Arcadia, California - This weekend Thoroughbred's racing most prestigious event is underway at Santa Anita Park in Southern California. A total of 172 horses have been pre-entered for this World Championship event. This year marks the 30 running of Breeders' Cup racing.
Today 12 races are on the Santa Anita card with 9 of them specified Breeders' Cup races.
In the Classic Game On Dude is scheduled as the favorite. The 1-1/4 mile race for three year olds and up brings him to the track undefeated in his last five starts which includes the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic. Last year's returning Champion Fort Larned had a dramatic three-quarters of a length run over Mucho Macho Man and they are both back to contend today.
Today's line-up for the Classic from the inside post out is:
1. Last Gun Fighter, Trainer Chad Brown, Jockey Javier Castellano 2. Paytner, Trainer Bob Baffert, Jockey Martin Garcia 3. Planteur, Trainer Marco Botti, Jockey Ryan Moore 4. Moreno, Trainer Eric Guillot, Jockey Joseph Talamo 5. Declaration of War, Trainer Aidan O'Brien, Jockey Joseph O'Brien 6. Mucho Macho Man, Trainer Katherine Ritvo, Jockey Gary Stevens 7. Fort Larned, Trainer Ian Wilkes, Jockey Brian Hernandez, 8. Palace Malice, Trainer Todd Pletcher, Jockey John Velazquez 9. Game On Dude, Trainer Bob Baffert, Jockey Mike Smith 10. Will Take Charge, Trainer Wayne Lukas, Jockey Luis Saez, 11. Scratch 12. Flat Out, Trainer Bill Mott, Jockey Joel Rosario
Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani sends Breeders' Cup Classic contender Planteur to the field today. He's been stretching his legs out on the track this week with no problems.
Trainer Aidan O'Brein arrived with Declaration of War from Ireland this week and his colt was cleared from quarantine for training on Thursday. O'Brein was a no show last month in France for their premier racing event but is here today as he has been looking for a Classic win for quite some time.
Who looks good in the Classic today? I believe Palace Malice will hit the board along with Will Take Charge. Palace Malice can get the distance needed here and has been an improving 3-year old since his Belmont win. His stats from the JC Gold Cup should set him up nicely against others in the field.
Will Take Charge has been stepping up his performances and his breeding alone should put him in contention at the finish.
Fort Larned arrived earlier this week from Churchill after turning in his final work of 5f in 1:01 4/5. He is here to defend his Classic title and is stabled in barn 99 just like last year. Returning Jockey Brian Hernandez has the mount here today.
Bob Baffert sends Game On Dude and Paynter to the track as Game On Dude will go off as the favorite at 8-5. His work out on Monday was 5 furlongs in :59 and walked the shedrow on Tuesday. Baffert likes his 9 post position and is looking for him to break well and get to his high cruising speed. Baffert says, "I'm feeling it this year."
The pace on the track was fast yesterday and I expect more of the same today.
The Breeders' Cup races provide the best betting opportunities and challenging handicapping decisions for race fans. The European contingents may not hold as many entries as the United States but they do make up for that in quality.