The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the most valuable horse race run in the United States each year and considered by many to be the most prestigious horse race run in the world. Raven’s Pass became the first British winner of the race in 2008, the first time the Classic was run on a synthetic pro-ride surface. In 2009 Zenyatta became the first ever mare to win the race and she almost repeated the feat last year. There has been no standout American colt on the dirt this year, which is why another female, Havre De Grace, is considered to have a big chance of being the second female winner of the race.
Below we take a look at the trends for the past 10 years:
Horses aged 4 or 5 have won 8 of the last 10 from approximately 53.8% of total runners.
The two 3yo winners both posted a career high RPR in winning a grade/group 1 on their previous start and had finished in first 4 in a British Classic or a Triple Crown race.
No horse aged above 5 has ever won the race and all 3 horses aged 6+ to be placed in this had finished in first 4 the previous year (2 were returning winners, the other had finished 4th & 6th in previous 2 Classics).
9 of 10 winners were sired by a stallion that raced in North America (exception was by Candy Stripes, who was bred in Kentucky but raced in France)
8 of 10 winners were sired by a graded winner in America (2 exceptions were by sires who were placed in grade/group 1 company)
Only 2 female horses have run in the race in the past decade. Azeri finished 5th in 2004 and Zenyatta won the race in 2009 and was a fast finishing 2nd last year.
7 of 10 winners won last time out
10 of 10 winners finished in first 3 in a grade 1 or 2 last time
9 of 10 winners finished in first 4 on all starts that season (the 10 winners collectively had 49 previous starts the year they won this, only once in those 49 runs were they out of the first 4)
9 of 10 winners had won over 1M 1F or 1M 2F (exception was the one British-trained winner, who had never run over further than a mile)
8 of 10 winner had won a grade/group 1 (2 exceptions won a grade 2)
7 of 10 winners had their last run 20 to 35 days ago (3 exceptions had won the Woodward Stakes or Whitney Handicap last time out)
6 of 10 winners had finished in first 4 in a grade 1 at that year's BC track (other 4 were having first start at the BC track)
Whitney Handicap winner (Tizway): 22171 (2-2-5)
Woodward Stakes (Havre De Grace): 113740 (2-1-6)
Previous season's Clark Handicap winner (Giant Oak): 101 (2-0-3)
Stephen Foster H'cap winner (Pool Play): 56141 (2-0-5)
Santa Anita Handicap winner (Game On Dude): 1370 (1-1-4)
Suburban H'cap winner (Flat Out): 3010 (1-1-4)
Preakness winner (Shackleford): 89214 (1-1-5)
Jockey Club Gold Cup winner (Flat Out): 840021440 (1-1-9)
Philip H. Iselin Stakes winner (Where's Sterling): 1 (1-0-1)
Donn Handicap winner (Giant Oak): 10 (1-0-2)
Arkansas Derby winner (Archarcharch): 91 (1-0-2)
Rebel Stakes winner (The Factor): 914 (1-0-3)
Goodwood Stakes winner (Game On Dude): 0175 (1-0-4)
Travers Stakes winner (Stay Thirsty): 28722464 (0-3-8)
Strub Stakes winner (Twirling Candy): 2 (0-1-1)
Apple Blossom H'cap winner (Havre De Grace): 52 (0-1-2)
Previous Breeders Cup Juvenile winner (Uncle Mo): 44 (0-0-2)
Haskell Invitational Handicap winner (Coil): 864 (0-0-3)
Belmont Stakes winner (Ruler On Ice): 674 (0-0-3)
Super Derby winner (Prayer For Relief): 898 (0-0-3)
Kentucky Derby (Animal Kingdom): 8949 (0-0-4)
3 of 10 winners ran in the Whitney Handicap, finishing 211
3 of 10 winners ran in the Woodward Stakes, finishing 311
3 of 10 winners ran in the Santa Anita Derby, finishing 146
2 of 10 winners ran in Jockey Club Gold Cup last time, finishing 12
2 of 10 winners ran in the Goodwood Stakes, finishing 31
2 of 10 winners ran in Stephen Foster H'cap, finishing 11
2 of 10 winners ran in previous season's Clark H'cap, finishing 11
Churchill Downs BC Classics
The Breeders’ Cup has been held at Churchill Downs 7 times, and it can be illuminating to see if they are any trends specific to those 7 runnings.
Whitney H’cap winner at Churchill Downs (Tizway): 1511 (3-0-4)
Stephen Foster H'cap winner (Pool Play): 1101 (3-0-4)
Philip H. Iselin Stakes winner (Where's Sterling): 116 (2-0-3)
Strub Stakes winner (Twirling Candy): 12 (1-1-2)
Woodward Stakes winner (Havre De Grace): 16530 (1-1-5)
Super Derby winner (Prayer For Relief): 2491 (1-1-4)
Goodwood Stakes winner (Game On Dude): 76217 (1-1-5)
Both 3yo winners of the BC Classic at Churchill Downs had finished in the first 2 in the Super Derby.
3 of the 4 winners of the Whitney H’cap to run in the BC Classic at Churchill Downs have won it. The 1988 Whitney H’cap winner, Personal Ensign, was a filly and went on to win the BC Distaff at Churchill Downs that year.
John Shirreffs (1-2-5) trained Tiago to finish 3rd in 2008 and Zenyatta to finish 1st & 2nd in past 2 renewals.
Richard Mandella (1-1-2) saddled Pleasantly Perfect to win and finish 3rd in consecutive years.
Jay Robbins (1-0-1), John Gosden (1-0-1), Albert Stall jr (1-0-1), Richard Dutrow Jnr (1-0-2), Kiaran McLaughlin (1-0-2), Philip Johnson (1-0-2) and Steve Asmussen (1-0-4) have all trained the winner once since 2001.
Christophe Clement (0-2-3) and Nicholas Zito (0-2-6) have both saddled a couple of placed finishers.
Saeed Bin Suroor (0-1-4), Todd Pletcher (0-1-9) and Aidan O’Brien (0-1-10) have each managed just 1 place since 2001 while Bob Baffert (0-0-4) has seen his 4 runners all finish out of the money.
Record of European-trained runners: 1-3-16 (only winner came on Pro-Ride, record on dirt is 0-1-11)
8 of 10 winners (last 7) came from first 4 in the betting & were priced 8/1 or lower
Favourites (1-3-10) have a very poor record in this recently, having gained only won 1 in the last 10 runnings, giving a level stakes loss of 6.75.
Based on trends from the past 10 years you are looking for a horse:
• Sired by a graded winner that raced in North America
• Aged 4 or 5 (or a 3yo that finished 1st or 2nd in the 2011 Super Derby)
• Finished in first 4 in all starts in 2011
• Finished in first 3 in a grade 1 or 2 last time (ideally won)
• Had last run 20 to 35 days ago (or won Woodward or Whitney last time)
• Previously won a grade/group 1
• Won over 1M 1F or 1M 2F
• Finished in first 4 in Churchill Downs grade 1 in 2011 (or having 1st run here)
• Won the Woodward, Whitney, Stephen Foster and/or Clark H’cap
• Ran in Santa Anita Derby, Goodwood Stakes and/or JC Gold Cup
• Trained in North America (John Shirreffs has a good recent record)
• From the first 4 in the betting