The horse-racing world will turn its attention to southern California on November 6 as Del Mar Racetrack hosts one of the biggest events in any calendar: The Breeders’ Cup Classic.
A selection of the most capable horses on the planet will go head-to-head for the largest share of the $6 million prize fund, which was claimed by Bob Baffert’s Authentic in 2020.
The BBC reported that the most recent win represented Baffert’s fourth in the Classic to cement his place as its dominant force, though it doesn’t look as though he’ll have a contender in the field this year.
Instead, Brad Cox has taken over as the likely trainer with several top contenders in the running, and AmericanRacehorse.com takes a crack at seeing which of the favorites is on course for victory.
Knicks Go (4/1)
Usurping the lead among the odds with a little more than two months until race time, Knicks Go is beginning to gather pace as an elite-level steed since joining up with Cox at the end of 2019.
In a little more than 18 months, the five-year-old went from middling runner to frequent favorite and has won six of his last eight races, a remarkable return considering he won only once in 13 outings under his previous trainer, Ben Colebrook:
Most horse analysts believe that the hype very much looks real too, given three of his victories so far in 2021 have been at Group 1, and there’s still value to be at 4/1, according to the odds provided by the horse betting apps.
It may not have taken place at Bel Mar, but Knicks Go also has previous under the Breeders’ banner, winning the Futurity in 2018 before finishing second in the Mile.
Essential Quality (5/1)
Taking a backseat to second as a result of the recent rise from Knicks Go, Essential Quality could take to the fore as an even bigger bargain if it causes his price to drop.
Three years of age and already a winner at the Group 1 standard four times over, Cox’s other star name needs little introduction after a blistering first year on the circuit:
Essential Quality came fourth in his debut at a mile and two furlongs, but he’s made up for that miss by winning on both occasions racing at least that distance since then.
Life Is Good (8/1)
Freshly out of the Baffert stud and on the books of Todd Pletcher, Life Is Good will get a crack at Classic glory without any association with one of racing’s most divisive characters right now.
And the three-year-old colt will be hoping he thinks life is still good come November 7, entering one of the biggest races in the world despite being on the circuit for less than a year.
Life Is Good debuted in January 2021 and pieced together consecutive wins at Santa Anita Park, showing the west coast weather certainly doesn’t harm his form in any case.
He lost his Group 1 debut by a neck to Jackie’s Warrior in the Memorial Stakes at Saratoga in August, a race jockey Mike E Smith might have well won on any other day.
2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic – Early Odds Leaders
|Life Is Good||8/1|
|Hot Rod Charlie||12/1|