November 2, 2012
Game On Dude out to make amends in the Classic
Wise Dan has a worthy rival in Excelebration in the Turf Mile
By Tom Krish
I was at the Press Conference held at Santa Anita Park Thursday morning. Three trainers showed up. Todd Pletcher spoke about difficulties encountered because of Hurricane Sandy. “We had to go farther to help the horses board a plane. Our horses breezed on Saturday. They traveled well,” he said.
Trainer Pletcher answered a question about the new rule that bans use of lasix for two year-olds in the Breeders’ Cup races this year. Pletcher stated, “I am pro lasix. It is an effective treatment. It puts everybody on the same boat. I think the small (juvenile) fields are a result of the new rule.”
This year’s experiment will help the authorities determine if the ban should be extended to cover all Breeders’ Cup events. It has been a contentious issue.
The conversation turned to Shanghai Bobby, a Pletcher entry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (dirt) over a mile and a sixteenth. “Shanghai Bobby is a smart horse and he has been training forwardly and has a big chance,” Pletcher averred.
Then came Claude McGaughey III who trains Point of Entry in the mile and half turf. “Point Of Entry may, as well, be the horse of the year. He has been winning Group I races,” McGaughey said.
I asked McGaughey how he has managed to keep Point Of Entry ‘racing fit’ since December 2011. Point Of Entry has won six times from seven outings. McGaughey replied, “He is an easy horse to train. We got a break in the summer and that helped. He pretty much takes care of himself.”
Trainer Mark Casse (from Canada) spoke about his runners in the Breeders’ Cup races. Trainer Casse sends out Pool Play in the Classic. Spring Venture represents Casse in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf over a mile. Spring In The Air is another Casse trainee who will take her chances in the Juvenile Filles dirt over a mile and sixteenth.
The first race on Friday is at 11:15 am Pacific time. All times I am mentioning are Pacific. The fourth race in the Friday card is the first BC race. The ninth race is the Ladies’ Classic that will be run at 4:30 pm. There is a tenth (final) race at 5:15 pm.
Saturday’s 12-race marathon action begins at 10:05 am. The first race is the first running of the BC Juvenile Filly Sprint Preview Stakes over seven furlongs. The twelfth race is the BC Classic, the mile and a quarter contest that carries a five million-dollar purse.
Dundonnell is the main fancy in the Juvenile Turf over a mile. A Roger Charlton pupil, Dundonnell will be ridden by James Doyle. Jockey Doyle makes his Breeders’ Cup debut. He has come a long way from his riding days in India. He has won Group races in Europe and Hong Kong.
Rajiv Maragh will be aboard Groupie Doll who looks hard to beat in the Filly-Mare Sprint. William Bradley trains Groupie Doll who figures to be an odds on proposition.
The Dirt Mile is an open affair. Shackleford may be the focus of attention. Ramon Dominguez rides and Dale Romans trains Shackelford.
Shanghai Bobby may carry the public purse in the Juvenile dirt over a mile and sixteenth. Rosie Napravnik rides Shanghai Bobby.
The mile and half turf will see Point Of Entry go to post as the favorite. John Velasquez rides. St Nicholas Abbey, the 2011 turf winner, is back. Shareta, to be ridden by Christophe Lemaire, is in the turf field. Then there is Dullahan, winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
The eleventh race is the BC Mile turf. Wise Dan, the American star, will be the public choice. Opposing Wise Dan will be Excelebration, recent winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Ascot. Excelebration has been chasing Frankel this year. Moonlight Cloud, a four year-old filly, is in terrific form. Trainer Freddie Head who rode Miesque to two BC wins and trained Goldikova to three BC wins, has been exuding optimism about his filly’s chances. Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby hero, is in the mix.
The curtain comes down with the Classic at 5:35 pm. Game On Dude is the 9/5 morning line favorite. Rafael Bejarano rides the Bob Baffert-trained Game On Dude. In Santa Anita, Game On Dude has been unbeatable. Game On Dude has such an affinity for Santa Anita that he should be a short-priced deal.
Trainer Baffert spoke about his charge. “I like post five. I am good with it. It might have been one of the posts I would have picked if I had first choice. He should be fine from there.”