10/30/2017 8:38PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Arrogate draws the rail

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Barbara D. Livingston
Arrogate was able to dominate the 2016 Travers Stakes after starting from the rail.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Arrogate, the defending race winner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will leave from post 1 in this year’s race at Del Mar on Saturday after drawing the inside in a field of 11 on Monday, a situation his jockey, Mike Smith, said will cause him to be aggressive leaving the gate.

“Like in the Travers,” he said, referring to the 2016 Travers Stakes, the race that announced Arrogate to the world. “I’ll go get a position leaving there.”

Arrogate is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line for the Classic, the $6 million, 1 1/4-mile race that will determine Horse of the Year. Russell Hudak, who makes the morning line at Del Mar, established Gun Runner, winner of his last three starts and runner-up to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup, as the 9-5 favorite. Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, has Gun Runner at 8-5. Gun Runner drew post 5.

From the rail out, the Classic field is Arrogate, War Decree, Win the Space, War Story, Gun Runner, Mubtaahij, Churchill, West Coast, Gunnevera, Pavel, and Collected.

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Arrogate, has three other runners – Collected, Mubtaahij, and West Coast. This is the first time a trainer has run more than three horses in the Classic.

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Churchill could have run in the Mile on turf, but went here. War Decree could have gone on the Dirt Mile, but also went here. War Story could have gone in the Turf, but went here. All three of those moves were telegraphed in the past 24 hours. Cupid, as expected, was put in the Dirt Mile.

The Classic will be the last of 13 Breeders’ Cup races that will be run at Del Mar, four on Friday and nine Saturday. This is the 34th Breeders’ Cup, the first at Del Mar.

There are nine previous Breeders’ Cup race winners, including seven from last year.

A total of 168 horses were entered Monday in the 13 Breeders’ Cup races. Four races drew so many entries that they overfilled, and the maximum two also-eligibles were drawn, too. Another three races drew the maximum field, but had no also-eligibles.

Scratch time for all the Breeders’ Cup races is Friday morning, which is the last chance the also-eligibles will have to get in.

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Pre-entries were submitted last week. Final entries were due Monday, and posts drawn later in the day at a ceremony at the beach. Although there were scenarios under which some horses could have entered two races – the two races don’t overfill, one is on Friday, the other Saturday – horses like Practical Joke (who goes in the Dirt Mile on Friday) and Mind Your Biscuits (who goes in the Sprint on Saturday) did not use that option.

Here is a snapshot of the other 12 races – other than the Classic – in the order in which they will be run Friday and Saturday:

Friday

Juvenile Fillies Turf – Rushing Fall, unbeaten in two starts, is the 7-2 favorite on Hudak’s line in a full field of 14 that has two also-eligibles. Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free made Rushing Fall the 4-1 favorite.

Dirt Mile – This field was reduced to 10 when horses like Midnight Storm (Mile on turf) went elsewhere. Met Mile winner Mor Spirit is the 3-1 favorite on the lines of both Hudak and Free.

Juvenile Turf – As with the Juvenile Fillies Turf, there was a full field of 14, plus two-also-eligibles, entered in this race. Masar, a European import, is the lukewarm 9-2 choice on Hudak’s line, but he has seven runners priced at 6-1 or 8-1, illustrative of the wide-open nature of the race. Free has Masar favored at 4-1. With U S Navy Flag going to the Juvenile, and Nelson not shipping from Europe, that allowed My Boy Jack and Snapper Sinclair to get into the main body of the race. They were the first two excluded at the pre-entry stage last week. Mendelssohn went here; he was pre-entered in the Juvenile, too.

Distaff – Stellar Wind is the 5-2 favorite of both Hudak and Free in an eight-horse field, the event’s smallest field. The field includes Champagne Room, winner last year of the Juvenile Fillies, as well as this year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, Abel Tasman.

Saturday

Juvenile Fillies – The unbeaten Moonshine Memories heads a field of 13 and is the 7-2 favorite on Hudak’s line. Watchmaker has Moonshine Memories favored at 3-1.

Turf Sprint – Five-furlong grass races at Del Mar can only handle 12 runners, and this race drew a full field, plus two also-eligibles. The globetrotting Lady Aurelia is the 5-2 favorite on Hudak’s line. Watchmaker has her much lower, at 8-5. B Squared would have been the first horse on the also-eligible list, but his connections opted for something more certain and put him in the Sprint, which did not overfill. Mongolian Saturday, who won this race two years ago, is 20-1.

Filly and Mare Sprint – Unique Bella tops a full field of 14 and is the 9-5 favorite on Hudak’s line and is 8-5 with Watchmaker, but the brilliant 3-year-old filly has to face several top-class older runners, including Skye Diamonds, By the Moon, Paulassilverlining, and the defending champion, Finest City.

Filly and Mare Turf – Lady Eli, bound for the Hall of Fame, is the 5-2 favorite of both Hudak and Watchmaker in what will be the final start of her dramatic career. She is seeking a second Breeders’ Cup win, having captured the Juvenile Fillies three years ago. Her rivals include Queen’s Trust, who nosed out Lady Eli in this race last year. There were 14 entered in here, plus two also-eligibles.

Sprint – Defending champion Drefong will have to leave alertly, having drawn post 2 in a field of 10 over a course where he made a left-hand turn at the gap the last time he raced here. He is the 5-2 favorite of both Hudak and Watchmaker.

Mile – A full field of 14 was entered, headed by European star Ribchester, who is the 7-2 favorite on Hudak’s line and is 5-2 on Watchmaker’s line. Roly Poly went here instead of the Filly and Mare Turf, something colleague Marcus Hersh hipped you to in recent days. Midnight Storm also went here instead of the Dirt Mile.

Juvenile – Bolt d’Oro will have to overcome post 11 in a field of 12 to keep his unbeaten record intact. He is the 9-5 favorite on Hudak’s line, but is a far shorter 6-5 on Watchmaker’s line. Mendelssohn went in the Juvenile Turf, but U S Navy Flag was put in here. Both are Coolmore-owned runners.

Turf – Another full field of 14, with defending race winner Highland Reel and last year’s Juvenile Turf winner, Oscar Performance, entered. European star Ulysses is the 7-2 favorite on Hudak’s line and is the 3-1 favorite on Watchmaker’s line.