LEXINGTON, Ky. — The first poll is out, and there's a clear early favorite to win this year's edition of one of Thoroughbred racing's premier contests.
Tom's d'Etat, who last month pulled off a dominant 4 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs, was voted the top contender for the $7 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic in a poll released Wednesday.
A panel of Thoroughbred industry experts and members of the Breeders' Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel voted in the poll, which will be released weekly through Oct. 13 in anticipation of the Breeders' Cup Classic. Each voter ranks contenders on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale in descending order.
The Classic will be run at Keeneland on Nov. 7 and will be the highlight of two days of Breeders' Cup World Championship races at the Lexington track.
Tom's d'Etat, the 7-year-old Kentucky-bred son of multiple graded-stakes winner Smart Strike, received 17 of 34 first-place votes. His romp in the Stephen Foster was his fourth straight graded-stakes victory. With it, the Albert Stall-trainee improved his career record to 11-2-1 in 18 starts.
Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference, is ranked second in the Breeders' Cup poll and earned nine first-place votes. Maximum Security, last year's Eclipse Award winner for top 3-year-old male who is now trained by Bob Baffert, is coming off a victory in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup in February and in 2019 won four graded-stakes contests. Maximum Security returns to the track for the first time since the Saudi Cup in Saturday night's San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.
Currently third in the Breeders' Cup poll is Tiz the Law, the winner of last month's Belmont Stakes who is unbeaten in three starts this year. Currently sitting comfortably atop the Road to the Kentucky leaderboard, Tiz the Law is widely viewed as one of the favorites to win the Run for the Roses on Sept. 5. He is one of two 3-year-olds ranked in the top 10 of this week's Breeders' Cup poll. The other is sixth-ranked Honor A.P., who is coming off a victory in the Santa Anita Derby on June 6.
The Breeders' Cup Classic rankings have no bearing on qualification or selection into the Breeders' Cup Classic but promote interest in the event, much the way College Football Playoff rankings throughout the season serve as lead-up to the final naming of the playoff participants.
The Breeders' Cup World Championships will play out at Keeneland for only the second time in the event's 37-year history in 2020, and for the first time since 2015, on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7.
Friday's racing features six events for juveniles. Nine races for older horses are set for Saturday, headlined by the Classic. All told, the event offers $32 million in prize money.
Tickets have been on sale since March, and event officials have said the Breeders' Cup will go forward as planned based on all currently available information concerning the coronavirus pandemic. If the World Championships have to be canceled or conducted without live spectators, all ticket purchases will be fully refunded.
BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC RANKINGS
(Listed with total votes. First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Tom's d'Etat, 292 (17)
2. Maximum Security, 243 (9)
3. Tiz the Law, 210 (2)
4. Code of Honor, 200 (2)
5. Midnight Bisou, 174 (3)
6. Honor A.P., 125
7. By My Standards, 122
8. Tacitus, 92
9. Vekoma, 83 (1)
10. Improbable, 82
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