Updated on 09/15/2011 2:02PM

Classic field shaking into place


ELMONT, N.Y. - Europe is sending Fantastic Light and Galileo, its strongest team ever, to the U.S. next month for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic. The Europeans came oh-so-close to winning last fall at Churchill Downs when Giant's Causeway gamely stood a long drive and missed by a neck to the Horse of the Year, Tiznow.

A number of prominent horsemen in England, Ireland, and France believe that Fantastic Light and Galileo, who have been incredibly close in recent races, have an edge in talent on Giant's Causeway. They may be right but the home team looks pretty strong, too. Tiznow will be back to defend his title, and judging by his strong effort in the recent Woodward after a long absence, he'll be as good as ever. Lido Palace, the Woodward winner, has shown steady improvement. Albert the Great always runs well at Belmont Park, and there are other fine prospects, including the resurgent Macho Uno, smashing winner of the Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day.

Macho Uno was a major factor in last year's Breeders' Cup, winning the Juvenile at the expense of Point Given. He had a springtime spurt in growth, however, that proved to be bone-remodeling syndrome. The situation called for understanding and patience, and both were available in ample supply.

Macho Uno returned to the races at Saratoga and ran well, finishing a close second. Trainer Joe Orseno outfitted him with blinkers for the Pennsylvania Derby, hoping they would blunt the colt's boisterous tendencies, and got the desired effect. Macho Uno, under his new rider, Gary Stevens, cruised home to win by a length and a half.

"He runs next in the Ohio Derby at Thistledown on Sept. 29," Orseno said. "That gives him a four-week interval before the Breeders' Cup, and that was what we wanted. There are other opportunities but none that give him four weeks between starts like this one. We think it will bring him to the Classic at tops, and that may be good enough."

Orseno had also been considering Red Bullet for the Classic, but now he is not sure. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled, who like Macho Uno is owned by Frank Stronach, did not distinguish himself in the recent Woodward Stakes. He had run well in a prep at Saratoga, winning off a strong finish and encouraging Orseno to count on him as a factor in the Woodward.

"Stevens told me he wasn't getting hold of the track," Orseno noted. "The same thing happened in the Dwyer last season, but he worked very nicely for the Woodward, and I thought the problem was solved. Of all the tracks not to like, why does it have to be the one that is hosting the Breeders' Cup?"

Red Bullet, the colt who upset Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus last year in the Preakness, is scheduled to run next in the Meadowlands Cup on Sept. 28. It will be an important test, for it will tell Orseno wether he just has a problem with Red Bullet at Belmont Park or he has a problem.

Do you think Fantastic Light and Galileo will be factors in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic? Might Red Bullet be better suited to the Sprint? Do you think Macho Uno will have the seasoning to be Classic factor? Who do you like in this year's Classic?

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