If the Breeders’ Cup World Championships were pieces of jewelry, the crown jewel would be the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Final preps have been made for all contenders and the table is set for the November 2 race. Let’s review the status of some of this year’s top contestants.
Game On Dude: Has yet to lose in five starts this year and in fact has not even been challenged. He looked great winning the Pacific Classic when last seen. Instead of contesting the Awesome Again Stakes, Baffert decided to train up to the Classic. He worked four furlongs in :50.60 B on October 8 at Santa Anita in what Baffert said would be his last “easy” move. This horse will be favored to win the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Fort Larned: Last year Game On Dude was the favorite, but it was Fort Larned that took home the top spot. He put together a scintillating front running score, holding off the challenge of Mucho Macho Man throughout the stretch. He has had a rough time this year, but showed us in his brilliant Stephen Foster Handicap win that he can be as good once as he ever was. After winning the Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs, Fort Larned worked four furlongs in :49 B on October 8.
Mucho Macho Man: Often times horse racing is about finding the horse that is getting good at the right time. We call an animal like that the “now” horse. After watching his win in the Awesome Again Stakes, most would agree that now or never is the time for Mucho Macho Man. The hulking son of Macho Uno has always been the second or third best horse around, but has put himself in position to be top dog with a win here. New rider Gary Stevens fits the horse well and should improve his chances of scoring the upset.
Ron The Greek: After starting 2013 with a powerful win in the SunShine Millions Classic, it took this old warhorse a little while get his wheels rolling again. He didn’t win again until September 28, drawing away to a huge win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at odds 21-1. With plenty of pace signed on, Ron The Greek could grind his way to the winner’s circle at a track and distance he has already proved he loves.
Will Take Charge: After failing throughout to win the Triple Crown, this D Wayne Lukas pupil hit the scene with a shocking win in the Travers Stakes. He verified his form by taking the Pennsylvania Derby after that. The massive son of Unbridled’s Song has a closing kick that’s as good as any in the country. He will need to avoid traffic and get in the clear turning for home. If he does that, he could be the first three-year-old to win the Classic since Curlin.
Palace Malice: Remember this horse? He set suicidal fractions in the Kentucky Derby before backing up to finish in the middle of the pack. The son of Curlin really came around after that though! He put together wins in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy and if not for a poor start might have won the Travers. He is a late maturing horse that is getting better all the time. Jockey Mike Smith opted to ride Game on Dude, so his new jockey will be John Velazquez. Trainer Todd Pletcher is considered the best in the country by many, but has yet to win the Classic.
Paynter: After a world famous road to recovery that nearly took his life, Paynter got back to the track this year in style by winning at Del Mar. He has struggled just a tad since, but was second to Mucho Macho Man in his last race. This horse might have more talent than anyone in the race. The question is if he can put it all together and do so quickly. Few will be shocked if he does. His race pattern suggests he should be ready to fire his best shot in the Classic. That’s good, because like everyone else, it will take his best to get the win.
Stay tuned for more updates on Breeders’ Cup contenders!