California Chrome heavy favorite in Breeders’ Cup Classic

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The greater the buzz is about whether California Chrome can complete a historic trifecta by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the better the odds get on the challengers to the richest horse in North American history.

California Chrome, who will start from the No. 4 post at Santa Anita racetrack under jockey Victor Espinoza, is listed as the -140 favorite for the climatic race of the season at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Chrome, the four-legged equivalent of Michael Phelps – the champion who’s kept on while most of his contemporaries have retired – is an unblemished 6-0 this season and will be trying to complete the first sweep of the world’s three biggest dirt races.

Chrome has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Classic. The five-year-old’s odds seem to be getting less profitable by the hour; Chrome opened at even-money and was listed at -120 on Wednesday before the odds shifted again. It’s hard to imagine Chrome losing in his own backyard.

Arrogate, a Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old, draws in as the second favorite at +275 on the Breeders’ Cup Classic odds. The Classic is a 1 1/4-mile race and Arrogate set a track record at that distance while winning the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, New York, in August. However, this is only his sixth career race, so if he prevails he would be the most inexperienced winner in the Classic’s 33-year history. Arrogate is starting from the outside at the No. 10 position.

Frosted, who is listed at +750, has never finished higher than third in four lifetime starts at one mile and a quarter. His two graded stakes wins this year have each come at shorter distances.

Effinex, bred and named by Russell Cohen, offers the most realistic longshot value at +4000. Effinex, with Flavien Prat aboard on Saturday, was the runner-up in the 2015 Classic and will start on the inside from the No. 1 post. That creates the possibility of Effinex, as is his wont, biding his time and making a move for the lead on the home stretch.

Melatonin, listed at +1600 and slotted into the No. 6 post, has won four times at Santa Anita but has not raced since June. No Classic winner has ever had a four-month layoff, but the respite could help the veteran.

Two other darkhorses that rate consideration to place or show are Hoppertunity (+2200, No. 9 post) and Keen Ice (+2500, No. 3 post). Each could benefit from the blistering pace Arrogate and California Chrome could set in the first two quarter miles.

The field of 10 is filled out by Shaman Ghost (+2500, No. 8 post), Win The Space (+6600, No. 5 post) and War Story (+10000, No. 7 post).

Irish War Cry is 5-2 favorite in $1M Haskell Invitational

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OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) Irish War Cry, the runner up in the Belmont Stakes, is the 5-2 favorite in the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds.

The richest race of the season at Monmouth Park drew a field of seven for the 50th edition on Sunday.

With a victory, Irish War Cry would join Thanks To Tony (1980) as the only New Jersey-bred winners of the state’s biggest thoroughbred stakes.

The Garden State connection runs even deeper. The race is named for Amory Haskell, the first chairman and president of Monmouth Park, whose daughter Isabelle de Tomaso bred and owns Irish War Cry.

The morning-line choice breaks from the rail with Rajiv Maragh aboard for trainer Graham Motion.

Irish War Cry was a top contender heading into the Kentucky Derby after winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. After chasing the early pacesetter, he faded to 10th.

Motion initially planned to give the horse time to regroup after the Derby and await the Haskell. The colt was training so well that Motion sent the horse to the 1+ mile Belmont.

It was a good decision. Irish War Cry led most of the way but was beaten two lengths by Tapwrit.

“At the end of the day, we are all very excited that we got to this point,” Motion said. “This was certainly our goal of the summer.”

Trainer Chad Brown sends out the second and third choices in the Haskell: the undefeated Timeline, 3-1, and Practical Joke, 4-1.

Timeline, winner of Monmouth’s Pegasus Stakes last month, is 4 for 4 coming into the biggest test of his career.

“He’s a horse that’s always shown a lot of natural ability,” Brown said. “I’ve had my eye on the Haskell for this horse for a long time. I felt this race would suit him.”

Javier Castellano will ride Timeline from post 3.

Practical Joke is alongside in post 4 with Joel Rosario in the saddle.

The full Haskell field, in post-position order with jockeys and odds: Irish War Cry, Maragh, 5-2; Battle of Midway, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Timeline, Castellano, 3-1; Practical Joke, Rosario, 4-1; McCraken, Brian Hernandez, Jr. 9-2; Hence, Paco Lopez, 12-1 and Girvin, Robby Albarado, 6-1.

The 1 1/8 miles Haskell is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The winner earns a qualifying berth in the $6 million Classic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

Arrogate remains on course for Pacific Classic at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Bob Baffert wasn’t beating himself up a day after Arrogate’s upset loss in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar that snapped the seven-race winning streak of the world’s top-ranked horse.

The Hall of Fame trainer said Sunday that other than getting a lot of dirt in his eyes and mouth the 4-year-old colt emerged in good physical condition after finishing fourth, beaten by 15 \ lengths as the 1-20 favorite.

Baffert says that as long as Arrogate continues working out well and nothing comes up, the colt will run in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 at Del Mar. Baffert says Arrogate “will be ready next time.”

Arrogate was never better than fourth among the five-horse field during the race. Accelerate led all the way and won by 8 + lengths.