Five Things To Watch During the November 6, 7 Breeders’ Cup

The following piece appeared in The Buffalo News and was written by Gene Kershner. Fans can wager the Breeders’ Cup races at any Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Richmond, New Kent, Vinton and Hampton, at any VA-Horseplay OTB in Henrico (Breaker’s Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill), and online via,, and

The two-day racing festival has 201 pre-entered horses, including 39 from overseas, who are ready to compete in the 37th edition of the Breeders’ Cup Championships. Only owners and breeders will be in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fourteen championship races are on tap, five on Nov. 6 and nine on Nov. 7, with purses and awards totaling more than $31 million to be handed out.

Next year’s Breeders’ Cup will return to Southern California and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN. Coverage begins Nov. 6 on NBCSN from 2-6 p.m. ET and continues Nov. 7 on NBCSN from 12-2:30 p.m. ET, and on NBC from 2:30-6 p.m. ET.

The feature event Saturday afternoon is the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Classic, the climactic event of the Championships. In Cup history, 13 Classic winners have gone on to win Horse of the Year, so this year’s mile-and-a-quarter race will likely impact the biggest year-end award.

Swiss Skydiver works at Churchill Downs October 31 in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup. Photo by Coady Photography.

There were 11 pre-entries for the Classic, including Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver, who is also pre-entered for the Distaff as her first choice.

On Saturday afternoon, Belichick took over at the quarter pole to pull away in the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes.

Friday’s juvenile-filled lineup will conclude with the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which will provide a first glimpse at the hopefuls for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Can one of Bob Baffert’s Classic trio give him his fourth Classic victory? With Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, last year’s Derby “winner” Maximum Security and Whitney winner Improbable all coming out of the Baffert barn, his chances look good to capture his fourth victory in the big race. The race is loaded with Belmont and Travers winner Tiz the Law coming off a layoff and the potential for the filly to join the fray. Two horses that will be nice prices will be Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards, both of whom have had solid campaigns in 2020.

Authentic won the Derby from the far outside while Belmont winner Tiz The Law was second. Photo by Coady Photography.

2. Will the big showdown emerge in the Distaff? The $2 million Distaff could pit 2018 winner Monomoy Girl against Swiss Skydiver, which could emerge as the biggest showdown on the Saturday card. Trainer Kenny McPeek has not shown his cards with respect to which race Swiss Skydiver will run. But the 1 1/8-mile Distaff on the track where she performed valiantly against the boys in the Blue Grass Stakes is her likely landing spot. Monomoy Girl missed last year’s race due to a bout of colic and a pulled muscle. She’s 12-for-14 lifetime and is undefeated in three races this year.

3. Vekoma returns in the Sprint. After a fabulous start to the year in winning the Grade 1 Carter in June and the Grade 1 Met Mile on the Fourth of July, the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride has not raced since. Trained by George Weaver, he looked unbeatable against some solid competition in the Met Mile. With a big field and likely a short price, handicappers will have to weigh how much the long layoff will affect his performance in the 6-furlong dash.

The similarities of the American and Canadian triple crowns start and stop with the distance…

4. Will a star emerge from the Juvenile? Last year’s star, Dennis’ Moment, stumbled out to the gate and his career never recovered, falling off the Derby trail completely. This year’s 2-year-old who is being talked up the most is Jackie’s Warrior, unbeaten in four career starts. The son of Maclean’s Music wired the Grade 1 Champagne earlier this month and also led throughout in the Saratoga Special and Hopeful at the Spa last summer. The big question is whether he will handle the two turns for the first time. This could be another spot in which a short-priced favorite might be vulnerable.

5. The Euros coming look formidable. The biggest name is Magical, who took on the star Enable in an epic battle in the Turf at Churchill Downs in 2018. The 5-year-old daughter of Galileo is back in the Turf this year after winning three Group 1 races in 2020 for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Circus Maximus, the Queen Anne winner at Royal Ascot in June, will be entered in the $2 million Mile after finishing fourth last year for O’Brien.

It should be a fascinating two days of racing that rarely disappoints and can present betting opportunities not seen throughout the racing year that can produce monster results.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.