John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


172 Horses Pre-Entered for 2013 Breeders’ Cup World Championships


Led by an international all-star cast of the world’s best horses, including multiple grade I winner Game On Dude, Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, two-time defending Distaff champion Royal Delta, European standouts The Fugue (GB), Declaration of War and Olympic Glory (IRE), and defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan, 172 horses, including nine defending 2012 race winners, have been pre-entered for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup World Championships according to a Breeders' Cup press release.


The 30th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consisting of 14 races with purses and awards totaling $27 million, will be held at Santa Anita Park for the seventh time on Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2. There will be five Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.

The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be televised live and in primetime Saturday, November 2 on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET).

Fort Larned (Classic); Royal Delta (Distaff, formerly Ladies’ Classic) Little Mike (Turf); Wise Dan (Mile); Beholder (Juvenile Fillies) Groupie Doll (Filly & Mare Sprint); Trinniberg (Sprint); Mizdirection (Turf Sprint) and Flotilla (FR) (Juvenile Fillies Turf) are the nine 2012 winners pre-entered for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic, the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles. A total of 13 horses have been pre-entered. Since the event’s inception in 1984, 11 winners of the Classic have been voted Thoroughbred racing’s Horse of the Year. Five starters from the 2012 Classic have returned including the first four finishers in the race. This year’s Classic is led by Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable and Bernie Schiappa’s 6-year-old Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, the all-time leading Breeders’ Cup jockey with 17 victories. Game On Dude has won all five of his starts this year in dominating front-running fashion, including grade 1 scores in the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup and, most recently, Del Mar’s Pacific Classic by 8 ½ lengths on August 25. The son of 1998 Classic winner Awesome Again is the leading active money winner in North America with $5,602,158 in career earnings, but seeks his first Classic victory after getting caught at the wire by Drosselmeyer in 2011 and finishing a disappointing seventh as the favorite last year at Santa Anita.

Janis Whitham’s homebred Fort Larned won last year’s Classic in a stirring stretch drive over Mucho Macho Man by three-quarters of a length. However, the 5-year-old son of E Dubai has had an inconsistent season with just two wins in five starts, but was impressive in his last start winning the Homecoming Stakes at Churchill Downs on September 28. Tiznow, in 2000 and 2001, is the only horse to win the Classic twice.

Reeves Thoroughbred’s Classic runner-up Mucho Macho Man has made just four starts this year, but got his first of 2013 win in a dominant performance against West Coast horses when he won the Awesome Again Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita on September 28. Trained by Kathy Ritvo, the 5-year-old son of 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Macho Uno won his first grade I in the Awesome Again and clearly has an affinity for Santa Anita’s main track.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has won the Classic twice. Mott accomplished it with Cigar’s victory in 1995 and again with Drosselmeyer in 2011. This year, Mott has again pre-entered Flat Out and Ron the Greek, the third- and fourth- place finishers in last year’s Classic. Preston Stable’s 7-year-old Flat Out was third in last year’s Classic after finishing fifth as the favorite in 2011. He returns to this year’s event off a third place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park September 28. Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable’s 6-year-old Ron the Greek surprised many by winning the Gold Cup by 6 ¾ lengths at 21-1 in a stark reversal of his recent form. The 6-year-old son of Full Mandate, fourth in last year’s Classic, also won the 2012 Santa Anita Handicap over the Classic distance.

Graydar, who captured the Donn Handicap (GI) and the New Orleans Handicap (GII) this winter, and most recently the Kelso (GII) at Belmont; Zayat Stable’s 4-year-old Paynter, second to Mucho Macho Man in the Awesome Again, and Last Gunfighter, winner of the Iselin Stakes (GIII) are among the U.S.-based older horses pre-entered. The 4-year-old Aidan O’Brien-trained Declaration of War, winner of the Juddmonte International (GI) at York and Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s 6-year-old Planteur (IRE) third in the Dubai World Cup (GI), are the overseas pre-entrants in the Classic, among 24 in all from outside of North America in this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

The 3-year-old male title will also be on the line in the Classic as both Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice and Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge have been pre-entered. Palace Malice has come on strong in the second half of the year. Following his Belmont win, he captured Saratoga’s Jim Dandy (GII) and was an unlucky fourth there after a bad start in the Travers (GI). The son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin rebounded with a second place finish behind Ron the Greek in the Gold Cup for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Will Take Charge, who defeated Palace Malice in the Travers, also has been formidable in recent months. Not a factor in the Triple Crown races, Will Take Charge followed up his Travers win by taking the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) at Parx for resurgent 78-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the only trainer to capture racing’s career ‘Grand Slam’ of winning all three Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Lukas trained 1999 Classic winner Cat Thief. Travers and Pennsylvania Derby runner-up Moreno completes the 13 pre-entered for the Classic.

The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf precedes the Classic on the Saturday program. Morton Fink’s homebred Wise Dan set a course record in last year’s Mile at Santa Anita and started 2013 with five straight wins on turf, which culminated in his win in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI) in September. The 6-year-old son of Wiseman’s Ferry, trained by Charlie Lopresti, saw his overall nine-race win streak snapped by fellow Mile entrant Silver Max in Keeneland’s Shadwell Turf Mile (GI), which was taken off the turf and run on the Polytrack. Wise Dan will face challenges from the aforementioned Silver Max, winner of his last three starts for trainer Dale Romans, and the 5 year-old Obviously (IRE), who was third in last year’s Mile and has won three stakes this year for trainer Mike Mitchell, including Betfair Hollywood Park’s Shoemaker Mile (GI) in June. Two European standouts from the Richard Hannon barn representing Sheikh Joaan Al Thani are the 3-year-olds Olympic Glory (IRE), who won the Queen Elizabeth II (GI) on Champions Day at Ascot last week and Toronado (IRE), winner of the Sussex Stakes (GI) at Glorious Goodwood in August. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Flotilla (FR) has also been pre-entered.

Championship Friday is accentuated by one of the most talented fields ever for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. Besilu Stable’s 5-year-old mare Royal Delta won the race when it was called the Ladies’ Classic in 2011 and 2012. Trained by Mott, Royal Delta has won three times this year, including grade I scores in the Delaware Handicap and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, but will seek revenge in the Distaff, having been defeated in Belmont’s Beldame (GI) by the top 3-year-old filly in the U.S. in Ed Stanco’s sensational homebred Princess of Sylmar. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Princess of Sylmar has won six of seven starts this year, and her last four in a row, all grade 1 wins, starting with a shocking half-length win in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) at better than 38-1, and then reeling off the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama at Saratoga before winning the Beldame. The top 3-year-old filly on the West Coast is Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder, front running winner of last year’s Juvenile Fillies. Trained by Richard Mandella, who won an unprecedented four Breeders’ Cup races on one day 10 years ago at Santa Anita, Beholder has won four times this year, including grade I victories in the Santa Anita Oaks and the Zenyatta Stakes on September 28. Another top 3-year-old filly is Juddmonte Farms’ Close Hatches, also trained by Mott, who has won five of seven starts this year, most recently the grade I Cotillion at Parx by two lengths.

The $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1 ½ miles, the richest of the five grass races on the two-day program, includes the first two finishers from last year’s dramatic race: Priscilla Vaccarezza’s 6-year-old gelding Little Mike, who finished a half-length ahead of the Phipps Stable’s 5-year-old Point of Entry. Trained by Dale Romans, Little Mike was winless in four starts this year before winning the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) at Belmont Park on September 28. Point of Entry won both his grade I starts this year, capturing the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park before being sidelined with an injury.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey have pre-entered the most horses of all owners in this Breeders’ Cup with seven, and they have two formidable stars in the Turf in Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution, both trained by Chad Brown. Big Blue Kitten won back to back grade I’s this summer in United Nations at Monmouth Park and the Sword Dancer at Saratoga before finishing second by a nose to Little Mike in the Joe Hirsch. The 4-year-old Real Solution, third in the Joe Hirsch, won the Arlington Million (GI) in August. The 4-year-old Indy Point, trained by Mandella, is the top threat from the west, following his impressive win in the John Henry Turf Classic (GII) at Santa Anita on September 29. Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s 4-year-old filly The Fugue (GB), who was third in last year’s Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita appears to be the main European challenger in the Turf. Trained by John Gosden, who won the 2008 Classic with Raven’s Pass at Santa Anita, The Fugue comes into the race off consecutive group I victories in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes against male rivals. Also from Europe, Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered Magician (IRE), winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas (GI) this spring.

The complement for the Turf is the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 ¼ miles on Championship Saturday this year. Juddmonte Farms’ 4-year-old filly Romantica, winner of the Darley Prix Jean Romanet (GI) at Deauville for trainer Andre Fabre and Beverly D. Stakes (GI) winner Dank (GB), trained by Sir Michael Stoute are the top Europeans. Three 5-year-old mares lead the American contingent: Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix, second in last year’s Filly & Mare Turf, Tiz Flirtatious, winner of both the John C. Mabee (GII) at Del Mar and the Rodeo Drive (GI) at Santa Anita, and Richard Santulli’s Laughing (IRE), who has won four straight stakes on the East Coast, including Belmont’s Flower Bowl (GI) September 28.

The $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs is led by Donnie Crevier’s and Charles Martin’s 4-year-old gelding Points Offthebench. Trained by Tim Yakteen, Points Offthebench has come off the pace to win his last four starts, including back to back grade I scores in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar and last month’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI). Another California contender is the 4-year-old gelding Private Zone, who came east to win the Vosburgh (GI) at Belmont Park September 28 in front running style. Defending champion Trinniberg for Sherry Parbhoo, second to Bahamian Squall in the Smile Sprint (GII) at Calder, has not won this year in four starts.

The 5-year-old Groupie Doll is back to defend her title in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Trained by Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll did not start until August of this year, and has one win in three starts, the Presque Isle Masters (GII) and finished third to trainer Wesley Ward’s Judy the Beauty on October 5 in Keeneland’s Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (GII). Susan Wantz’s 4-year-old filly Dance to Bristol and the Bob Baffert trained 4-year-old filly Book Review, the 1-2 finishers of the Ballerina (GI) at Saratoga, have also been pre-entered.

Each year, the 2-year-olds bring a certain air of excitement to the Breeders’ Cup, with the present meshing with thoughts of the future, and this year should be no different as both the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies are loaded with untapped potential.

Reddam Racing’s Bond Holder, trained by Doug O’Neill, comes into the Juvenile off a 2 ¼ length win in the FrontRunner (GI) at Santa Anita, where he beat Dance with Fate, who was second for trainer Peter Eurton. Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Havana, winner of the Foxwoods Champagne (GI) at Belmont Park; Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner We Miss Artie and Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes (GI) winner Strong Mandate, trained by Lukas, loom as the other contenders.

Westrock Stables’ Secret Compass defeated Dr. Mark Dedomenico and partners’ She’s a Tiger by a head in the Chandelier Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita, and both have been pre-entered for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Artemis Argrotera and Sweet Reason, the first two finishers in the Frizette (GI), lead the Eastern contingent.

***

A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile (12). Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 21, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) ranked all horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Monday, Oct. 28 by 10:00 a.m. (PT). At the time of entry, a maximum of 14 horses (or 12) will be accepted for each race based on the order of preference established at pre-entry.

There will be up to two (2) also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 8:00 a.m. PT, Friday, Nov. 1.


Written by John Pricci

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