RRR Racing’s Clapton and Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Speed Boat Beach will both be attempting to add to a lengthy list of Florida-bred winners of Breeders’ Cup races when they go postward in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic and the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

Both Grade 1 races have been a part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships from the outset in 1984 and the mile-and-one-quarter Classic and six-furlong Sprint are two of the nine Breeders’ Cup World Championship races worth more than $21 million to be run Saturday at the Great Race Place for a record 11th time.

Clapton and Speed Boat Beach will try to add to a long list of 30 previous Florida-bred winners of Breeders’ Cup races including three winners of the Classic (Unbridled in 1990, Skip Away in 1997 and Mucho Macho Man in 2013) and five in the Sprint (Eillo in 1984, Precisionist in 1985, Smile in 1986, Cherokee Run in 1994 and Big Drama in 2010).

Outside of Kentucky with their 240 Breeders’ Cup winners and Ireland with 44 winners going into 2023, Florida has produced more than any other state, province, or country. Great Britain with 24 Breeders’ Cup winners is the only other country, state or province with double digit winners.

Clapton, tabbed at 20-1 in the morning line, will have to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic as an outsider. Trainer Chad Summers acknowledges the challenge of winning the prestigious event against a stellar field.

“To win this race, everything has to go your way,” Summers said at the Breeders’ Cup Barn 59 in the Santa Anita stable area Tuesday. “But Clapton has done everything perfectly training up to Saturday.”

Clapton enters the Classic after winning the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on Sept. 30 and was only two-and-a-half lengths off Classic rivals Bright Future and Proxy, who were first and second respectively in in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga on Sept. 2.

Clapton got caught three-wide in the first turn of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Summers is hoping an easier trip Saturday from post seven provides a better outcome for the 4-year-old son of Arindel’s popular Florida-based sire Brethren.

“[Clapton] drew seven out of [11 with the scratch of Arcangelo] and we couldn’t have asked for a better draw. We’re kind of right in the middle,” Summers said. “With Saudi Crown in post six, Derma Sotogake (Jpn) in post five then you have White Abarrio in three and then obviously Arabian Knight [in post 12] – those are your main kind of speed horses. Obviously, Saudi Crown and Arabian Knight are the fastest of them and Arabian Knight is going to have to get over. So, everybody is going to have to get out of his way. We’re just going to sit back and let him get over. It looks like we’re going to save some ground. The last two times we ran him in the Jockey Club and the Lukas Classic, he kinda got wide trips.”

Clapton will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and will look to improve on his record of six wins, four seconds and six thirds in 24 career starts with earnings of $823,450. A finish in the top four would push Clapton past the $1 million mark in career earnings, becoming the 182nd Florida-bred to hit the seven-figure mark.

Bred in Florida by Arindel, who raced Clapton during his first 22 starts before selling him privately to his current owners, the chestnut colt is out of Alexandra Rylee, by the Florida-bred sire Afleet Alex.

The remainder of the Breeders’ Cup field includes Zandon with Frankie Dettori aboard, White Abarrio and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Missed the Cut and jockey Luis Saez, Derma Sotogake has Christophe Lemaire named to ride, Saudi Crown and jockey Florent Geroux, Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) will have rider Yuga Kawada, Senor Buscador with Giovanni Franco in the saddle, Jose Ortiz rides Dreamlike, Bright Future will be guided by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight has Flavien Prat in the irons and Proxy will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Speed Boat Beach makes his second start of the year in the Sprint after finishing just a head shy of Dr. Schivel in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Sept. 30.

Florida-bred Speed Boat Beach – Benoit Photo

Despite going into the Santa Anita Sprint Championship off the long layoff, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert expected the 3-year-old son to have a good showing.

“We liked him going in. He’s very aggressive. You have to watch him because he really enjoys what he does. We were disappointed when we got beat,” Baffert said. “We really thought we could win that race. But he got beat by a really good horse.

“[The Sprint Championship] was a very tough race but he came out of it well.”

Speed Boat Beach will compete in his second Breeders’ Cup, making him the 59th Florida-bred with more than one start in the World Thoroughbred Championships.

After breaking the Del Mar track record for five-and-a-half furlongs in 1:01.86 in his first start, Speed Boat Beach won the $102,000 Speakeasy at Santa Anita but finished ninth behind winner Mischief Magic (Ire) in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland on Nov. 4.

The son of Bayern came back to win the one-mile Cecil B. DeMille on Santa Anita turf on Dec. 4 in his last start before returning in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

Speed Boat Beach is out of Sophia Mia, by Pioneerof the Nile and was bred in Florida by Richard Heysek in the name of his Caperlane Farm.

Speed Boat Beach has post seven and is the second choice in the morning line at 3-1 behind 9-5 favorite and defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Elite Power at 9-5.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Speed Boat Beach.

Others set for the Sprint include Nakatomi with jockey Luis Saez aboard, Juan Hernandez gets the return mount on Dr. Schivel, American Theorem will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Hoist the Gold has John Velazquez up, Three Technique and Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Hector Berrios rides The Chosen Vron, Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard Elite Power and Tyler Gaffalione is named on Gunite.

Return to the Nov. 3 issue of Wire to Wire