Last Updated Oct 29, 2022, 9:05 AM

Breeders' Cup 2021 Classic Odds, Preview, Predictions

Nov. 2, 2021

Horse Racing Expert

2021 Breeders' Cup Betting Central

Welcome to Stabile’s 2021 Breeders’ Cup Preview, an in depth look into each and every Breeders’ Cup race to be held Friday, November 5 and Saturday November 5 at Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California. handicapper Anthony “the Big A” Stabile will take a look at the contenders in each event, talk about how the race should set-up and provide some strategies on how to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to betting on the race.

Breeders' Cup Classic
Post Position & Morning Line Odds

  1. Tripoli 15-1
  2. Express Train 20-1
  3. Hot Rod Charlie 4-1
  4. Essential Quality 3-1
  5. Knicks Go 5-2
  6. Art Collector 8-1
  7. Stilleto Boy 30-1
  8. Medina Spirit 4-1
  9. Max Player 8-1

Field Subject to Change

Breeders' Cup Classic Betting Resources

  • Race: 12
  • Distance: 1 ¼ miles
  • Purse: $6 million
  • Age: 3up
  • Date: Saturday, November 6
  • Time: 8:40 p.m. ET 

The History

You knew this race was aptly named after the stretch run of the inaugural running when eventual winner Wild Again played bumper cars along with Slew o’ Gold and Gate Dancer. Ferdinand won the battle of the Kentucky Derby winners over Alysheba in 1987 before Alysheba claimed his own classic victory the following year.

In the final chapter of their brief, yet intense rivalry, Sunday Silence held off the desperate surge of Easy Goer to win in 1989. Jerry Bailey won three in a row, starting in 1993 with Arcangues, the longest priced winner in Breeders’ Cup history and ending with the great Cigar in 1995 who capped a perfect 10-for-10 season with a fantastic score. Awesome Again split rivals in deep stretch to win a wild one in 1998 over Silver Charm and Swain.

Tiznow gutted out two of the greatest wins over a pair of tough Europeans, Giant’s Causeway and Sakhee, in 2000 and 2001 respectively, making his trainer Jay Robbins and the great Charlie Whittingham the only two-time winners of the race.

Volponi blew up the tote board, then the Pick 6 scandal, in 2002 with his win at 43-1. Ghostzapper set the stakes record with a gate-to-wire, tour de force victory in 2004. Curlin capped his Horse of the Year campaign in 2007 with a win before finishing fourth the following year on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita.

The great Zenyatta kept the undefeated dream alive with a remarkable last-to-first run in 2009 before falling a head short of Blame in the 2010 renewal and finishing her career with 19 wins from 20 starts.

In 2014, Bayern made a left turn coming out of the gate before going gate-to-wire, holding off Toast of New York and California Chrome in another whale of a photo.

In 2015, American Pharoah capped off a historic, legendary season by winning the Triple Crown in the spring and Classic in the fall with a brilliant, gate-to-wire score. Arrogate gave his trainer Bob Baffert three in a row when he ran past California Chrome in the final strides before Authentic went gate-to-wire in 2020 to give Baffert his fourth.

It's the Classic indeed!!!!

Classic Fast Facts

  • Favorites: 10 for 37 (27%)
  • Shortest: $3.40 (Cigar, 1995 & American Pharoah, 2015)
  • Highest: $269.20 (Arcangues, 1993) *Highest price in history of the Breeders’ Cup*
  • The champ is here? No, Authentic is standing at stud.

How to Handicap the Breeders' Cup Classic


5-Knicks Go will look to remain undefeated in his races around two turns since Brad Cox took over his training at the start of 2020.

Last year’s B.C. Dirt Mile winner, Knicks Go was a G1 winner at two and finished second to juvenile champ Game Winner in the 2018 B.C. Juvenile before a terrible sophomore campaign.

But Cox turned Knick’s Go career around. He was undefeated in three starts last year before a 2021 campaign that includes wins in the G1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream and the prestigious G1 Whitney at Saratoga.

Knicks Go is the speed of the speed, and his jockey Joel Rosario isn’t afraid to use it. His biggest question may be the distance as he has never raced beyond nine furlongs.

G1 Belmont Stakes winner 4-Essential Quality gives Cox another bullet in the Classic and is a length shy of being perfect in nine starts. Unfortunately, that defeat came in the G1 Kentucky Derby where he was bothered at the start then wide throughout on a track that favored inside speed.

Essential Quality’s win in the Belmont established him as one of the faster colts in what is turning out to be a pretty good crop of sophomores. A workmanlike win, again against the track, in the G2 Jim Dandy followed before another top-notch effort in the G1 Travers.

Essential Quality and regular rider Luis Saez make a wonderful team and Saez knows how to use his mounts tactical speed when he needs to, something that will come in handy against the likes of Knicks Go.

3-Hot Rod Charlie figures to pose the biggest threat to the Cox duo and like Essential Quality will be making his first start against older horses for trainer Doug O’Neill.

Third in the Derby, Hot Rod Charlie came back to set solid fractions in the Belmont and lost a thrilling stretch battle to Essential Quality, one that didn’t deserve a loser.

Six weeks later, Hot Rod Charlie finished first in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park but was disqualified for interference in the stretch. It’s hard to imagine he wasn’t best that afternoon and he solidified his place as one of the best in this crop with a smashmouth, gate to wire win in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby in his most recent start under Flavien Prat.


Kentucky Derby winner 8-Medina Spirit has won both of his starts since a third-place finish in the Preakness after the Derby controversy involving his trainer Bob Baffert. He won the Shared Belief against three-year-olds over this course back in late August before returning five weeks later to boss around older rivals in the G1 Awesome Again in gate-to-wire fashion. He does his best work on the front end, like several others in here, but it is hard to envision him having the early lead. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rides.

9-Max Player has run the two best races of his career most recently when rider Ricardo Santana, Jr. has been more aggressive with the one-time plodder in the early going. Two starts back he took down the G2 Suburban over a sloppy Belmont Park strip over Mystic Guide then returned two months later to win the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, held at Saratoga for the first time, by a going away four lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. He’d need to get a bit faster but certainly has license to with his newfound running style.

6-Art Collector is perfect in three starts since being transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott earlier this summer After a defeat sprinting in the Kelly’s Landing this season, Mott took over and stretched Art Collector out to win the Alydar at Saratoga, G2 Charles Town Classic in West Virginia and G1 Woodward at Belmont, all at nine furlongs. He’ll have to sit off the pace in the Classic as he simply isn’t fast enough to keep up with Knicks Go early on. Mike Smith will ride.

1-Tripoli won his lone start at this trip, the G1 Pacific Classic over this course, two starts back over a less than stellar field before finishing a non-threatening fourth in the Awesome Again for trainer John Sadler, who won this three years ago with Accelerate. Irad Ortiz, Jr, has the call.

2-Express Train is the Del Mar horse-for-the-course, having won three of his five starts here for trainer John Shireffs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the fact that he seems to be stretched out at this distance. He has done his better work going a bit shorter and will be taking on perhaps his three toughest rivals to date under Victor Espinoza.

Ed Moger Jr. sends out longshot 7-Stilleto Boy, still eligible for a second level allowance contest, off a second-place finish at over 50-1 in the Awesome Again. He beat fellow sophomores earlier this year at over 16-1 in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. Kent Desormeaux rides.

Breeders' Cup Classic Predictions

If I’m Right… 

You are going to see a Herculean effort from whoever the winner is because Knicks Go would have to go fast early AND late while anyone trying to run him down at Del Mar has as unenviable a task as there is in horse racing based on his efforts for Cox around two turns.

Live Longshot 

Art Collector has gotten better and better in each of his starts for Mott. Let’s see if he can sit off the pace and be effective at somewhere in the 10-1 range.


Anthony “the Big A” Stabile's expert horse racing content is featured in many different mediums nationally and you can check out all of his appearances by following him on Twitter @TheBigAStabile.

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