West Will Power Qualifies for BC Classic

West Will Power takes the 2023 New Orleans Classic (Photo: Hodges Photography)

By Jarrod Horak

The Grade 1 Stephen Foster on Saturday, July 1 at Ellis Park was a Win and You’re In for the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and West Will Power stalked the pace, struck the front, and held off Rock N Roll to score by a half-length. 

Flavien Prat rode the winner for Brad Cox and he completed his 1 1/8 miles journey in 1:47.93. He drew outside his main pace rivals and got the right forwardly placed trip while out in the clear at his preferred distance. The 6-year-old son of Bernardini is now 6 4-2-0 at a mile and an eighth. This was his first Grade 1 victory and he paid $6.14 as the winning favorite. The BC Classic will be held at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Nov. 4, and the mile and a quarter distance will be a challenge for this one. 

Rock N Roll continued his strong recent form with a rallying place finish. Prior to this race, he rattled off Grade 3 wins in the Ben Ali, Pimlico Special, and Blame Stakes. He can run all day and should continue to give a good account of himself in these graded dirt routes at a mile and an eighth and up. 

Happy American ran on from last place to complete the Trifecta and basically duplicated his effort from the Blame Stakes (G3) on June 3. Give this one some pace to chase and he will come running in the stretch. He was the longest shot on the board at 48-1. 

Last Samurai finished an even fourth. He is not the same runner away from Oaklawn Park. 

Smile Happy stalked from fourth and worked his way up to second in the stretch but could not sustain his run and ended up fifth. He defeated West Will Power in the Alysheba (G2) on May 5 but was not close to that form this afternoon. He did act up prior to the start of the race and that may have contributed to his flat effort.

Stiletto Boy stalked the pace and made an outside move under Kent Desormeaux but weakened in the lane to finish sixth. The Big ‘Cap hero was part of the Trifecta in 8 of 10 starts prior to this event. 

Speed Bias set the pace and faded to seventh. He has made nice progress this year but this group was just too tough for him.

Proxy threw in a rare clunker and ran last as the second betting choice. I would just draw a line through this race.  

I covered the 2023 Stephen Foster for Today’s Racing Digest in video and written format, and West Will Power was my top choice. I got home my suggested win wager but was not able to connect the dots in the Exacta, Trifecta, or Super High 5.