicely since coming to the States.
  • Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby)
    Having gone down to 11/4 miles to great effect, going back up in distance could be a worry but round these bends and in warmer conditions the race could still be to her liking for last year’s winning combination of Appleby and Godolphin (Wuheida).

Breeders’ Cup Turf:

Once more visiting horses could dominate here, their proven stamina on turf surfaces being an advantage over this 11/2 mile trip.

  • Enable (John Gosden)
    Simply the best filly in Europe over the past two years, maybe even in the world but don’t tell Wynx fans that! Enable created history in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe when she became only the 8th horse in history to win the race twice and the first ever to do it at two different tracks. Hard to beat.
  • Magical (Aidan O’Brien)
    A winner on Champions Day in England on October 20, this is a quick turnaround but she is capable of at least a top 4 finish in this race.
  • Talismanic (Andre Fabre)
    He won last year’s version of this race at Del Mar but perhaps hasn’t been in the best form this year, though he would be a difficult horse to rule out.
  • Waldeist (Andre Fabre)
    A second contender for the great French trainer and one that faired a little better in the Arc behind Enable. He also beat Talisman in an Arc trial before that and has been very consistent this year.

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