Contentious Breeders’ Cup Classic to bring down curtain on sensational Saturday

The Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, one of horse racing’s premier events, will be renewed this Saturday at Santa Anita. The 1 1/4-mile heat drew a highly-accomplished field of 11. Post time for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the finale on a lucrative 12-race card, is 8:44 p.m. ET.

#5 YOSHIDA (8-1) has yet to win a race in five tries this year, but those with confidence in him could be rewarded at fair odds on Saturday. He won the Grade I Woodward in September of last year and trained up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic from there. YOSHIDA put in a belated bid to be a close fourth that day. His 2019 campaign got off to a very bumpy start with three straight off-the-board finishes, but the son of Heart’s Cry (Sunday Silence) turned things around in the Whitney (second) and Woodward (third) at Saratoga. YOSHIDA ran his fastest career speed figure in the former in spite of a wide trip. This Bill Mott trainee seems to be crying out for more distance, and he’ll get that in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. Santa Anita’s deep, tiring surface should also play into YOSHIDA’s hands. Hall-of-Famer Mike Smith takes over in the irons.

#8 MCKINZIE (3-1, morning-line favorite) has been favored in all six of his starts this year yet has only won twice. He’s developed a habit of finishing second, a spot he occupied four times in 2019. As a result, Bob Baffert has decided to shake things up on the son of Street Sense by naming Joel Rosario as jockey over Smith. MCKINZIE can’t do much worse in the Classic than he did last year when he was a distant 12th. The Churchill strip certainly wasn’t the problem as he’s handled it in other races, but the distance might have been.  MCKINZIE was second with a fairly low speed figure in this year’s Santa Anita Handicap, his only other try at 10 furlongs. He won’t offer any value but is hard to leave out of the mix.

#10 VINO ROSSO (4-1) and #11 CODE OF HONOR (4-1) are tough to split after they hit the wire together in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 28. VINO ROSSO won by a nose but was placed second via a controversial DQ. ‘ROSSO’s lone advantage over ‘HONOR would be his 1-for-1 career record at Santa Anita after his Gold Cup victory back in May. ‘HONOR has never raced over this course. Irad Ortiz Jr. and John Velazquez have the respective calls.

The play: $8 win 5, $2 exacta key box 5/8,10,11 ($20)

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