Improbable, Tiz the Law head Breeders' Cup Classic field

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Authentic and Tiz the Law clash again on Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland, where they'll contend with a deep field of older horses led by Improbable in the $6 million race.

The 1 1/4-mile showdown will cap a two-day, 14-race Breeders' Cup slate at the Lexington, Kentucky, track that hosted the event in 2015.

No spectators will be in attendance, but the coronavirus pandemic hasn't prevented more than 20 overseas raiders from making the trip.

They include the Aidan O'Brien-trained Magical, the early 5-2 favorite in the $4 million, 1 1/2-mile Turf that also features stablemate Mogul and the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa.

The $2 million Juvenile highlights Friday's five races for two-year-olds, with Jackie's Warrior, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario, the early favorite.

Jackie's Warrior is unbeaten in four career starts, but will be racing around two turns for the first time.

In Saturday's Classic, Improbable and Kentucky Derby-winner Authentic are among three entrants saddled by Baffert, along with Maximum Security -- who came back from disqualification in the 2019 Kentucky Derby to win the $20 million Saudi Cup in February before then-trainer Jason Servis was indicted along with 26 others for involvement in an alledged horse doping ring.

Baffert said Thursday that any one of the trio could wind up in the winner's circle.

"I wouldn't be surprised by any of them," said Baffert, who won the Classic in 2014 with Bayern, 2015 with American Pharoah and 2016 with Arrogate.

Improbable -- a four-year-old owned by Winstar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing -- has won three Grade One races in a row -- the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Whitney and the Awesome Again.

Maximum Security has two wins, and a runner-up finish to Improbable in the Awesome Again, since Baffert took over his training while Authentic won the Kentucky Derby in September -- holding off Tiz the Law, who had won the Belmont Stakes on June 20 in a Triple Crown year reshuffled because of Covid-19.

"I could see all three of them hitting the board," Baffert said of the three that will break from the eighth, ninth and 10th posts in the 10-horse field. "But they've got to get the trip."

Tiz the Law, installed as the early 3-1 second choice after drawing the second post position, will be coming in fresh after trainer Barclay Tagg held him out of the October 3 Preakness.

"He's definitely more mature," Tagg said of the colt that won the Belmont way back on June 20. "I don't know if that makes him faster or not. But he's doing awfully well."

- Distaff duel -

Swiss Skydiver, winner of the Preakness on October 3, had her choice of the Classic and the $2 million Distaff for fillies and mares -- in which she'll be up against veteran Monomoy Girl.

Monomoy Girl won the Distaff as a three-year-old in 2018 but missed all of 2019 after battling colic and injury. Since returning to racing in May, the mare trained by Brad Cox has won three of three starts.

"We're excited," Swiss Skydiver trainer Kenny McPeek said. "She's going to get a real good chance to show how good she is against some talented older fillies and mares for the first time."

As always, the European horses are a strong presence in the Turf, where Magical attempts to improve on her 2018 runner-up finish to Enable.

Magical or Mogul could give O'Brien a record-extending seventh victory in the race, which includes a 2015 win at Keeneland with Found.

Magical will break from the second post under Ryan Moore while Mogul, ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot, will start on the outside of the field of 10

Tarnawa will break fro the third post with Christophe Soumillon aboard.

John Gosden is also represented with the Frankie Dettori-ridden Lord North and Mehdaayih, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario.