Horse of the Year on the Line For 'Dude' in Classic
There is no Zenyatta or Curlin in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). In other words, there is no megastar to grab the attention of the general public. But within the confines of racing, the Classic is a compelling race with nine grade I winners in the field.
Game On Dude, a 5-year-old gelding by Awesome Again , is just a tot in the realm of geldings and a victory in the Classic could not only put him atop the list of contenders for Horse of the Year, but serve as a springboard for a long-lasting career that may ultimately put him in a class with the great geldings of modern times.
He has already captured the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup (both gr. I) and was narrowly defeated in the final jump of the TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I), and he also has several other grade I and II victories to his credit, as well as a game, second-place finish in last year's Classic at Churchill Downs.
A victory in the Classic would give him a record of six-for-six at Santa Anita Park, making him a true hometown hero. It also would give him a record of five wins from seven starts in 2012, with three grade I scores and a pair of grade IIs.
Game On Dude, who was made the 9-5 morning line favorite, drew post 5 in the 12-horse Classic field, which pleased his trainer Bob Baffert, who feels the break is more important than the draw.
But even with his home field advantage, the Classic is far from an easy spot, with seven top-class horses invading from the East Coast and another from Canada.
Bill Mott alone will send a formidable army, consisting of two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Flat Out (post 2), this year's Santa Anita Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) winner Ron the Greek (post 10), and this year's Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner To Honor and Serve (post 12).
Another horse likely to get a good deal of play is the towering Mucho Macho Man, impressive winner of the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) this year, as well as two other stakes and a neck defeat in the Woodward. The son of Macho Uno drew post 11, which should be perfect for the long-striding colt.
The most unfortunate aspect of this year's Classic is the lack of 3-year-old representation, especially with the lack of representation from the Classics. That can be attributed to injury, which ended the careers of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness (both gr. I) winner I'll Have Another, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags , and Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister.
That leaves us with the dead-heat Travers (gr. I) winner Alpha, Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) winner Handsome Mike, and the Awesome Again and Haskell (both gr. I) runner-up Nonios, an up-and-coming son of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect who has run bang-up races behind Game On Dude and Paynter.
Pace is likely to play a major role, with stone closer Richard's Kid's stablemate Handsome Mike nearly a sure thing to set a solid pace and keep Game On Dude and the other tactical speed horses occupied at least for a while. Handsome Mike drew post 7, outside Game On Dude. Let the cat and mouse game begin.
|Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 3 5:30 PM PDT|
|1||Pool Play||Miguel Mena||Mark Casse||30-1|
|2||Flat Out||Joel Rosario||William Mott||5-1|
|3||Alpha||Ramon Dominguez||Kiaran McLaughlin||20-1|
|4||Fort Larned||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||Ian Wilkes||5-1|
|5||Game On Dude||Rafael Bejarano||Bob Baffert||9-5|
|6||Brilliant Speed||Junior Alvarado||Thomas Albertrani||20-1|
|7||Handsome Mike||Mario Guttierrez||Doug O'Neill||30-1|
|8||Nonios||Martin Pedroza||Jerry Hollendorfer||20-1|
|9||Richard's Kid||Garrett Gomez||Doug O'Neill||12-1|
|10||Ron the Greek||Jose Lezcano||William Mott||6-1|
|11||Mucho Macho Man||Mike Smith||Kathy Ritvo||8-1|
|12||To Honor and Serve||John Velazquez||William Mott||8-1|
- March 14, 2019
Like all of racing we are profoundly saddened by the loss of a life at any racetrack and we are heartbroken for those whose livelihoods are dedicated to the care of our horses. As an organization, the Breeders’ Cup stands for the highest levels of safety and integrity. We support the effort by The Stronach Group to propose important changes and we commit to working with the racing industry in California and elsewhere to achieve meaningful reform on a national basis.
- February 23, 2019
Statement from Breeders’ Cup Limited on the loss of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway
“Battle of Midway was a gifted and extremely accomplished racehorse. We extend our deepest sympathies to Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and all those who took care of Battle of Midway during his brilliant racing career.”
- February 17, 2019
Inti Goes Wire to Wire in February Stakes in Tokyo and Gains First Automatic Berth into 2019 Breeders' Cup Classic
Shigeo Takeda’s 5-year-old homebred Inti (JPN), the 2.6-1 favorite under jockey Yutaka Take, controlled the pace throughout Sunday’s 36th running of the one-mile, $1,879,000 February Stakes (G1) on dirt at Tokyo Racecourse, winning by a neck over second choice Gold Dream (JPN), and secured the first automatic berth into this year’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.