From Vance Hanson, TwinSpires.com
When last year we examined the vulnerability of five of racing’s marquee stars heading to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, it was hard to envision all would meet defeat, but that’s what happened as favorites wound up taking it on the chin throughout the weekend.
Far from it being our intention of applying some sort of jinx, we’ll do the exercise again for next weekend’s fixture in Del Mar by ranking from more likely to less probable the chances of the most notable of Thoroughbreds of never making it in the winner’s circle.
Six months into the year it had been widely thought he’d be an odds-on favorite in this race. Two summer declines at Del Mar afterwards, it is more likely than not that North America’s all-time top money winner likely won’t even be the post-time favorite.
While coach Bob Baffert has blamed largely himself for Arrogate’s kind reversals in the San Diego H. (G2) and Pacific Classic (G1), the sneaking suspicion is that this might not be the exact same colt as we saw 9-12 months before, the kind we would probably have to see again in order to beat a field of the depth and quality.
Gun Runner (Classic)
Has usurped Arrogate, who beat him soundly in prior meetings, in popular polls of recent months after a series of amazing efforts from the Stephen Foster H. (G1), Whitney (G1), and Woodward (G1).
While worthy of favoritism from the weekend’s main attraction, he obviously faces a far sterner task here and has yet to win over 1??1/4 miles in 3 tries.
Lady Eli (Filly & Mare Turf)
Slightly farther down the list this past year, the beloved mare was run down by Queen’s Trust by a nose, a significant upset in retrospect given how that re-opposing rival has subsequently failed to flatter her own kind.
Meanwhile, Lady Eli enters this re-match having an extra two starts under her belt in contrast to last season, and more adorable. A space decrease from 10 furlongs to eight 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 one of the strongest favorites in this race for some time. Simultaneous regression by him and organic improvement by another is definitely a chance, but it’s completely understandable while he’ll be a single on several bettors’ multi-race exotics plans.
Lady Aurelia (Turf Sprint)
Despite a last-out blow off by a nose in the Nunthorpe (G1), her tour de force in the King’s Stand (G1) against elderly men at Royal Ascot is still one of the unforgettable performances of this season anywhere on the planet.
Unless hindered by an extremely unfavorable article, the three-year-old filly appears set to place her art on full screen above a trip she absolutely loves.