Can We Bet on Triple Crown Race Runners to Factor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic?
By Alastair Bull, courtesy Brisnet
With Bob Baffert producing his second non-Triple Crown horse to win the Travers Stakes in two years, honors among the 3-year-old males continue to be up for grabs.
West Coast’s victory, while not as dominant as Arrogate’s a year beforehand, is possibly enough at this point to move him to the top of the 3-year-old male rankings, given that it was his fourth consecutive victory.
But there’s still a chance for the Triple Crown contenders to get themselves back into the picture. Though further questions have been raised about Classic Empire’s prospects for the rest of the season now he has been ruled out of the Pennsylvania Derby, it’s still possible that horses like Tapwrit, Irap, Battle of Midway, and Gunnevera could have their day in the sun. It’s been that kind of year.
Whether West Coast gets his chance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as Arrogate did, is yet to be seen. For starters, there’s at least two other top chances for the race in the Baffert stable: Collected, winner of the Pacific Classic, and the aforementioned Arrogate, whose improved run for second in the Pacific Classic suggests he can’t be ruled out yet.
Baffert also has two other potential contenders: Cupid, winner of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and Mor Spirit, the Metropolitan Handicap winner. The fact that five separate sets of owners race these five chances improves the odds that they will contest the Classic.
Collected and Mor Spirit both contested Triple Crown races last year, while Cupid was solidly on the 2016 Derby path following his Rebel Stakes victory but didn’t race after a poor Arkansas Derby effort.
The horse who poses the biggest threat to the Baffert army – a 2016 Triple Crown runner – puts his credentials forward September 2.
Since his creditable second-place finish to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup, nothing has gotten close to beating last year’s Derby third-place finisher Gun Runner. He returned in style in the Stephen Foster Handicap, and then destroyed the Whitney Handicap field.
Gun Runner returns to action in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, and it would be a major surprise to see any of his four opponents defeating him.
Very few of the Derby runners are racing this weekend, though Sunland and Iowa Derby winner Hence returns to contest the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx on Labor Day.