Tipsheet: Breeders' Cup Classic 2021

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

November 3rd, 2021

An outstanding field of nine will travel 1 1/4 miles at Del Mar in Saturday's $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The lucrative event caps a sensational two days of racing, and an accomplished and well-matched cast has been assembled for the grand prize.

Breeders’ Cup Classic picks

  • #4 Essential Quality
  • #1 Tripoli
  • #3 Hot Rod Charlie
  • #5 Knicks Go
  • #9 Max Player

Breeders’ Cup Classic wagers

  • $60 win on #4 Essential Quality
  • $5 Exacta key box: 4 with 1,3,5,9 ($40)
  • $1 Superfecta: 4 with 1,3,5,9 with 1,3,5,9 with ALL ($72)
    Total: $172


Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders

#1 TRIPOLI (15-1) gets a cozy rail draw and has lots of additional reasons for appeal in the big one. John Sadler trainee has morphed into a new animal since transferring to the dirt, and his Pacific Classic (G1) triumph on this surface proves he will have a home-court advantage over many of his Breeders' Cup foes. The Kitten’s Joy chestnut is entering the Classic in the best form of his career. Irad Ortiz riding is another positive.

#2 EXPRESS TRAIN (20-1) is 3-for-5 on the surface led by a score in the San Diego H. (G2) three starts back for trainer John Shirreffs. But the four-year-old son of Union Rags went unplaced in the Pacific Classic (G1) as the favorite here two prior, and he will need a major step forward to upset this deep field on Saturday. Victor Espinoza has the call.

#3 HOT ROD CHARLIE (4-1) got his much-deserved Grade 1 victory when dominating the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) last time out for trainer Doug O’Neill. The Oxbow colt has upped his game to the top level this campaign, and if he moves forward off his latest, then the sophomore will have a winning chance inside the final furlong of the Classic. Flavien Prat retains the mount.

#4 ESSENTIAL QUALITY (3-1) can cement his status as one of the top horses of the last two decades with a victory in what will likely be his career finale. The brilliant son of Tapit has won eight of his nine lifetime starts to date, and his game Travers S. (G1) tally last time out may have been his best effort yet. Versatile gray can adapt to any pace scenario, and I envision the Brad Cox pupil tracking from midpack early before putting in his winning run under Luis Saez.

#5 KNICKS GO (5-2) has blazed his way to victory by a combined 18 3/4 lengths in a trio of consecutive races for trainer Brad Cox. Five-year-old son of Paynter rolled home a facile winner of the 2020 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland, and the multiple Grade 1 hero will be the one to catch and beat while making his Del Mar debut under Joel Rosario.

#6 ART COLLECTOR (8-1) is peaking and rides in on a three-race win streak for trainer Bill Mott. Recent Woodward S. (G1) star combines speed with a fine turn of foot, as he has earned substantial Brisnet Late Pace rating in three straight starts. Bernardini colt will be forwardly placed from just outside of the expected pacesetter. Mike Smith inherits the mount.

#7 STILLETO BOY (30-1) rates as something of an outsider in the cast for trainer Ed Moger. The gelded sophomore has earned a pair of solid stakes placings in succession since removing blinkers, but the Kentucky-bred will need a career-best performance to hit the board in this spot. Kent Desormeaux will be in the irons once again.

#8 MEDINA SPIRIT (4-1) showed his class with a wire-to-wire romp in the Awesome Again S. (G1) at Santa Anita in his latest endeavor. Bob Baffert charge, who crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby (G1) back in May, was a winner in his lone prior try at Del Mar and has trained well in advance of his toughest assignment to date. He will be forcing the tempo early on under John Velazquez.

#9 MAX PLAYER (8-1) comes off of a sensational Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G1) romp for trainer Steve Asmussen. The surging Honor Code colt has never been better, but he might need additional improvement to take down a deep and fantastic field in the Classic. The dark bay will likely run from off the pace on Saturday.