• GOMEZ OFF MOUNTS AGAIN, NOT RIDING ‘FOR TIME BEING’
• SMOOVE IT RETURNS FOR REDDAM IN SUNDAY’S ANOAKIA STAKES
Game On Dude, Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek. Meet the Breeders’ Cup Classic’s Fab Four.
Game On Dude has won six straight stakes and is the early favorite for the $5 million, mile-and-a-quarter Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, where the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be presented that Saturday and the preceding Friday, Nov. 1.
Fort Larned is the defending Classic champ; Mucho Macho Man was an impressive winner of the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Sept. 28; and Ron the Greek, the 2012 Santa Anita Handicap winner, showed his best form in a 21-1 upset in The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Sept. 28. Each horse has won its last start.
You bets your money and you takes your choice, the old saying goes.
“Game On Dude is obviously the horse to beat,” said private clocker Gary Young, whose opinion is both forthright and widely respected. “Fort Larned ran a strange race (winning the Homecoming Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs Sept. 28). He looked like he was going to win by 10, and then he kind of just won (by a length and a half).
“He picked his game up when he won here last year, but he’ll have to pick it up this year, off of that race.
“Ron the Greek was impressive. Just when it looked like he might be fading back into normal race horse land, he comes up with a performance like that. Obviously, he likes this race track after winning the Big Cap last year.
“Mucho Macho Man likes this track, too, but he’ll be running against a different (read stronger) group (than he met in the Awesome Again).
“Of those four, Game On Dude would be my top choice, although that’s not ‘scooping’ the world. Fort Larned would be my fourth choice and the other two would be tied for second.”
GOMEZ, BESET WITH PERSONAL PROBLEMS, ABSENT ‘FOR A WHILE’
Garrett Gomez, who took off his six riding assignments at Santa Anita Sunday due to a missed flight from Kentucky where he won two races at Keeneland the day before, took off his scheduled five mounts at Santa Anita today. Both of his of his scheduled mounts here on Sunday won as well.
“He’s going through personal problems,” said his agent, Tony Matos. “He texted me yesterday and said he didn’t want to ride for a while.”
A two-time Eclipse Award winner in 2007 and 2008 as the nation’s leading rider and winner of the Shoemaker Award for outstanding performance by a jockey in the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Gomez, who has been dogged by personal issues throughout his career, took time off this past summer during Hollywood Park and Del Mar. He turns 42 on Jan. 1, 2014.
A native of Tucson, Gomez had three wins, three seconds and six thirds from 24 mounts at Santa Anita through the first seven racing days. His mounts had earned $163, 206.
Since he began riding in 1988, Gomez has won 3,769 races from 21,639 mounts, with purse earnings of $205,224,899, an average of $9,484 per start.
SMOOVE IT SHARP FOR STAKES DEBUT IN SUNDAY’S ANOAKIA
Smoove It is scheduled to make her first start Sunday since June 29 when the bay daughter of Square Eddie runs in the $70,000 Anoakia stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs for owner/breeder J. Paul Reddam.
“She needed a little freshening, but she’s doing well,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the California-bred out of the Distorted Humor mare Smoove.
Smoove It broke her maiden in the second of her two career starts. “She’s working well and all those Square Eddies can really run. Just like daddy, they’re solid, and they’re fast.”
O’Neill added that Clenor, unbeaten in three U.S. starts after winning Sunday’s Surfer Girl Stakes, “looks super” as she readies for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile on Nov. 1.
Santa Anita Sprint Championship runner-up Goldencents is ticketed for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 1. “He’s brilliant at everything,” O’Neill said of the 2013 Santa Anita Derby winner, “but I think a mile hits him right between the ears.”
The field for the Anoakia, race three of nine: Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez; Spring Moon, Martin Garcia; E Equalsmcsquared, Martin Pedroza; Bajan, Victor Espinoza; and Cadron, Rafael Bejarano.