Between New York and Southern California, there will be 10 Grade 1 events and four of the Grade 2 variety—plus defending Classic champion Fort Larned in Kentucky.
One way or another, Saturday’s results will determine what could possibly transpire on the weekend of November 2.
Early this afternoon, the NTRA hosted a national Breeders’ Cup conference call.
Here are some quotables from one of three guests, Todd Pletcher, a five-time Eclipse and seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner, who will be a major player on Saturday and the weekend of November 2:
On Three-Year-Olds vs. Older Horses: “Three year olds have to be very good [to beat older horses], especially this year. It’s a particularly strong Jockey Club Gold Cup.”
On the Physical Attributes of Classic Winner Palace Malice: “[He’s] remarkable. He started in January and has run all year, through the Triple Crown preps, and has physically flourished with that activity. He’s bigger, stronger, and has put on weight since the Travers. He takes everything in stride.”
On Palace Malice’s Travers Finish: “I was shocked he got as close as he did. He was standing pretty well [but] the ground just left him, took him out of his game plan--stalking position. Throw in a 48 4/5 half mile and a wide trip on the second turn and…
“[After that], you can chase or you can wait. Mike [Smith] chose to wait. It probably was the right move; he just didn’t get the pace up front.”
On Why Cross Traffic Passed the Woodward: “We just wanted to get to the Breeders’ Cup Classic the best way we could. It was a tough decision because he was doing so well, but we thought the Jockey Club put us in the best position.”
On Why Cross Traffic Got a Late Career Start: “[He’s a] big son of Unbridled Song. The Unbridled Song’s have tremendous talent but you have to be patient. We had him ready to run at 3…and it was frustrating because he came up with shin issue…
“It’s remarkable how much he accomplished in the first starts of his career.” To get beat a head in his third start by a horse like Flat Out, run a mile in 1:32 and change, put three or four horses away; it was as nasty a beat as any horse can take. It was great to see him come back [to win] in the Whitney.
On Surprise JCGC Entrant Vitoria Olimpica: “Since he arrived from Brazil he’s trained like very good horse. It was a tough decision; to run on turf or dirt. We decided on turf. Then he came back and beat some quality horses in the Alydar Stakes. [Owner Goncalo Torreabla] said he would love to take a chance if [Vitoria Olimpica] is doing well…”
On Jockey Club Gold Cup; Winning or Prep?: “It can be both; you’re trying to win and then maintain form. The greatest thing is the five weeks between the races: the spacing is very good.”
On Whether It’s Tougher for an East Coast Trainer to Win Out West: “I’m an advocate of moving the Breeders’ Cup around, which was the intent originally. Ideally, a rotation every four years: California, New York, Kentucky, and a wildcard…
“Santa Anita is a great place to race. The weather’s good, I’m happy that there’s a dirt track now. It’s an advantage when you don’t have to ship so the California horses probably have a slight edge, but [the location] should be fair to everyone.”
On Saturday’s Beldame Performance of Princess of Sylmar: “She has nothing to prove, she’s had an unbelievable year, to win the Oaks, Coaching Club and Alabama is pretty hard for any three-year-old…
“I have tremendous respect for Royal Delta. She’s a phenomenal mare with a tremendously high cruising speed over any distance, but the Beldame is the best race for [Princess of Sylmar] in our program, so it’s a good time to try [Royal Delta].”
On Possibly Skipping the Breeders’ Cup with Princess of Sylmar: “If she continues to go well, to do so well, we’d consider it. We’ll address the Breeders’ Cup after the Beldame.”
On Whether a Loss Hurt Her Eclipse Chances? “Her body of work is pretty overwhelming, [a defeat] won’t be a consideration in whether or not she runs again.”
On Sensational Juvenile Maiden Breaker Havana and What’s Next: “He’s been training extremely well. Yesterday he worked a minute and change at Belmont. I believe it was a black-letter work. [He’s being pointed] to the Champagne [Oct. 5].”