The big days(s) are finally upon us. The best of the best horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world will be on display in the sport of Horse Racing’s “Super Bowl” sort of speak in the 2013 Breeders Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Acadia, California on Nov. 1 & 2.
Nine races will be run on Saturday with several year end championships on the line.
In case you missed yesterday’s piece, let me go ahead and apologize. I’m sorry, the other night I was putting the final touches on full analysis’ of all 14 Breeders Cup races when the power flickered (as did my computer) and I lost everything….over 3 weeks of research, analysis of all 14 races, some 15,000 words…all gone.
Before I get bombarded with emails, years ago I worked in the IT field. I am quite familiar with a computer and its’ programs. I searched and searched and searched and found nothing. Being this happened just yesterday, I don’t have the time (or energy) to re-do everything. So, I picked the top two races of the two day card and burned the midnight oil to salvage something.
Santa Anita Park – Saturday, November 2, 2013
Race 12 – 5:35 PM
Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I)
For Three-Year-Olds and Upward
One and One Quarter Miles
|1||1||Last Gunfighter||4/C||L||J Castellano||126||C C Brown||
|2||2||Paynter||4/C||L||M Garcia||126||B Baffert||
|3||3||Planteur||6/H||L1||R L Moore||126||M Botti||
|4||4||Moreno||3/G||L||J Talamo||122||E J Guillot||
|5||5||Declaration of War||4/C||L1||J P O’Brien||126||A P O’Brien||
|6||6||Mucho Macho Man||5/H||L||G L Stevens||126||K Ritvo||
|7||7||Fort Larned||5/H||L||B J Hernandez, Jr.||126||I R Wilkes||
|8||8||Palace Malice||3/C||L||J R Velazquez||122||T A Pletcher||
|9||9||Game On Dude||6/G||L||M E Smith||126||B Baffert||
|10||10||Will Take Charge||3/C||L||L Saez||122||D W Lukas||
|12||12||Flat Out||7/H||L||J Rosario||126||W I Mott||
Analysis: (In Post Position Order, Selections Below)
PP#1- Last Gunfighter- has had quite a 2013 with multiple graded stakes wins up and down the east coast against somewhat inferior competition.
But note his first crack at the top older horses in the country was a very solid second behind Belmont surface lover Flat Out in the Suburban Handicap back in July.
He followed that up with a nice win in the Phillip Islen at MonmouthPark. But in his next (and last race) he “lost his footing at the start” and then was forced to go wide on the turn for home resulting in a sixth place, beaten 10 lengths finish
With the consistency this colt by First Samurai has displayed (13 starts 7 wins, 3 seconds and 2 seconds) combined with the race he ran in the Suburban, I’m not so sure he’s an easy throw out even with those 20-1 morning line odds.
PP#2- Paynter- this will be this enormous colt’s last race as he is scheduled to be shipped to Winstar Farm in Kentucky to begin stallion duty in 2014.
Regardless of how he does in this race, in my eyes and most of the nations, this son of Awesome Again should be hands down the winner of the “Comeback of the Year” Award.
Since literally coming back from the dead, this dark bay has run well in three of four races (one was over a sloppy track that he didn’t like) including a win and two strong seconds. One of those seconds was a fast closing one behind Mucho Macho Man in a Grade: 1 race, named after his daddy, over this surface.
There is no doubt he’s up against it in this spot and I’m not betting him in any capacity but there’s a little part of me, because of what he’s been though, that would like to see him run well.
PP#3- Planteur- the proverbial dark horse as this will be his US racing debut after running all 23 races overseas.
The only thing that really caught my eye here was that he has finished third in the last two Dubai World Classics.
He is not having a great 2013 and overall, I don’t like his chances… but does anyone remember Arcangues for several years ago?….regardless of that, I’m passing.
PP#4- Moreno- this speedster by the wickedly fast Ghostzapper has been banging heads, and holding his own, vs. the best three year old colts in the country.
He’s now finished third in the Jim Dandy Stakes, second beaten a nose in Travers and second in the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s fast and, more importantly, he’s as game as they come.
But there are just several things that bother me about. One, he still needs to figure out a way to finish in front of Will Take Charge. Two, there is a boat load of other early speed in this race so he will not have an easy time of it if he’s on or even near the early lead and three, this (10 furlong) distance will work against him too.
Overall, I like this colt but there are just too many obstacles for him to overcome.
PP#5- Declaration of War-is another who will be making his US debut as he ships here from overseas with a big reputation and a big record (12-7-1-1).
He looked fantastic winning his last (The Juddmonte International) back in August and is unbeaten (3 for 3) over the dirt surface.
His trainer is utterly brilliant and if this colt can handle the trip here and the clockwise to counter clockwise direction of racing in this country, then he’s a major threat here.
PP#6- Mucho Macho Man- there is no doubt in my mind that Santa Anita is this huge chestnut’s favorite surface.
I mean, he’s been a very good horse through out his career (22 starts, 18 on the board finishes) while running on 7 or 8 different surfaces, but the two times he’s run on this track, he’s run nothing short of lights out.
The first time he ran over this track was a spectacular performance. Perhaps you remember it? It was the BC Classic of 2012 where he ran his lungs out and battled eventual winner FortLarned every step of the way down the stretch.
The only other time he ran over this surface was the Sept 28 Awesome Again Stakes. In that race, he laid off the pace a little further than normal but came under a ride from the great (and his newest rider) Gary Stephens to pulverize the field….he won laughing by 4 ¼ lengths.
If “M3” repeats the Awesome Again race on Saturday evening, he should be right there at the end.
PP#7- Fort Larned- the defending BC Classic champion has had a crazy year.
He’s now run five times this year and continues the one up then one down pattern. The year started off with him throwing his rider in the Gulfstream Handicap, then he finishes fifth, beaten 10 lengths in the Oaklawn Park Handicap, then annihilates the field in the Stephen Foster, struggled home fifth in the Whitney Handicap, then opens a big lead in the Homecoming Stakes and hangs on to win by 1 ½ lengths….that’s a lot of ups and downs.
Other than the “one up, one down” pattern of races that he’s displayed the only other pattern I see is that he favors the Churchill Downs (he’s 2 for 2 there but 0 for 3 everywhere else this year). I’m not sure that matter because he is 1 for 1 over the Santa Anita surface….bottom line, although he is a quality animal and very fast to boot, if you know me then you know I don’t like horses plagued with inconstancies, which is exactly what this guy has been this year.
PP#8- Palace Malice- speaking of quality animals, here’s certainly one.
He won the Belmont Stakes and the Jim Dandy Stakes and, after completely missing the break, finding himself far back early, he came with a furious late rally to finish fourth beaten less than a length in the Travers Stakes.
From there, he ran an even second behind runaway Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes winner Ron the Greek in yet another solid effort.
The 2013 Breeders Cup Classic should have a tremendous effect on the 2013 Horse of the Year title and it will certainly have an effect on the three year old championship picture that looks like has come down to this guy and Will Take Charge.
PP#9- Game On Dude- is the rock solid 8/5 morning line favorite and rightfully so after not having lost (5 for 5) this year.
In fact, the last time he lost was in this very race last year when Raphael Bejarano tried (foolishly) to rate this now 6 year old gelding off the early pace.
“Last year, forget about,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s a different horse this year. He’s in the zone right now. I like his post; I just didn’t want him drawing on the inside. Last year, he ran a big race in the Awesome Again. He puts a lot into his races and ran so hard in the prep. He gets a little light, so we decided to run a fresh horse this year.”
This horse is clearly a free running, speedy, likes to go out front early, type horse and will (usually) fight any type of early restraint.
That running style has worked wonders for this millionaire five and a half times over but it may get him into trouble early with so much other early speed in here. There is no way that Fort Larned, Moreno, Palace Malice, Paynter and possibly M3 are going to just allow this son of Awesome Again to just lope along on an uncontested lead…no way…not in a $5 million race they won’t.
Looked stronger than ever in that last (an 8 ½ length trouncing in the Pacific Classic) and has been lighting up the racetrack in the mornings topped by a 6 furlong work in 1:11.2 on Oct 22.
Regardless of the pace scenario, he’s the one to catch and beat.
10) Will Take Charge- has really started to put it all together as it seems the deeper into the season we go, the better he gets.
After three consecutive flops in the three Triple Crown races, he came back in the Jim Dandy on July 27 to finished a fast closing second to Palace Malice, then won the Travers in a thriller and won the Pennsylvania Derby as much the best.
The expected fast early pace is exactly what he needs in order to be successful and he, too, has been training very well (last two works; Oct 8 5F- 1:00.2 and Oct 18- 6F- 1:14.2).
I was shocked to see him at 12-1 on the morning line….utterly shocked…I was thinking 5, 6, 7 to 1…bottom line is I like his chances…a lot.
PP#11 Ron the Greek- was scratched due to quarter crack.
“Ron the Greek’s out; he’s got a quarter crack,” trainer Bill Mott said. “Long-term it’s not a problem, but he’s not going to run in the Classic.”
“That horse had been doing fine; he never had foot issues before in his life,” he said. “He had a strong gallop (Wednesday) and he must have just bumped the heel of his foot wrong and he got an abscess in the bulb of his heel. We soaked him and it opened up and relieved some of the pressure later, but he was still sore on it (Thursday) morning and I just made the determination we couldn’t have him good enough to run Saturday.”
PP#12- Flat Out- a bad start and going 3 wide on the turn for home could be possible explanations for a (no pun intended) flat effort his last time out (Jockey Club Gold Cup, Sept 28)
His prior several races were all at least on the board finishes (with one win) all against graded stakes competition and all in New York.
He’s had one race over this track in last years BC Classic but finished a remote third.
Even at now seven years old, this horse still poses a threat
1) Game On Dude
2) Mucho Macho Man
3) Palace Malice
Will Take Charge
Declaration of War
Thanks for reading…
Record: 18-51 = 35% (pending Friday BC Distaff)
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