The 2018 Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill Downs will be held in about 8 weeks. As the anticipation begins to build, much preliminary work is underway. As die-hard handicappers, the two main races of the year, The Classic and The Kentucky Derby, are the crowning glory of Superfecta heaven. These two races provide a chance to cash in on the best pools of the year and allows the handicapper to test his skills at a level and an intensity that is incomparable.
Unlike the Kentucky Derby, where the lucky participants grabbed wins in a few preps that fall short in the distance of the big day, the Classic is filled with most of the field being the very best, proven and tested at the distance. The Derby is a race where distance capability at 10f is unknown, the Classic is a race where most entrants have an optimum that fall right on it.
This year, the Classic will be run at the same track and distance as the Kentucky Derby. These two races do not produce the same “type” of winner although they do produce similarities within the Superfecta itself. These results pertain ONLY to the Churchill Track and a different set of results for the Classic run at different tracks is exclusive to them alone. Bias dictates.
As with most graded stakes races, the top 4 finishers have a greater percentage of falling at the two extremes of the speed/stamina balance in their inheritance. High speed vs. high stamina are usually the characters battling down the stretch. In the Derby, high chef speed coupled with mare stamina generally finds themselves in that winners circle. In the Classic, history has shown the opposite to be true with the winner. High chef stamina coupled with a low CD has dominated as the victor whereas the speed guys grabbed their piece underneath.
One of the main reasons why speed dominates the Derby as of late is because of the sloppy conditions, however, speed still is in the majority on a clean fast track as well. The secondary reason is because of the make-up and mixture of the track surface itself. It is more conducive to speed (favoring the higher index) in the spring and summer when temperatures and humidity are higher. The dirt surface is more likely to play tighter and slower (favoring the lower index) when the weather is cooler.
Since 1988, there has been 8 Breeders Cup Championship meets held at Churchill Downs. The last 4 were all won by high stamina with low chef index and a CD below .66:
2011 – Drosselmeyer – Chef Index = 1.75 CD = .55
2010 – Blame – Chef Index = 1.46 CD = .63
2006 – Invasor – Chef Index = 1.17 CD = .56
2000 – Tiznow – Chef Index = 1.86 CD = .65
1998 – Awesome Again – Chef Index = 2.67 CD = .91
1994 – Concern – Chef Index = 3.22 CD = .66
1991 – Black Tie Affair – Chef Index = 3.29 CD = .90
1988 – Alysheba – Chef Index = 2.08 CD = .65
It is not ideal to gauge the historical value of numbers going further than 15 years of any given race because the track has inevitably gone through changes over the years, however, I do believe that being aware of what did happen shows the possibility of what COULD happen and why they happened.
Over the past 17 years, chef stamina has dominated the 10f distance at Churchill in the fall Classic. Prior to 2000, more in depth scrutiny is in order. It is more important to figure out why and how those three guys won against the norm than to concentrate on the 5 who followed the norm and the apparent present trend.
1998 Awesome Again – His Chefs profile is 12-0-8-0-2 and his Mare profile 6-5-3-11-4 depict the stamina that is deceivingly lacking in that 2.67 index. The Speed wings of both profiles combine to a whopping 23 points coupled with the Stamina wings combining at 17 points. The zeros in between that chef profile in addition to points in the Professional category (16f+) gave him an unbelievable amount of speed and a crazy amount of stamina to sustain that speed. This tells us that when a horse shows superior performances, you cannot dismiss based solely on an index. A horse who excels in his career with a 2.67 chef index is either holding a gorgeous combined set of numbers or he is outrunning his numbers. This is the types who need to be scrutinized to the limit in the Classic field.
1994 Concern – Not as much as the numbers factor here but the race itself is the key. A horse by the name of Bertrando decided to sprint out of the gate with an opening quarter of 22.78. He led the way for ¾ and set it up for a deep closer who happened to be holding a 3.22 index. Tom Durkin announced, "Concern from out of the Clouds" that day. Take note of Concern's out of the ordinary lower CD (.66) next to that 3.22 index. That low CD handed him the ability to sustain his speed much further than the other speed in the gate that day. His chef profile; DP = 6-16-14-1-1 (38) is exquisite.
1991 Black Tie Affair – Unlike Concern's good luck charm Bertrando from 1994, this guy was the monster on the lead. In his 5 races prior to his run in the Classic, he wired the field and he won each one of them. He ended his career with his last wire to wire in the Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. He was the 4-1 odds on 2nd favorite with a magnificent chefs profile; 11-6-12-1-0 and an equally magnificent mare profile; 8-6-2-4-11. A complete standout with his past performances and who was out of the Superfecta only 7 times in his 45 race career. He was a speed beast on the lead with a ton of stamina in his back pocket. Hard to beat that.
1988 Alysheba – One heck of a great Stamina horse who possessed one of the greatest set up of configurations that any breeder would dream to reproduce. His incredible DP = 12-4-22-2-0 (40) DI = 2.08 and CD = 0.65 shows the perfect chef balance. especially in that profile which was unmatched on that field. No doubt the reason why he was the 1988 Horse of the Year. He used everything across the board and ultimately became a Classic Chef-de-Race sire. He became the first trendsetter in the Classic at Churchill with his stamina leaning pedigree.
Another interesting point and potentially pertinent to this years running is that only two horses born overseas have ever won the Breeders Cup Classic in the 33 editions run since 1984. They were Invasor (ARG) in 2006 and Black Tie Affair (IRE) in 1991. Both of those wins were run at Churchill Downs.
The point of the trip down memory at Churchill for the Classic is to show that the 4 editions held since 2000 were won by stamina and that even though this seems to be an advantage, you cannot dismiss others for a win based on numbers. The Classic is not the Derby where numbers tell 95% of the story on untested rivals. In the Classic, the best that the year produced are in that gate and every angle needs to be considered. Will there be another Bertrando in the mix who offers the race to a closer on a silver platter? Does an “average” indexed horse have a killer combination in their 5 digit profile? Is there a speedy monster packing serious stamina who could secure an uncontested lead?
Numbers work magic in the Kentucky Derby based on pinpointing optimum distances and finding those who have not inherited the proper speed/stamina balance to go 10f. The entire handicapping exercise in that regard is fairly laid out and easy to read. Numbers in the Breeders Cup Classic do not hold as much weight, however, a few things could easily stand out and pinpoint a potential monster. The superfecta will generally consist of the best in stamina and the best in speed, with stamina having the advantage.
For now, here are the Goliaths, the Davids and the Gladiators slated to appear in Churchill for the final race of the Breeders Cup Championship Meet, along with their numbers in case you are ready to begin handicapping. I will refrain from a full analysis of these numbers until the field takes shape, however the standout portions of the numbers are highlighted. These are the numbers that jump out individually as being nicely configured and look to be the best set-ups for a fast race. The ability to sustain the speed for the distance and as to what history has shown to be the most advantaged configurations. Some have more advantaged areas over others. Some have too much stamina and not enough speed. Some have the reverse and then some are perfect. The lower chef index is an advantage. A CD between .55 and .65 is an advantage. The Chefs are the key in this race, unlike in the Derby where the mares hold much more weight.
The Goliaths: (under 2.00)
Chef DP = 5-0-8-1-0 (14) DI = 1.80 CD = 0.64
Mare DP = 7-6-4-8-5 Speed = 13 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.09 Triads = 17-18-17
Chefs profile, index and CD are spot on. Mares speedier index balances the stamina, Triads high and balanced. Perfect across the board.
Chef DP = 2-2-13-1-0 (18) DI = 1.40 CD = 0.28
Mare DP = 7-5-6-4-4 Speed = 12 Stamina = 8 Index = 1.39 Triads = 18-15-14
Great index but the CD is way too low.
TOAST OF NEW YORK
Chef DP = 7-2-17-6-0 (32) DI = 1.21 CD = 0.31
Mare DP = 4-10-4-12-3 Speed = 14 Stamina = 15 Index = 1.00 Triads = 18-26-19
Beautiful chefs profile and index but the lower CD disrupts it. The mares counteract with a ton of speed and highest in the Classic distance.
Chef DP = DP = 2-1-11-4-0 (18) DI = 0.89 CD = 0.06
Mare DP = 2-10-3-11-5 Speed = 12 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.71 Triads = 15-24-19
Chefs offered too much stamina, mares profile very similar to Toast of New York but the index turns it to more stamina leaning as well. Perfect triads.
Chef DP = DP = 3-3-14-8-0 (28) DI = 0.87 CD = 0.04
Mare DP = 3-6-1-12-6 Speed = 9 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.52 Triads = 10-19-19
Both Cd's are way too low, the stamina inheritance steals all speed.
The Davids: (2.00 to 2.90)
Chefs DP = 7-8-10-2-3 (30) DI = 2.00 CD = 0.47
Mares DP = 7-4-2-7-9 Speed = 11 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.74 Triads = 13-13-18
Gorgeous profiles top and bottom, but both CD's are too low and steal from speed.
MIND YOUR BISCUITS
Chef DP = 2-2-8-0-0 (12) DI = 2.00 CD = 0.50
Mare DP = 11-2-4-10-6 Speed = 13 Stamina = 16 Index = 1.08 Triads = 17-16-20
Great chef index but profile falls short. Mares index balances and triads are nice.
Chef DP = 6-2-11-1-0 (20) DI = 2.08 CD = 0.65
Mare DP = 7-5-5-5-10 Speed = 12 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.80 Triads = 17-15-20
Chefs profile, index and CD are spot on. Mares profile compliments the balance, Mare index slightly low, triads perfect.
Chef DP = 4-5-4-3-0 (16) DI = 2.20 CD = 0.63
Mare DP = 9-4-2-9-3 Speed = 13 Stamina = 12 Index = 1.41 Triads = 15-15-14
Chef index and CD are perfect, mare profile compliments, mare index balances. Triads slightly off.
Chef DP = 4-0-6-0-0 (10) DI = 2.33 CD = 0.80
Mare DP = 8-5-1-8-7 Speed = 13 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.96 Triads = 14-14-16
Nothing to highlight here.
Chef DP = 6-8-16-0-0 (30) DI = 2.75 CD = 0.67
Mare DP = 9-3-3-8-5 Speed = 12 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.14 Triads = 15-14-16
Chef profile and CD are great, index falls short. Mares index balances but slightly high to balance the chefs.
The Gladiators: (3.00 and over)
Chef DP = 8-9-11-2-0 (30) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.77
Mare DP = 12-4-1-5-9 Speed = 16 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.21 Triads = 17-10-15
Both profiles are perfectly laid out but the rest fall short. Filly numbers could be read differently though.
Chef DP = 5-10-13-0-0 (28) DI = 3.31 CD = 0.71
Mare DP = 7-4-1-11-7 Speed = 11 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.73 Triads = 12-16-19
Both profiles are fantastic. Indexes blend harmoniously. CD on target. Triads build perfectly.
Chef DP = 6-6-10-0-0 (22) DI = 3.40 CD = 0.82
Mare DP = 4-7-2-10-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.61 Triads = 13-19-20
Both Indexes are off. CD is too high. Triads ascend nicely.
Chef DP = 10-5-11-0-0 (26) DI = 3.73 CD = 0.96
Mare DP = 8-4-1-6-9 Speed = 12 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.84 Triads = 13-11-16
Baffert speed horse. Numbers mean nothing.
Chef DP = 10-5-7-0-0 (22) DI = 5.29 CD = 1.14
Mare DP = 5-9-2-11-3 Speed = 14 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.11 Triads = 16-22-16
Baffert speed horse. Numbers mean nothing.