The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are a mere three weeks away. As the contenders for each division compete in their final preps, the Classic division has been left with more questions than answers.
The Breeders’ Cup has historically provided great opportunities to cash big tickets, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be spotlighting horses I feel have long shot chances to provide value in exotic wagering, and perhaps even upset the post-time favorites in various Breeders’ Cup races.
This week’s spotlight is on the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In a year with no real dominant presence (other than Accelerate, who still has some questions to answer himself), this year’s Classic looks to be a wide-open race. The last three Classic winners (Gun Runner, Arrogate, American Pharoah) all paid at odds less than 3-1. I think that trend will end this year.
Accelerate will most likely be one of the top betting choices when they open the gates for the Classic. As spectacular as he’s been while racing in California, I question how he’ll handle shipping to the Bluegrass State. His only defeat this year was when he shipped to Arkansas to run in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), losing to fellow California-based City of Light. The son of Lookin At Lucky had a troubled trip while finishing second, but it was a less than stellar field that he faced that day, and far less talented than he’ll face in the Classic.
One long shot who I see as a viable threat to upset the Classic is Thunder Snow.
“Thunder Snow,” you may incredulously say to yourself?
Yes, that Thunder Snow who looked like a bucking bronco at the start of the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1). However, I prefer to think back to the 2018 Dubai World Cup (G1)-winning Thunder Snow.
The Irish-bred son of Helmet is as talented as he is quirky. He’s won seven of his 20 lifetime starts while earning well over $8 million in purse money for trainer Saeed Bin Suroor. Thunder Snow is currently ranked 13th in the Longines World’s Best Race Horse rankings and third among dirt horses currently in training.
The common misnomer is he’s not consistent, when he has actually hit the board in 15 of those 20 starts. When he is focused, he’s as good as any horse in the field. But, then, there are those moments like the Kentucky Derby where it seems he tows the line of sanity.
The Classic seems to be full of horses that want to be on or near the front end. We already saw what Mendelssohn and Diversify are capable of throwing down when they meet. You add McKinzie to the mix and this could result in a very contentious pace. Thunder Snow went gate-to-wire in the Dubai World Cup, but he seems to run his best when stalking the pace. If Mendelssohn and Diversify choose the tactic of pushing the pace again like they did in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), this could leave Thunder Snow sitting in a dream spot a few lengths off the pace, while still getting a jump on the closers.
I see Thunder Snow being overshadowed at the betting window by horses like Accelerate and the Bob Baffert-charge, McKinzie. I can easily see the Godolphin-owned colt going off at odds of 15-1 or higher. I’ll be using him on all tickets — If his mind is on racing on November 3, he just might find redemption under the Twin Spires with a Breeders’ Cup Classic victory!
Photo of Thunder Snow in the Jockey Club Gold Cup courtesy of NYRA