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Breeders’ Cup: It comes down to Bob Baffert and Mike Smith in the Classic

Here is a look at the 35th Breeders' Cup … and predicted finishes.

McKinzie and jockey Mike Smith won the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, in January.
McKinzie and jockey Mike Smith won the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, in January.Read moreBENOIT PHOTO

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It is 14 races over two days with $28 million in purses and millions more bet on the two greatest wagering days in horse racing. It is the 35th Breeders' Cup, ninth at Churchill Downs, and for the first time, all the races for 2-year-olds are being run Friday. Here is a look:


Juvenile Turf Sprint

1. Bulletin 2. Chelsea Cloisters 3. Soldier's Call

BULLETIN was a powerful winner in his only race. CHELSEA CLOISTERS was clearly better than stablemate Shang Shang Shang in a recent workout.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

1. Newspaperofrecord 2. Summering 3. East

North American fillies have won eight of 10 BC races. NEWSPAPEROFRECORD has shown incredible acceleration in each of her races and her trainer, Chad Brown,  owns this race. SUMMERING was never comfortable on the rail in her last race.

Juvenile Fillies

1. Jaywalk 2. Cassies Dreamer. 3. Bellafina

So why have all the Parx horses been running so well this fall? The surface has been deep and tiring all year, which has gotten the horses that train over it incredibly fit. I love JAYWALK in this spot. When trainer John Servis goes to Kentucky, he doesn't miss. BELLAFINA is a deserving favorite, but I think she is beatable.

Juvenile Turf

1. Anthony Van Dyck 2. Forty Under 3. Henley's Joy

Unlike the fillies race, European horses, especially those from Aidan O'Brien's barn, dominate here. Euros have won 8 of 10. ANTHONY VAN DYCK has a terrible post (14)  but the right trainer (O'Brien).


1. Code of Honor 2. Game Winner 3. Complexity

The top three are very serious. Any of them could return to Churchill in six months to win the Kentucky Derby. If the pace is as hot and contested as I anticipate, CODE OF HONOR, who ran a brilliant race after a brutal start in the Champagne, could be the main beneficiary. Game Winner and Complexity, from the Bob Baffert and Chad Brown barns, respectively, are 5-for-5 combined, none close at the wire.


Filly and Mare Sprint

1. Marley's Freedom. 2. Finley'sluckycharm. 3. Selcourt

MARLEY'S FREEDOM, who has won four straight, ran right through the inside track bias on Travers Day. FINLEY'SLUCKYCHARM is 6-for7 lifetime at Churchill. SELCOURT has the talent but has not raced since March.

Turf Sprint

1. Chanteline 2. Rainbow Heir. 3. Disco Partner

This is the most wide-open race on the card. CHANTELINE, after an uncomfortable trip, exploded late to win at Keeneland.

Dirt Mile

1. City of Light 2. Catalina Cruiser. 3. Firenze Fire

This looks like a short-priced Southern California exacta box of CITY OF LIGHT and CATALINA CRUISE. But Firenze Fire loves this distance.

Filly and Mare Turf

1. Sistercharlie 2. Magic Wand. 3. Fourstarcrook

So is it one of five from trainer Chad Brown and one of two from Aidan O'Brien's barn? I shall go with Brown and SISTERCHARLIE.


1. Imperial Hint. 2, Limousine Liberal. 3. Roy H

I loved IMPERIAL HINT in this race last year, but he was beaten by a terrific horse in ROY H.  I don't think they are beating IMPERIAL HINT this time. LIMOUSINE LIBERAL has the right closing style to get into the exacta,


1. Oscar Performance. 2. Polydream. 3. Happily

POLYDREAM, from the same barn that gave us the legendary Miesque three decades ago. looked as if she was ready to explode on the track Wednesday morning. OSCAR PERFORMANCE should control this race from the front, but the soft course is a major concern for a horse that likes it firm. HAPPILY has run in nine consecutive Group I stakes against some of the best in England and Ireland.


1. Monomoy Girl.  2. Abel Tasman. 3. Midnight Bisou

It's this year's 3-year-old filly champ, MONOMOY GIRL, against last year's, ABEL TASMAN. The slighest edge goes to MONOMOY GIRL because her speed should give her a better trip.


1. Enable 2. Waldgeist.  3. Magical

ENABLE is the best horse on the card. Her season started way late because of an injury, yet she was able to win the Arc de Triomphe, Europe's most important race, for the second straight year. She had just one prep race, so she was at less than her best. She should be at her best now, and her best, which includes six consecutive Group I wins, is better than any grass horse in the world.  The Americans are overmatched.


1. McKinzie 2. Mind Your Biscuits. 3. Mendelssohn

This is one of the most difficult Classics I can remember. In the end, it came down to Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, the team that won the Pennsylvania Derby with McKinzie and wins so many of the biggest races together. Baffert has won three of the last four Classics with 3-year-olds. I could make a case for a half-dozen horses. I have never been a MENDELSSOHN fan, but he was a heroic third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup after tracking a blistering pace.