10/21/2005 12:00AM

Painting the Cup by the numbers


NEW YORK - Notes upon fooling with the Breeders' Cup pre-entry past performances for way too long without doing any actual handicapping:

The 117 pre-entered horses have combined to win 598 of 1485 career starts, a victory rate of 40.26 percent.

Those 598 victories include 98 Grade 1 or Group 1 stakes. Ashado (Distaff) has the most such triumphs with seven, followed by Starcraft (Classic or Mile) and Bago (Turf) with five each and Azamour (Turf) and Better Talk Now (Turf) with four.

The pre-entrants have earned $93.7 million, with 33 of them already millionaires, led by Perfect Drift (Classic) and Ashado at $3.7 million each. Better Talk Now ranks third at $2.6 million, and eight others have earned $2 million or more.

Seven of the 117 have made at least 30 career starts, topped by Leprechaun Kid (Turf) with 39. A dozen have won 10 or more races, led by Megahertz (Filly and Mare Turf) with 14 and Pampered Princess (Distaff) with 13.

The oldest runners are the nine 6-year-olds. The first one to get to the races was Gygistar (Sprint), who won at Churchill Downs on May 12, 2001, paying $100 to win. He is one of 55 of the 117 pre-entrants who won first time out.

Lost in the Fog, who is 10 for 10, is one of six undefeated horses on the card. The others are Shakespeare (Turf) at 5 for 5; First Samurai (Juvenile) and Nothing But Fun (Distaff) at 4 for 4; Sorcerer's Stone (Juvenile) 3 for 3; and Original Spin (Juvenile Fillies) 2 for 2.

Beyond the undefeated horses, the best winning percentages for those with a minimum of five starts belong to Happy Ticket (Distaff), who is 10 for 12; Adieu (Juvenile Fillies) and Sweet Symphony (Distaff), who are both 4 for 5; and Leroidesanimaux (Mile) who is 9 for 12, including his last eight in a row. The worst career record, excluding the three maidens in the juvenile races, belongs to 1-for-14 Mona Lisa (Filly and Mare Turf).

Mona Lisa is one of only two entrants who have ever gone off at triple-digit odds: She was 100-1 in the Irish Champion Stakes two starts back. Shake the Bank (Turf), Better Talk Now's rabbit, was 106-1 as a separate betting interest in this year's United Nations.

Seven Cup entrants have run for a claiming price at least once in their careers (not including optional-claiming races where horses were not entered to be claimed.) Three changed hands at the claim box: Lord of the Game (Classic) was taken for $10,000 out of his debut, Choctaw Nation (Classic) was claimed for $40,000 in his first start, and Leprechaun Kid was claimed for $50,000 in his 24th career start.

A total of 92 of the 117 entrants were bred in the United States, with 80 of those 92 being Kentucky-breds. Seven others were bred in Florida, with one each hailing from California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, and New York. Of the 25 foreign-breds, nine are from Great Britain, seven from Ireland, three from France and one each from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, and New Zealand.

Danehill is the sire of the most entrants, with five: Ace (Turf), Ivan Denisovich (Juvenile), Intercon-tinental (Filly and Mare Turf), Luas Line (Filly and Mare Turf) and Oratorio (Classic). Dynaformer has four: Film Maker (Filly and Mare Turf), Perfect Drift, Riskaverse (Filly and Mare Turf) and Sand Springs (Mile). A.P. Indy, Distorted Humor, Dixie Union, Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant's Causeway, Hennessy, and Saint Ballado have sired three entrants apiece.

Storm Cat, the world's most expensive sire at a stud fee of $500,000, will not have a runner following the defection of pre-entered Sharp Attack from the Juvenile. Seven sons of Storm Cat, however - Black Minnaloushe, Catienus, Exploit, Forest Wildcat, Giant's Causeway, Hennessy and Stormy Atlantic - have sired 12 of the entrants. Danzig is the sire of Ad Valorem (Mile), and nine of Danzig's sons - Belong to Me, Boundary, Danehill, Langfuhr, Lost Soldier, Military, Pine Bluff, War Chant, and Zieten - have sired another 13 entrants.

Of the 19 juveniles in the 2-year-old races who were sold at public auction, the most expensive was Sensation (Juvenile Fillies) at $475,000 and the lowest price was the $55,000 for Bear Character (Juvenile). Both are by Dixie Union.

Eight trainers will send out 35 of the 117 horses, led by Todd Pletcher with eight, and Bill Mott, Aidan O'Brien and Nick Zito with five apiece. Patrick Biancone, Bobby Frankel, D. Wayne Lukas, and Graham Motion each pre-entered four.

The highest lifetime Beyer Speed Figure is the 123 Saint Liam (Classic) was awarded when he finished second by a neck to Commentator in this year's Whitney. Next come the 117's earned by Wildcat Heir (Sprint) in the 2005 Teddy Drone at Monmouth and by Perfect Drift in the 2003 Stephen Foster. Another four horses have run a Beyer of 113 or higher: Borrego (Classic), Gygistar, Leroidesanimaux and Pomeroy (Sprint). The top Timeform ratings for foreign races are the 130's assigned to Bago in the 2004 Arc de Triomphe and to Motivator (Turf) in this year's Epsom Derby.

Now I suppose it's time to start thinking about who's going to win these races.