It’s not too often you get a re-do in professional sports. But that’s what’s on tap this weekend at the 30th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, as the finest thoroughbreds in the world return to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
The 13-race extravaganza starts on Friday, Nov. 1 and wraps up Saturday with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1, 1 1/4 mile, dirt), where Game On Dude will get his second shot at glory after coming up flat in 2012. The Bob Baffert gelding was named the 8-5 morning line favorite in a very competitive field of 12 horses.
One year ago, Game On Dude was installed as the 6-5 favorite to win the Classic at Santa Anita, his home track, but he had an uncharacteristically slow start and finished a distant seventh behind Fort Larned, who paid out at 6-1 on the final odds. Fort Larned will also be back this year, as will Mucho Macho Man, Flat Out and Ron the Greek, rounding out the top four finishers from the 2012 Classic.
Oddsmakers are sticking with Game On Dude because of his perfect record this year: five races, five victories, including the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on this very same track. Game On Dude has also drawn the favorable post 9 position for Saturday’s Classic. Here’s how the field shapes up, in order of post position:
1. Last Gunfighter (J. Castellano); 20-1
2. Paynter (M. Garcia); 12-1
3. Planteur (R. Moore); 20-1
4. Moreno (J. Talamo); 15-1
5. Declaration of War (J. O’Brien); 10-1
6. Mucho Macho Man (G. Stevens); 5-1
7. Fort Larned (B. Hernandez); 6-1
8. Palace Malice (J. Velazquez); 10-1
9. Game On Dude (M. Smith); 8-5
10. Will Take Charge (L. Saez); 12-1
11. Ron the Greek (J. Lezcano); 8-1
12. Flat Out (J. Rosario); 12-1
With so many competitive horses making repeat appearances at the Classic this year, it’s quite possible we’ll see history made at Santa Anita. No 6-year-old horse (or older) has won this race; Game On Dude and Ron The Greek are both six, while Flat Out is a spry seven. They’ll be running in what should be pristine conditions under clear skies — post-time is 8:35 p.m. ET.
As for Friday’s five races, the highlight will be the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1, 1 1/8 mile, dirt), formerly known as the Ladies’ Classic. The Distaff features the world’s top fillies and mares, three years old and up, and will see Royal Delta attempt to win for the third straight year. She’s the 8-5 morning line favorite in a field of just six horses, but it’s a high-quality field with Beholder and Princess of Sylmar running alongside Royal Delta. Here’s the lineup for Friday’s Distaff (7:35 p.m.):
1. Street Girl (A. Castillo); 30-1
2. Authenticity (J. Velazquez); 8-1
3. Close Hatches (J. Rosario); 6-1
4. Royal Delta (M. Smith); 8-5
5. Beholder (G. Stevens); 5-2
6. Princess of Sylmar (J. Castellano); 9-5