It’s that time of the year when horse racing territories around the world send off the cream of their crops to compete in the annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Of course, every owner, trainer and jockey have their sights set on the big ticket race, the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which arrives at Santa Anita Park on November 5. The Classic’s qualifying races such as the Whitney Handicap and Pacific Classic have delivered their eight automatic starters while a few non-Breeders’ Cup Challenge runners will be thrown into the mix. Champion stallion California Chrome, who missed victory by half a length in last year’s Classic, will once again take on the 1 1/4 miles of the race alongside a new but powerful field. Even though this year’s line-up of the Classic includes the likes of Beholder and Frosted, California Chrome looks set to run the show at Santa Anita this year, after his dazzling win at the track,in the G1 You’re Awesome Stakes. What else can one expect from the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who will be going into the race with his proverbial “American Horse of the Year” sash draped around him. But, as history has shown us, favorites don’t always win in the Classic. Whether you prefer to go with the flow and back the favorite or take the road less traveled when it comes to betting, here are four historic trends that can help you pick the next possible Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
Four-year-olds generally fare better
While the Classic is a race for all horses over three years, the more mature horses are a no-show at the finish line. In fact, no horse older than five has ever won this race since its inception in 1984. In the last ten years, four-year-olds have established a reputable track record with four wins, and eight place finishers.
29 of the 30 Classic winners have all finished in the first three in their previous start
Recent form has been an important indicator of a horse’s success in the Classic (which is the best incentive to put your money on California Chrome). The last 10 winners all finished in the top three positions in their last G1 or G2 races, with seven of them finishing first and five having previously competed in the Whitney Handicap. It is also worth noting that eight of the last ten winners had a 45-day break between their last race and the Classic.
Like father, like son
The winners of the last ten installments of the Classic have shown that talent runs in the family. Nine of the last 10 winners were sired by a stallion that had a prosperous career in North America, while eight of the 10 winners were descended from a graded winner in the United States. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Triple Crown champion, American Pharaoh, is the son of Pioneer of the Nile, who won the Santa Anita Derby and claimed the second spot in the 2009 Kentucky Derby.
Consider the price
As the 2016 Classic contenders take up their spot in the betting odds, look out for horses that appear in the 9/1 and lower range. In the last ten years, nine of the ten winners were in the first 5 in betting and were valued at 9/1 or lower. The only surprise came from 2005 Classic winner, who swept the race at a price of 20/1.