Jeff Siegel’s Blog: 2017 Breeders’ Cup Elite-8 Rankings




  1. ARROGATE (B. Baffert)
  2. GUN RUNNER (S. Asmussen)
  3. KEEN ICE (T. Pletcher)
  4. MOR SPIRIT (B. Baffert)
  5. SHAMAN GHOST (J. Jerkens)
  6. CUPID (B. Baffert)
  7. IRAP (D. O’Neill)

THE LATEST – Defending BC Classic winner Arrogate ran as poorly as a 1/9 favorite can when beaten more than 15 lengths in San Diego H.-G2, his first defeat since finishing third in his debut in April, 2016. The encouraging news is that he has trained like his old self since that race (see workout) and will get a chance to make amends in the Pacific Classic-G1. Aug. 19. Gun Runner was superb in a 5 ¼ romp in the Whitney S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 5, over the rejuvenated Keen Ice and will quickly elevate to the top spot if Arrogate doesn’t bounce back. Keen Ice overcame a bad stumble at the start of the Whitney to be a non-threatening second and will appreciate the Classic’s extra furlong. Irap and Good Samaritan, arguably the two best 3-year-olds in training right now, make the list as both project to be well-suited by the Classic’s 10 furlong distance.



  1. HIGHLAND REEL (A. O’Brien)
  2. ULYSSES (M. Stoute)
  3. IDAHO (A. O’Brien)
  5. ZARAK (A. de Royer-Dupre)
  6. BEACH PATROL (C. Brown)
  8. FRONTIERSMAN (C. Appleby)

THE LATEST – This year’s American contingent isn’t very impressive. We’ve listed a few European-based runners that are BC-eligible and have the proper form to be highly competitive, but at this stage it’s impossible to know which and how many will actually come. Defending champion Highland Reel won back-to-back Group-1s in England this year before failing to land a blow when fourth over unsuitable soft ground in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S.-G1 at Ascot in late July. Ulysses was second (beaten 4 ½ lengths) in that same race behind super filly Enable and is a better type now than last year, when he finished a very respectable fourth in the BC Turf-G1 at Santa Anita.



  1. RIBCHESTER (R. Fahey)
  2. BAL A BALI (R. Mandella)
  3. WORLD APPROVAL (M. Casse)
  4. FARHAAN (P. D’Amato)
  5. MIDNIGHT STORM (P. D’Amato)
  6. HEART TO HEART (B. Lynch)
  7. HUNT (P. D’Amato)

THE LATEST – Ribchester may have been inconvenienced by soft ground when narrowly beaten in the Sussex S.-G1 at Goodwood but remains the top-rated miler in England and will be the one to beat if he makes the trip.  However, the latest speculation is that the Godolphin colt will stay home and compete in the Queen Elizabeth II S.-G1 on Champions Day at Ascot Oct. 21. Bal a Bali rates top billing among the Americans and will have something of a home court advantage at Del Mar, but on pure form he’s several pounds below Ribchester. World Approval joins the list after his authoritative victory in the Fourstardave S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 12. Maybe he’s always wanted to be just a miler. This is another race in which the Europeans – with so many legitimate candidates – have an enormous edge both in numbers and in talent but at this stage it is unknown who and how many are being pointed for the race.



  1. COLLECTED (B. Baffert)
  2. DANZING CANDY (B. Baffert)
  3. ACCELERATE (J. Sadler)
  4. SEYMOURDINI (L. Rice)
  5. SHARP AZTECA (J. Navarro)
  6. PRACTICAL JOKE (C. Brown)
  7. AMERICAN ANTHEM (B. Baffert)
  8. TOMMY MACHO (T. Pletcher)

THE LATEST – Collected is scheduled to make his next appearance in the 10F Pacific Classic-G1 Aug. 19 and a good performance could land him in the Classic division. For now, we’ll keep him here, where the son of City Zip is one of three Elite-8 contenders from the Baffert barn. The same can be said for the John Sadler-trained Accelerate, the gate-to-wire upset winner over Arrogate in the San Diego H.-G2. He’ll also go next in the Pacific Classic, though the mile and one-quarter distance surely will be stretching his limit. Seymourdini fits well in this race but trainer Linda Rice has stated that the year-end goal for the son of Bernardini is the Cigar Mile-G1 based on the belief that he’s much more effective around one turn. Worth noting is that he has not had a race or a workout since July 3.



  1. DREFONG (B. Baffert)
  2. MIND YOUR BISCUITS (C. Summers)
  3. ROY H (P. Miller)
  4. RANSOM THE MOON (P. D’Amato)
  5. EL DEAL (J. Navarro)
  6. WHITMORE (R. Moquett)
  7. IMPERIAL HINT (L. Carbajal, Jr.)
  8. AWESOME BANNER (K. Decker)

THE LATEST – Defending BC Sprint champion Drefrong launched his 2017 campaign in the Bing Crosby S.-G1 at Del Mar inauspiciously – he veered in sharply after the start and unseated jockey Mike Smith – and then, in addition to costing himself the race, also impeded Roy H (who finished third) so badly that his main rival was virtually eliminated as well.   Subsequently, he was placed on the starter’s list, but he behaved himself breezing from the gate Aug. 12 (see workout) and will make his next start in the Forego S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 29. Meanwhile, Mind Your Biscuits has put together a string of superb performances both at home and in Dubai and right now must be viewed as the clear-cut leader for the Eclipse Award in the sprint division. His next start is up in the air as of this writing because trainer Chad Summers was a bit disappointed in the colt’s most recent morning drill (see workout).



  1. LADY AURELIA (W. Ward)
  2. DISCO PARTNER (C. Clement)
  3. GREEN MASK (B. Cox)
  4. HOLDING GOLD (M. Casse)
  5. LONG ON VALUE (W. Mott)
  6. PAY ANY PRICE (R. Zaidie)
  7. PURE SENSATION (C. Clement)
  8. RICHARD’S BOY (P. Miller)

THE LATEST – This year’s BC Turf Sprint will be run at five furlongs and that – coupled with Del Mar’s short run in from the top of the lane to the wire – means deep closing turf sprinters need not apply. At this shortened trip Lady Aurelia has a considerable edge; she’s quick enough to make the lead but is quite comfortable in a stalk-and-pounce role should the situation dictate. She’ll run next in the Nunthorpe S.-G1 Aug. 25 at York. Disco Partner isn’t BC eligible and because he’s a gelding isn’t likely to be supplemented but we’ll still list him just in case. Green Mask just missed the Saratoga course record for 5 ½ furlongs in his scintillating victory in the Troy Handicap.



  1. SONGBIRD (J. Hollendorfer)
  2. STELLAR WIND (J. Sadler)
  3. ABEL TASMAN (B. Baffert)
  4. VALE DORI-AR (B. Baffert)
  6. PARADISE WOODS (R. Mandella)
  7. HOLY HELENA (J. Jerkens)
  8. FAITHFULLY (B. Baffert)

THE LATEST – Songbird, whose only defeat in 14 career starts came by a nose to Beholder last year, has made hard work of it in both of her victories this year and a legitimate case can be made that she’s not quite back to her sophomore form. Perhaps she’d be more dominating if she did less traveling, but nonetheless she’ll be on the plane again for her next start, the Personal Ensign S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 26. Stellar Wind is better at age five than she’s ever been – she’s 3-for-3 this year, all in Grade 1’s – and Abel Tasman seems to be improving with every start and is very close to wrapping up an Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old filly division. The Baffert-trained filly seems likely to make her next start in the $1 million Cotillion S.-G1 at Parx Sept. 23.



  2. CURLIN’S APPROVAL (M. Wolfson)
  3. SKYE DIAMONDS (W. Spawr)*
  4. AMERICAN GAL (S. Callaghan)
  5. FINEST CITY (I. Kruljac)
  7. BY THE MOON (M. Nevin)
  8. CONSTELLATION (J. Hollendorfer)

THE LATEST – At seven furlongs Curlin’s Approval may very well be the best of the lot following her career top performance in the Princess Rooney S.-G2 but clearly  Paulassilverlining, with back-to-back Grade-1 wins and four victories in her last five starts, has the more accomplished resume. Skye Diamonds has become the best female sprinter in the West and is undefeated in two starts at Del Mar. Defending champion Finest City not quite back to 2016 form just yet.



  1. WINTER-IR (A. O’Brien)
  2. LADY ELI (C. Brown)
  3. ROLY POLY (A. O’Brien)
  4. ANTONOE (C. Brown)
  5. GRAND JETE (C. Brown)
  6. DACITA (C. Brown)
  7. ALICE SPRINGS (A. O’Brien)
  8. QUIDURA (G. Motion)

THE LATEST – Trainer Chad Brown could saddle half the field and Aidan O’Brien the other half if they enter all of their legitimate contenders. Lady Eli has the style to suit the tight Del Mar turf course, where the short stretch requires handiness and instant acceleration. Her Brown-trained stablemate, Antonoe, might be just as good. But at this stage European-based Winter, with four consecutive Group-1 victories, has the best resume, and Roly Poly, who defeated Lady Aurelia last year, isn’t too far behind. As of this writing, they’re all intended starters. Dacita earned her way in with a victory in the Beverly D. S.-G1 in Chicago Aug. 12 but if truth be told her stablemate, Grand Jete, who dead-heated for second, encountered extreme traffic and should have won.



  1. RUN AWAY (S. Callaghan)
  2. TEN CITY (K. McPeek)
  3. COPPER BULLET (S. Asmussen)
  4. FREE DROP BILLY (D. Romans)
  5. MOJOVATION (T. Pletcher)
  6. HOLLYWOOD STAR (D. Romans)
  7. FIRENZE FIRE (J. Servis)
  8. BOLT d’ORO (M. Ruis)

THE LATEST – Obviously, it’s a little too early for these rankings to mean much but West Coast-based Run Away, unbeaten in three starts with two stakes wins, including the Best Pal-G2 at Del Mar Aug. 12, is most accomplished so far. However, as a son of Run Away and Hide, he’s no slam dunk to improve two-turning and his speed figures aren’t anything special.  Next stop is the 7F Del Mar Futurity-G1 Sept. 4. Ten City (another son of Run Away and Hide) and Copper Bullet finished one-two in the Bashford Manor S.-G3 at Churchill Downs June 30 and the form was franked when ‘Bullet came back to crush a representative field in the Saratoga Special S-G2 at Saratoga Aug. 13.



  1. DREAM IT IS (B. Minshall)
  2. PURE SILVER (T. Pletcher)
  4. SPECTATOR (P. D’Amato)
  5. SUNNY SKIES (K. McPeek)
  6. I STILL MISS YOU (J. Englehart)
  7. BEST PERFORMANCE (C. Clement)
  8. AMY’S CHALLENGE (M. Robertson)

THE LATEST – At this time the strength in this division primarily resides in the East. Dream It Is proved her outstanding Woodbine form was legit when winning the Schuylerville Stakes-G3 by nine lengths opening weekend at Saratoga. She’s currently three-for-three and getting faster by the race.  Additionally, her pedigree suggests a middle distance should be within her range.  Pure Silver, now unbeaten in three starts including two stakes, is very fast and thoroughly genuine. She’ll run next in the Spinaway S.-G1 and could face Dream It Is in what would amount to something of a late-summer showdown. Separationofpowers was a highly-impressive recent debut maiden winner at the Spa and probably has as much upside as anything on this list. She’s another possibility for the Spinaway.





Jeff Siegel’s Blog: 2017 Breeders’ Cup Elite-8 Rankings

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