Undefeated champion Zenyatta leads the list of a record 184 horses pre-entered, 26 from overseas, for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs Nov. 5-6.
“The overall depth and quality of this year’s pre-entered fields are higher than at any previous occasion,” said Tom Robbins, Chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. “The international contingent is particularly strong and is bolstered by high ratings for Zenyatta, Workforce and Goldikova.”
Zenyatta came from last to first to win the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, becoming the first female to capture the race, and the first horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. (In 2008, she was the winner of the Ladies’ Classic.) Zenyatta returned as a 6-year-old mare this year and has won all five of her starts to increase her unbeaten streak to 19 consecutive races.
Tiznow, in 2000 and 2001, is the only horse to win back-to-back Classics.
If Zenyatta is to repeat, she will have to do it against one of the strongest Classic fields ever assembled. Among the 16 horses pre-entered for the 1 ¼ mile race is Adele Dilschneider’s and Claiborne Farm’s 4-year-old Blame, winner of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, before finishing second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; the Bob Baffert-trained Lookin at Lucky, the nation’s top 3-year-old, who won the Preakness Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Indiana Derby; the 4-year-old Quality Road, who had to be scratched at the gate prior to last year’s Classic, but returned this year with sparkling victories in the Donn Handicap, the Metropolitan Handicap and the Woodward Stakes, and the versatile 5-year-old Gio Ponti, who finished second to Zenyatta in last year’s Classic and was both champion older male and champion turf horse of 2009. Trained by Christophe Clement, Gio Ponti has two grade I stakes victories on turf this year in the Man O’ War at Belmont and the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
Others prominent in the pre-entered Classic field are Haynesfield, a front running 4-year-old who defeated Blame in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; Fly Down, second in the Travers Stakes and Paddy O’Prado, the top 3-year-old American turf horse, and also third in this year’s Kentucky Derby. The Classic is brought further intrigue by the Japanese 5-year-old Espoir City, who won last year’s Japan Cup Dirt and was twice victorious in three 2010 starts.
Zenyatta is not the only superstar shooting for an unprecedented third consecutive Breeders’ Cup win. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer’s 5-year-old Goldikova is seeking her third consecutive $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf, leading the charge of overseas participants in this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Goldikova, trained by Freddie Head, has won four of five starts this year, three of them over males in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, and most recently, the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp. Challenging Goldikova will be Juddmonte Farms’ 5-year-old mare Proviso (GB), who has won her last four starts on the turf this year for trainer Bill Mott, including the Frank Kilroe Mile over males at Santa Anita Park; Woodbine Mile winner Court Vision, who was fourth in last year’s TVG Mile and Paco Boy (IRE), a formidable rival to Goldikova this year, having lost the Prix de la Foret to her by just a half-length. Gio Ponti is also pre-entered in the Mile as a second preference.
In 2009, European horses won six Breeders’ Cup races.
There has yet to be a winner of both the Arc de Triomphe and the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year, but trainer Sir Michael Stoute is going to try with Khalid Abdullah’s 3-year-old Workforce, who also captured the Epsom Derby earlier this year. The $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, run at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf course, will also have Behkabad, who qualified for the race by winning the Prix Niel at Longchamp through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and also won the Grand Prix de Paris. Two other Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners who have been pre-entered for the Turf are Debussy (IRE), winner of the Arlington Million for trainer John Gosden and Champ Pegasus, who won the Clement Hirsch at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Winchester, winner of both the Manhattan Handicap and the Turf Classic at Belmont Park, has also been pre-entered.
On Championship Friday, for the first time ever, the Breeders’ Cup will finish under the lights, and the focus will be on the female races, headlined by the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles.
Leading the field is the fast closing 3-year-old filly Blind Luck, who has won five races this year, including the Kentucky Oaks, the Delaware Oaks and the Alabama Stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Contrasted with Blind Luck is the front running 5-year-old mare Life At Ten, who has been beaten just once this year in six starts. Trained by Todd Pletcher, who leads all trainers with 11 pre-entered horses, Life At Ten has captured two grade 1 races this year in the Ogden Phipps and the Beldame Stakes.
Juddmonte Farms’ Midday came from Great Britain to Santa Anita last year and scored a one-length victory in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Midday is back as one of six previous Breeders’ Cup Champions pre-entered for this year’s event (along with Zenyatta, Goldikova, California Flag, Informed Decision and Forever Together). Trained by Henry Cecil, the 4-year-old filly has won three times in four starts in 2010, including consecutive Group I victories in the Nassau Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille. She will face the likes of the French 4-year-old filly Plumania who defeated male rivals in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and was second to Midday in the Prix Vermeille. The 3-year-old Harmonious, trained by Shirreffs, could also be dangerous in this race with grade 1 wins to her credit in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park, and recently, the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland.
The competition in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles shapes up as a battle among a pair of two-year-old stars on each coast. In the East, Boys at Tosconova was the summer’s early star after capturing the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, but the latest Eastern star is Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo, a dominant 4 3/4-length winner of the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. In California, Gem Stable’s J P’s Gusto dominated the Western division with wins in the Best Pal and Del Mar Futurity before being upset by Zayat Stables’ Jaycito by one length in the Norfolk Stakes at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies two times. This year he sends out Zayat Stables’ A Z Warrior, winner of the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park. The Todd Pletcher-trained R Heat Lightning was the favorite in that race following a victory in the Spinaway.
The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 6 furlongs appears wide open with Smiling Tiger, winner of two grade 1 races in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the Ancient Title at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park the top runner from the West. The 5-year-old Kinsale King journeyed from California this spring to win the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at 7 furlongs drew 22 pre-entered horses. The Jonathan Sheppard-trained Informed Decision is back to defend her title following a hard charge to finish third in the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland behind the 5-year-old mare Dubai Majesty. Others who could figure prominently in the wide open race are the 3-year-old Test Stakes winner Champagne d’Oro and Ballerina Stakes winner Rightly So.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile also appears to be wide open. The 5-year-old Tizway arrives off a five-length victory in the one mile Kelso at Belmont Park. Here Comes Ben, a 4-year-old Street Cry colt, has won his last four races, capping the streak with the Grade I Forego at Saratoga. D. Wayne Lukas, the leading all-time Breeders’ Cup trainer with 18 victories, has also pre-entered 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
California Flag seeks to win a second $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 5 furlongs, the shortest of the 14 races, for trainer Brian Koriner. The 6-year-old gelding faces Woodford Reserve winner Silver Timber and the 3-year-old filly Rose Catherine, a winner of five races this year.
A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races. Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 25, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) will ranked all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Tuesday, Nov. 2 by 10:00 a.m. At the time of entry a maximum of 14 horses will be accepted for entry in each race based on the order of preference in the rankings established at pre-entry.
There will be up to two also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 7:00 a.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 5.