Record Entries For Breeders Cup
RECORD ENTRIES FOR 2011 BREEDERS CUP
A tantalizing matchup in the Breeders' Cup Classic featuring Havre de Grace, the best filly in the United States, and Uncle Mo, the nation's most compelling 3-year-old, along with a bid by the great Goldikova for an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile, all are in the offing for this year's Breeders' Cup Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs, as those horses were among the record 193 runners announced as pre-entries on Wednesday by the Breeders' Cup.
The list of pre-entries for the Classic also includes the highly regarded European invader So You Think, Belmont Stakes winners Drosselmeyer and Ruler On Ice, Travers winner Stay Thirsty, and three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, who was cross-entered in both the Classic and the Mile, with the Classic, somewhat surprisingly, listed as his first choice.
If Gio Ponti were to run in the Classic, which is scheduled to be the final start of his magnificent career, it would be his first race on dirt. He is, however, expected to run on turf in the Mile, in which he finished second last year. Gio Ponti worked five furlongs on turf at Belmont Park on Wednesday in 1:02.11 in his final drill for the Breeders' Cup.
There originally were 194 horses pre-entered, but Tizway was removed before the official release of the pre-entries on Wednesday following the announcement on Tuesday that he was retired and would miss the Classic.
The Classic, at $5 million, is the richest of the Breeders' Cup races, whose total purses are $26 million. This is the 28th Breeders' Cup, and the record eighth to be held at Churchill Downs, which played host to the event last year.
In addition to Uncle Mo, who won last year's Juvenile, and Goldikova, four other winners from last year's Breeders' Cup are back. Attempting to defend their titles will be Big Drama in the Sprint, Chamberlain Bridge in the Turf Sprint, Shared Account in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Eldaafer in the Marathon. Midday, who won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2009, and California Flag, the Turf Sprint winner in 2009, also were pre-entered.
The deadline to submit pre-entries was Monday, and they were officially announced on Wednesday. Of the 193 individual runners, some 34, like Gio Ponti, were pre-entered in two races, so there are a record 227 entries in the 15 races.
Trappe Shot was pre-entered in both the Dirt Mile, his first choice, and the Sprint, but because of a clerical error by the Breeders' Cup he was not among the Sprint pre-entries when they were first released Wednesday. That has been corrected.
The previous record for individual runners pre-entered was 184, set last year, and for overall entries 210, set in 2008, when 39 horses were cross-entered. This year, a record 15 races will be run, with the Juvenile Sprint new to the menu. Also new to the menu this year is a 50-cent pick five, on the first five races of the card both days.
At this point, the denotation of a preferred race is not binding. Next Monday, though, when final entries are taken and post positions are drawn, a horse must be submitted for one race if those races are to be run the same day. In the case of Gio Ponti, he would have to enter either the Classic or the Mile, since both are on Nov. 5.
But Havre de Grace, who was pre-entered in both the Classic and Ladies' Classic, could be entered in both races, since the Classic, listed as her first choice, is on Nov. 5, and the Ladies' Classic is Nov. 4.
Rick Porter, the owner of Havre de Grace, on Wednesday reiterated that the Classic was the preferred spot.
"The only reason to not run in the Classic would be if she drew the one hole, or if we saw there was going to be completely different weather on Friday [Nov. 4] and Saturday [Nov. 5]," Porter said on a teleconference.
Six of the Breeders' Cup races - the Juvenile Sprint, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Filly and Mare Sprint, Juvenile Fillies, Filly and Mare Turf, and Ladies' Classic, in that order - will be run on Nov. 4, and the remaining nine - in order the Marathon, Juvenile Turf, Sprint, Turf Sprint, Dirt Mile, Turf, Juvenile, Mile, and Classic - on Nov. 5.
The order of the Nov. 5 card was tweaked on Wednesday from the original schedule sent out Sept. 22. The Mile, with Goldikova, is in the spot previously held by the Turf, and the Juvenile has a more prominent spot in the sequence, it being deemed a more compelling race than the Dirt Mile.
A maximum of 14 horses can run in each race. Eight of the 15 races had more than 14 pre-entries, so in those cases, a multi-layered approach was used to determine the field. Horses who won fees-paid berths through the Win and You're In program were automatically in, and then the next several spots, bringing the total to seven, were determined by points earned in graded stakes races. The remaining seven runners were chosen by an international field of racing officials, and the overflow horses were put on an also-eligible list, in order of the panel's preference.
In the Classic, for instance, Flat Out and Game On Dude got automatic berths through the Win and You're In program. The next five horses - Havre de Grace, Ruler On Ice, Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, and Uncle Mo - got in based on points in graded stakes. The panel then chose Await The Dawn, Drosselmeyer, Gio Ponti, Headache, Prayer for Relief, Rattlesnake Bridge, and So You Think, leaving Ice Box on the outside looking in.
The Classic field, with jockeys where known, is Await The Dawn, Drosselmeyer (Mike Smith), Flat Out (Alex Solis), Game On Dude (Chantal Sutherland), Gio Ponti, Havre de Grace (Ramon Dominguez), Headache (Paco Lopez), Prayer for Relief (Rafael Bejarano), Rattlesnake Bridge, Ruler On Ice (Garrett Gomez), So You Think (Ryan Moore), Stay Thirsty (Javier Castellano), To Honor and Serve (Jose Lezcano), and Uncle Mo (John Velazquez).
Ice Box would be ridden by Corey Nakatani. He gets in if Gio Ponti goes in the Mile, or Await The Dawn goes in the Turf, which is listed as his first preference.
In addition to Await The Dawn, Gio Ponti, and Havre de Grace, other Classic runners pre-entered in two races are Prayer for Relief, To Honor and Serve, and Uncle Mo, all of whom have the Dirt Mile listed as their second preference.
Besides the Classic, other oversubscribed fields at this point are the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies, Filly and Mare Turf, Ladies' Classic, Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, and Juvenile, with cross-entries helping to swell the ranks in each case. The Juvenile Fillies Turf had the most pre-entries, with 22, and the Turf the fewest, with 11. Only the Turf Sprint, with 14 pre-entries, was free of cross-entered horses.
On Monday, when final entries are taken, a maximum of 14 horses will be in the body of each race when posts are drawn, but in oversubscribed races, there will be as many as two also-eligibles listed. Those horses would draw in only if there is a defection from the main body of the race before scratch time, which is the morning of Nov. 4 for both the Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 cards.
by Jay Privman
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