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Breeders’ Cup Classic Quick Picks
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Breeders’ Cup Classic Quick Picks

by Laurie RossNovember 4, 2021

Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) attracted a contentious field of nine older horses who will travel ten furlongs over Del Mar’s main track.

Carded as race twelve, the Classic closes out two days of championship racing. Post time is 5:40 PM PT.

Let’s take a quick look at the horses most likely to hit the board.

#4 Essential Quality (3-1)

Essential Quality won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and will likely be named Champion 3-year-old this year, having won every race of his career except the Kentucky Derby. He is the cream of the 3-year-old crop but has never faced older horses. The Brad Cox trainee has tactical speed and can sit off an expected hot pace. Win contender.

#5 Knicks Go (5-2)

Knicks Go leads the older horse division. He enters with a three-race win streak and will be winging it on the front end. He has speed to spare but has never raced ten furlongs. The Brad Cox trainee will face a lot of pressure on the front end but could prevail as an older, stronger horse. Win contender.

#3 Hot Rod Charlie (4-1)

Hot Rod Charlie has faced Essential Quality three times, losing twice. However, he beat his nemesis by a head for third place in the Kentucky Derby. The Doug O’Neil trainee has also lost to Medina Spirit twice and has never faced older horses. Nevertheless, the attractive 3-year-old colt is a pace presser and should get a good stalking trip. Win contender.

#9 Max Player (8-1)

Max Player has won two straight, both at ten furlongs since switching his running style from a one-run closer to pace presser. Admittedly, he hasn’t faced the very top of the older horse division, but this Steve Asmussen trainee is no slouch. Longshot win contender.

#6 Art Collector (8-1)

Art Collector is undefeated since reverting to his usual pace pressing/setting style. He was unplaced in his only try at ten furlongs but gets another shot in the Classic. Unfortunately, he lost ground in the stretch in two of his three starts at nine furlongs. Art Collector will be part of the pace scenario. Exotics.

#8 Medina Spirit (4-1)

The controversial Kentucky Derby winner is all heart. He beat older horses in his last two starts but now faces the toughest test of his career. The Bob Baffert trainee will fight hard on the lead and go eye-to-eye with Knicks Go. Maybe he can out-game the older horse, or perhaps a quick pace will set it up for a closer. Either way, Medina Spirit is dangerous. Exotics.

Breeders’ Cup Classic Race Analysis

The favorite has won the Classic twice and placed twice in the last decade, and 3-year-olds have won four times. Six of the nine contenders are pacesetters or pressers. In a small field with similar running styles, it all comes down to who gets the best break from the gate and the best trip through the short stretch.

  • #9 Max Player (8-1)
  • #5 Knicks Go (5-2)
  • #4 Essential Quality (3-1)
  • #3 Hot Rod Charlie (4-1)
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About The Author
Laurie Ross
Laurie is a handicapper, pedigree consultant, and published author. Her work has been featured on numerous prominent racing websites and she is a reoccurring guest on sports radio programs. She is also a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Her yearly publications contain tremendous insight and value for bettors and horsemen. The Freshmen Sire Guide has received accolades from leading trainers and handicappers and her Triple Crown guides are a best-selling feature.