In light of impressive victories by Game on Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban Handicap (G1), I've updated my Breeders' Cup Classic rankings.
With a second-place finish in last year's Classic and two powerhouse efforts since returning from Dubai, Game On Dude would be my morning line favorite if I were setting the Classic line today.
The other big move this week comes from Mucho Macho Man, who was ultra-impressive winning the Suburban at Belmont Park. Kudos to those handicappers who got 5-1 by forgiving his distant third-place finish in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, where he was beaten seven lengths by Successful Dan. This result was another reminder that one of the keys to getting good prices is knowing when to forgive an off effort.
Mucho Macho Man was a big but lightly framed three-year-old. When I saw him Derby week last year, he was extremely narrow chested. From what I saw on TV Saturday, he has filled out beautifuly. He pressed a solid pace and drew away in the Suburban. Another eighth of a mile should be no problem. He got the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles just fine when finishing 3rd in the Kentucky Derby last year.
I took some flack for including Richard's Kid in my initial Classic rankings last month, but I thought he showed he belonged with the runner-up finish behind Game On Dude, who got things fairly soft up front in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Richard's Kid could be an interesting price play to at least hit the board in a hot-paced Breeders' Cup Classic.
Speaking of closers, Ron the Greek has a win going 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita and right now I really like his chances to be an overlay in the Breeders' Cup. The longer the time in motion, the stronger he gets. I envision getting a square price on Ron the Greek in the Classic, especially if he preps in 1 1/8 mile races, which could be a little short for him.
I still love Royal Delta's last race, but there is the question of whether her connections will want to face open company or remain in female-restricted races.
Previous ranking in parethesis:
1 Game on Dude (2) Back-to-back big runs. 2nd in last year's BC
2 Royal Delta (1) Ran full second faster than G1 older males at CD. Loves 10f
3 Ron the Greek (3) The more distance, the better. Rock solid stayer.
4 Mucho Macho Man (10) 4yo lived up to his name in Suburban
5 Shackleford (new) Will try to stretch out in Whitney
6 Richard's Kid (11) Good run for 2nd in Hollywood Gold Cup. Loves 10f
7 Successful Dan (4) Spotted Fort Larned soft pace, 5 pounds at PrM
8 Wise Dan (5) Not surprised he came back to earth in Foster.
9 Bodemeister (6) Huge potential & could be tough on SA's speedy strip
10 Hymn Book (new) Got plenty of pace to run at in Suburban
11 Fort Larned (new) Great run at PrM, but won't get that soft trip in BC
12 Union Rags (7) Classy 3yo a major threat if he has a forward move in him
13 Paynter (9) Showed ability when asked to set all the fractions in Belmont S.
14 Acclamation (new) Interesting, but can he transfer his form to dirt?
Also eligible: Neck n Neck, Flat Out, Went the Day Well, Creative Cause, Rogue Romance, Teeth of the Dog, Take Control