Cox’s Knicks Go leads 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic odds

Breeders' Cup Classic odds
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Brad Cox’s Knicks Go opens as the 5-2 favorite to lead the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic odds at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Saturday, Nov. 6. He will start from the No. 5 spot. Post time for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is set for approximately 8:40 p.m. ET.

Knicks Go returns to the Breeders’ Cup after winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile wire-to-wire and is on a three-race winning streak with including the G1 Whitney Stakes. Starting next to him in the fourth stall is Brad Cox’s other colt, Essential Quality (3-1), who won the 2021 Belmont Stakes and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Essential Quality’s only loss in his last nine starts came in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fourth behind Medina Spirit. Prior to the Kentucky Derby, human rights lawyers filed a formal complaint to the Kentucky Horse Race Commission to ban him and his owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, from participating due to a UK family court finding that Sheikh Mohammed arranged the kidnapping of his adult daughters, forcibly returning them to Dubai after they attempted to flee abroad on three different occasions.

Another controversial entry is Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit (4-1) starting in the eighth position. Despite being banned in New York and Kentucky after Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance at the Kentucky Derby, Baffert is able to enter his horse in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday, Nov. 6. Extra security measures have been taken to assure that there is no scandal.

The always exciting Hot Rod Charlie (4-1) will also be in the field in the third spot. He will be looking to avenge narrow losses to Medina Spirit and Essential Quality at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, respectively.

Related: 2021 Breeders’ Cup schedule

Idol was supposed to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but was pulled by trainer Richard Baltas, who didn’t feel comfortable running him after coming up “tight behind” cooling out.

NBC Sports is home to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, and the NBC Sports app before, during and after. Coverage kicks off with Future Stars Friday on November 5, from 5-9 p.m. on NBCSN, and the NBC Sports app. NBC Sports will resume coverage the following day on NBCSN, and the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 p.m., with the broadcast jumping to NBC from 8-9 p.m.

Related: What to know about the 2021 Breeders’ Cup

Below are the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic odds and post positions as of Monday, Nov. 3.

1. Tripoli (15-1)
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

2. Express Train (20-1)
Trainer: John Shirreffs
Jockey: Victor Espinoza

3. Hot Rod Charlie (4-1)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Flavien Prat

4. Essential Quality (3-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Luis Saez

5. Knicks Go (5-2)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Joel Rosario

6. Art Collector (8-1)
Trainer: William Mott
Jockey: Mike Smith

7. Stiletto Boy (30-1)
Trainer: Ed Moger, Jr.
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

8. Medina Spirit (4-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: John Velasquez

9. Max Player (8-1)
Trainer: Steven Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

kentucky derby
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Bob Baffert wins record 16th Del Mar Futurity with Cave Rock

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Cave Rock won the $302,000 Del Mar Futurity by 5 1/4 lengths, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 16th victory in the Grade 1 race in which he finished 1-2.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Cave Rock ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 on closing day at the seaside track north of San Diego. He lowered the old mark of 1:21.29 set by Declan’s Moon in 2004.

Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainers’ title with 19 wins each at the 31-day summer meet. It was Baffert’s eighth title at Del Mar, but his first since 2003.

Hernandez won the jockeys’ title.

Havnameltdown, also trained by Baffert, finished second in the race for 2-year-olds. Skinner was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.

Longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman own the first and second-place finishers.

Cave Rock paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 favorite. He earned $180,000 for the win.