Those familiar with thoroughbred racing will undoubtedly have heard of the Triple Crown, which is when a horse wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes in the same season.

However, back in 2015, one legendary horse, American Pharoah, ripped up the playbook by winning the Triple Crown and adding the Breeders’ Cup Classic to his seasonal tally.

That remarkable feat led to the dawn of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing, a term that now defines wins in all four major races.

The fact that American Pharoah is the only horse to have ever achieved this is neither here nor there; what matters is that he proved it is possible.

That said, the Grand Slam is not on the cards in 2024, as no horse has won the three qualifying races this season.

The Kentucky Derby was won by Mystik Dan, the Preakness Stakes by Sieze the Grey, and the Belmont Stakes by Dornoch.

So, as we look ahead to the Classic in November, there are still a considerable number of horses in contention, but if you fancy a bet on Breeders Cup, there is a lot of value to be had in the betting markets.

These odds are all ante-post as the runners for the Breeders’ Cup Classic have yet to be announced.

A few familiar names are already generating some hype, with a couple of favourites already standing out from the rest of the field, namely last year’s winner White Abbario.

Can the grey stallion make it two in a row for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr and jockey ​​Irad Ortiz Jr.? Only time will tell, but he will come up against some really tough opposition.

Main Contenders

I should point out that only a few bookmakers are offering ante-post odds on the Classic, given that it won’t take place until November.

Of those providing odds, the current standout and favourite to win is City of Troy.

City of Troy

The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old has won four of his five starts. Despite a disappointing run at Newmarket in the 2000 Guineas in May, he has consistently beaten the opposition by a considerable margin. That includes his most recent run in the Epsom Derby, which was not only his longest race to date (1m4f) but also against his largest field of challengers with 16 runners in action.

Neither the distance nor the field size impacted his performance, which saw him win by nearly three lengths, beating out Ambiente Friendly who finished second.

City of Troy will likely be entered into the International Stakes at York on 21 August 2024, with a win guaranteeing him an automatic berth in the Classic later in the season.

Forever Young

Forever Young is next in the ante-post betting and is generally only one or two points behind City of Troy to win the race.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, the three-year-old from Japan has a similar record to his nearest rival with four wins from five starts, with his only loss coming in this year’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

He placed third, but that doesn’t really do his performance any justice, as the winner was determined by a photo finish to split Mystik Dan, Sierra Leone, and Forever Young as they crossed the finish line with barely a nose separating all three of them.

Besides the narrow loss, he has an exemplary record and will pose a considerable threat should he qualify or be invited to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Sierra Leone

After that dramatic finish in the Kentucky Derby, Sierra Leone is third in the odds markets, which is interesting for two reasons.

The first is that his form isn’t as solid as other potential runners, and having suffered his first loss in the Derby, he then went on to finish in third place in the Belmont Stakes despite going off as favourite.

The second reason is that he has the same owners as City of Troy. Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and a few others all have a stake in both horses.

There are no rules to prevent multiple entries from the same owner, but if they were given a choice, it would be interesting to see which one they would pick!

Can White Abarrio Win It Again?

Only one horse has ever won the Breeders Cup’ Classic twice, and that was Tiznow in 2000 and 2001 because it is a notoriously difficult race to win.

It is also more difficult for five-year-olds to win the race because they begin to lack the speed and stamina required to go the distance, though Knicks Go (2021), Accelerate (2018), and Mucho Mucho Man (2013) all won at that age.

Eight of the last ten winners have either been three or four years old, and many of them had a seasonal Group 1 win under their belt by the time they got to the starting tape in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Unfortunately for White Abarrio, his season hasn’t gone according to plan, and he has been well beaten in his two runs, finishing tenth in the Saudi Cup and fifth out of six runners in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Neither result bodes well for his chances of winning a share of the $7 million that is up for grabs at Del Mar in San Diego on Saturday, November 02, 2024.