2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic Horse Racing Picks, Odds & Post Positions: Arabian Knight soldiers to victory

Arabian Knight exercises during the Breeders' Cup morning workouts at Santa Anita Park.
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Ron Wood

Horse Racing

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Handicapper for Racing Post and Pickswise, specializing in US and Dubai horse racing with over two decades of expertize and experience. For Ron Wood media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the main event of day two of the showpiece horse racing festival at Santa Anita racetrack and starts at 6:40 pm ET on Saturday, November 4. Expert horse racing handicapper Ron Wood, who has over two decades of knowledge and experience picking winning horses, gives his full horse-by-horse guide to the big race before delivering his best bet and analysis.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2023 Entries & Post Positions

The entries and post positions for the Breeders’ Cup Classic 2023 are as follows:

2 Zandon
3 White Abarrio
4 Missed The Cut
5 Derma Sotogake
6 Saudi Crown
7 Clapton
8 Ushba Tesoro
9 Senor Buscador
10 Dreamlike
11 Bright Future
12 Arabian Knight
13 Proxy

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2023 Predictions & Morning Line Odds

Zandon 16-1

Third in last year’s Kentucky Derby and Travers on his only two runs at this trip; no match for White Abarrio in the 1m1f Whitney at Saratoga over the summer and didn’t have to improve for a clear win in 1m1f Grade 2 Woodward at Aqueduct.

White Abarrio 9-2

Won last year’s 1m1f Grade 1 Florida Derby; patchy after but took form to a new level on second go for this trainer when winning 1m1f Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga this August, forwardly placed and pulling just over 6 lengths clear of Zandon in fast time (trainer back this term from ten-year suspension; won this in 2005 with Saint Liam); however, has had an interrupted build-up, a particular concern seeing as he has an extra furlong to go this time.

Missed The Cut 66-1

Smart on AW and turf when trained by George Boughey in Britain; switched to the US this year, but loads more is needed than when winning 1m4f Grade 3 here latest.

Derma Sotogake 33-1

Japanese runner; can start slowly; made all in 9.5f Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in March, quite impressive although in a speed-favouring race; missed the break when sixth in the Kentucky Derby in May, but his slow start was no bad thing given the overly strong pace; absent since; needs to improve, which is possible now another six months on, but this is a tough task coming off the bench.

Saudi Crown 8-1

Game, fast front-runner, although didn’t lead early for debut win; has had only five starts; two battling nose defeats in 1m-1m1f Graded events, before winning 1m1f Grade 1 Penn Derby at Parx, dominating over a sloppy track; he was being closed down by Dreamlike but had gone hard and was full value for the win; stamina is a concern, but his sire won a Kentucky Derby and the trainer won this with a speed type in Knicks Go (at Del Mar) two years ago.

Clapton 50-1

Didn’t have the race run to suit his off-the-pace style when behind two of these rivals in 1m2f Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga two starts back; as good as ever when getting up late on for a narrow win in 1m1f Grade 2 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs latest, but still needs to do plenty more; longshot.

Ushba Tesoro 9-2

Japanese runner with 7-8 record since switching to dirt, but came from a detached last off an overly strong pace to win 1m2f Group 1 Dubai World Cup on the deep surface at Meydan in March; this is a sharper test at the distance; easily won his Grade 2 prep for this in Japan, showing more tactical speed than at Meydan, but this will be his toughest assignment yet; needs the leaders to overdo it; has given a bit of trouble at the gates in training.

Senor Buscador 50-1

Late-running type; well-beaten eighth in the Dirt Mile at Keeneland last year; didn’t run badly for fourth behind front-running Arabian Knight in 1m2f Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar two starts back; most recently got too far behind when a keeping-on third in 1m1f Grade 1 Awesome Again here; needs the leaders to overdo it and even then would have to find improvement.

Dreamlike 33-1

Improved with blinkers removed when half-length second to front-running Saudi Crown in 1m1f Grade 1 Penn Derby over a sloppy track at Parx, saving ground, getting a clear run and keeping on; that’s not the most robust-looking form and it’s his only run that gives him any sort of chance, but he wasn’t stopping at the finish, his sire won this at Del Mar in 2017 and connections have chosen this race over the Dirt Mile.

Bright Future 9-1

Progressive staying type who improved with a nose win over Proxy in 1m2f Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga, but that was a weak race for the level; needs to improve again; connections won this with another son of Curlin, Vino Rosso, here in 2019.

Arabian Knight 3-1

Cost $2.3m as a two-year-old; looked a star in winning 7f Keeneland maiden on last year’s Breeders’ Cup undercard; setback knocked him off the Triple Crown trail, and only third in the Haskell at Monmouth in the summer, but that was just his third start and came off six-month absence; front-running win in 1m2f Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar latest; unlikely to get his own way in front, with Saudi Crown in opposition, but potentially good enough.

Proxy 20-1

Won 1m1f Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs 12 months ago; this extra furlong suits him, as he’s not the quickest, most recently nose second to Bright Future in 1m2f Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga; needs a strong pace to chase and to produce a clear career best; others are more likely.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2023 Picks & Best Bet: Arabian Knight 3-1

There are two main speed runners in Saudi Crown and ARABIAN KNIGHT and if they take each other on they’ll likely be setting it up for something else. But they are high-quality, improving three-year-olds from high strike-rate barns — between them Bob Baffert and Brad Cox have won 5 of the last 9 Breeders’ Cup Classics — and they are being ridden by leading jockeys who have each won this race on forward-going types. The feeling is these two runners can control the race by going a good but sustainable enough tempo — Cox has said his horse doesn’t have to have the lead — and the slower horses just won’t be good enough to get into it.

Saudi Crown has never gone this far whereas the Baffert colt is a last-time-out Grade 1 winner at the distance. Arabian Knight had little to spare in the Pacific Classic so there is still a slight question mark about his suitability for 1m2f, but he has put in a series of impressive stamina-building works. The draw won’t be an issue as they have the length of the home straight to run before the first turn and the field will be strung out.

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