My Breeders' Cup Classic Picks

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D.S. Williamson

October 31st, 2018

This is easily the deepest, hardest to handicap, Breeders' Cup Classic I can remember. It's hard to pick the winner of the Classic, but, usually, I've got an idea of how the race might run. In 2014, I thought Shared Belief might follow Bayern around the racetrack. Bayern prevented Shared Belief from doing that, but the handicapping was solid.

Last year, I knew Gun Runner was the best horse in the race. I couldn't get myself to back him, though, not in the Classic. So, I didn't and lost money. But, this year, I don't have much clue. I'm not even sure who might press Mendelssohn. That's why, instead of looking to handicap on speed or what jockeys might or might not do once the gates open, I'm class handicapping.

Going For It With Roaring Lion

1. Roaring Lion 20/1

Yes, I know. He's not really bred to run on turf. I get it. Kitten's Joy hasn't produced a runner that's come close to this level on dirt. But, all mammals have two parents, not just one, which is why Roaring Lion's got some sneaky good dirt pedigree that could propel him to the BC Classic winner's circle.

His broodmare, Vionnett, claims Street Sense as her sire. In 2007, Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby. The way Roaring Lion runs should remind you of Street Sense. Like his grand sire on his mom's side, Roaring Lion reaches out to the wire. No doubt, he's the classiest horse in this field, heading into the Classic off 4 straight Group 1 wins.

Trainer John Gosden's one of the best in the world while Qatar Racing Ltd. wouldn't have entered him if they didn't feel he had a big shot to win. I also love how he's gotten into pit fights with both I Can Fly and Saxon Warrior this year and necked out both those rivals.

Roaring Lion's my pick to win the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic.

2. McKinzie 6/1

While Street Sense is Roaring Lion's grand sire on his broodmare's side, Street Sense sired McKinzie. Of Bob Baffert's two starters, I prefer McKinzie over West Coast. West Coast appears one-paced and I'm not sure if he improves off the second place finish in the Awesome Again Stakes.

I know McKinzie will improve. He should run better than he did in the Pennsylvania Derby while distance won't be an issue. Baffert said before the year started that McKinzie might be as talented as Justify. He got derailed from the Triple Crown Trail due to an injury, but McKinzie could prove Bob right with a Breeders' Cup Classic win.

3. Thunder Snow

Thunder Snow returns to the site of one of his worst races ever on Saturday. As a 3-year-old, he failed to get out the gate properly and just stumbled around at the back of the Kentucky Derby pack. He should make some amends on Nov. 3.

I really like how Godolphin and trainer Saeed Bin Suroor put a race stateside into Thunder Snow before the Classic. He had the Jockey Club Gold Cup won but the pace was so swift early that no horse was going to stop Belmont track loving Discreet Lover from providing a winning closing kick.

Thunder Snow can put himself right next to Roaring Lion about 3 to 4 lengths off the speed. I see a situation where both Euro invaders finish 1-2 in the Classic. That could definitely happen if McKinzie must work too hard to grab the lead at the top of the stretch.

4. Yoshida

The straight closer brushed aside soft fractions to win the Grade 1 Woodward in his first try on dirt. He no doubt should get a better setup on Saturday. He's got some nice dirt breeding from grand sire Sunday Silence through his sire Heart's Cry and Bill Mott trained the best turf to dirt horse in history when he put Cigar onto dirt after that one ran his entire career on turf. Yoshida could surprise ala Drosselmeyer in the 2011 Breeders'  Cup Classic.

Another horse I'm using in my exotics is Mind Your Biscuits. The classy son of Posse looked great skipping over Curchill's dirt to win the Grade 3 Lukas Classic Stakes. He'll put in a strong run like he always does. I'm putting him on all my exotic tickets, including my Late Pick 4, and might also put him on top of Roaring Lion in a small exacta.