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.

Churchill Downs moves meet to Ellis Park to examine protocols following 12 horse deaths

churchill downs
Michael Clevenger and Erik Mohn/USA TODAY NETWORK

Churchill Downs will suspend racing on Wednesday and move the remainder of its spring meet to Ellis Park in order to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of safety and surface protocols in the wake of 12 horse fatalities the past month at the home of the Kentucky Derby.

No single factor has been identified as a potential cause for the fatalities or pattern detected, according to a release, but the decision was made to relocate the meet “in an abundance of caution.”

“What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in Friday’s release. “We need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.”

Racing will continue at Churchill Downs through Sunday before shifting to the CDI-owned racing and gaming facility in Henderson, Kentucky. Ellis Park’s meet was scheduled to start July 7 and run through Aug. 27 but will now expand with Friday’s announcement.

Ellis Park will resume racing on June 10.

The move comes a day after track superintendent Dennis Moore conducted a second independent analysis of Churchill Downs’ racing and training surfaces as part of an emergency summit called this week by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) with the track and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Meetings took place in Lexington, Kentucky, and at the Louisville track.

The head of the federally created oversight agency suggested ahead of the summit that it could recommend pausing the meet and that Churchill Downs would accept that recommendation.

Churchill Downs’ release stated that expert testing raised no concerns and concluded that the surface was consistent with the track’s prior measurements. Even so, it chose to relocate “in alignment” with HISA’s recommendation to suspend the meet to allow more time for additional investigation.

“We appreciate their thoughtfulness and cooperation through these challenging moments,” HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus said in a statement. “We will continue to seek answers and work with everyone involved to ensure that horses are running safely at Churchill Downs again in the near future.”

Carstanjen insisted that relocating the remainder of the spring meet to Ellis Park would maintain the industry ecosystem with minor disruption. He also said he was grateful to Kentucky horsemen for their support as they work to find answers.

Rick Hiles, the president of Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, questioned the move, especially since there’s no conclusive evidence that Churchill Downs’ surface is the problem.

“We all want to find solutions that will improve safety for horses,” Hiles said in a statement. “However, we need to discuss allowing trainers and veterinarians to use therapeutic medications that greatly lessen the risk of breakdowns.

“Drastic steps, such as relocating an active race meet, should only be considered when it is certain to make a difference.”

The latest development comes a day after Churchill Downs and HISA each implemented safety and performance standards to address the spate of deaths.

HISA will conduct additional post-entry screening of horses to identify those at increased risk for injury. Its Integrity and Welfare Unit also will collect blood and hair samples for all fatalities for use while investigating a cause.

Churchill Downs announced it would immediately limit horses to four starts during a rolling eight-week period and impose ineligibility standards for poor performers. The track is also pausing incentives, such as trainer start bonuses and limiting purse payouts to the top five finishers instead of every finisher.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance


NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.