Saturday’s running of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland will be a reunion of sorts. A reunion of Kentucky Derby alumni, to be exact.
No fewer than six “Run for the Roses” veterans are slated to contest the Breeders' Cup Classic, held over the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Kentucky Derby. Leading the charge are Authentic and Tiz the Law, who staged a memorable duel when finishing first and second under the historic Twin Spires just two months ago.
The postponement of the 2020 Kentucky Derby due to COVID-19 has been a benefit to the Classic, helping ensure that the best 3-year-olds of the season are fresh and fit to face older rivals at Keeneland. You have to go back to 2007 to find the last time the top two finishers from the Kentucky Derby went on to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Classic
, which indicates how difficult it can be for elite 3-year-olds to maintain peak form across the six months that normally separate the two events.
Authentic and Tiz the Law will be joined in the Classic by a quartet of contenders representing the 2019 Kentucky Derby form. First and foremost is Maximum Security, the champion 3-year-old male of 2019. Famously disqualified from Derby glory after causing interference on the final turn, Maximum Security has been almost unstoppable since then, and his 2020 campaign includes victories in the Pacific Classic (G1) and the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup.
But Maximum Security was beaten in his final prep run for the Classic, finishing second in the Awesome Again (G1) behind stablemate Improbable. Fourth as the favorite in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, Improbable has blossomed as a 4-year-old, with decisive triumphs in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and Whitney (G1) preceding his romp in the Awesome Again.
Tacitus, who split Maximum Security and Improbable when third in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, has continued competing with aplomb in 2020, with a runaway 8 3/4-length triumph in the Suburban (G2) ranking as his greatest triumph to date. Rounding out the Derby reunion party is By My Standards, who has rattled off a trio of Grade 2 wins since finishing 11th in the 2019 Run for the Roses.
Of course, Kentucky Derby representation isn’t limited to the Classic. Preakness (G1) winner War of Will, who finished seventh in the 2019 Derby after checking in traffic behind Maximum Security, is slated to give the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) a go. He’ll be joined by the popular two-time allowance winner Bodexpress, who was likewise compromised by Maximum Security when finishing 13th in the 2019 Derby.
The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint
(G1) will also feature a strong Derby flavor with Grade 1 winners Vekoma
(12th in 2019), Firenze Fire
(11th in 2018), and Whitmore
(19th in 2016) looming as key contenders in the 6-furlong dash. Their participation in North America’s most prestigious sprint
is a reminder that Derby contenders are elite racehorses at heart, even when 1 1/4 miles isn’t their best ballgame.