Breeders’ Cup Classic cheat sheet: American Pharoah looks to finish with a flourish

American Pharoah heads a stellar group in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic.

AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Pre-entries have been announced, and the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course are finally within sight. Both American Pharoah and Beholder, as well as Honor Code and Tonalist, are expected for the $5-million Classic in one of the more thrilling recent editions of the race.

Read on to get the lowdown on each of the Classic pre-entrants and start counting down the hours ’til post time! Horses are in alphabetical order; odds and post positions will be added after they’re drawn on Monday.

American Pharoah

Age: 3

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Zayat Stables

Career Record: 10 starts – 8 wins, 1 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $5,900,300

Earnings Per Start: $590,030

Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile – Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman

Color: Bay

Running Style: Pacesetter/Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: American Pharoah is not only the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, but the first Triple Crown winner in the Breeders’ Cup era and thus the first to attempt the "grand slam" of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. After a runner-up finish in the Travers Stakes in August, his connections are hoping he’s primed to end his career on a high note in the Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert won the Classic for the first time last year with Bayern.

Beholder

Age: 5

Jockey: Gary Stevens

Trainer: Richard Mandella

Owner: Spendthrift Farm

Career Record: 20 starts – 15 wins, 3 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $4,436,600

Earnings Per Start: $221,830

Pedigree: Henny Hughes – Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek

Color: Bay

Running Style: Pacesetter/Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Beholder is the only female horse pre-entered for the Classic as she attempts to join Zenyatta as the only females to defeat males in the $5-million race. Beholder is undefeated this year and already has two Breeders’ Cup wins to her credit (2012 Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff). If she wins, she’ll become the only horse ever to win three different Breeders’ Cup races and will be among the richest female racehorses of all time.

Effinex

Age: 4

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens

Owner: Tri-Bone Stables

Career Record: 18 starts – 6 wins, 1 seconds, 3 thirds

Career Earnings: $912,250

Earnings Per Start: $50,681

Pedigree: Mineshaft – What a Pear, by E Dubai

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Effinex was on the Triple Crown trail in 2014 but has really come into his own as a 4-year-old in 2015. The colt won his first graded stakes in April and followed with another graded stakes victory just two starts later, most recently finishing third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup behind Tonalist. Effinex would be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for Tri-Bone Stables, the racing operation of equine veterinarian Russell Cohen. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens also trains probable Classic entrant Wicked Strong.

Frosted

Age: 3

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Godolphin Racing

Career Record: 12 starts – 3 wins, 6 seconds, 1 thirds

Career Earnings: $2,062,800

Earnings Per Start: $171,900

Pedigree: Tapit – Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister

Color: Gray or Roan

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Frosted earned his second win of 2015 in the Pennsylvania Derby in September after pressing American Pharoah’s pace in the Travers Stakes and fading to third place. The colt doesn’t always win but has finished first, second or third in 10 of his 12 career starts. Owner Godolphin Racing is the racing stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who has won five Breeders’ Cup races. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has won two Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2006 Classic with Invasor.

Gleneagles

Age: 3

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Owner: Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier

Career Record: 10 starts – 7 wins, 0 seconds, 1 thirds

Career Earnings: $1,427,036

Earnings Per Start: $142,704

Pedigree: Galileo – Youresothrilling, by Storm Cat

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Ireland-based Gleneagles won both the English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas this spring before a win in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. The colt, who prefers firm turf to run on, was scratched from multiple races after that due to soft ground, but he ran in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day on soft ground and finished a disappointing sixth. The Classic will be his dirt debut. Trainer Aidan O’Brien has eight Breeders’ Cup wins but none in the Classic.

Hard Aces

Age: 5

Jockey: TBD

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Hronis Racing

Career Record: 25 starts – 6 wins, 3 seconds, 7 thirds

Career Earnings: $592,645

Earnings Per Start: $23,706

Pedigree: Hard Spun – All in With Aces, by Quiet American

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Hard Aces didn’t run in his first stakes race until he was a 4-year-old and earned his first stakes win this year. After finishing third in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes in May 2015, he won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting gate. Owner Hronis Racing also has Distaff contender Stellar Wind, also trained by John Sadler. Both Hronis Racing and Sadler are looking for their first Breeders’ Cup win.

Honor Code

Age: 4

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Shug McGaughey

Owner: Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm

Career Record: 10 starts – 6 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third

Career Earnings: $2,018,260

Earnings Per Start: $201,826

Pedigree: A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Honor Code was a graded stakes-winning 2-year-old in 2013 but an injury forced him to miss all three 2014 Triple Crown races. He returned with a win in late 2014, and in 2015 has won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade 1 Met Mile and Grade 1 Whitney Stakes before a third-place finish in the Kelso Handicap in late September. Honor Code has only finished out of the money once in his career but needs a strong pace to set up his closing run. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is still looking for his first Breeders’ Cup Classic win.

Keen Ice

Age: 3

Jockey: TBD

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Donegal Racing

Career Record: 11 starts – 2 wins, 1 second, 3 thirds

Career Earnings: $1,490,395

Earnings Per Start: $135,490

Pedigree: Curlin – Medomak, by Awesome Again

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Keen Ice is best known as the only horse to defeat American Pharoah this year after winning the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, but he also finished third in the Belmont Stakes and second in the Haskell Invitational Stakes. His career so far doesn’t have an impressive winning percentage, but he seems to have rounded into top form over the summer and fall. Dale Romans and Donegal Racing are both looking for their first Breeders’ Cup Classic win.

Smooth Roller

Age: 4

Jockey: Tyler Baze

Trainer: Victor Garcia

Owner: Lucky Charm Stable

Career Record: 4 starts – 3 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $261,810

Earnings Per Start: $65,453

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Catch the Moment, by Unbridled

Color: Bay

Running Style: Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Smooth Roller didn’t make his career debut until this June, winning easily from off the pace. He won two of his next three starts, including the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Smooth Roller is the first Breeders’ Cup starter for his owner and second for his trainer.

Tonalist

Age: 4

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Christophe Clement

Owner: Robert S. Evans

Career Record: 14 starts – 6 wins, 4 seconds, 2 thirds

Career Earnings: $3,097,000

Earnings Per Start: $221,214

Pedigree: Tapit – Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Tonalist won the 2014 Belmont Stakes to deny California Chrome a Triple Crown. The colt has since won the Jockey Club Gold Cup twice as well as the Westchester Stakes and finished in the money in five other graded stakes. Tonalist hasn’t won at a track other than Belmont Park since January 2014 but has only finished worse than third twice in his career, including a fifth-place finish in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. A win would be the first Breeders’ Cup victory for both his owner and trainer.

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