Updated on 09/17/2011 10:38PM

Titles on the line in every race

Rock Hard Ten, training at Belmont, was scratched on Friday from Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park after suffering an injury to his right front hoof.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It was announced this past week that Sylvester Stallone would reprise his role as Rocky, apparently because someone believes there is a market for a movie about a 60-year-old fighter. There's a better version on Saturday at Belmont Park, though. Rock Hard Ten, nicknamed "Rocky" by his handlers, will try to nail down Horse of the Year with a victory in the .

That's the only thing that will be nailed down on Rock Hard Ten. Because Rock Hard Ten bruised his left front foot late last week, he has been outfitted with glue-on shoes on his front feet. The bruise also delayed Rock Hard Ten's travel to New York by three days. But after arriving on Wednesday afternoon, and visiting the Belmont Park main track Thursday morning, Rock Hard Ten trained to the satisfaction of trainer Richard Mandella, who pronounced his colt set for the Classic.

Let's get ready to rumblllllllllllle!

"He did everything right," Mandella said outside Belmont Park's Barn 5 on Thursday morning. "I feel good. I think everything is behind us. As bad luck as the bruise was, it was good that it happened so far out that we had a chance to work on it. If it had happened three days before the race, or two days before, he couldn't have run. It's good that it happened in time, and it wasn't serious. I put glue-on shoes on him because I didn't want any nails getting near it and having it sore up.

"We just hope it continues to stay that way," Mandella said. "Bruises can come back to haunt you."

Rock Hard Ten won the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year, and comes off a victory in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap. He will be facing a Classic field that includes Horse of the Year contenders such as Borrego and Saint Liam. The Classic is the day's richest race, at $4,680,000. The day's total prize money is $15,775,000.

Horse of the Year, and just about every other divisional title, figures to be decided on Saturday. Rock Hard Ten or Saint Liam would seemingly be a cinch to be Horse of the Year if either were to win the Classic. Borrego has a shot, too. There might even be sentiment for Starcraft, should he win his first start on dirt against America's best after conquering both Australia and Europe. But if there is an improbable upset in the Classic, several contenders would emerge depending on how the day unfolds.

Lost in the Fog, the unbeaten colt who runs in the Sprint, would be a viable candidate should he complete a perfect season. So too Leroidesanimaux, if he were to win the Mile and upsets ruled the other races. And if the day is completely chaotic, Afleet Alex - the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes winner who was unquestionably the best horse in the first half of the year - would get plenty of support.

The Classic is the last of eight Breeders' Cup races. It has a scheduled post of 5:35 p.m. Eastern time. Belmont Park has a 10-race card on Saturday that begins at noon. There are two stakes races preceding the first Breeders' Cup race, the Juvenile Fillies, which has a post time of 1:20.

The eight Breeders' Cup races will be televised by NBC in a five-hour broadcast that begins at 1. Co-host Charlsie Cantey is retiring after this show.

This is the fifth Breeders' Cup that will be held in New York, and the fourth at majestic Belmont Park. A crowd of about 50,000 is expected, according to Charles Hayward, the president and chief executive of the New York Racing Association.

"A lot depends on the weather, obviously," Hayward said.

The National Weather Service forecast for Saturday is for a high temperature in the mid-50's, sunny, and no chance of rain. The main track should be fast, and the turf course good.

Four Breeders' Cup race winners from last year are back to defend their titles - Ouija Board in the Filly and Mare Turf, Singletary in the Mile, Ashado in the Distaff, and Better Talk Now in the Turf.

Another horse to watch is the unbeaten First Samurai, who seeks to secure the 2-year-old championship - and be declared the pro-tem favorite for next spring's Kentucky Derby - in the Juvenile.

A trainer to watch is John Shirreffs. The quiet, respected horseman pulled off the biggest upset of the first half of the year with Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby, and will seek another upset on Saturday with Hollywood Story in the Distaff.