BREEDERS' CUP NOTES
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FUSAICHI PEGASUS, LEMON DROP KID, RIBOLETTA, BEAUTIFUL PLEASURE LEAD 135 HORSES PRE-ENTERED FOR BREEDERS' CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Led by Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, Beldame winner Riboletta (BRZ) and defending Distaff champion Beautiful Pleasure, a record 135 horses have been pre-entered for the 17th Breeders' Cup Championship.
The Breeders' Cup Championship, Thoroughbred Racing's Greatest Day, consisting of eight grade I races, will be run on Saturday, November 4, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It will be televised live by NBC Sports (1:00-5:30 p.m. ET).
A record 18 horses have been supplemented to this year's event, which is expected to boost total purses and awards for the eight races to more than $15 million.
An outstanding lineup has been pre-entered for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at 1¼ miles with Horse of the Year honors on the line. The 3-year-old Fusaichi Pegasus returns to Churchill Downs, where he electrified the racing world this spring by winning the Kentucky Derby in one of the most dominant performances in many years. After finishing second in the Preakness and suffering a foot injury while preparing for the Belmont, Fusaichi Pegasus returned in late September with a smashing victory in the Jerome Mile at Belmont Park. Trained by Neil Drysdale, who won the Classic in 1992 with A.P. Indy, Fusaichi Pegasus is expected to finish his racing career with the Classic.
Among the many challengers of Fusaichi Pegasus in the Classic is Lemon Drop Kid. Trained by Scotty Schulhofer, Lemon Drop Kid has assembled an impressive total of major stakes victories over the past two years. Since winning last year's Belmont Stakes, the 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid reeled off consecutive victories in the Brooklyn, Suburban, Whitney and Woodward Handicaps to develop into the nation's leading older horse. A victory in the Classic would likely earn him the Horse of the Year crown.
Lemon Drop Kid had his four-race win streak stopped in The Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 14 by the 3-year-old Albert the Great. Trained by Nick Zito, Albert the Great has come on strong in the second half of the season, including a victory in the Dwyer Stakes, a close second in the Travers Stakes and an outstanding front-running victory in the Gold Cup.
Europe provides another formidable challenge in the Classic with Giant's Causeway. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Giant's Causeway has won five group I races in Europe this year, including the Irish Champion Stakes in September. Other contenders for the Classic include Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Tiznow, Swaps Stakes winner Captain Steve and defending Classic champion Cat Thief.
The Classic is one of many outstanding races on the Breeders' Cup program. The day's first Breeders' Cup race, the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles features a showdown between Riboletta, the nation's top older female, against Beautiful Pleasure, the defending Distaff champion. After dominating her rivals on the West Coast over the summer, Riboletta, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, came east to Belmont Park where she won the Ruffian Handicap by 7 ½ lengths and then defeated Beautiful Pleasure by two lengths in the Beldame.
The $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf, run at 1½ miles, features a powerful contingent of European stars led by the 4-year-old Montjeu (IRE). A son of Sadler's Wells trained by John Hammond, Montjeu has been Europe's top long distance turf star over the past two years, highlighted by victories in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Another formidable starter should be Kalanisi (IRE), who defeated Montjeu last month in the Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Among the top Americans pre-entered is Maryland-based John's Call, who won both the Sword Dancer and the Turf Classic.
Last year, trainer Julio Canani won the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile on turf with Silic. This year he will try to win it with the 5-year-old gelding Ladies Din, winner of the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar. Trainer Bill Mott has pre-entered both King Cugat, a winner of four races this year, most recently the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park, and the 4-year-old Hap, who captured both the Four Star Dave and the Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga this summer. The European contingent is led by Prix de Moulin winner Indian Lodge (IRE) and and Arkadian Hero, second by a nose in the Atto Mile.
Canani may have another star in Tranquility Lake for the second running of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 3/8 miles. The 5-year-old mare is undefeated in three starts in California this year, including the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trainer Bob Baffert has pre-entered a potentially powerful group of horses for both the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, both run at 1 1/16 miles. For the Juvenile, Baffert has pre-entered Flame Thrower, winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita; and Arabian Light, who captured the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. A top contender from the east is the Nick Zito-trained A P Valentine, who came from behind to win the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Breeders' Cup Preview Day in just his third start.
Baffert won the 1998 Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs with Silverbulletday. This time he brings in Notable Career, a four-length winner of the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita. But she faces a stern test from Raging Fever, trained by Mark Hennig, who is unbeaten in five career starts, capped off by a dominating performance in the Frizette Stakes last month.
Last year, Kona Gold finished second by a half-length in the $1 milllion Breeders' Cup Sprint at six furlongs. This year, trainer Bruce Headley sends the 6-year-old gelding into the Sprint as the probable favorite off three straight victories. But there is plenty of speed to contend with in this race against the likes of Caller One and the 3-year-olds More Than Ready and Trippi.
Pre-entered fields appear on the following pages. In races which are oversubscribed (more than 14 horses pre-entered) the top eight Breeders' Cup point earners gain automatic berths. The remaining six horses are selected by the Breeders' Cup racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. The panel has also ranked all horses not selected into the body of the field in preference order. Should there be a defection from a field, horses will fill any vacancies in the order of ranking until the time of entry, Wednesday, November 1, at 10:00 a.m. ET. Post positions for all eight Breeders' Cup Championship races will then be drawn.
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