Kentucky-breds will play a pivotal role in determining Saturday’s $6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland, as nine of the 10 entrants in the signature event of the championship weekend hail from Kentucky.
Led by the likes of Improbable, Maximum Security, Tom’s d’Etat and Authentic, Kentucky-breds are seeking to win the prestigious Classic for a seventh consecutive year following Vino Rosso’s victory a year ago.
Morning-line 5-2 favorite Improbable enters the Classic in the best form of his career. The 4-year-old son of City Zip—Rare Event, by A.P. Indy has rattled off three consecutive Grade 1 victories—winning the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), Whitney S. (G1), and the Awesome Again S. (G1) for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing and trainer Bob Baffert. Bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm and G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Improbable has won half of his 14 starts and has amassed earnings of more than $1.7 million.
Maximum Security earned his way into the Classic with a determined three-length score in Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (G1) in August. Racing for Gary and Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, and trained by Baffert, Maximum Security totes the largest bankroll into the Classic, having earned $12,251,900 while winning 10 of 13 starts. Bred by Gary and Mary West Stables, Maximum Security is a 4-year-old son of New Year’s Day out of the Anasheed mare Lil Indy.
Kentucky Derby (G1) victor Authentic rounds out Baffert’s trio in the Classic. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief, owned by Spendthrift Farm, My RaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing, is a winner in five of seven lifetime starts and will be facing elders for the first time in his career. Authentic has enjoyed a sensational season. In addition to his impressive win in the Derby, Authentic has won the Haskell Invitational S. (G1), the San Felipe S. (G2), and the Sham S. (G3). The Keeneland September sale graduate most recently finished second to Kentucky-bred Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness S. (G1). Peter Blum Thoroughbreds bred the bay colt out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless.
“Max is a horse that is hard to get a line on,” Baffert told the Breeders’ Cup Notes Team on Friday. “Silver Charm was that way. When he trains you watch him and he does what he has to do, but in the afternoon when he comes out of the gate, he’s a stud. He has the heart of a champion and he’s a different horse. We know that Improbable, he just looks beautiful out there. Authentic is full of himself. He’s like spring-loaded and he really looks great. All three of them look really well.”
Tom’s d’Etat, third behind Improbable after stumbling at the start in the Whitney S. in his most previous start, looks to avenge that defeat in the Classic. A winner of four straight stakes dating back to 2019 prior to the Whitney, Tom’s d’Etat won the Stephen Foster S. (G2) at Churchill Downs in June by a widening 4 ¼ lengths geared down late and also annexed the 2019 Clark S. (G1) last November during that stretch. The 7-year-old son of Smart Strike out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Julia Tuttle is campaigned by G M B Racing and was bred in Kentucky by S F Bloodstock. Al Stall conditions the 11-time winner.
“I don’t think anyone has gone into the Classic and said it’s a soft field,” said Al Stall on Friday. “There have been lots of superlatives talking about these horses and I agree. The X-factor would be the 3-year-olds where because of the way the Triple Crown laid out this year, they’ve had a nice progression into the race. That’s a little different than in years past. That’s what got my attention. They all seem like they’re in good form. I think eight out of 10 could win the race. It’s very wide open.”
Rounding out the Kentucky-bred contingent in the Classic are Tacitus, a homebred for Juddmonte Farms; By My Standards, owned by Allied Racing Stable and bred by Don Ladd; Title Ready, a homebred for Charles Fipke; Higher Power, owned by Hronis Racing and bred by Pin Oak Stud; and Global Campaign, owned by WinStar Farm and Sagamore Farm and bred by WinStar Farm. Post time for the Classic is 5:18 p.m. ET.