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Zenyatta draws post 8 as 8-5 favorite for Breeders' Cup Classic
By Jay Privman
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Zenyatta drew post 8 and was made the 8-5 favorite on the morning line of Churchill Downs’s Mike Battaglia when a field of 12 was entered on Tuesday for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the highlight of the 14 BC races, worth $25.5 million, to be run Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Zenyatta is the lone mare in the field, just like a year ago, when she won the Classic at Santa Anita. She is seeking to become the second repeat winner in the Classic, joining Tiznow, who prevailed in 2000 and 2001.
Mike Watchmaker, the national handicapper for Daily Racing Form, made Zenyatta the 9-5 favorite on his line.
The 1 1/4-mile Classic features all the leading contenders for Horse of the Year, including Blame, Haynesfield, Lookin At Lucky, and Quality Road. While Zenyatta drew a satisfactory spot, both Quality Road, who landed the rail, and Lookin At Lucky, who ended up in the far outside post, were less fortunate.
“That wasn’t the post position we were hoping for,” said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Quality Road, “but it’s probably less of a disadvantage in a 12-horse field. It’s a terrible post in the Kentucky Derby.”
BREEDERS' CUP ENTRIES: Fields for Friday and Saturday's 14 championship races
Lookin At Lucky drew the rail in the Derby, and had a horrible trip. He has had plenty of bad luck at the draw in major races. Last year, he wound up in the far outside post in a field of 13 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he finished second after a wide journey.
Battaglia made Blame, a three-time winner at Churchill Downs, the second choice at 9-2, with Quality Road next at 5-1. He has Lookin At Lucky at 6-1, and Haynesfield at 12-1.
The only surprise in the Classic was that Morning Line, who was pre-entered last week in both the Classic and Dirt Mile, wound up in the Dirt Mile, even though trainer Nick Zito last week said he would run in the Classic.
The fields for all 14 races were drawn on Tuesday during a 75-minute process in a dining room at Churchill Downs.
Zenyatta and Goldikova, who runs in the Mile, both will be seeking to become the first three-time winners of Breeders’ Cup races. Zenyatta won the Ladies’ Classic in 2008. Goldikova won the Mile the last two years.
In addition to Zenyatta and Goldikova, there are three other horses -- California Flag in the Turf Sprint, Midday in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Informed Decision in the Filly and Mare Sprint -- trying to defend their titles. Forever Together, the 2008 Filly and Mare Turf winner, is also seeking multiple victories in the Breeders’ Cup.
The Classic and Mile are part of eight Breeders’ Cup races to be run on Saturday. On Friday, six Breeders’ Cup races will be run, and the latter part of the card will be held under the newly installed lights at Churchill Downs, marking the first time Breeders’ Cup races have been run under lights. It is not the first time the Breeders’ Cup will be held at night, as anyone who was here at the 1988 Classic can attest.
In 1988, Personal Ensign ended her career a perfect 13 for 13 with a dramatic victory in the Distaff, now known as the Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta will be trying to run her remarkable record to 20 for 20 in the Classic.
The other favorites of Battaglia’s in the Saturday races are Master of Hounds, 9-2 in the Juvenile Turf; Girolamo, 3-1 in the Sprint; Silver Timber, 4-1 in the Turf Sprint; Uncle Mo, 7-5 in the Juvenile; Goldikova, 6-5 in the Mile; Morning Line, 7-2 in the Dirt Mile; and Workforce, 7-5 in the Turf.
The $2 million Ladies' Classic is the highlight of the Friday card. Blind Luck, the Kentucky Oaks winner, was made the 9-5 favorite by Battaglia despite drawing post 10 in a field of 11. Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free has Blind Luck favored at 3-1.
Other Friday favorites of Battaglia are Awesome Gem, 7-2 in the Marathon; Winter Memories, 2-1 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; Rightly So, 3-1 in the Filly and Mare Sprint; A Z Warrior, 7-2 in the Juvenile Fillies; and Midday, 6-5 in the Filly and Mare Turf.
Goldikova and Midday are the shortest-priced favorites in the 14 races.
Tuesday marked the second and final stage of a two-stage entry process that began last week with pre-entries. On Tuesday, post positions were selected for each race. A maximum of 14 could run in each race. In races where more than 14 were entered, an also-eligible list, numbering no more than two horses, was enacted, in order of preference of an international panel of racing officials.
Also-eligibles were needed in three races, the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday, and the Turf Sprint on Saturday. By contrast, the smallest field is the Turf, with eight runners. Including the four also-eligibles in those three races, a record total of 172 horses was entered in the 14 races, breaking the previous mark of 163 set in 2008. There were 155 horses entered in 2009.
Scratch time for both Friday and Saturday is 7 a.m. Eastern time on Friday. That is the last chance for also-eligibles to draw into their respective races.
Also on Tuesday, the 18 horses who last week were pre-entered in more than one race were all put in one race prior to posts being drawn. Included in that group was Gio Ponti, who was pre-entered in the Classic and the Mile and on Monday was announced as going in the Mile. Crown of Thorns and Dakota Phone, both pre-entered in the Classic and the Dirt Mile, were, as expected, put in the Dirt Mile. Morning Line also wound up in the Dirt Mile after having the Classic declared as his first choice last week. So, the Classic, which had 16 pre-entries last week, ended up with a final field of 12.
Zenyatta, accompanied on a flight by a number of horses based in California, including Lookin At Lucky, landed at Louisville International Airport at 11:35 Tuesday morning following a departure earlier that morning from California. She was put on a private horse van and was given a two-car sheriff’s escort to Churchill Downs, where she was placed in Barn 41 after arriving a half-hour after her flight landed.
The first 10,000 fans arriving at Churchill Downs for the races on Friday will receive a commemorative DVD of Zenyatta, courtesy of TVG. The DVD has all 19 of her races.
It was another clear, cold morning on Tuesday at Churchill Downs, with temperatures dipping into the upper 30s. According to Weather.com, the high temperature will be 53 degrees, and the low 37, on Friday night, with a 30 percent chance of showers. The high temperature is forecast for 56 on Saturday, with no chance of rain.
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