The Breeder's Cup World Championship is the pinnacle event of thoroughbred horse racing. For the most part, the best horses in the world gather for a shot at greatness in this two-day racing feast.
The Breeder's Cup Classic is the premier race of the Championships. It gets the most attention and the best horses.
This year's edition has the potential to be one of the most contested in the history of the event. This is because it may be the first time that so many horses that are running are at their best, at the top of their divisions.
It has the added incentive that it could bring the winner, the Horse of the Year Award. In a horse loaded with talent like this one, and with a tight race for the HOY Award, you can expect the same from the race itself.
At least six horses—Uncle Mo, Tizway, Havre de Grace, So You Think, Flat Out and To Honor and Serve—stand with a great chance become the winner this year. Three others—Stay Thirsty, Ruler On Ice and Game On Dude—may be the second tier but can win it with their best effort.
The Classic has given us its share of top champions clashes and tantalizing finishes. And this year's edition promises to have all the essentials to be another one.
We all can remember the inaugural edition in 1984. The incredible and unforgettable stretch battle between the surprising winner Wild Again, Slew O' Gold and Gate Dancer. It instantly made justice to the race's name.
Or in 1987, the battle between two Derby Winners—Ferdinand and Alysheba. They both brought their A-Race and gave us a spectacular finish noses apart at the wire.
Two years later came the "Race of the Decade" between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. And my two favorites, the 2000-2001 Tiznow victories over Europe's best. I can still hear "Tiznow wins it for America!" over and over again.
And last year's finish between Blame and Zenyatta. I cannot think of anyone who would have been sitting down while watching that home stretch run. Whether you were pushing Blame or Zenyatta, you were IN IT.
This year, we have the top three-year-old horses at the beginning of the year, Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve, finally running at their best after being sidelined with injuries that made them miss the big races all summer. They are peaking at the right time.
Tizway and Havre de Grace have dominated their divisions, and right now, are the top older horses. Flat Out is just right behind them and has the running style that could give him the win in this race.
The European invader this year is So You Think, who is considered one of the best horses in the world. He is being targeted for this race, which would be his third in six weeks. The big questions for him will be if he can handle the short time back in the track and his handling of the dirt track.
Uncle Mo might seems to have capture everyone's attention with his stellar performance at the Kelso. While everyone questions his ability to handle the 10 furlongs; that race in itself showed he can really do it.
Havre de Grace has been just as impressive—but a lesser degree. She beat Flat Out but still has to show she can beat Mo and Tizway. Some people would like to compare her to Zenyatta, and while I beg to differ on it, she can claim her spot in history with a win here.
Tizway and So You Think, both come with questions as well. Whether one can handle a long layoff (Tizway) or a short one (So You Think), or the distance, the questions keep coming for them.
To Honor and Serve blew his competition in a romp at the Pennsylvania Derby. He was the second top three-year-old prospect behind Mo at the beginning of the year. He might still be right behind him, and the only questions regarding him would be if he has enough racing underneath him for this one.
Stay Thirsty, Ruler On Ice and Game On Dude look like they are just a notch below the ones I previously mentioned. That is the only question regarding them, if they can handle the top competition. But they have shown that they cannot be discarded when they are at their best.
The Classic will have an honest pace, plenty of stalkers, grinders and closers. And all of the contenders have plenty of questions to answer. That makes it even more interesting.
If you want to have answers to all your questions regarding the contenders in the Classic, there is only one way to get them. Watching it. And you better do it, or you can be missing a moment in history.