10/22/2014 11:50AM

Record entries for Breeders' Cup; 15 for Classic

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Shigeki Kikkawa
The undefeated Shared Belief, last year's champion 2-year-old male, is likely to be favored in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

California, here they come. Despite one fewer race this year than last, and two fewer than two years ago, pre-entries for this year’s Breeders’ Cup are at an all-time high, with 201 individual horses being pre-entered in the 13 Breeders’ Cup races that will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, the Breeders’ Cup announced Wednesday.

There are six previous Breeders’ Cup winners – including five from last year – among this year’s pre-entries. None are in the race that will command the most attention, the last and richest of the 13, the $5 million Classic, to be held Nov. 1. But it’s not as if the Classic is anticlimactic. Far from it.

The Classic features the winners of this year’s Triple Crown races in Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome and Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, plus last year’s champion 2-year-old male, Shared Belief, any of whom could wrest both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male honors with a victory in the Classic.

The 1 1/4-mile Classic had 15 horses pre-entered, one more than the maximum number of starters. In circumstances where a race is oversubscribed, first preference goes to horses who won Win and You’re In races during the year, then come horses who were highest on the points list compiled by the Breeders’ Cup for performances in graded stakes. Seven horses in total are allotted from those two criteria.

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In the Classic, the Win and You’re In horses were five: Bayern, Majestic Harbor, Moreno, Shared Belief, and Tonalist. Thus, two spots were left for the horses with the most points, and those were claimed by California Chrome and Candy Boy.

The remaining horses are then ranked in preference by an international committee of racing officials. In the Classic, Big Cazanova ended up on the outside looking in, ranked behind Cigar Street, Footbridge, Imperative, Prayer for Relief, Toast of New York, V. E. Day, and Zivo. If there is one defection before final entries are taken and posts drawn Monday, Big Cazanova is in. Even if he doesn’t get in then, he will be placed on an also-eligible list and has until scratch time, 8 a.m. on Oct. 31, to land a starting spot.

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Big Cazanova, based at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California, worked a mile there in 1:38.80 on Tuesday.

The 13 Breeders’ Cup races are worth a total of $26 million. There is an additional $1 million on the line in the Classic for Shared Belief through the Bolton Challenge, instituted this year by Los Alamitos to a horse who can win the Los Alamitos Derby, Pacific Classic at Del Mar, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Shared Belief has won the first two of the three legs.

Of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races, 10 were oversubscribed, including a record 29 in the Turf Sprint. In all 10 of those races, the methodology to determine the field mirrored what was done in the Classic. There will be up to two also-eligibles allowed next Monday in races in which at least 16 try to enter. But whether the race is Oct. 31 or Nov. 1, scratch time is 8 a.m. on Oct. 31.

With the exception of the Dirt Mile, which has a maximum field of 12 and landed 12 pre-entries, all Breeders’ Cup races have maximum fields of 14. The only races that did not oversubscribe were the Dirt Mile, Distaff (12 pre-entries), and Filly and Mare Sprint (11).

That robust interest is what propelled the Breeders’ Cup to a record among individual horses being pre-entered. The previous record of 194 was set in 2011, when 15 races were run. There were 172 horses pre-entered last year, when 14 races were run after the Juvenile Sprint was dropped. This year, the Breeders’ Cup is down to 13 races, having jettisoned the Marathon.

Of the 201 pre-entered horses, 28 were cross-entered in two races, so there are 229 total pre-entries. That also is a record, topping the 2011 mark of 227. There were 192 total pre-entries last year.

The pre-entry deadline was Monday, and the names of horses pre-entered were officially released Wednesday. On Monday, horses were allowed to be pre-entered in up to two races, and 28 were so denoted. Next Monday, though, a horse must be entered in one race. The only exception would be if a horse is entered next Monday in an Oct. 31 race as well as a Nov. 1 race without depriving another horse of a spot in either race. Otherwise, as Regis Philbin used to say on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” a final answer is needed Monday.

The Oct. 31 card has four Breeders’ Cup races, with the Distaff – featuring Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable – the last of the quartet. Preceding it, in order, are the Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, and Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Nov. 1 card has nine Breeders’ Cup races, with the Classic closing the day. Preceding it, in order, are the Juvenile Fillies, Filly and Mare Turf, Filly and Mare Sprint, Turf Sprint, Juvenile, Turf, Sprint, and Mile.

The Classic will be live in prime time on NBC, with all other Breeders’ Cup races live on NBCSN.

Dank (Filly and Mare Turf), Goldencents (Dirt Mile), Magician (Turf), and Secret Circle (Sprint) are back to defend their titles in those races. Ria Antonia, the winner by disqualification last year in the Juvenile Fillies, looks for another BC win, this time in the Distaff. Regally Ready, the winner of the 2011 Turf Sprint, is pre-entered in that race again but needs some luck to get in, as he was placed 21st overall out of 29 by the committee.

This will be the third straight year, and the eighth time overall, that Santa Anita has played host to the Breeders’ Cup, which is being held for the 31st time.