Breeders' Cup: Will Bob Baffert's Legend Grow on Nov. 4?

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D.S. Williamson

September 25th, 2017

Trainer Bob Baffert appears to be getting better with age. Baffert won the Triple Crown in 2015 with the brilliant American Pharoah. He broke a then 37-year Triple Crown drought. Baffert unleashed the best horse in the world in 2016 when Arrogate won the Travers Stakes and the BC Classic.

What's amazing is that Baffert can add to his legend come this Nov. 4. Bob Baffert, formerly known as Mr. Kentucky Derby, has won 3 straight Breeders' Cup Classics going back to 2014. Bob has 2 of the biggest favorites in this year's Classic in last year champ Arrogate and this year's Pacific Classic winner Collected.

If Baffert were to win a fourth straight Breeders' Cup Classic, nobody could challenge the fact that Bob's the greatest thoroughbred trainer to ever live.

2014 Breeders' Cup Classic - Bayern

I've watched Bayern knock Shared Belief silly many times since 2014. Every time, I've felt that Bayern should have been disqualified until this last time. Sure, Bayern knocked the BC Classic race favorite off stride right after the gates opened. But, Shared Belief remained in a decent position. At the first turn, Shared Belief was in 6th place. Not only that, he didn't have to go wide around the first turn. That was a choice made by his jockey.

Now I believe Bayern's crazy sideways move into Shared Belief right after the gates opened didn't constitute a disqualification. Bayern held off California Chrome. Let's give Baffert credit for the training job he did with an equine that shouldn't have gone any further than a mile.

2015 Breeders' Cup  Classic - American Pharoah

What can I write about American Pharoah's win in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic? Pure poetry in motion. One thing I will add is that bettors had already forgotten Pharoah's clunker in the Travers Stakes. AP went off at .70 cents on the dollar to beat Keen Ice in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic.

2016 Breeders'  Cup Classic - Arrogate

California Chrome was the favorite. One of the most popular horses to ever run in California, Chrome gave it his all. He just wasn't good enough to hold off the best race horse in the world. Arrogate didn't even win a graded race until upsetting the 2016 Travers Stakes field at 11 to 1. I thought he was a lock to beat Chrome in the BC Classic because Chrome had peaked in the Pacific Classic.

Man, this race was tight! I won't pretend I wasn't nervous watching it live at Santa Anita.

2017 Breeders' Cup Classic - Arrogate, Collected, or West Coast

Collected and Arrogate

Both Collected and Arrogate should offer decent odds to win the 2017 BC Classic. Arrogate has now lost 2 in a row while Collected appears to be a straight front runner. My thinking is that most horseplayers, especially those on the East Coast, pound Gun Runner at the windows.

No horseplayer should look past Arrogate or Collected. Collected ran the half-mile in :47 flat. He ran the three-quarters in 1:11. That's decently fast. The question is what horses in the Classic are going against Collected early? If no horse does, a gate-to-wire win is a possibility.

West Coast

Maybe, Bob's best chance at winning a fourth straight Breeders' Cup Classic rests with three-year-old West Coast. In the past, the trainer formerly known as Mr. Kentucky Derby worked tirelessly to get his three-year-olds onto the Triple Crown Trail.

But last year, Bob tried a different tactic with Arrogate. It worked brilliantly. That tactic, bringing three-year-olds around slowly, has worked again in 2017. West Coast is the best three-year-old in the nation. He just romped in the Pennsylvania Derby.

West Coast could get better in the BC Classic. He won the Travers and P.A. Derby so easily that there's no doubt we haven't seen his best. At this point, Baffert's got an incredibly strong hand to win a fourth straight BC Classic.

The horse I'm leaning towards doing that for Bob is West Coast.