$500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (Grade II) 3-Year-Olds & Up 1 3/4 Miles
Bob Baffert (Fed Biz, Dirt Mile) – The Giant’s Causeway colt Fed Biz, coming off an August victory in Del Mar’s 7f Pat O’Brien Stakes, is one of the shorter-priced horses among the dozen slated for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Friday. On Thursday morning at 8, he did his last bit of leg stretching for the main track test.
Shug McGaughey (Hymn Book, Dirt Mile) – Stuart Janney III’s Hymn Book jogged 1 1/4m Thursday morning before visiting the paddock for the last time in his career, which is slated to come to a close with a start in Friday’s Dirt Mile.
The 6yo gelding, who most recently finished third in the Kelso Handicap, has earned $966,448 heading into the Dirt Mile.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with him over the years. He’s won some decent races and he’s been competitive in a lot of other decent races,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I hope he gets way over a million, but we’ll take a million, though.”
Doug O'Neill (Goldencents, Dirt Mile) – Trainer Doug O’Neill thinks the chances of Goldencents are good as gold after watching the 3yo colt gallop on the main track Thursday. The 75 percent majority owners of the Santa Anita Derby winner are Glenn Sorgenstein and Josh Kaplan, whose stable name W C Racing stands for their Wilshire Coin company, which deals in golden cents and other denominations.
Jerry Hollendorfer (Blueskiesnrainbows, Marathon) – Marathoner Blueskiesnrainbows covered 1 1/2m and stood in the starting gate Thursday morning for trainer Hollendorfer heading into Friday’s Marathon, the first of five Breeders’ Cup races on the first of two days of championship races.
Blueskiesnrainbows, a 4yo colt owned by Bad Boy Racing and Whizway Farms, will be ridden by Martin Pedroza.
Jo Hughes (London Bridge, Marathon) – see European report
Ken McPeek (Golden Ticket, Dirt Mile) – One year after skipping the Classic in lieu of the Hollywood Derby with his 2012 Travers Stakes dead-heat winner Golden Ticket, trainer Ken McPeek has chosen Friday’s Dirt Mile over Saturday’s main event.
“We think the Dirt Mile gives him the best chance to win,” McPeek said. “If he had run better in the Awesome Again Stakes here (when fourth), we would have gone in the Classic. He ran well, but not quite good enough. And, pedigree wise, a mile is probably better from him. He won the Travers at a mile and a quarter, but that distance is probably not for him.”
Kiaran McLaughlin (Alpha, Dirt Mile) – The Godolphin Racing color bearer galloped 1 3/8m Thursday morning before heading for schooling sessions in the gate and the paddock, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin could not be more pleased with the dual Grade I winner.
“The Woodward (in the slop) was the best race of his life; everything went well for him. He broke well and everything went perfectly,” he said. “He’s doing very well and is happy, so we hope he runs well. We were looking for a little rain and that sure wouldn’t have hurt.”
Joe Bravo rode Alpha for the first time in his last race, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and gets the return call.
“Joe learned a little bit about him, so now he feels he knows him and that could help a little bit,” McLaughlin said. “Johnny (Velazquez) would have been our first choice but he was already taken. But Joe is good in the gate, he’s good out of the gate, and he’s a smart rider so we’re pleased. We’ve got to break right and be in the right spot, but we don’t know yet what that’s going to be. We’ll leave it up to Joe to work it out.”
Mark Casse (Pool Play, Marathon) – Bill Farish Jr.’s Pool Play went to the track on Thursday morning for a 1/1/2m gallop with trainer Mark Casse’s other three Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, although the exercise was trimmed to 1 1/4m when another horse got loose on the track.
When asked to assess the horse’s chances Casse replied, “Honestly, I just never know when he’s going to show up or when he doesn’t. When he shows up he’s good, when he doesn’t he’s not. I really don’t know what kind of mood he’s in.”
It was pointed out that the 8yo multiple Graded stakes winner is the most senior of all of this year’s Breeders’ Cup contenders.
“Really? Well, we know we’re going to win something – oldest,” Casse said with a smile.
Casse has saddled 15 previous Breeders’ Cup horses and is looking for his first victory.
Ron Ellis (Centralinteligence, Dirt Mile) – Trainer Ron Ellis expressed confidence that a horse named Centralinteligence with a sire named Smarty Jones would be smart enough to stretch his talents from sprinting to a mile.
“He should be forwardly placed, in the first three going into the first turn,” Ellis said Thursday after the 5yo gelding galloped on the main track under exercise rider Cesar Cerrano.
Tom Proctor (Old Time Hockey, Marathon) – The Glen Hill Farm homebred was out on the track before 5:45 a.m. on Thursday as trainer Tom Proctor put him through his final paces before Friday’s race.
Where did he get his unusual name?
“We’re big time hockey fans from Chicago,” said Glen Hill Farm President Craig Bernick. “ ‘Old time hockey’ is one of the famous and great lines from the movie ‘Slapshot’ with Paul Newman. We love the (Chicago) Blackhawks, and the year this colt was born was the same year they won the Stanley Cup (in 2010 after a 49-year draught). He was one of our best colts that year, and since I always wanted to name a horse Old Time Hockey, he was the one.”
Todd Pletcher (Verrazano, Dirt Mile) – The Todd Pletcher-trained Verrazano jogged Thursday morning while preparing for his final career start in Friday’s Dirt Mile.
Trainer Todd Pletcher expressed his opinion that the son of More Than Ready is still in the mix for the 3yo Eclipse Award championship under a set of circumstances that must include an impressive triumph in the Dirt Mile.
“His Haskell, to me, is the strongest single performance by a 3-year-old this year,” Pletcher said. “We’re hoping for another one like that.”