10/10/2012 3:26PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Solid trio gives Mott chance for a rare repeat

Tom Keyser
Flat Out (left) will be heading into the Classic off a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

With the likes of Flat Out, Ron the Greek, and To Honor and Serve all pointing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, trainer Bill Mott will be attempting to win the Classic for the second straight year, having pulled off an upset last year with Drosselmeyer.

Only once, when Jay Robbins sent out Tiznow to victories in 2000 and 2001, has a trainer won the Classic in consecutive years. No trainer has ever won it in consecutive years with different horses.

Flat Out comes into the Classic off a repeat victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Ron the Greek was a disappointing sixth in the Gold Cup, but unlike Mott’s other two horses he already has raced in California – and with success, having captured the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

To Honor and Serve could be the longest shot of the three. He never has raced in California, has tried 1 1/4 miles – the Classic distance – just once, and is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Kelso going a mile on dirt. Although the Dirt Mile is the faint back-up plan for To Honor and Serve, Charlotte Weber, whose Live Oak Plantation owns To Honor and Serve, is desirous of running in the Classic, and Mott thinks he deserves the chance.

“He was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Classic last year, and that was as a 3-year-old, and he was right with Flat Out and Havre de Grace,” Mott said in a telephone interview. “There’s no reason not to try as a 4-year-old.”

Mott said it is his understanding that the Classic is likely to be the final career start for To Honor and Serve, a son of Bernardini who is a Grade 1 winner of nearly $1.8 million.

“He’s a very sound, fresh horse,” Mott said.

Mott said all three of his Classic runners came out of their Sept. 29 preps at Belmont Park in good order. “We’ll start them on a breeze program this weekend,” he said. His Breeders’ Cup horses are not scheduled to travel to California until Oct. 29 so his Classic runners will have three works in New York.

◗ Fort Larned, third in the Gold Cup, worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs on Wednesday in 49.80 seconds. He will be flown to California on Oct. 30, trainer Ian Wilkes said.

◗ Mucho Macho Man also is slated to travel to California on Oct. 30, trainer Kathy Ritvo said. Mucho Macho Man is still at Saratoga, but Ritvo said she was considering moving him to Belmont Park later this week because the forecast was for drier weather downstate.

◗ Game On Dude, the likely Classic favorite, is scheduled to work this weekend at Santa Anita for the first time since his Awesome Again victory on Sept. 29, trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday.

◗ Dullahan is scheduled to fly to California on Monday. His adaptation to the Santa Anita dirt will determine whether he goes in the Classic. “It’ll be a game-time decision,” trainer Dale Romans said.

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
When Bill Mott saddles one anywhere it's because they fit and they're ready.
Rene More than 1 year ago
let's see if there is a European who will enter, otherwise it is GAME ON DUDE for sure ! Bill Mott may have 3 possible entries ..........but none of the three can beat GAME ON DUDE !!!
matt More than 1 year ago
Zero chance shipping in late.
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
Yes, Ron the Greek is a fine horse, and he did win the Big Cap over the Santa Anita main track. But honestly, the only chance any of these "other" horses have in the Classic is if Game on Dude gets hurt. Otherwise......good luck running for second.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Rick. All due respect to your loyalty. He can't get the distance. Mucho Macho Man, Fort Larned, and other pace will make him very vulnerable for closers.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I think Game On Dude can definitely get the distance. But he is almost certainly better at 9f.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Agree with that. Kinda my point that distance suits others.
NYTITANSFAN More than 1 year ago
The way its shaping up with the probable contenders there will be enough early and mid-race pressure on Game On Dude that may result in him putting away any horse making a bid during those stages but will he have enough kick left to hold off Ron The Greek or anyone of the other closers...Doubtful
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Look for Ron The Greek to bounce back on a 1-mile oval. You heard it here first.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Actually I been touting Ron since The Whitney where he ran second. Mott didn't send him to win Santa Anita Handicap in spring for no reason. But I agree.
Zakk W. More than 1 year ago
Dullahan ran good races at CD on the dirt. This is a no brainer, go for the $5 million! Maybe he will take to the dirt surface at SA....I hope the connections aren't thinking about the BC Turf, I don't see him beating the top turfers, his total earning on turf is $55,000.
Chris Jones More than 1 year ago
Dullahan is not a dirt horse - he is a synthetic horse. He ran okay at Churchill but that dirt is kind to synth/turf runners. He has NO CHANCE in the Classic.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
What if synthetic didnt exist? He would be better on dirt than grass.
Perl More than 1 year ago
every bit of team dullahans focus should be on the 10m Dubai world cup in march.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I am sure he will see Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom there..but only BC race he remotely fits is The Classic..and he will run there.
Felton Suthon More than 1 year ago
Dullahan was running past tired horses at CD. He is a money eater anywhere but on synthetic. He could not even close the deal in the Jamaica against a weak lot. I agree with Perl - smell the $10m!
Anil More than 1 year ago
Who will Joel Rosario choose? Flat Out or Dullahan? Let his choice be your guide
Zakk W. More than 1 year ago
I read an article last week & Rosario would ride Flat Out in the Classic.
Richard More than 1 year ago
It is a shame that Dullahan just seems like he is not going to fit in at Santa Anita. Since he is a three year old it might be best to wait for next year. He beat a great horse, Game On Dude, but it is apparent he is a polytrack horse. The thing with the Classic it is a 5 million dollar race. I cannot see him coming in the superfecta with the class of horses that seem to be interred. The three horse’s four horses that came in the Travers are true dirt horses and there could be a spot for any of them to have a chance!