10/27/2010 3:55PM

Zenyatta and Goldikova in hunt for Breeders' Cup history

Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta will go for her third Breeders' Cup victory, and second straight in the Classic, on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

Led by the sensational mares Zenyatta and Goldikova, both of whom will be seeking unprecedented third victories in the Breeders’ Cup, a total of 184 horses were announced on Wednesday as the pre-entries for the 27th Breeders’ Cup, a 14-race, $25.5 million extravaganza to be held Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Zenyatta, who won the Classic last year and the Ladies’ Classic in 2008, and Goldikova, a two-time winner of the Mile on turf, are among six previous Breeders’ Cup winners pre-entered in the 14 races. The others are 2009 winners Midday (Filly and Mare Turf), Informed Decision (Filly and Mare Sprint), and California Flag (Turf Sprint), as well as Forever Together, who won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2008.

Zenyatta, the undefeated winner of 19 races, will be attempting to become the second horse to win the Classic twice, following Tiznow in 2000-2001. She is the only female to have won the Classic.

GRADED PRE-ENTRIES: Complete list of BC pre-entries with odds, comments, and last-race replays

BC ADVANCE: Lifetime PPs and career video replays for all pre-entered horses

“How she does it, I have no idea,” John Shirreffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, said on a national teleconference Wednesday morning. “She’s at the mercy of the pace. She has to go wide. She has to cut the corner. She has to get a break. So far, she’s done whatever is necessary to win.”

Other marquee names include Blind Luck, this year’s winner of the Kentucky Oaks, who has been pre-entered in the Ladies’ Classic, and Mine That Bird, the upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, who is in the Dirt Mile.

In addition to French-based Goldikova, the most prominent international entrant is Workforce, the winner of the Epsom Derby and Arc de Triomphe, who will race in the Turf.

Though officially announced on Wednesday, pre-entries had to be submitted by Monday, and the 184 pre-entries were announced on Tuesday as a record. On Monday, horses could be put into two races. Eighteen horses were so designated, bringing the total number of entries in the 14 races to 202. Most prominent among those cross-entered is Gio Ponti, who was placed in both the Classic and the Mile, with the Classic being listed as his first choice.

Gio Ponti, a double Eclipse Award winner last year following a second-place finish in the Classic and a turf victory in the Arlington Million, has never raced on dirt, so the Classic would be his first start on that surface in a career that thus far has numbered 22 races. The Classic was run on the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita the previous two years.

Of the 14 races, six received more pre-entries than can actually start. In those cases, the field is determined first by horses who have captured the respective Win and You’re In races during the year, then by points earned in graded stakes races, and finally by an international committee of racing officials, which fills out the remaining slots and puts the overflow horses on an also-eligible list, in order of preference.

In the Classic, for instance, 16 horses were pre-entered, but only 14 will be allowed to run. No more than 14 are expected to seek starting berths in the race at entry time next Tuesday, though, because both Crown of Thorns and Dakota Phone are expected to go in the race currently designated as their first choice, the Dirt Mile. Therefore, no one should be shut out.

For the record, though, Blame got in through the Win and You’re In program. The next six slots, based on points, went to Dakota Phone, First Dude, Lookin At Lucky, Musket Man, Quality Road, and Zenyatta. The remaining seven spots, as chosen by the committee, went to Crown of Thorns, Etched, Fly Down, Gio Ponti, Haynesfield, and Paddy O’Prado. Morning Line and Pleasant Prince, in that order, are currently on the outside looking in, though that is expected to change by entry time Tuesday.

Other races that oversubscribed are the Filly and Mare Sprint (22 pre-entries), Juvenile Fillies Turf (18), Turf Sprint (18), Dirt Mile (15), and Juvenile Turf (19).

Final entries are due and post positions will be drawn on Tuesday. In races that are still oversubscribed at the final entry stage, two also-eligibles will be drawn and listed on the program in the case of late scratches. Scratch time for both the Nov. 5 and 6 cards is 7 a.m. Eastern time on Nov. 5.
The Classic will anchor the second day of competition. Preceding it that day will be, in order, the Juvenile Turf, Sprint, Turf Sprint, Juvenile, Mile, Dirt Mile, and Turf. On Nov. 5, the Ladies’ Classic will be the last of six Breeders’ Cup races, following, in order, the Marathon, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Filly and Mare Sprint, Juvenile Fillies, and Filly and Mare Turf. The latter part of that card will be run under the lights.

The 1 1/4-mile Classic, at $5 million the richest Breeders’ Cup race, has an outstanding field featuring the leading contenders for Horse of the Year, including Zenyatta, older stars Blame, Quality Road, and Haynesfield, and Lookin At Lucky, last year’s male 2-year-old champion and this year’s top 3-year-old male following victories in the Preakness and Haskell.

International spice is provided by Japanese invader Espoir City. And while the connections of Gio Ponti mull over which race to go in, another grass standout, Paddy O’Prado, will go in the Classic, his chances boosted by a third-place finish over Churchill’s dirt surface in the Kentucky Derby six months ago.

Paddy O’Prado also was pre-entered in the Turf, and Morning Line also was pre-entered in the Dirt Mile, but the connections of both horses have said the Classic, their first choice at the pre-entry stage, is their intention.

If Gio Ponti goes in the Classic, he will need a new rider, because his regular rider, Ramon Dominguez, rides Haynesfield in that race.

The remaining likely starting field for the Classic, including jockeys, is Blame (Garrett Gomez the rider), Espoir City (Tetsuzo Sato), Etched (Alan Garcia), First Dude (Robby Albarado), Fly Down (Julien Leparoux), Haynesfield (Dominguez), Lookin At Lucky (Martin Garcia), Morning Line (Javier Castellano), Musket Man (Eibar Coa), Paddy O’Prado (Kent Desormeaux), Pleasant Prince (Joel Rosario), Quality Road (John Velazquez), and Zenyatta (Mike Smith).

This will be the seventh Breeders’ Cup held at Churchill Downs, which will also play host to the event in 2011.