From Vance Hanson, TwinSpires.com
When last year we analyzed the vulnerability of five of racing’s marquee stars heading into the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, it was hard to envision all would meet defeat, but that’s what occurred as favorites wound up carrying it on the chin throughout the weekend.
Far from it being our intention of employing some kind of jinx, we will perform the exercise again for next weekend’s fixture in Del Mar by ranking from more likely to less probable the odds of the most noteworthy of Thoroughbreds of not making it into the winner’s circle.
Six months into the season it had been widely believed he would be an odds-on favorite in this race. Two summer losses at Del Mar later, it is more likely than not that North America’s all-time leading money winner likely won’t even function as post-time favorite.
While trainer Bob Baffert has blamed largely himself for Arrogate’s kind reversals at the San Diego H. (G2) and Pacific Classic (G1), the sneaking suspicion is that this might not be the same colt as we saw 9-12 months before, the kind we’d probably need to see again in order to conquer a field of this depth and quality.
Gun Runner (Classic)
Has usurped Arrogate, that beat him soundly in both prior meetings, in popular polls of recent months after a series of incredible efforts in the Stephen Foster H. (G1), Whitney (G1), and Woodward (G1).
While deserving of favoritism in the weekend’s main attraction, he faces a far sterner task here and has yet to win over 1??1/4 kilometers in three attempts.
Lady Eli (Filly & Mare Turf)
Slightly further down the list last year, the beloved mare was shockingly run down by Queen’s Trust by a nose, a significant upset in retrospect given the way that re-opposing rival has failed to flatter her own form.
Meanwhile, the Lady Eli enters this re-match having an additional two begins under her belt compared to last year, and more adorable. A distance decrease from 10 furlongs to nine is just another factor in her favor.
Bolt d’Oro (Juvenile)
The potency of his victory in last month’s FrontRunner (G1) figures to make him among the strongest favorites in this race for some time. Simultaneous regression by him and natural improvement by another is certainly a possibility, but it’s completely understandable while he’ll be one on many bettors’ multi-race exotics plans.
Lady Aurelia (Turf Sprint)
Despite a last-out blow off by a nose at the Nunthorpe (G1), her tour de force from the King’s Stand (G1) against elderly men at Royal Ascot remains one of the unforgettable performances of this season anywhere on the planet.
Unless hindered by a highly unfavorable post, the three-year-old filly appears set to place her prowess on full screen above a trip she absolutely loves.