The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classis culminates this year’s edition of the Breeders’ Cup in horse racing on Saturday afternoon. This year’s event is even more jam-packed with talent than usual for a race that, year-in and year-out, features the very best horses in the world. We’re here to help you make your wagering selections with our 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic betting preview.
In the sport of horse racing, there are few events that quite capture the imagination of fans than the Breeders’ Cup. It’s a series of 14 races that pit the very best horses in the world against each other. And “the world” is an important phrase there, because the Breeders’ Cup is indeed an international event.
The idea of the Breeders’ Cup, which was first held back in 1984, was to produce a kind of yearend championship event for horse racing, along the lines of what fans were used to seeing in team sports like baseball or football. But the tricky part was to include all the different groupings of horses in those races: all ages, both genders, different distances and surfaces. Over the years, the number of races has risen and fallen, with the current total sitting at 14.
But One Thing That Hasn’t Changes Is the Closing Event:
The Breeders’ Cup Classic. Of all the races in the Cup, this one is the most prestigious. It’s also the richest, with a purse of $6 million on the line in this year’s race.
What makes the classic special is that it’s open to everybody. For much of the horse racing betting season, three-year-olds only face their own age, and likewise for older horses. By mixing the two into the picture in a single race, you get a truer picture of who the best performers truly are. For a look at the other races taken place at this weekend, check out the page linked below.
The Big Stars
In most years, the Classic is jam-packed with star power. But perhaps no year in recent memory as seem quite the confluence of talent in this race. Even some casual horse racing fans are likely to recognize some of the names involved.
First of all, there are the stellar three-year-olds Authentic and Tiz the Law. Tiz the Law looked like a possible Triple Crown contender after his dominant victory in the Belmont Stakes back in June. But Authentic had an answer for him when he captured the Kentucky Derby, so these two get the chance to have a little rematch.
Last year, Maximum Security made as much news as anyone in the horse racing world when he dominated in the Kentucky Derby, only to have his win taken away by disqualification. Now he’s here to try to prove once and for all what he can do against top-flight competition. And what about Improbable, who is the morning-line race favorite after three consecutive easy Grade 1 victories?
Overall, ten will go to the gate on Saturday, and every one of them is impressive. That won’t make the betting easy. But it should provide you with some betting value, no matter which direction you decide to go.
With that in mind, we’re here to help you out with this 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic betting preview. We’ll walk you through all ten candidates. And then we’ll tell you who we believe will win this all-important, lucrative race that essentially puts a bow on the racing season in America.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic Details
Where: Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, KY
When: Saturday, November 7, 2020, approximate post time 5:18 PM Eastern Time (Race #12 on program)
Who: Three-year-olds and up
How Long: 1 ¼ miles
Purse: $6 million
2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic Betting Odds and Information
Tiz the Law
By My Standards
Albert Stall Jr.
Irad Ortiz, Jr.
If nothing else, Tacitus has Mott in his corner, a two-time winner of this race with Drosselmeyer in 2011 and the legendary Cigar in 1995. There has always been a sense of unrealized promise with this one, who has been bet heavily throughout his career but doesn’t have a lot to show for it. He has won just 4 career races out of 14, with just two wins in seven races as a favorite.
Unfortunately, that trend has continued for him lately, as he’s been a beaten favorite in each of his last two races since winning the Grade 2 Suburban in July. On the one hand, he won’t be favored here, most likely looking at double-digit win odds for the first time in his career. Maybe the horse would prefer to be unheralded for a change.
Since winning the Wood Memorial last spring, it has been a series of just-OK performances for Tacitus, nothing great. Look for him to be stalking the pace and, ideally, coming on around the final turn. This might be his final shot at this kind of glory, so he better see if he can find it in himself to step up and be counted.
There is nothing to suggest he has it in him to raise his game to the level need to win a race like this. At best, Tacitus will be rounding out some superfecta tickets.
#2 Tiz the Law
For a good chunk of 2020, he was being anointed as the next super-horse, and it was clear to see why. Four wins in a row by sizable margins will do that for, including his romp in the Belmont Stakes. Then came the Derby, with Authentic making him look mortal, and we haven’t seen Tiz the Law since that day.
Now the question becomes how he responds to that unfortunate effort, with anything his less than his absolute best probably meaning an up-the-track finish in a race so stacked as this. The speed figures in the Derby posted by Tiz the Law were weaker than the consistently high ones that he posted in his winning streak. Does that mean it was a clunker you can write off, or is this something that is going to be a trend?
Tiz the Law would like to prove that he can win away from the East Coast, as both of his career losses, one as a 2-year-old and then the Derby, came in Kentucky.
But they didn’t come at Keeneland, which is where he’ll be racing on Saturday. Tagg and Franco have likely been in the workshop trying to figure out what went wrong a few months back and determined not to let it happen again.
Remember that Tiz the Law, like Authentic, has never faced a field anywhere near as stout as this. There is no post position working against Tiz the Law this time, however. But the memory of that last start should make you pause before going forward with him on your ticket.
#3 By My Standards
Just because a horse isn’t known to the casual fan, as horses in this field like Maximum Security, Tiz the Law and Authentic clearly are, it doesn’t mean that they should be written off. By My Standards fell off the wider radar after finishing way up the track in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. But his performances since then have been uniformly solid, if not quite up to the level of what you would expect from a Classic winner.
He has already won three Grade 2’s in 2020, yet his most respectable performance might have been his second behind Improbable in the Whitney. By contrast, the last victory for By My Standards came in a race without impressive speed ratings, although he did fight off a late challenge from Breeders’ Cup Mile entrant Owendale in that one. The connections are top-notch, so no problems there.
By My Standards is one of the horses in here that can qualify as a stalker, which means that getting the right positioning could be crucial. In addition, there is a worry that he can get carried along by a great race but not make the kind of moves that would win one. But consistency is important as well, and last year’s Derby was the only time he missed the board in his career.
In a race like this, every horse is going to look good in a vacuum. And By My Standards certainly fits with that narrative, a rugged stakes contender. But it seems like he might lack the oomph to beat some of the tougher ones in here, although a minor award isn’t out of the question.
#4 Tom’s D’etat
If you’re going to pull off a mild uspet in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it helps to have the kind of connections that have done it before. Joel Rosario won this race as a jockey just two years ago aboard Accelerate, while trainer Albert Stall Jr. can boast of his own Classic champion: Blame in 2010. And it’s not like they’re working with lousy material; Tom’s D’etat has some serious game.
He is the old man of the field, and for a while he was looking like he would be going into this race as the favorite. But he came up short in the Whitney back in August, a race won by Improbable that shifted the perspective of the older horses’ division. A closer look at the race notes shows that Tom’s D’etat made an early break that really set him back in a short field and he couldn’t recover from that.
Prior to that, he won his previous four races in a row, two late last year and then two more this spring. Included among those victories was an impressive score in the Grade 2 Fayette. And for an older horse, he really doesn’t have too much tread on the tires, as he’s been lightly raced in several of the years of his racing career.
The speed figures say that he is right in the same league with the others in here. And there is no indication that the disappointment in the Whitney, where he was a heavy favorite, was anything other than a product of the bad start. This is the best value horse in the race, by a pretty good stretch.
#5 Title Ready
Even in a race as impressive as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, you are going to have instances of horses punching above their weight (appropriate metaphor considering the horse’s name here.) Title Ready certainly fits into that category as he comes in with the longest odds on the morning line. Veteran trainer Dallas Stewart is gong to have to use all his wiles to find something in this horse that, on first glance, doesn’t seem to have enough, at least not when in comparison with the rest.
This will be the stallion’s third race with Stewart, who got him after a claim in July. That’s right, Title Ready is going for one of the biggest prizes in horse racing just a few months after being in claimer, which is reason enough to give pause.
Another reason is the lack of results, as he has never won a graded stakes and hasn’t won anything higher than an optional claimer in the last three years.
One thing that might help him a bit is that he prefers to come from off the pace, while not being what you would call a deep, deep closer. He could find himself in his own specific tier in the race, which would allow him to run freely and gather up whatever energy he might have. But the other possible scenario is that the speed up front leaves him way behind.
Lanerie is a talented jockey and Stewart is one of the best, even though he hasn’t won the Classic. Unfortunately, that is not going to change on Saturday. Title Ready is not on the same class as these and shouldn’t even be looked at by exotic players.
#6 Higher Power
Trainer John Sadler knows what it takes to saddle a Breeders’ Cup Classic champ, having done so just two years ago with Accelerate. In Higher Power, he faces much longer odds to climb that mountain once again. Sadler deserves credit for turning his career around last year to the point where he could be a stakes competitor, but can he ascend to this level?
The good news, especially if you’re an exotic bettor, is that Higher Power did finish 3rd in the 2019 Classic in a race won by Vino Rosso. But the bad news is that edition of the race wasn’t nearly as strong as this one appears to be. More bad news is that Higher Power appears to be in much lesser form right now than he was a year ago.
He has hit the board just one of his four races this season without a win. As a matter of fact, his last win came in the 2019 Pacific Classic, the upset that changed the trajectory of his career. In his last two races, he was well up the track from Maximum Security, one of the many superstars he has to face in this one.
Higher Power might be more of a Grade 3 type at this point in his career, which is why the odds are as long as they are. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the recent record that suggests a sudden turnaround. It’s likely he’ll finish much worse in this race in 2020 than he did a year ago.
#7 Global Campaign
16 years ago, Javier Castellano captured a Breeders’ Cup Classic win aboard the great Ghostzapper. He’ll be trying to make it happen again on Saturday with Global Campaign. This is an impeccably-bred four-year-old who is coming into the Classic off the biggest win in his career at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Woodward.
In that race, Global Campaign controlled matters on the front end with Luis Saez in the mount. Saez will be riding Maximum Security, but it’s unlikely Castellano will change the strategy. Global Campaign has definitely performed his best since he became more of a speed merchant.
Whether or not he can run that kind of race on Saturday and be a factor remains to be seen. It is almost certain that he won’t be able to get away with the kind of fractions he did in that last race. Another concern is that Global Campaign’s only other races in Kentucky was a disappointing 6th-place as a favorite back in May of this year.
He is a Grade 1 winner, but not all Grade 1’s are equal. The concern is that he won’t have the speed that the others in the race possess. Still, if you are insisting on going with one of the true long shots in the Classic field to win when betting at horse racing betting sites, Global Campaign should be your choice.
From here on out, we are in Bob Baffert territory, as he is trainer of the #8, #9 and #10 in this race. While he clearly didn’t get the luck of the post-position draw, Baffert has the kind of power to add to his record-setting three Breeders’ Cup Classic training wins. And Improbable is the morning-line favorite, to boot.
When last seen in Kentucky, he was a disappointing fourth-place finisher as the favorite in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The rest of his three-year-old season wasn’t much, but the light has come on since June. Improbable has captured three straight Grade 1s, beating five of the horses in this field during that stretch.
The most impressive of those victories was the last one, when he blew away heavily-favored stablemate Maximum Security in the Awesome Again. Form-wise, nobody in this field has been as consistently fine as Improbable. He’ll need it to hold up in his toughest test of all.
There isn’t much not to like, except for the nagging feeling that he may have peaked too soon with that win last time. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will be looking for two straight Classic wins. He’ll find out what it’s like to be the hunted instead of the hunter in this one.
The Kentucky Derby champion will try to give John Velazquez his first ever Breeders’ Cup classic victory. Velazquez was aboard for that Derby win, when Authentic, unbothered by the outside post, burned to the front and rebuffed Tiz the Law. It seemed like he’d be smooth sailing in the Preakness when Tiz the Law stayed out.
But then the filly Swiss Skydiver entered the picture and knocked off the colt in a wonderful showdown. If anything, that recency bias will give you some decent odds on Authentic if you believe in him. And Baffert has proven before that he can win this race with a three-year-old.
Yet there is some concern about his chances here, for sure. His speed figures have never quite reached the level that some of the other top performers here have seen. On top of that, Authentic will have to worry about getting in a speed duel with Maximum Security, which might not benefit the younger horse at all.
Of the three Baffert entrants, Authentic seems to have the most holes. That’s says something about the strength of this field. The Kentucky Derby champion probably doesn’t have enough pop to hang in this one.
#10 Maximum Security
The most polarizing name in all of horse racing is back to try to claim the kind of prize that was denied to him (some say unfairly) about 18 months ago. Not only does he have the controversy of the 2019 Kentucky Derby forever attached to his name, but Maximum Security now works for the Baffert barn because his former trainer was indicted. A science-fiction writer couldn’t pen this script.
Yes, Maximum Security was defeated by Improbable last time. But it was a small field and he had a bothered start. Here’s an interesting stat for you: in fields of more than 10 horses, the stallion is four-for-five, with the only loss in the Derby, when he, of course, crossed the line way ahead of the rest.
Any worries about the trainer change were doused when he dashed off a pair of stakes wins at Del Mar for Baffert. The outside post is a bit of a bother, but with this horse, who knows? He has always thrived in scenarios when most expected him to falter.
Maximum Security, whatever you want to say about him, still has the highest ceiling of anybody in the field. Assuming a clean start, he rolls to the front at wins this thing. Heck, this horse would do it just to make people angry.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h …