Breeders' Cup features familiar names
Last year, the theme for the Breeders’ Cup was “the best is yet to come.” This year, it should be “same time, next year,” because nine of the horses who won Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita a year ago, including 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, were announced on Wednesday as pre-entries for this year’s event, the 30th Breeders’ Cup, to be held at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.
In addition to Wise Dan, who will defend his title in the Mile on turf, the other 2012 Breeders’ Cup winners who are trying to win the same race in consecutive years include Fort Larned (who won the Classic), Groupie Doll (Filly and Mare Sprint), Little Mike (Turf), Mizdirection (Turf Sprint), and Trinniberg (Sprint).
The name of the Ladies’ Classic has changed — returning to its original moniker, the Distaff — but one constant in that race is two-time champion Royal Delta, who will be back to try to win it for the third straight year. Her Distaff rivals include Beholder, last year’s winner of the Juvenile Fillies.
Flotilla, who won the Juvenile Fillies Turf last year, returns this year in the Mile.
The most-watched horses, though, could be Game On Dude and Princess of Sylmar, who along with Wise Dan are currently considered the leading candidates for Horse of the Year.
Game On Dude, unbeaten this year, would secure Horse of the Year if he prevails in the Classic, the last of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races. But if Game On Dude fails, along with Wise Dan, that would make Princess of Sylmar a strong candidate should she have completed her brilliant 2013 campaign with a win in the Distaff on Nov. 1.
The Classic drew a stellar field of 13, including the first four finishers from last year — Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, Flat Out, and Ron the Greek. Game On Dude finished seventh last year, when favored. He has not lost since.
The other Classic pre-entries are Graydar, Last Gunfighter, Moreno, Palace Malice, Paynter, Will Take Charge, and the European invaders Declaration of War and Planteur.
Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes, Will Take Charge won the Travers, and Paynter is trying to complete a remarkable comeback from serious illness more than a year ago.
Befitting a championship event, there are marquee names in just about every race.
Groupie Doll’s rivals in the Filly and Mare Sprint include Book Review, Dance to Bristol, Teddy’s Promise, and Test winner Sweet Lulu. Beverly D. winner Dank and American representatives Emollient, Laughing, Marketing Mix, and Tiz Flirtatious, are in the Filly and Mare Turf.
The Fugue, another top-class European, is also pre-entered in the Filly and Mare Turf, but she is expected to go in the Turf against the males Little Mike and Point of Entry — who were one-two in the race last year — as well as Big Blue Kitten, Indy Point, and Real Solution.
In addition to Wise Dan and Flotilla, pre-entries in the Mile include Obviously, Za Approval, and the European runner Olympic Glory. The Dirt Mile includes Alpha and Golden Ticket, dead-heat winners of the 2012 Travers, and the 3-year-olds Goldencents and Verrazano.
The Sprint is a sensational race, with Trinniberg facing Bahamian Squall, Justin Phillip, Points Offthebench, Private Zone, Secret Circle, and Sum of the Parts.
This is the seventh time the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita, which played host to the event last year, and will do so again next year. There will be five Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 1, concluding with the Distaff, and nine more on Nov. 2, including the Classic. Total purses for the 14 Breeders’ Cup races is $25 million.
There were 172 individual horses pre-entered in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, and 20 of them were pre-entered in two races, bringing the total number of pre-entries to 192. There were 184 individual horses pre-entered, and 202 total pre-entries, in 2010, the last time there were 14 races. There were 15 BC races in both 2011 and 2012, but the Juvenile Sprint, added those two years, has been dropped.
The pre-entry stage is the first of a two-step entry process. At this point, horses can be pre-entered in more than one race, but when final entries are due and post positions drawn on Monday, a horse must be entered in one race.
The only exception to allow a horse to enter more than one race is if that horse enters a race on Nov. 1, and a race on Nov. 2, and in doing so does not exclude another horse from competing. As an example, Graydar was pre-entered in both the Classic and the Dirt Mile, with the Classic listed as his first preference. But since the Dirt Mile is Nov. 1, and the Classic Nov. 2, the possibility remains that Graydar could be entered in both races on Monday.
Pre-entry field sizes ranged wildly, with a mere six in the Distaff, and as many as 18 in both the Juvenile Turf and Turf Sprint. The Marathon, with 10 pre-entries, is the only race that does not have any cross-entries.
A maximum of 14 horses can run in each race, with the exception of the Dirt Mile, which has a maximum of 12. There were six races — the Dirt Mile, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Turf, Mile, Sprint, and Turf Sprint — which at the pre-entry stage were oversubscribed.
In those cases, the field was determined as follows: the first spots were reserved for horses who won qualifying races, commonly known as “Win and You’re In” races. The next positions, up to half the field — six horses in the Dirt Mile, seven in all others — went to horses who earned the most points in graded stakes during the calendar year. The remainder of the field was chosen by an international panel of racing officials, and ranked in order of preference, including those currently on the outside looking in.
The rankings in those races would only matter if, at the final entry stage Monday, a race still has more than the maximum number of entries. In those cases, up to two horses would be placed on an also-eligible list. Scratch time for both Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 is 8 a.m. Pacific time Nov. 1.
The Sprint does not figure to be impacted. Though there were 15 pre-entered in that race, three of the runners are cross-entered in other races, and all have the Sprint listed as their second preference, so all who want to run there should get in.