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2018 Breeders Cup Classic Full Of Intrigue

A full field of 14 has been drawn for Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs with plenty of intrigue surrounding this year’s renewal.
While the 2018 edition of Breeders' Cup Classic has been cited for its lack of overt star power, it has answered the bell in terms of providing a truly competitive field.
The California-based favourite Accelerate raises questions regarding the strength of his powers outside his home base.
There are two multi-surface talents in Yoshida and Catholic Boy. The youngest Catholic Boy has thrived most when asked to travel 1¼ miles, a distance that has long been held as the true test of stamina in North American dirt racing.
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There are sentimental favorites Discreet Lover, Gunnevera, and Mind Your Biscuits, Godolphin’s mercurial stars Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow and two top-level talents from the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert in West Coast and McKinzie.
The Baffter pair enter the race well-rested and give their champion trainer a good chance to win his fourth Breeders’ Cup Classic in five years.
And then there’s international wonder Roaring Lion whose connections could have easily let his last triumph stand as his swansong.
Hronis Racing's multiple G1 winner Accelerate was the surprise conqueror of Baffert’s champion Arrogate and this season Accelerate has become the leader of the handicap ranks, posting five wins from six starts including four G1 triumphs.
He has won three at a mile and a quarter but has drawn the outside post in Saturday’s Classic where his versatile running style will definitely come into play.
Were it not for a close loss in the Oaklawn Handicap last spring, Accelerate would be unblemished in his 5YO season.
Apart from his draw other negatives are trainer John Sadler's record of 0-for-41 Breeders' Cup record and the fact Accelerate has never won outside California.
"He does get respect in California, no doubt about that," Sadler said.
"He's a really good horse, he has a great record this year, and he's probably beaten 40 or 50 Bob Baffert horses at different times.
“If he does win the Classic, then he deserves it.”
Catholic Boy and Yoshida both hold the distinction of winning G1 races on turf and dirt this year.
Were it not for Triple Crown winner Justify, Catholic Boy could have a solid claim for divisional honors off a season that has seen him capture the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes prior to his four lengths romp in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, both races held at 1¼ miles.
Since arriving at Churchill Downs a couple weeks ago, Catholic Boy has aced the eye test in terms of his physical appearance.
And no matter what condition the dirt track at Louisville trainer Jonathan Thomas feels his charge has given him the luxury of taking that worry off the table.
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"The Classic is definitely wide open. There are a lot of very accomplished horses, probably five or six where if they won it wouldn't surprise anybody," Thomas said.
"There is certainly not a horse that we're all kind of conceding defeat It opens things up tactically."
Catholic Boy's most successful tactic has been to sit on or just off the pace as the first flight could feature multiple runners who have all flashed brilliance when allowed to dictate terms.
Godolphin's multiple G1 winner Thunder Snow was at his best when he took control early in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March and kicked clear of West Coast en route to a 5¾ length win.
The son of Helmet has only had two starts since including a close loss to Discreet Lover in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in September.
He also has the infamy of his aborted run in the 2017 Kentucky Derby hanging over him for his return to Churchill Downs.
Both West Coast and his G1-winning stablemate McKinzie are capable of keeping things honest on the front end, as is regally bred Mendelssohn, who gamely held third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup after a hot early pace.
The biggest 'X' factors in the Classic hinge on how far multiple G1 winner Mind Your Biscuits can kick on at a distance he’s yet to tackle and how Qatar Racing's four-time G1 winner Roaring Lion handles the kickback for the first time on dirt in his final career start.
Established among the world's best sprinters, Mind Your Biscuits will attempt to stretch his ability over 1¼ miles.
The son of Posse scored his first two-turn win in the 11/8 mile Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill on September and would benefit greatly if things get heated among those with early speed.
Roaring Lion's class is beyond dispute following four G1 wins in Europe, but he faces a big ask just two weeks after his win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
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