Breeding advantages in most every Graded Stakes race will always fall at the two ends of the spectrum. There is a very fine line between “Speed” horses and “Stamina” horses as far as breeding is concerned and how the layout of their balance forms in their numbers. Chef dominate speed and chef dominate stamina will allow the separation of categories, but the balance that coincides with their mares brings them close to even terms. This is the reason why Speed or Stamina always dominates, especially when handicapping the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup Classic.
High speed with the capability of sustaining that speed with enough inherited stamina is always advantaged. In most cases, the chefs will be responsible for the speed and the mares responsible for the stamina – this will then depict a horse with a high chef index – (3.00 and over). In other cases, it is flipped and the chefs contribute the stamina, whereas the mares contribute the speed – and this will depict a horse with a very low chef index (2.00 and under). No matter how it spins out, it is the balance that perfectly aligns between the two extremes.
With the Breeders Cup Classic, we are dealing with the top runners of the year who (mostly) all favor the distance and have proven success. The two ends of the spectrum will always be the advantaged and one side will win it. Over the last 20 years, these two ends are basically even as far as which side takes the glory - no matter the track.
If a speed horse (from his chefs) takes the race, he must be equipped with the proper stamina to sustain it the 10f. If a stamina horse (from his chefs) takes the trophy, he must have balance in speed from either some of his chefs or mares and he must have displayed high speed along the way. Between these two, they come together at an even balance which is why they always have the advantage.
In addition and as usual, extreme characteristics along both the chef and mares configurations will also spotlight an advantaged contender. Loaded chef profiles and extreme mare point spreads will always give the player more of an edge. This is common sense. If a horse has an overabundance of inherited speed or an overabundance of stamina from the horse in the gate next him, he takes the advantage.
For instance, if the race unfolds with the early pace as extremely fast – if you have a horse who is bred with extreme chef speed (he can keep up) and extreme mare stamina (he has the engine to sustain that speed) he will always win. Conversely, if there is not a speed demon entered with the proper stamina balance to sustain it, the true stamina guys (with displayed speed) will take over. Every single time.
For the Classic, the dynamics of speed vs stamina within their categories comes from their chefs. The addition of the mares balances them almost perfectly on an even straight line. Mixing in additional items like loaded chefs profiles simply adds to the balancing act. When a colt is holding a profile with points total above 30-32 points, the mare’s numbers are not as substantial or as important. When the chef’s points total is over 40, the mares don’t even come into play at all. This type of set-up shows that the horse is completely chef dominate and any speed/stamina characteristics will completely overtake those mares. Basically, in the Breeders Cup Classic, if a horse is holding 30+ points in his profile, take notice. If he is holding points at 40+ in his profile, take major notice.
Over the last 20 editions of the Breeders Cup Classic, only two horse in that 2.10 to 2.90 range made it to the Winners Circle. That was Mucho Macho Man in 2013 at Santa Anita and Pleasantly Perfect in 2003 at the same track. There is one compelling attribute that Mucho did hold, he was overloaded in his mare’s profile with triads of 19-24-23. Could be a coincidence and not something that would play out with favor going forward. It is more like the crazy phenomenon that there is always an exception in every major Graded Stakes race. One that does not follow the line. I don’t know that I would consider Mucho Macho Man as exceptional, however, he does hold the exception distinction for the Breeders Cup Classic. On the other hand, Pleasantly Perfect was extremely overloaded in his chef’s total points (44) and his extreme point spread in the mares: Speed = 8 Stamina = 15. That is a +7 point spread. Never estimate overloaded profiles numbers flying to the extreme.
The Breeders Cup Classic is a compilation of the best horses of the year competing at basically their optimum distance on their optimum surface. The advantage will always go to a horse who is holding inbred characteristics far and above his peer in the next stall. That is the only advantage that a group of talented horses can boast. Pleasantly Perfect fell to the extreme within his field that year and as the numbers always unfold, they will always hold the highest advantage on the field among a group who all have displayed severe talent along the way. It is the only thing that differentiates them from the rest and it always works in their favor. They have more speed and more stamina to rely on from the greatest sires in the world running through their veins, so no matter how the race unfolds, they have a greater chance of having the correct spread to pull from. They are more equipped across the board and can withstand any direction that the race decides to take.
This year, there are two standouts in the Breeders Cup Classic as far as a winner and there are 2 others who stand-out as board hit material. The filly, Swiss Skydiver, throws a bit of a twist in there because her numbers will not coincide with the boys. Zenyatta was the only female to win the Classic and that girl was beyond exceptional. Coincidentally, these two females have the exact 2.00 chef index (within the advantaged bunch) but their mare’s contributions are not the same. Zenyatta’s mare’s numbers were much more impressive. Is Swiss Skydiver in the same stratosphere as Zenyatta? Only you can answer that question.
Over the last 20 years of the Breeders Cup Classic:
SPEED Colts = Index of 3.00 and over – won 10 times – 50% win ratio - (with only one speed colt who did not have the proper triads and point spread set-up – American Pharoah.) (Baffert!)
STAMINA Colts with an Index of 2.00 and under – won 8 times – 40% win ratio - (with only one stamina colt who did not have the proper triads set-up – Tiznow)
AVERAGE Colts with an index of 2.10 to 2.90 – won two times – 10% win ratio – (with one of them holding 44 points total in their profile)
The following is a list of past 20 Winners of the Breeders Cup Classic. With the exception of Mucho Macha Man, each balance basically falls the same no matter which end of the speed/stamina balance they fall into an no matter the track they ran at.
THE MOST ADVANTAGED IN THE CLASSIC:
High Chef Speed Index coupled with High Mare Stamina is successful because the balance is perfect. A horse who inherits the highest amount of inbred speed on the field AND who inherited the mare stamina to sustain it will always be the advantaged. Last years winner, Vino Rosso is the perfect example of the perfect set-up. He also was the only contender on the field in 2019 with speed-leaning chefs.
THE NEXT ADVANTAGED IN THE CLASSIC:
Low Chef Stamina Index coupled with additional mare stamina will be the second advantaged and in direct competition with the those above. They will retain the win when one of two things are present. The first is too many entrants in the speed category who compete against each other and wear each other down. The second is when there are only one or two entrants who do not have the proper inherited stamina from their mares to compete at this level.
THE LEAST ADVANTAGED
Average Index from the chefs cannot compete against the high speed and the high stamina of the others. Mucho Macho Man was the only exception. Pleasantly Perfect held a high amount of total Profile Points.
If you look closely at the chart, the only horse on the field that won this race with an improper speed/stamina balance was American Pharoah. Arrogate also had way too high of a chef index, however, Arrogate was at least packing 40 total profile points which will always be an advantage. American Pharoah's low point spread between his mare's speed/stamina balance sitting next to that 4.33 chef index is not the proper balance. His triads were completely off as well. His inherited mare stamina was not enough to balance out all of that sprinters speed and his numbers combined to a 9f optimum distance. Not only did American Pharoah not have the proper stamina inheritance for the 10f Kentucky Derby or Breeders Classic, he certainly did not have it for the 12f Belmont Stakes. His numbers are wildly off from the others, including Mucho Macho Man who at least had the perfect mare stamina numbers to compete. Out of the entire list, American Pharoah is the outlier and should be ignored. Yes, ignored.
High Speed Index: Needs to be countered with Mare Stamina, high points spread, loaded triads in the second and/or third slot. Triads which incline across the spectrum.
Low Stamina Index: Could go both ways. Extreme Stamina from both the chefs and the mares will outwit the field when the speed goes crazy on the lead. Chef stamina coupled with Speedy mares will put them on the same level as the speed guys with the mare stamina. Additionally, high stamina horses who run on the lead and have shown serious speed leading up to the race will always have an advantage (Gun Runner.)
The Breeders Cup Classic pits Speed against Stamina. Only one side can win. It is our job to determine which colts (or filly) has the proper balance and which side has the stamina to continue and sustain their high speed or which colts have the ultimate stamina to pass the speed when they beat each other down.