This year’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic could be renamed the Bob Baffert Invitational. He trains three of the 10 entries, and guess what? They drew post positions 8, 9 and 10 for Saturday’s 1¼-mile feature at Keeneland. “That was crazy,” he said, “but they’ll be easy to watch.” Baffert won the Classic three years in a row with Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016), and he has finished second four times, including last year with McKinzie. This year he has the first and third shortest-priced horses on the morning line, and all his “other” horse did was win the Kentucky Derby over the same distance as this race.
MAIN CONTENDERS: Baffert’s trio starts with IMPROBABLE in post 8, winner of his last three starts and the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. AUTHENTIC in post 9 won the Derby, was second in the Preakness and carries an attractive price at 6-1. MAXIMUM SECURITY (7-2) drew outside in post 10 and has won the Pacific Classic since coming to the Baffert barn nearly eight months ago. A freshened TIZ THE LAW (3-1) comes back from his second-place finish in the Derby with trainer Barclay Tagg saying he looks as good as he did in August, when he showed career-best form winning the Travers. At age 7, TOM’S D’ETAT (6-1) comes off a troubled run in the Whitney, where he was left at the starting gate and forced to close on a slow pace yet still finished third.
VALUE PLAYS: BY MY STANDARDS (10-1) has four wins and two seconds in his six starts this year, winning his last time out two months ago in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs. TACITUS (20-1) has been a source of frustration for his backers, losing five of the last six times he was favored, including odds-on losses in his last two starts. That will not be a factor this time. GLOBAL CAMPAIGN (20-1) also won his last two, including the 1¼-mile Woodward at Saratoga, but with jockey Luis Sáez moving to Maximum Security, Javier Castellano gets the ride. HIGHER POWER (20-1) was third in this race last year at Santa Anita, but he has not won since the 2019 Pacific Classic. Deep closer TITLE READY (30-1) has never won a graded stakes, but he has trainer Dallas Stewart, who has a reputation for hitting the board with long shots in big races.
BETTING STRATEGY: In this race I always tend to bet older horses. Therefore I’m going with 4-year-old Maximum Security, predicting a big bounce-back after losing his last start in the Grade 1 Awesome Again. He has been training beautifully for Baffert with three bullet works in southern California. Sáez will stalk the pace closer than he did in his last outing, and that will be easy with frontrunning Authentic alongside.
- $40 Win/Place: MAXIMUM SECURITY ($80)
- $2 Exacta: MAXIMUM SECURITY with ALL ($18)
- $2 Win: TACITUS ($2)
TOP 4 PICKS
- MAXIMUM SECURITY
- TOM'S D'ETAT
- TIZ THE LAW