Ahead Of Final Prep, Knicks Go Retakes Lead In Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings

Korea Racing Authority’s 5-year-old Knicks Go hopped over stablemate Essential Quality and back into first place in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, a weekly poll of the top 10 horses in contention for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). This year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic will be run at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., on Nov. 6 as the final race of the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go has retaken the No. 1 position which Essential Quality had held for the past three weeks. The Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and Whitney (G1) winner received 322 votes, 18 of which were first-place votes. Knicks Go is scheduled to make his final start before the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in this Saturday’s Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs. Godolphin’s 3-year-old Essential Quality, also trained by Cox, won the  Belmont Stakes (G1) and the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1). He is now in second place with 316 votes.

Hot Rod Charlie, another top 3-year-old, moves into third place this week following his impressive victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx. Owned by Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing, and William Strauss, and trained by Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie has 252 votes.

Godolphin’s 4-year-old Maxfield, trained by Brendan Walsh, dropped one position to fourth place with 238 votes. Maxfield has won three races this year, including the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in June, in which he secured an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

George E. Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp’s Max Player, a winner of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races in the Longines Classic Division in 2021, remains in fifth place with 180 votes. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the 4-year-old Max Player won both the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in July and The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga earlier this month.

Hronis Racing’s 4-year-old Tripoli, who captured the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) for his automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, stayed in sixth place with 116 votes. Trained by John Sadler, Tripoli is slated to start in this Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, which is the final automatic qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic this year.

Zedan Racing Stable’s 3-year-old Medina Spirit, who won the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar last month, rose from ninth place to seventh with 76 votes. Prince A A Faisal’s 4-year-old Mishriff (IRE) remained in eighth  place with 75 votes.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, Mishriff earned an automatic starting position in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York Racecourse in England on Aug. 18.

St. George Stable’s 5-year-old mare Letruska, a three-time Grade 1 winner this year for trainer Fausto Gutierrez, improved from 10th place to ninth  with 56 votes.

CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm’s Life Is Good, winner of Saturday’s Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park, moved from 12th place to 10th. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Life Is Good has 45 votes.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old Midnight Bourbon received 74 votes, but his connections announced on Monday that he would not be pointed to this year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings – Sept. 28, 2021*

Rank Horse Votes First-Place Votes Previous Week
1 Knicks Go 322 18 2
2 Essential Quality 316 9 1
3 Hot Rod Charlie 252 1 4
4 Maxfield 238 4 3
5 Max Player 180 0 5
6 Tripoli 116 0 6
7 Medina Spirit 76 0 9
8 Mishriff (IRE) 75 2 8
9 Letruska 56 0 10
10 Life Is Good 45 0 12

*Note – The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings have no bearing on qualification or selection into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The 2021 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at 1 ¼ miles on the main track, is limited to 14 starters. The race will be broadcast live on NBC.

The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings are determined by a panel of leading Thoroughbred racing media, horseplayers, and members of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. Rankings will be announced each week through Oct. 11. A list of voting members can be found here.

In the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, each voter rates horses on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system in descending order.

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