Four Weeks Out: Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Top 10 Rankings

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October 9th, 2018

With the vast majority of the Breeders’ Cup prep races having been completed, now is the perfect time to start mulling over the top contenders for each race and shaping our early opinions of who might win and who might be vulnerable to defeat.

Over the last several months, I’ve been posting lists of my top ten contenders for various Breeders’ Cup races, so to give you a snapshot of how I’m viewing the big events, I’ve gathered the links to my top ten rankings here in one place, along with any pertinent updates to my thoughts that may have come about since the lists were first published.

Let’s dig in!

Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)

Compared to recent years, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is shaping up to be a wide-open event with plenty of candidates for victory. The four-time Grade 1 winner Accelerate has enjoyed a strong season and is the obvious favorite, but could he be vulnerable while shipping away from his home state at the end of a busy season? I’ve actually got the late-running Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner Yoshida ranked on top, and you can view my full rankings here.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I)

The shocking defeat of Abel Tasman in the Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) has really shaken up this division, and the three-year-old sensation Monomoy Girl has emerged as the probable favorite after crossing the wire first in five straight Grade 1 races this year. I’ve got her ranked on top, but the recent Spinster Stakes (gr. I) victory by my third-ranked Blue Prize does have me rethinking my latest rankings as the race draws closer.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I)

There’s no doubt about my #1-ranked choice for the Juvenile, as I’ve been very impressed by Bob Baffert’s unbeaten Game Winner, who has fired off back-to-back wins in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I). But where do the other top contenders fit in? Check out my full list to find out.

Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)

Despite suffering a defeat over a soft turf course in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. I), I still view Robert Bruce as the top North American contender for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, though I’ve gained a lot of respect for the Joe Hirsch winner Channel Maker since my latest rankings were posted. Of course, once it becomes clear which European runners will travel for the race, my viewpoints could change considerably.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I)

A lot has happened since I last updated my Breeders’ Cup Sprint rankings, but even if given the chance to revise them, I wouldn’t change much. I still view the three-year-old Promises Fulfilled as a primary win candidate following his victory over older horses in the Phoenix Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, and with Roy H and Imperial Hint winning their most recent starts against Grade 1 company in decisive fashion, my top three (and arguably my top five) remain the same.

How do you rank the top contenders in these Breeders' Cup races?