Weekend Lineup Presented By DRF Bets: Showtime At Del Mar

After weeks of prep races and highly-scrutinized workouts, it’s finally time for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships to begin. The Grade 1 contests held Friday and Saturday may be the make-or-break for many connections hoping to win an Eclipse Award in their division. As the breeding stock sales will reflect next week, they’re also a huge determinant of a horse’s value, and its future.

While it’s a tense weekend for owners and trainers, it’s a great one for fans and handicappers. Hopefully, you’ve been keeping up with final preparations of all the contenders with our streaming of morning workouts with our partner, XBTV. If not, you can catch up with notes, analysis, statistics, and profiles of the horses and connections here.

The race everyone’s talking about is, of course, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will run at 8:35 p.m. EST (5:35 p.m. local) and will be shown on NBC. There’s no question the top two betting choices are likely to be Arrogate, an unquestionably brilliant Bob Baffert runner looking to get into the winner’s circle for the first time since his victory in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup. Gun Runner has developed into a consistent older horse, hitting the board in all but two of his 17 lifetime starts, including four Grade 1s. Around the track, the ‘wise guy’ horse is Arrogate’s stablemate, West Coast, who has improved this year and never been worse than second.

As always, the Breeders’ Cup Turf is dominated by European-based runners. Irish conditioner Aidan O’Brien has already bested Bobby Frankel’s record for most G1 wins in a single season – he got his 26th last weekend – but he’ll be hoping to extend his lead with one of his three contenders here (Seventh Heaven (IRE), Highland Reel (IRE), and Cliffs of Moher (IRE)). Highland Reel comes with the strongest resume, and will be aiming for his second win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Additional threats could come from Chad Brown-trained Beach Patrol or international star Ulysses (IRE).

Whatever happens in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will be analyzed endlessly with an eye to the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Mick Ruis-trained Bolt d’Oro comes to the contest undefeated, as does The Tabulator, winner of the G3 Iroquois. Trainer Dale Romans sends out both Free Drop Billy and Hollywood Star, the former a winner of the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and the G1 Hopeful.

The Sprint will see two contenders return from last year’s edition; Drefong, the Bob Baffert trainee who won the prize last year, and Mind Your Biscuits ran third (eventually placed second through disqualification). Drefrong has run considerably less in the intervening year but has performed well, while Mind Your Biscuits will come in off a busy year but a disappointing sixth last out in the G1 Forego. Additional sharp contenders include Practical Joke and Whitmore.

Additional big names running this weekend include Lady Eli, who will seek a career finale in the Filly and Mare Turf, as well as Abel Tasman and Stellar Wind in the Distaff.

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