(Tiz the Law / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s trio of Breeders’ Cup Classic runners arrived Tuesday and made their first visits to the Keeneland track Wednesday for a 1m gallop. Exercise rider Humberto Gomez was up on morning line favorite Improbable and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. Erick Garcia rode Maximum Security.
“Everyone did the same thing. It’s the first day,” Baffert’s longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “We’re just letting them get the nerves out, see where they’re at and see how they handled the ship. Everybody did good.”
Baffert said he was enthusiastic about all six of the horses he brought from California for the Breeders’ Cup. Princess Noor is the morning line favorite in the Juvenile Fillies, Gamine is the morning line favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint and the impressive 2yo maiden winner Classify is headed to the Juvenile.
“The Classic horses are three pretty powerful horses,” he said. “We’ve got a Derby winner, a 3-year-old champion and Improbable has won his last [three] races in great fashion. I’ve never been this strong before in the Classic. Usually, I’d be happy to have just one of those in the Classic. To have three is pretty amazing.”
All three of Baffert’s Classic horses have multiple Grade 1 wins, and each of them has a distinct running style.
“Authentic, we know he’s quick, he’s fast,” Baffert said. “Max is fast, but you can put him where you want. And Improbable has speed himself, but he can sit, he can stalk. What they all have in common is they are extremely talented horses. You hate to run all three of them together like that, but for the Breeders’ Cup Classic everything is on the line. Championship honors are on the line with horses like Tiz the Law in there. I’ve been watching Tiz the Law and he looks great. It’s going to be a great race with those four horses in there.”
By My Standards – Six-time winner By My Standards continued his preparation for the Longines Classic with a routine gallop of Louisville’s Churchill Downs’ main track early Wednesday morning before shipping the hour-plus trip to Lexington and bedding down at Keeneland Racecourse.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, the son of dual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents is owned by Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable, which has infused top-quality stock into Calhoun’s barn over the past few years, including multiple graded stakes-winning Dirt Mile contender Mr. Money and Kentucky Derby-placed Mr. Big News. The operation has struck at an eye-catching 25% in 2020 and has a 19% win rate from 810 career races.
“Chester has put some very good horses in my barn to begin with and I’m very thankful for that,” Calhoun said. “It would mean a lot to win the Classic for him. The key has been he’s willing to let us do what we need to do to be successful. We run when we need to run and rest when we need to rest. He allows us to campaign them like we need to in order to keep them at the top level. Guys like him you want to see rewarded. He’s also a guy who continues to reinvest in the business, so whatever happens, he’s going to put it back into the game.”
A native of Madisonville, Kentucky, Thomas is a coal and energy entrepreneur whose earnings in 2020 have been fueled by stable star By My Standards, whom he purchased at OBS April 2018 for $150,000. Earning $1.1 million thus far this season with a record of 12-6-4-1, the bay 4yo appears one of the most consistent in the Classic lineup.
Global Campaign – Sagamore Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Global Campaign galloped 1¼m at Churchill Downs early Wednesday morning before vanning to Keeneland for a scheduled start in Saturday’s Classic.
The Stanley Hough-trained 4yo son of Curlin, who has won six of nine starts during a career frequently interrupted by foot issues, enters the Classic off back-to-back graded-stakes victories in the Monmouth Cup and the Woodward at Saratoga.
Hunter Rankin, president of Sagamore Farm LLC, credits Hough and his staff for Global Campaign’s ability to overcome his chronic foot issues and make it into the Classic field.
“Global Campaign’s obviously special to us. The reason he got through those issues is because of our team, Stan and assistant trainer Laz [Cruz]. They’ve gotten him where he is today,” Rankin said. “He’s the best he’s been since I’ve been around him.”
Although Rankin will be at Keeneland Saturday, he was unable to be on hand for Global Campaign’s first Grade 1 success in the Woodward, but it was “one of the greatest days I can remember,” he said.
“Stan and I started doing this back in 2015, I think. Stan has been a mentor; he’s been like a second father to me. Just to be able to win a Grade 1 with him and for [Sagamore Farm’s] Kevin [Plank], it just was really, really special,” said Rankin, who watched the Woodward on TV with friends. “To do it at Saratoga in a race like the Woodward was special. I know it was different this year, but when you win a Grade I at Saratoga, it’s a big deal. I was crying. There are so many things in this game that are tough, so when you experience the heights of it, it makes all the tough stuff worthwhile.”
Rankin said Global Campaign is likely to begin his stallion career next year at WinStar Farm.
“This is a celebration for us. I don’t know what he will do. I think he’ll run very well, but he’s cemented himself for his next career. What he does Saturday, the way I look at it, is icing on the cake.”
Higher Power – Hronis Racing’s Higher Power visited the starting gate and galloped on the main track at 8 o’clock with assistant trainer Juan Leyva aboard for trainer John Sadler.
Saturday’s start in the Classic will be the second for Higher Power, who is scheduled to join the stallion roster at nearby Darby Dan Farm in February. He finished third last year behind Vino Rosso at Santa Anita.
“He didn’t break that well last year in the Classic,” Sadler said. “He needs to do that and get a good trip, something he hasn’t had a lot this year.”
Higher Power has chased Classic rivals Maximum Security and Improbable in his past three starts and Sadler knows his charge is going to have to step up Saturday.
“There is no question the field this year is deeper than last year,” Sadler said. “And, you don’t know how strong the 3-year-olds (Authentic and Tiz the Law) are.”
Tacitus – Juddmonte Farms’ homebred 4yo Tacitus continues to look well in the mornings for trainer Bill Mott. Looking to give Gainesway Farms’ marquee stallion Tapit his sixth Breeders’ Cup winner, Tacitus enters the Longines Classic off a third as the heavy favorite in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 10. Racing uncontested on the pace for the first time in his career, the imposing gray colt was overtaken late by Happy Saver and Mystic Guide, each of whom he was giving weight.
Jockey Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard the four-time winner in 11 of 14 runs, has the return call in the $6 million feature.
“He’s a big horse who pretty much has one pace,” Ortiz said. “He doesn’t have a quick turn of foot; he will accelerate for 100 yards and then keep that same pace. He can be tricky because he sometimes shies away from other horses when they come to him. He’s a little funny mentally, but he has a lot of talent. Fortunately, he has a great trainer in his corner and I think he is going to run a big race.
“I think he’ll sit mid-pack,” Ortiz continued. “The rail (post) is no problem. I could be forward, but he will likely sit mid-pack and try to make one run. There should be a fast pace this time and I think he will run his race. Tapits get better with age and racing, so hopefully he runs his best.”
On Wednesday morning, the three-time Grade 2 winner left Barn 60 and galloped 1m of the Keeneland main track.
“Everything went really good this morning,” reported assistant trainer Riley Mott. “We’re pleased.”
Title Ready – Charles Fipke’s Title Ready arrived at Keeneland after making the hour-long trip from his Churchill Downs base.
Tiz the Law – Belmont winner Tiz the Law had an active morning Wednesday under the direction of trainer Barclay Tagg. Sackatoga Stable’s New York-bred colt galloped 1 ½m with exercise rider Heather Smullen, visited the paddock for a schooling session and was able to spend time grazing outside his barn.
Tiz the Law showed himself to be a top-caliber horse as a 2yo in 2019 with his victory in the Champagne at Belmont Park. He suffered his first defeat, finishing third, in the Kentucky Jockey Club over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs. During this Covid-disjointed season, he won the Holy Bull then reeled off consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby, the Belmont and the Travers. His streak ended with a second-place finish to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby. He did not run in the Preakness Oct. 3 and has been prepared for the Classic.
“Obviously, it’s been a strange year,” said Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga’s operating manager. “We’ve had a great year. There is a little disappointment with the Derby, but everything before that was perfect. Hopefully, we can cap it off with a big race here.”
Regular rider Manny Franco will be aboard for the Classic and leave from post two.
Tom’s d’Etat – When Tom Benson decided to launch G M B Racing along with his wife, Gayle, in 2014, a strong-bodied bay colt from the last crop of Smart Strike was among the first group of yearlings purchased on behalf of the venture. His $330,000 price tag at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling sale suggested there was ample potential be waiting to be unearthed. Though it has taken more than a fistful of years to come to fruition, Tom’s d’Etat now stands poised to honor his namesake with one of racing’s most illustrious honors.
Though Tom Benson passed away in 2018, the acumen of the New Orleans businessman still resonates. Last November, Tom’s d’Etat gave the G M B Racing team its Grade 1 win when he took the Clark at Churchill Downs and on Saturday, the 7yo horse can give the operation its first Breeders’ Cup triumph when he starts in the $6 million Classic.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. – who hoisted the Classic hardware 10 years ago with eventual champion, Blame – Tom’s d’Etat first caught his conditioner’s eye when he ended up on his shortlist at the September Yearling auction six years ago. He didn’t debut until May 2016 and, because of a series of physical setbacks, didn’t make his first stakes appearance until December 2018. Since that breakout win in the Tenacious Stakes, however, Tom’s d’Etat has raced in graded stakes company in eight of his 10 subsequent starts finishing worse than third just twice during that span.
“We’ve known the Bensons for a long time, we knew Gayle before she was married to Mr. Benson, she lived across the street from my parents,” said Stall, a Louisiana native. “Mr. Benson used to be a horse owner who would come to the Derby off and on. It was a great idea of (G M B racing manager) Greg Bensel and Mr. Benson to say ‘let’s get back into it.’
“They picked the three New Orleans boys to train the horses — me, Dallas (Stewart), and Tom (Amoss) — and we got full autonomy to do whatever we want with the money and buy the type of horses we wanted — colts, fillies, sprinters, everything. Lightning struck quite a bit for them with (graded stakes winners) Mo Town and Tom’s Ready and Lone Sailor and now they’re finishing that first crop off with Tom’s d’Etat. Of course, we all wish Mr. Benson was here to enjoy it. He loved this kind of stuff.”
Tom’s d’Etat galloped at Churchill Downs early Wednesday morning before arriving at Keeneland shortly before 10 a.m. for his Classic venture. His neighbor in the next stall for the week is Dirt Mile contender Art Collector.