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    Ellis Starr

    Ellis Starr, a.k.a. “Ubercapper,” is the National Racing Analyst for Equibase. He publishes detailed analysis and selections for Keeneland and other tracks regularly which can be found at Equibase, Keeneland Select and other web sites. Ellis writes a widely distributed “Race of the Week” article which appears on the Equibase web site as well as America’s Best Racing. Ellis can be heard on the Horse Racing Radio Network's "Weekend Stakes Preview" show every Friday from 6 to 7 pm (ET) covering major stakes races throughout North America. Ellis will be posting his analysis daily for one race taken right from his complete selection and analysis report. Additionally, you can follow Ellis’ insights on twitter @ubercapper.

    Saturday, October 31, 2015

    Race #11
    Breeders' Cup Classic
    #6 Effinex - Fair odds 7/2
    #1 Tonalist - Fair odds 4/1
    #5 Gleneagles - Fair odds 6/1
    #9 Honor Code - Fair odds 5/1
    Possible bets: Effinex to win and place (or win/place/show) at 7/2 odds or higher. Tonalist to win at odds of 4/1 or more. For a smaller amount, Gleneagles to win or win/place at 6/1 or more.
    Possible exacta box: Box 1,5,6,9 (Cost $12 at the $1 minimum level)
    Plus Exacta Box 4,5 and exacta box 4,6 (Combining American Pharoah with Effinex and Gleneagles)
    One more possible exacta: 1,5,6,9 over ALL (Cost $32 at the $1 level)
    These exactas may be worth the risk if American Pharoah does not finish 1st or 2nd.
    Why I am not picking American Pharoah to win the Classic:
    There is no doubt that American Pharoah is a special horse, with an extraordinary will to win and the ability to do just that, time and again. He has performed consistently all year, with Equibase Speed Figures of 108, 107, 111, 111, 112, 112 and 110 (even in defeat). Most horses would have tailed off at some point during the year, particularly after what can be the grueling Triple Crown season, with the Derby, Preakness and Belmont run in a five week period at three different tracks. American Pharoah is undoubtedly the best of his crop, and one of the best three-year-olds to come along in a very long time. However, he has never faced older horses as he is doing in the Classic and although a number of three-year-olds have won the Classic, the best of those have at least faced if not beaten older foes before their Classic try. Additionally, the best older horses in the classic have run faster than American Pharoah, with Tonalist (123, 123 and 122 recently), Honor Code (126 and 122 in victory this spring and summer) and Effinex (122 and 122 in his best efforts) all 10 or more points superior to American Pharoah. Even Smooth Roller (115) has run faster. Not only has American Pharoah not exceeded a 112 figure this year, neither too has Keen Ice or Frosted, nor have the latter pair faced older horses until now. For those reasons I don't consider those three year olds as win contenders in this year's Classic.
    Main contenders:
    Effinex will be my top choice to win this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, and not just because I'm known as a contrarian. He has run very well at the distance of one mile and on quarter, winning the Suburban Handicap in July with a 122 figure that he also earned in March. Effinex won the Excelsior Stakes at the distance with a 122 figure in April so achieving that kind of effort is well within his reach, if I can make the case his last two efforts, both sub-par, are not evidence of his current form. Two back in Woodward Stakes, Effinex was nervous behind the gate and perhaps left his best effort back there as well, then earlier this month when beaten by Tonalist in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Effinex may have had a legitimate excuse as the race was run on a sloppy track. Getting a jockey change to a Hall-of-Fame rider in Mike Smith, Effinex should be racing in fourth or fifth in the early stages, perhaps closer to the pace than Tonalist and definitely closer than Honor Code, so he may have first run on the pacesetters over the other closers, and if he can repeat either his Suburban or Excelsior efforts, he has a legitimate shot to post the upset.
    Tonalist gets the ground saving rail for the Classic, as well as John Velazquez, who has been in the saddle for his last four races. The best of those four was earlier this month when winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup by nearly five lengths, earning a 123 figure for the second race in a row and a 120 or better figure for the fourth time this year in five races. There is a bit of concern that the sloppy track aided Tonalist and that since he was beaten by Honor Code in both the Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney, Honor Code may be better, but one difference in this year's Classic is there may not be the hot early pace benefiting Honor Code as it did in those races, while Tonalist may be in a better early position and able to capitalize and get the lead in the stretch before Honor Code gets into high gear, resulting in Tonalist winning the Classic.
    About the rest: Gleneagles is a three year old the same as American Pharoah, Frosted and Keen Ice but he's run faster than any of them in terms of speed figures. Winning three important Group 1 races in a row this spring, Gleneagles earned the equivalent of 125, 121 and 125 Equibase figures. His connections thought long and hard about running him two weeks ago on soft ground in England but did so anyway, Gleneagles earning the worst finish (sixth) of his career. Although he has never run on dirt and never raced further than a mile, being a son of Galileo there is little doubt about one of those issues, his ability to run a mile and one-quarter, and in my mind not much doubt about dirt as his dam's sire is Storm Cat, one of the best sires of dirt runners in the past quarter century.
    Honor Code prepped for the Classic in the one-turn mile Kelso Stakes earlier this month, closing for third and setting him up nicely for a big effort. He too has never raced 10 furlongs but with a career best 126 figure earned winning the Whitney in August, Honor Code has the ability to compete here. That is, provided he gets some pace to run at as he has been last or next-to-last in the early stages in his last six races.
    Smooth Roller earned a 115 figure winning his most recent race, the Awesome Again Stakes, but with only four races to date and not having an official timed workout in two weeks I am taking a stand against him. Hard Aces earned a 102 figure winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June which also appears too low to be competitive if repeated in this race.
    You can get eight pages of full card detailed analysis and selections for both Friday and Saturday of Breeders' Cup weekend at, and other sites.

    Other racing content:

    Major Stakes Race Analysis posted every Friday at

    Weekend Stakes Previews every Friday 6-7 PM ET - Horse Racing Radio Network - Sirius 220/XM 206 & at

    Weekend Key Races Blog at Click on 123Blog

    Follow Me on Twitter @Ubercapper





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