09/30/2013 2:16PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Five-way rematch in offing

Barbara D. Livingston
Ron the Greek, winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, will try to improve on his fourth-place finish from last year in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

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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.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

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.

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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

Walter More than 1 year ago
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
It will not fly Walter. Not enough suckers even in this game.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
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....
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
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.
Steve S More than 1 year ago
The DUD'S problem isn't the front end. It is the last 1/8 when he is forced to run against a quality field with no easy lead. Just leave GOD out of any WIN talk in the classic. Won;t happy. Good horse-not a great one.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
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
Tyler Mathis More than 1 year ago
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.
jay More than 1 year ago
His breeding says there is no way he can handle the distance.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
dosage points of 7-10-7-0-2, and di of 3.73, I'd say maybe, maybe not. Have seen many with far worse like Shackleford go long.
Scott More than 1 year ago
I still can't believe Shack won the Preakness! I can't remember a horse looking that washed out in the parade running that well. It just doesn't happen. Still, other than the Preakness Shackleford really is made for the mile races. He's one that absolutely needs it his way for the distance and I think that Cross Traffic is likely the same way.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
which means he could get the distance.
Perl More than 1 year ago
He's not a total DQ on breeding though it's less than ideal. Not the worst speculative play at 10/1 but I think he probably comes up short with other good speed types signed up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He can absolutely handle running 10F's as can almost every thoroughbred. The big catch is that like so many front runners, he MUST have things his way to get the distance in my opinion. He ran brilliantly to win the Whitney, but he didn't have the look of a horse that would have lasted 10F's in the run out. With Game On Dude, Fort Larned, Palace Malice all likely to run in the BCC the odds of him getting an uncontested lead seem long indeed. I didn't forget Mucho Macho Man either. I just expect him to sit a little further off the pace in this one even though he's capable of pressing in his own right. I'm thinking the race sets up for him (again) this year (I believed it set up for him last year too, but he didn't get it done). He's definitely not a single, but he's in the top tier for me. I don't think Cross Traffic will even hit the board, but if he does, then it will be no higher than 3rd. I will likely not include him in my Wheel, but good luck to you.
Steve S More than 1 year ago
I'll bet you $1000 that Cross Traffic gets one of those "fake" injuries.
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Cross traffic is not going to run in the CLassic. He'll come up with an injury to justify his lack of distanc elimitations.
lfc1963 More than 1 year ago
The Dude's a single.....
Kenneth Porteous More than 1 year ago
Yeah, like he was a 'single' last year. Baffert can't inject him with his feel-good drugs nor can Pletcher.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I respect you by saying, nor can pletcher. +1
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
I agree
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
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 .
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
When you add an Arabian horse race to the undercard of the Breeders Cup, called the President of the UAE Cup, it's unlikely that anyone will quickly out them for illegal drugs. Kind of like southern CA royalty.
Louise Martin More than 1 year ago
Ray, Sorry but, you have no idea!! Of course you do have every right to think..Your in way over your head. Have a great day.
Louise Martin More than 1 year ago
Ray not Louise but DAN
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I know. I posted this early before the racing form, so I confused your little brain. I apologize .but you can now read about it in the form 10 hours later...by the way what I posted is fact.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
It's all corrupt at this point....
John More than 1 year ago
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 !
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Has Baffert ever had a horse lose that he didn't then have an excuse? Paynter is a nice horse who has little shot at winning the Classic.
B More than 1 year ago
Oh please, get real and be honest. You could substitute the name Baffert for any number of other names, especially Pletcher. Not too many trainers don't come up with an excuse when their horse loses. At least McGaughy said of Orb's performance in the JCGC...I don't know, we can't find anything wrong with him. I also recall Baffert on Saturday saying about Take Control in the same race, we tried something different and it didn't work. Where's the excuse there? And he had no excuse for Paynter in that same race either. He was glad he ran well, but was no match for the winner who freaked. I too have my doubts about Paynter in the Classic, though it would be the story of the year, but I don't about Game on Dude. It's his race. My only qualm is the long lay off. Hope this isn't another we tried something different and it didn't work!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Oh please? I think what I said was real and honest. We tried something different and it didn't work some would say is an excuse. You're already building in your pre race excuse for Dude. Baffert said loud and clear that he runs better with more time between races, but you're saying if he doesn't win it was the time off?
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
And last year he said clearly he was training him to rate and he didn't need the lead, then said he lost because he didn't have the lead.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
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?.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
So Dude is the only real racehorse that doesn't race against real racehorses. He'll have his chance to prove it soon.
Tyler Mathis More than 1 year ago
He so proved it in the last classic (eye roll).
jay More than 1 year ago
Allowance types don't run 115 Beyers.
Steve S More than 1 year ago
It depends on what track you get the beyers from. Go to Penn National and a 90=115
Michael Pollard More than 1 year ago
I believe 3 of the horses you listed cleaned Game on Dude's clock on his home track in the BC last year. These horses will travel to run against the best but Dude stays in sunny California to pound weak, short fields in graded stakes competition out west.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
They are coming for the BC. If it were elsewhere Dude would ship too. Kind of silly otherwise.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Ray, PLEASE cash a ticket!
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Ray still subscribed to the age old system of WHO BEAT WHO is the way to handicap. no idea of pass/class/distance/etc. If you beat a horse once, you beat him every time.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Is your wife Debby Downer?
Steve S More than 1 year ago
Are you kidding. Go back to handicappingh school. Name a ran that GOD won where there was 4 other talented horses. NONE. The class of the Classic is Fort Larned or Ron the Greek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I'm telling you dude you need to shut up. You seen godfather