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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Knicks Go, Essential Quality and the 10f Classic


This year, a majority of powerhouse contenders will be vying for a trip to the 2021 Breeders Cup Classic Winners Circle and the 3.3 million dollars that goes with it. Many entries have a strong advantageous running style and most have the guts, the determination and the will to cross that finish line first. A good deal of the contenders also have a strong bias edge as well, rain or shine and also regardless of tides.

This year, handicapping this race will not be an easy walk in the park. The Headliners for the Classic race consist of a group of major 2021 stars and each one has an easy argument to stand by. Each year, an analysis is posted based on the historical outcomes as it pertains to their breeding, their past performances and the bias of the track. That is, the specific track where Breeders Weekend is held for that particular year going back approx. 20 years.

This year Breeders Weekend is being held at DelMar, which gives us exactly ONE edition to refer to. The 2017 edition. The year that Gun Runner wired the field in Beast Mode. This is simply not enough for strong comparisons, however, the DelMar track has its own quirks and is quite an easy bias to tackle. It is important to note though, on that day when Gun Runner wired the DelMar track, high tide came the latest it had been over the entire previous month. In addition, the full moon the night before added to the force of the high tide and granted favoritism and lead speed extra advantage that day. Gun Runner had everything he needed that day and did not disappoint. So it will be full steam ahead in just a few short weeks. A formal analysis will be posted well in advance of the Classic, along with a few other Breeders races. Bias will be a major focus, but this article has a different focus.

The main players this year consist of a Kentucky Derby Winner, a Belmont Stakes Winner, another who has broken a track record with sensational recent performances, a well-bred monster who is ready to explode and a couple others who have a chance at the pie.

And then there is Knicks Go.

Twenty-three starts and not one at 10f.

Dominating wins down the line with each one on the lead – wire to wire.

This guy has two strikes, so it seems. One, he has never performed at the distance while many of his BC Classic competitors have successfully conquered that 10f track, posting wins along the way. Two, 100% of his wins came on the lead which means if he doesn’t secure that spot, how will he react if he is a step behind?

This is the Breeders Cup Classic and question marks are not an option.

The only way to answer those questions is to dive in and look for the answers.

Knicks Go will not get an uncontested shot at that lead. There is no chance that Bob Baffert will allow Medina Spirit a spot at stalking. Medina Spirit will punch for that lead and his only shot at a wire. Knicks Go also demands that spot. The simple fact that Baffert scratched his “Derby Winner” from the Pennsylvania Derby based on his obvious necessity for the lead, we already know a speed duel will ensue right out of the gate. The DelMar track will allow for an easy wire to wire and both horses will gain extra lengths (which they both will need every last bit of) but will it be enough.

Enter Art Collector.

Another who finds his success on the lead, wire to wire, but who could possibly settle for that stalking spot. Depending on gate assignment, here’s another who will push that pace right out the gate. For Knicks Go, a colt who has never won unless he had an unimpeded view in front of him will be asked to torpedo out of that gate with a couple other rockets wanting the same thing. This is not good news for Knicks Go, but it really affects Medina Spirit even more.

Without his “medication” at 10f, Medina's chance of winding down in the late stages rises, just as he had done in every race prior to the Kentucky Derby. Every last one of them. In addition, the horse didn’t beat too much in the Awesome Again. They certainly don’t measure up to the cast of characters staged for the BC Classic.

Azul Coast is nowhere near an Essential Quality.

Tizamagician couldn’t even walk next to Hot Rod Charlie.

Stilleto Boy is no Maxfield.

The stampede for the lead beats Medina Spirit in the late stages of the race IF THE HORSE IS RACING CLEAN. (Major caveat)

Back to Knicks Go.

Looking at his more recent performances, the fact that he has only won while on the lead DOES NOT MEAN that the horse cannot win while stalking. In February, Knicks Go was entered into the Saudi Cup. I repeat, the Saudi Cup. This is an outlier race. It is not apples for apples and it carries with it a severe disadvantage based on reasons that don’t even need to be argued. It’s just common sense. Cross it off because that race overseas has no bearing on the 2021 Breeders Cup Classic. Additionally, his first back on the track after his layoff after the jaunt overseas is also a cross-off. Meaningless.

So what do we have left? A horse who can’t win if he doesn’t have the lead or a horse who is so great that he ALWAYS gets the lead regardless of who he is in the gate with. He has beaten them all to the punch. One cannot say that he can’t win if he is stalking because the horse simply will not allow another to beat him out for the front. This is more bad news for Medina Spirit. Even if Knicks Go does not secure that lead, there is not a soul alive who can say that he is doomed because of it. Using the Saudi race or his race after a layoff does not offer anything to conclude that he is doomed.

His track record, on the other hand, says that the probability of Knicks Go getting that lead is significantly higher than any other on that field. His record stands at 100%. Medina Spirit cannot boast the same.

Now the distance.

His sire, Paynter, attempted to wire the field in the 12f Belmont Stakes and came up short by only a neck. This in no way has any bearing on Knicks Go because how a horse runs during his career does not mean that he can or will pass those exact traits down to his offspring. What does matter though, is that the same chefs on the top of Knicks Go’s chart will be offering the exact same potential while skipping back one generation. Awesome Again (I,C) and Blushing Groom (B,C) still contribute while Northern Dancer (B,C) Mr. Prospector (B,C) In Reality (B,C) Lyphard (C) and Seattle Slew (B,C) skip back but still supply the goods. What changes is the bottom of the chart and what those characters are also offering or taking away. Looking at just Paynter, who is not a listed chef is not conducive to any real answer. The answer lies in Knick’s chart – not his father’s. Knicks Go has 15 different influences coming from the bottom of his chart that melts together with the top of the chart through his father. They are two separate animals with only half of the same elite genes.

Or so you would think…


DP = 6-8-16-0-0 (30) DI = 2.75 CD = 0.67

Mare Profile = 8-3-4-10-3 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.15 Triads = 15-17-17

Knicks Go

DP = 3-6-11-0-0 (20) DI = 2.64 CD = 0.60

Mare Profile = 8-3-4-10-3 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.15 Triads = 15-17-17

If that isn’t the craziest and scariest thing, I don’t know what is.

Knick’s dam is Kosmo’s Buddy. This mare pulls in 14 new influences in the first 4 generations. 7 different sires and 7 different mares. With the mares though, that influence would be pulled from over a hundred years back. Go back up to the numbers and you will see the EXACT SAME SET-UP through the mares regardless of the additional characters. That is insanely rare. There is no change in the configurations which means that all of the mare influence is coming directly from Paynter’s line.

Numbers alone, through the chefs, Knicks Go actually gained more stamina through his chefs than Paynter. His CD is .60, Paynter’s is higher at .67. The main point here is that we are not handicapping a 12f race, the Classic is 10f. Even if the difference in influential chefs shift in the chefs profile, it certainly does not steal a full 2f away. Actually, in this case, it is just the opposite. Knicks Go has more inbred stamina in him from his chefs than his sire Paynter and the mares balance is exactly the same. In both of these horses, the mares are the speed influence – exactly the same – the chefs are the stamina influence - more for Knicks Go.

Knicks Go gains the following Chefs on the bottom of his chart through Kosmo’s Buddy:

Danzig (I,C)

Northern Dancer (B,C)

Alydar (C)

Mr. Prospector (B,C)

He gains back Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector's influence while adding in Danzig and Alydar. Both Danzig and Alydar contribute even more stamina potential into the mix. With these 4 chefs, who pass down Classic Average Winning Distances to some of their offspring and additional speed to others, those odds seem to be greatly in favor of Knick’s Go grabbing a hold of those extra attributes - both more speed and stamina influence. His chefs numbers put that balance in the right spot.

Paynter ran the way he did because of what he inherited through his chefs and his mares. The big question then becomes is Paynter a true conduit and does he have the capability to pass those genes down. He is not time-tested. He is not a chef. It can be argued quite easily that the son has performed at much greater level than the father. Their styles aren’t too far off, both with preference up front but the son has shown much more mastery with repeated consistency. The fact that Paynter just missed that wire at 12f, while holding the exact same mare configurations and that 1.15 index is a testament to the powerful stamina influence of the same chefs. It would seem easy to read that the strong influence from Paynter's line remains intact, even greatly enhanced by the additional contributors. In comparison to his son, who has performed at a much more heightened level in his career, along with even MORE inbred chef stamina, is leading to an easy conclusion that Knick’s Go will have no problems whatsoever traveling the 10f in the Classic.

In addition, the fact that his lead style will be exactly what the bias at DelMar will require, along with the fact that he seems to expect his lead spot and he has shown no signs of ever even considering giving it to another, leads to a conclusion that Knicks Go will have a clear advantage in this race. (If high tide comes later than usual that day, his stock rises even higher)

But nothing is ever that easy.

The drama will ensue in the first 10 seconds of the race. Depending on how insistent Baffert is with Smith that Medina MUST secure that lead at all costs will determine how long and how far that speed duel lasts until they settle. That drama could escalate with Art Collector as well. Either way it goes though, the one who capitalizes in both directions is Essential Quality. If a speed duel ensues and lead speedsters beat the heck out of each other, the Tapit Boy will have reserved speed for as long as he wants. If they settle early into a soft sustained pace, Essential Quality will have even more energy and more jets at the top of the stretch because he didn’t need to expend it.

The most advantaged horse in the Classic is Essential Quality. No matter the time of tides. No matter the weather. Rain or shine. No matter speed duels. No matter a slow sustained pace. No matter a thing. It is Essential Quality’s race to lose and there seems to be nothing that could present itself on that day that would adversely affect him. He runs brilliantly on a wet surface so late high tide will enhance him. He has the stamina genes to run on a softer and deeper surface, so high tide early will not affect him. He has the inbred speed to run on a harder and more compact surface, so the bias hits him from all angles. He doesn’t need a certain spot early on to run, he will come from anywhere on that track. He is built better for the 10f than Medina Spirit. He is better than Maxfield. He is as quick as Knicks Go. He beat Charlie at a further distance. His class is at the top of the heap and his past performances are consistent with the classic distance.

Knick's Go will have that lead and he will run the full 10f. Essential Quality will eye him in the stretch and Hot Rod Charlie will join that party. It will be a thrilling stretch run. Less than 4 weeks to go!


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