American Pharoah gets prime post for Cup Classic, rival No. 2 favorite
Triple Crown champion American Pharoah was made the early 6-5 favorite Monday in a field of 10 for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the last race of his career.
The colt will break from the No. 4 post on Saturday at Keeneland. He is 6 for 7 this year, and is coming off a loss in the Travers two months ago.
Beholder drew the far outside post and is the 3-1 second choice for the 1 1/4-mile race against male horses. Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari pulled the numbered pills that decided the positions at the draw.
Beholder and American Pharoah are both based at Santa Anita, where her trainer Richard Mandella was tempted to get a jump on the highly anticipated showdown.
"I wanted to say to Bob, `Let’s just spin them once around and see what happens,’" he said.
Tonalist, the 2014 Belmont Stakes winner, and Honor Code are the co-third choices at 6-1. Tonalist, who ended California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid last year, drew the No. 1 post, while Honor Code is in the No. 9 position.
American Pharoah is scheduled to arrive in Kentucky on Tuesday from Santa Anita, along with his trainer Bob Baffert.
"I’m happy with the post," Baffert said by phone. "The most important thing is the horse is doing really well."
American Pharoah was timed in 46.20 seconds for a half-mile workout Monday.
"He wanted to do more," Baffert said. "He looks great. We’re really getting excited."
After the Classic, the colt is set to begin a stud career in nearby Versailles.
Already in Lexington is American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza.
"I’m confident," he said. "The last time I saw him work out I was very impressed."
Travers winner Keen Ice drew the No. 2 post and is 12-1 on the morning line odds. Frosted, third in the Travers, will break from the No. 3 post and is 15-1.
Jerry Crawford, president of Donegal Racing which owns Keen Ice, has already predicted his horse will win.
"We’re very positive and bullish," he said. "We’ll have a little bit of that 12-1, thank you very much."
Also in the Classic field are Ireland-bred Gleneagles, Effinex, Smooth Roller and Hard Aces.
Wedding Toast is the slight 4-1 favorite for the $2 million Distaff, one of four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday. She will break from the No. 7 post in the full field of 14 going 1 1/8 miles.
Sheer Drama is the 9-2 second choice. Defending champion Untapable and Stopchargingmaria are the co-third choices at 5-1.
Untapable returns with a different jockey. Rosie Napravnik rode her to victory last year at Santa Anita and then retired. She’s been replaced by John Velazquez, who is 1 for 6 with the 4-year-old filly since then.
Nyquist drew post position 13 in a field of 14 and is listed at 9-2 odds for the $2 million Juvenile. A victory would position the undefeated 2-year-old as the early favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby.
The colt is 4-0 and faces his toughest challenge yet on Saturday with an outside post and the biggest field he’s run against.
Nyquist is ridden by Mario Gutierrez, trained by Doug O’Neill and owned by J. Paul Reddam. The trio teamed with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. That colt’s Triple Crown bid derailed when he was retired the day before the Belmont because of an injury.
The Juvenile, to be run Saturday on the second of two days of racing during the 32st Breeders’ Cup, includes two entries each from O’Neill and Keith Desormeaux, who trains Exaggerator and Swipe. O’Neill’s other horse is 12-1 shot Ralis, also owned by Reddam.
The other undefeated colt in the Juvenile is Canada-based 15-1 shot Riker, also 4-0 for trainer Nicholas Gonzalez. It will be Riker’s first race on dirt; he’s won all his races at Woodbine, which has a synthetic surface similar to the one Keeneland used to have. He drew the No. 2 post.
Desormeaux and his brother-jockey Kent teamed to win last year’s Juvenile Texas Red, but the colt never made the Triple Crown trail because of injury. Kent Desormeaux will ride 6-1 shot Exaggerator for his brother.
In the $1 million Turf Sprint on Saturday, Undrafted is the 4-1 favorite owned by former NFL star receiver Wes Welker.
In Friday’s races, Cymric is the 7-2 favorite in the $1 million Juvenile Turf; Liam’s Map is the even-money favorite for the $1 million Dirt Mile; and Harmonize is the 7-2 favorite for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies.
Among Saturday’s other races, Cavorting is the 3-1 favorite in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint; Ireland-bred Legatissimo is the 8-5 favorite in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf; Private Zone is the 5-2 favorite in the $1.5 million Sprint; Britain-bred Make Believe is the 3-1 favorite in the $2 million Mile; and Britain-bred Golden Horn is the 4-5 favorite in the $3 million Turf.