Mongolian Groom, Code of Honor further muddle Breeders' Cup Classic picture

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September 30th, 2019

Mongolian Stable’s Mongolian Groom took a short edge early on and led at every call in posting a 25-1 upset in the $300,351 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday. The four-year-old gelding was 2 1/4-lengths best in the “Win and You’re In” event, but he is no sure thing to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 2 since he is not nominated to the Championships.

McKinzie, the 3-10 favorite, finished a creditable second and was more than five lengths clear of his nearest foe, Pacific Classic (G1) victor Higher Power.

At Belmont Park on Saturday, William S. Farish’s homebred Code of Honor was elevated to first in the $724,250 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) for conditioner Shug McGaughey. The leading three-year-old colt finished off 1 1/4 miles over Big Sandy in 2:00.30 under the guidance of John Velazquez in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) “Win and You’re In” contest.

Vino Rosso, who was a nose clear on the wire, was placed second and Tacitus was four lengths behind the top duo in third.

The connections of Code of Honor have indicated that a trip to the Golden State for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is not likely for the colt, however. As McGaughey said about his colt, “I'll possibly give him some time and try and bring him back in the spring. Maybe the Carter H. (G1) at Aqueduct and the Westchester (G3) here.”

Which means that both of the weekend’s impressive winners could bypass the Classic (G1), adding to the growing uncertainty of this division.

Here is my updated top six for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) division:

  1. McKinzie -- Top dog had a great prep in advance of the big one for Baffert
  2. Mongolian Groom -- Sturdy gelding is no fluke and looms large if supplemented
  3. Elate -- Standout mare would be a prime contender against the boys at 1 1/4 miles
  4. Yoshida -- 2018 fourth likely to train up to the Classic for Mott
  5. Code of Honor -- Likely Eclipse Award winner has been on a roll of late
  6. Vino Rosso --  Curlin colt took Gold Cup (G1) going 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita in the spring