Best Beyer: Breeders’ Cup Classic-bound Knicks Go top of the class – again

• The week’s highest Beyer speed figure in North America

111 Knicks Go

Saratoga (August 7): Whitney Stakes G1 $1m, 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Korea Racing Authority
Pedigree: 5 rg h Paynter – Kosmo’s Buddy (Tapit)
Time: 1m47.70s

Not much arguing about the recipient of this week’s top BSF, as Knicks Go put himself in line for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with another brilliant effort in the Whitney.

A Beyer of 111 is the second-highest of 2021 – beaten only by his own 113 in last month’s Prairie Meadows romp. Indeed, throw in the 108 from the Pegasus and Knicks Go has the three best figures of the year.

Though the colt has clearly rediscovered his form around two turns after losing his way in Saudi and back in the Met Mile, there will still be questions about his aptitude for an extra furlong in the Classic – even at Del Mar, where the tight track should suit. He is 6-1 favourite with UK bookmakers.

He does appear a need-the-lead type, but what was impressive about the Whitney was that it wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter in the early stages as Swiss Skydiver tried to take him on, only to be thwarted by her rival’s superior speed.

Best Beyers of 2021

113
Knicks Go 5h (Brad Cox) Prairie Meadows, July 2: Cornhusker G3

111
Knicks Go 5h (Brad Cox) Saratoga, August 7: Whitney G1

108
Country Grammer 4c (Bob Baffert) Santa Anita, April 17: Californian G2
Hot Rod Charlie 3c (Doug O’Neill) Belmont Park, June 5: Belmont G1
Knicks Go 5h (Brad Cox) Gulfstream Park, Jan 23: Pegasus G1
Mystic Guide 4c (Mike Stidham) Oaklawn Park, Feb 27: Razorback G3
Royal Ship 5g (Richard Mandella) Santa Anita, April 17: Californian G2

 
107 
Life Is Good 3c (Bob Baffert) Santa Anita, March 6: San Felipe G2

106
Beau Liam 3c (Steve Asmussen) Saratoga, July 17: allowance
Cezanne 4c (Bob Baffert) Santa Anita, April 18: Kona Gold G3
Country Grammer 4c (Bob Baffert) Santa Anita, (May 31: Hollywood GC G1 
Domestic Spending 4g (Chad Brown) Belmont Park, June 5: Manhattan G1
Raging Bull 6h (Chad Brown) Keeneland, April 9: Maker’s Mark Mile G1
Witsel 3c (Chad Brown) Saratoga, July 17: allowance

Top 2yo Beyer: 93 Big City Lights (Santa Anita, May 2)

Until end July 4. Turf Beyers in italics.

In this respect, it is hardly surprising the resulting BSF was slightly below the Iowa G3 romp, where Knicks Go won by 10+ lengths from overmatched opponents. Here he had nearly five to spare over proper G1 rivals, having burned off Swiss Skydiver and drawn any potential sting elsewhere with a relentless gallop.

“He’s had three races this summer, so he’s been campaigned with more foundation this year, so I just have to think he’s a better horse,” says trainer Brad Cox. “He’s a more accomplished horse and built a nice foundation.”

In some respects, Knicks Go reminds me of the brilliant Ghostzapper, a miler who faced similar stamina questions in 2004 ahead of a Classic at Lone Star Park in which he made all to beat subsequent Dubai World Cup winner Roses In May by three lengths. He’d never run ten furlongs before the Classic either.

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