How post position draw affected the Classic, Distaff, and other BC races
The post-position draw for the 2016 Breeders' Cup took place at Santa Anita on Monday afternoon. Here is how the luck of the draw may have impacted the championship races this weekend.
Breeders' Cup Classic
Races conducted over 1 1/4 miles at "The Great Race Place" have a long run into the first turn, so post positions in a 10-horse field are not as important as they are at some other configurations, but here is how the draw may impact some of the main contenders.
California Chrome - The even money favorite on odds maker Jon White's morning line has proven that he can win from any post and his connections probably would have preferred an outside draw, but he should be fine in the 4-hole. Jockey Victor Espinoza has been incredible at getting the 2014 Horse of the Year into the right spot in 2016 and he is likely to be able to do so once again.
Arrogate - The dominating winner of the Travers (G1) this summer was definitely one of the winners on Monday drawing the far outside. The son of Unbridled's Song has had gate issues in a few of his starts. The 10-post should allow him to get away from the starting gate and get into a prominent position under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith who was pleased after the draw stating, "He'll be forwardly placed and he won't have horses next to him on both sides. Sometimes, you can get bumped coming out of there."
Frosted - The Godolphin Racing colt drew the 2-hole, which will allow him to save ground throughout. The four-year-old son of Tapit is just one-for-five at the 10-furlong distance, but should get a good trip from the inside. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "We're happy...There weren't any bad posts."
Effinex - The runner-up in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic probably got the worst of the post-position draw since he likes to stalk the early pacesetters. However, his affinity for the distance and the long run into the first turn will likely allow Southern California-based rider Flavien Prat to find a good spot before they enter the first turn.
Breeders' Cup Distaff
Races over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita do not have as long of a run into the first turn as the 10-furlong events do, but there still is time for riders to sort things out.
Songbird - The undefeated three-year-old filly faces her toughest test to date on Friday afternoon and drew the rail for her first try against older females. For most fillies this could be seen as problematic, but the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has won from the rail three times and has broken alertly in every start of 2016. However, if for some reason she misses the break, the 1-post could severely hinder her chances of making it a perfect 12-for-12 to start her racing career.
Beholder - Perhaps the champion six-year-old mare was the biggest winner of the post-position draw on Monday. After breaking inside of her rival Stellar Wind in both the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) and the Zenyatta (G1), the daughter of Henny Hughes drew the 8-hole for the Distaff. She has been on the lead in both of her recent starts against females, but is at her best when she is able to stalk outside the pacesetters early and she should be able to do just that on Friday in the final start of her brilliant career.
Stellar Wind - The 2015 three-year-old champion filly has had perfect trips outside of Beholder in both of her recent Grade 1 scores, but draws between her two main rivals for the Distaff. The draw is certainly not a "backbreaker" by any means for the Hronis Racing runner, but she will likely have to win in a slightly different fashion than she has in her last two. It will be interesting to see where Victor Espinoza decides to settle with Songbird to his inside and Beholder to his outside.
In other Breeders' Cup races
There were plenty of other Breeders' Cup entrants that were affected by their post-position draw, but here are a few that may be have been impacted most in the remaining championship events.
Oscar Performance - The 4-1-morning line favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf heads west after two straight victories going long on the lawn in New York. He has had things his way on the front end in both of those tries, but the 13-post and not being the fastest early could put him in a tough spot early. If jockey Jose Ortiz can avoid being caught wide into the first turn, which comes pretty quickly at Santa Anita he should be fine, but if he loses too much ground early it could cost him dearly late.
Dortmund - The 6-5-morning line favorite drew the 3-hole for the Dirt Mile on Friday. He certainly could be good enough to overcome the draw, but he does find himself inside the likely pacesetter Runhappy, as well as prominently-placed Accelerate. This could either result in a speed duel or Dortmund being caught inside in a compromising position throughout. He was better off drawing to the outside with his massive size and tactical speed.
La Coronel - The Colonel John filly has shown some serious talent since moving to the turf for trainer Mark Casse. However, the 14-post in Friday's Juvenile Fillies Turf was far from ideal. She will likely lose valuable ground early and need to be much the best to beat this stacked group of young ladies.
Masochistic - The speedy six-year-old sprinter drew perfectly for the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint on Saturday. I still think the 2-1-morning line favorite has to prove he can beat a field of this caliber, but the draw gives jockey Mike Smith options after the break. He likely will try to clear, but if he does not he potentially can stalk and win from the 7-post. He would have been a toss for me if he drew inside, but I think he must at least be respected from his outside post.
Pure Sensation - The Zensational gelding is ultra sharp right now for trainer Christophe Clement, but drew terribly for Saturday's Turf Sprint. The inside post down the hill with a full field is nearly a death sentence unless you have the speed to clear the competition. He is quick so that is not impossible, but in a field of this caliber it is unlikely. Thus far at the Santa Anita autumn meeting the 1-post is one-for21 on the hillside turf course.
The post-positions often determine the race shape and can make the difference in winning and losing, but in most cases great horses can overcome a poor draw. It remains to be seen how Monday's events will affect this weekend's results.