Churchill Downs – Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) – 1 1/4 miles – Dirt – $5,000,000
Date: November 5, 2011
Estimated Post Time: 7:00pm EST
1. Prayer for Relief – Rafael Bejarano – 30/1
2. Flat Out – Alex Solis- 6/1
3. Drosselmeyer – Mike Smith – 15/1
4. Ruler On Ice – Garrett Gomez – 30/1
5. So You Think (NZ) – Ryan Moore – 5/1
6. Ice Box – Corey Nakatani – 30/1
7. Rattlesnake Bridge – Calvin Borel – 30/1
8. Game On Dude – Chantal Sutherland – 10/1
9. Stay Thirsty – Javier Castellano – 12/1
10. Havre de Grace – Ramon Dominguez – 3/1
11. Headache – Paco Lopez – 30/1
12. Uncle Mo – John Velazquez – 5/2
13. To Honor and Serve – Jose Lezcano – 12/1
Havre de Grace (KY) – Trainer Larry Jones
What else can you say about this filly? She has done everything asked of her and then some. In 14 career starts, she has yet to miss the top 3. We thought last year, she was special by finally beating Blind Luck in the G2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Parx as well as two 2nd’s in the Delaware Oaks and Alabama Stakes and a 3rd in the Breeders Cup Ladie’s Classic. This Saint Liam filly wasn’t going to sit back and be pleased with those results, she came out firing on all cylinders in 2011 and has simply been the best overall filly-mare. She can take the lead, sit off the pace and still have an explosive move down the stretch. Last month, she was entered against older boys in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga and made it look easy. She then came back to defeat fillies and mares by almost 9 lengths in the Beldame Stakes. Now you can see why Larry Jones and connections are bypassing the Ladie’s Classic this year.
So You Think (NZ) – Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Will he or won’t he come? That is the big question for this superb New Zealand bred who was upset by Cirrus Des Aigles last time out in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot. Aidan O’Brien has seen plenty of success bringing his horses to North America this year. However, this would be the best horse (on paper) that he would ship to date. He has defeated quality horses such as Snow Fairy and Workforce. Not exactly sure why they are considering him for the Classic as he is a proven multiple Group 1 winner on the Turf. The Breeders Cup Turf would be a perfect fit. I guess that $5,000,000 purse is too tempting! His career record stands at 12-4-1 in 20 races with total earnings currently at $7,587,459.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 4-2-0 (He won the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at Curragh, G1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the G1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown).
Flat Out (FL) – Trainer Charles Dickey
Was this horse good enough to win a Graded Stakes race? That was the question leading into 2011. A good horse who had nothing to show for it after missing well over a year due to injury in his three year old season. He ended 2010 with a win in an Allowance Optional Claimer at Fairgrounds. He then had another long layoff of 5 months before running in the G3 Lone Star Handicap at Lone Star Park. He finished 2nd to Awesome Gem and ahead of Game on Dude (who are both slated to start in the Classic). Very good efforts considering one race between two long layoffs. He then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap and didn’t fare as well finishing in 6th. Veteran trainer decided to drop down a notch to get his horse a much needed win and some confidence. It worked as he won the G2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park. That seemed to put him on track to be one of the better older male horses in the country. His next two races were 2nd’s in the G1 Whitney Handicap (Tizway) and G1 Woodward (Havre de Grace) at Saratoga. His last race, was the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup going a 1 1/4 miles and that seemed to be what the doctor ordered. A very strong move late allowed him to go on and win by 2 1/4 lengths.
2011 Record: 6 Starts 2-3-0 (He won the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and G2 Suburban at Belmont).
Uncle Mo (KY) – Trainer Todd Pletcher
We all know the story of this young Indian Charlie colt. Other than Zenyatta, this horse has had more publicity and media attention than any other in the country. It’s a shame what happened to him earlier in the year and everyone will wonder what could have been if he had stayed healthy. The past is the past and he has come out of it just fine. After a 4 1/2 months layoff, he had a strong effort in the 7 furlongs Grade 1 Foxwood’s King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. You could tell he was tired half way down the stretch but kept going hard and fell a nose to short to hard charging Caleb’s Posse. His last race, the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, was extremely good despite the fact that it only included 4 horses. In this mile race, he took the early lead, posted solid fractions and still had plenty of energy down the stretch to draw away from Jackson Bend. He won by 3 lengths. The final time was 1:33.82 on a muddy track. That’s only a second off the track record. I’m not sure the fascination from Pletcher and Repole Stables with putting this colt in the Classic. His longest race to date was the 1 1/8 miles Wood Memorial and that’s the race where we found out about his infection. He could be the best dirt miler in the World. Stick to what he does best and stop with the dream world.
2011 Record: 4 Starts 2-1-1 (He won the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park).
Game On Dude (KY) – Trainer Bob Baffert
A gusty performer who always seems to be in the thick of things. His best races as a three year old last year were a win in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby and 4th in the G1 Belmont Stakes. After the Belmont, he was forced to the sidelines due to injury. He would pop up on the radar again in an Allowance Optional Claimer in January at Santa Anita. He won easily. So what was next? A non-graded stakes race, a Grade 3 stakes race? No, it was a win in the ‘Big Cap’, the G1 Santa Anita Handicap. He upset the field including favorite Twirling Candy at odds of 14-1. Baffert would then fly him to West Virginia to run in the G3 Charles Town Classic Stakes. He finished second, but beat more solid horses such as Tizway, Rule, Tackleberry and Awesome Gem. On his way back to Southern California, he would finish 3rd in the G3 Lone Star Park Handicap. This time, he would lose to Awesome Gem and Flat Out. They gave him 6 weeks off after his across the country journey. His first race back would be a strong second place effort in the Hollywood Gold Cup where he was beat by a nose at the wire by First Dude. He beat Twirling Candy and Awesome Gem once again. After finishing 4th in the Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic, he came back a month later to capture his second Grade 1 win of the year in the G1 Goodward Stakes. If the Breeders Cup were in Santa Anita, you would have to put this horse on the list of favorites. He sure likes the surface there.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 3-2-1 (He won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Grade 1 Goodward Stakes both at Santa Anita).
Stay Thirsty (KY) – Trainer Todd Pletcher
This is the one Repole – Pletcher horse that has proved he deserves to run in the Classic. It was hit or miss for the first half of the 2011 season for this Bernardini colt. He won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, then finished far back in both the G1 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. He bypassed the Preakness. Not much was expected of him when entered in the 1 1/2 miles Belmont Stakes, so to see him finish a strong 2nd to Ruler on Ice was a pleasant surprise. The next question would be, can he repeat that type of performance next time out? He sure did. 6 weeks later at Saratoga, he crushed the field in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes. We were seeing this three year old colt mature right before our eyes. He followed up that performance with an even better effort in winning the G1 Travers Stakes over many of the horses that beat him in the Kentucky Derby. Last time out, he took on the older boys and finished a decent third place as the favorite in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. It showed he can hand with the big boys, but the Classic will have more than just a couple fo decent horses. It will be full of them.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 3-1-1 (He won the G1 Travers at Saratoga, G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga and G3 Gotham at Aqueduct).
Ruler On Ice (KY) – Trainer Kelly Breen
One thing you can say about this horse is that he is a competitor. Aside from his first maiden race, he has hit the board in his last 9 races. After winning an Allowance race at Parx, he was shipped to New Mexico to run in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. In hopes of earning enough graded purse money to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He finished 3rd which gave him $96,000. Not enough to qualify. He went to Pimlico, not for the Preakness, and finished 2nd in the non-graded Federico Tesio Stakes. Next up, the Belmont Stakes. What would make trainer Kelly Breen feel like this horse was ready to jump to the big stage at Belmont Park and go 1 1/2 miles! He must have known something the rest of the World didn’t as he won the third leg of the triple crown on a sloppy track at odds of 24-1. Impressive. As the year went on, he has developed into a nice top tier horse who has hit the board each and every time. After the Belmont, he finished 3rd in the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, 4th in the Travers and 2nd most recently in the G2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
2011 Record: 8 Starts 2-3-2 (He won the G1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park).
2011 Record: 5 Starts 4-0-1
Drosselmeyer (KY) – Trainer William Mott
Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner won the One Count Stakes and recently finished 2nd to Flat Out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
2011 Record: 6 Starts 1-2-0
To Honor and Serve (KY) – Trainer William Mott
This Bernardini colt looks as if he is rounding back into form after winning the G2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on September 24. He won an Allowance prior to that.
2011 Record: 5 Starts 2-0-2
Headache – Trainer Michael Maker
A career Claimer and Allowance Optional horse has come into his own this year. Won the G3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, finished 5th in the G1 Whitney Handicap and last time out won the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 3-0-2
Rattlesnake Bridge – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin
One of six three year olds in the this year’s field. It’s tough to tell where he is at heading into this race. He has been very consistent all year in allowance and non-graded stakes races, and lately has been runner-up in the Travers Stakes beaten 1 1/4 lengths to Stay Thirsty and 3rd most recently in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. He lost to To Honor and serve and Ruler on Ice. I do like his performance in the Travers as it was 1 1/4 miles, same distance as the Classic. It shows he can run the distance against good competition.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 2-3-1 (Won the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 9).
Icebox – Trainer Nick Zito
I’m waiting for Nick Zito to realize that this Pulpit colt is not as good as he was when he won the Florida Derby and ran 2nd in the Kentucky Derby last year. It’s time to drop out of the Grade 1 ranks and let this chestnut colt win some races. Since the Derby he has finished 8th in the Belmont Stakes, 6th in the Izod Haskell Invitational Stakes, 8th in the Travers Stakes, 5th in the Monmouth Cup Stakes, 3rd in Allowance Optional Claiming at Saratoga, 6th in the Woodward Stakes and 7th in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes last time out. Does this sound like a horse that is ready for the biggest race of the season? Didn’t think so. Pass.
2011 Record: 3 Starts 0-0-1