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Breeders' Cup Classic: Five-way rematch in offing
ARCADIA, Calif. – The first four finishers from last year's Breeders’ Cup Classic plus the beaten favorite in that race all appear headed to a rematch in this year’s $5 million Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita following victories by Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, and Ron the Greek in their final preps Saturday.
Fort Larned, last year’s Classic winner, captured the Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs. Mucho Macho Man, second in last year’s Classic, ran perhaps the best race of his career in taking the Awesome Again here at Santa Anita. And at Belmont Park, Ron the Greek, fourth in last year’s Classic, crushed his rivals in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, including his Bill Mott-trained stablemate Flat Out, who was third in last year’s Classic.
All four were reported Monday to have come out of their races well and now will take on the 2013 divisional leader among older males, Game On Dude, who will be trying to make amends for a seventh-place finish in last year’s Classic as the 6-5 favorite. Game On Dude skipped the Awesome Again, which he won last year, to train straight into the Classic.
The victories by Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man proved their connections made the correct decision when bypassing the Woodward Stakes at the end of August at Saratoga. Fort Larned was forced out of the race by necessity, having developed a strain in his hind end. Mucho Macho Man was scratched the day of the race because an off track. The better chance of encountering a fast track in California is what prompted his trip west for the Awesome Again.
“We wanted a dry track, and there was a better chance of getting a dry track here,” said Kathy Ritvo, who trains Mucho Macho Man. She said Mucho Macho Man would remain at Santa Anita through the Classic.
The Awesome Again and the Jockey Club Gold Cup offered fees-paid berths to the BC Classic through the Win and You’re In program.
Paynter, who was second in the Awesome Again, also is being pointed to the Classic. Like Game On Dude, Paynter is trained by Bob Baffert.
Fort Larned “came out of the race good,” trainer Ian Wilkes said Monday morning from Kentucky.
“I’m very pleased watching him the last two days,” said Wilkes, who said Fort Larned would have the same travel schedule as last year, arriving in California early the week of the Breeders’ Cup.
“That worked, so we’ll stick with it,” he said.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup could produce as many as four starters for the Classic – Ron the Greek, Palace Malice, and Flat Out, the first three across the line, as well as Cross Traffic, who finished seventh but lost all chance with a dreadful start.
Ron the Greek has raced three times at Santa Anita. In addition to finishing fourth in last year’s BC Classic, he won the 2012 Santa Anita Handicap and was fourth in this year’s Big Cap.
Flat Out was seeking his third straight Jockey Club Gold Cup win. He raced evenly throughout, perhaps regressing off a huge effort in the Woodward in which he was beaten a head by Alpha.
Ron the Greek and Flat Out will do the bulk of their training in New York leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, Mott said. Ron the Greek will stay at Belmont, while Flat Out vanned back to Saratoga on Sunday morning.
Palace Malice, the Belmont Stakes winner, was no match for Ron the Greek in the final quarter-mile but was a clear second over Flat Out.
“I thought he ran well, second best on the day,” trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday.
Pletcher said Palace Malice, Cross Traffic, and Graydar – who won the Kelso on Saturday at one mile in his first start since March – all will be considered for the Classic.
Cross Traffic earned a fees-paid berth into the Classic by winning the Whitney at Saratoga in August.
Pletcher said Graydar would be considered for both the Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Graydar won the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream and the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds – both at 1 1/8 miles – earlier in the year.
“We’ll probably pre-enter in more than one spot,” Pletcher said.
Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup are due Oct. 21 and are announced Oct. 23. Final entries are taken and post positions drawn Oct. 28.
– additional reporting by Steve Andersen and David Grening
I THINK IT'S RIDICULOUS THAT drf.com IS NOW A PAY SITE. DON'T YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY ON THE $6.50 DAILY &. $7.50 WEEKEND PRICES FOR YOUR FORMS?
The favorite won't win the Classic......... Obvioulsy & Wise Dan will throw it down......... Taking Euro trash on the lawn in other races outside the mile....
First of all Fort Larned is not the same as last year and his health is in question, I just don't see him giving The Dude a problem on the front end, now there is Cross Traffic, he ran some huge races this year and is one tired hombre, I indicated that before JCGC flop, you can use the bad break as an excuse and overbet him in the B.C.Classic just to find out again he is done for the year and is in much need of a rest. Graydar will most likely bounce after winning his last after a long layoff, so that leaves only one fresh horse who is at the top of his game and running on his favorite track, Game On Dude, he will win the B.C.Classic and get H.O.T.Y. Everyone else is in much need of a rest and the race sets up for The Dude.
Plenty of Speed in Classic with Fort Larned and Dude hell bent not to give an inch early Should set the table for a classy presser/closer. If they don't keep eyes on each other whoever gets a comfortable trip should be able to win. Possible hidden value in this spot
IF he can handle the distance, it will be interesting to see what Cross Traffic can do on the lead at SA, provided he gets a decent break from the gate.
The Dude's a single.....
illegal medications found by customs on an incoming Dubai gov jet coming in from Dubai to England..this ads to the other scandal for Godolphin involving one of their trainers and 22 horses who had been given steroids.... the sheiks wife is the chief of the agency in England that will head the investigation..if the people at the very top the elites of racing are suspected of this then its obvious that the whole industry is rotten to the core...on the bright side. at least the british had the guts to walk into a godolphin stable and test all the horses even though the sheik is the most important owner and supporter of racing there. I suspect it would never happen here they would sweep it under the rug .
Not sure that you can take alot out of the early Santa Anita results ! If you watch the horses are all coming back COVERED IN MUD ! The track is wet and not all horse's are handling the flying mud ! Baffert said that Paynter didnt handle it at all, but was still very impressed at the trip he had, slow into stride, wide both turns to run 2nd. I agree, Paynter MIGHT be the one to watch !
how sad it is..ron the greek,cross traffic,fort larned,palace malice,mucho macho man wpuld all be allowance types if we had quality older horses but because we dont they are phony graded stakes horses...game on dude is the only real racehorse in the bunch and even he would have a hard time versus a CIGAR OR SKIP AWAY,SPEND A BUCK,DR FAGER,ALYSHEBA,DAMASCUS,BUCKPASSER AND OTHER TRUE GREATS...on a different note whats going on with saez did he or did he not use a buzzer are we sweeping this under the rug too?.
Just wondering when DRF is going to get around to covering the latest doping scandal involving Godolphin...(guardian.co.uk...uk version)...or is it that the biggest bloodstock buyer in the world gets a free pass from american horse racings paper of record?