As I mentioned earlier and as every serious horseplayer knows, this weekend is the horse racing equivalent of the Superbowl, NBA Finals, World Series, and more, all rolled up into a day of racing: the Breeders’ Cup. It’s so much racing action that it can’t fit into a single day, as this year features some Friday races (starting in less than an hour). As my dad and I have done so for the past five or six years, we’re headed out to Lone Star Park for the simulcast action. This year promises more action than any in recent memory, as the Classic is already being billed as one of the greatest races ever — no matter that it has yet to be run. LSP’s Director of Communications Darren Rogers obviously spent some time on the following press release, so I’ll paste it in its entirety after the jump.
STREET SENSE, CURLIN AND LAWYER RON CLASH IN CLASSIC CLIMAX OF
$24 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FRIDAY & SATURDAY
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007) – Horse of the Year 2007 honors will be on the line when Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes hero Street Sense meets Preakness and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Curlin in a field of nine drawn for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge at Monmouth Park on Saturday.
A total of 123 horses from major racing centers across North America and Europe have been entered in the 24th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with 11 races to be run over two days for the first time on Friday and Saturday, offering total purses and awards of $24,145,000 as the Oceanport, N.J., course hosts the event for the first time.
The Breeders’ Cup begins Friday with three new $1 million races to be telecast on ESPN2 during a two-hour program from 3-5 p.m. CT. The eight races Saturday concluding with the Classic will be broadcast during a seven-hour program on ESPN from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT.
Jim Tafel’s Street Sense, Fox Hill Farm’s Hard Spun and Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stables, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stable’s Curlin finished one-two-three, respectively, in the Derby at Churchill Downs in May and are among six 3-year-olds in the Classic with James T. Hines Estate and Stonewall Stallions Racing Division’s 4-year-old star Lawyer Ron and two other older horses.
Regular rider Calvin Borel will be back aboard Street Sense for trainer Carl Nafzger, a native Texan, breaking from post position No. 2 and was installed the 3-1 second choice morning line favorite. The homebred son of Street Cry finished second to Hard Spun in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park on Sept. 29 as a final tune-up for the Classic.
Curlin drew post 4 and was installed co-second choice at 3-1 with regular rider Robby Albarado in the saddle for Lone Star Park’s all-time trainer Steve Asmussen. After his Preakness victory over Street Sense, Curlin lost a heart-breaking decision to filly star Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes. In his only start between the Belmont and the Jockey Club Gold Cup the imposing chestnut finished third in the Haskell.
In the Classic, Lawyer Ron and WinStar Farm’s 3-year-old Any Given Saturday lead Dallas-born trainer Todd Pletcher’s juggernaut team of 11 runners in six Breeders’ Cup events. Lawyer Ron was made the 5-2 morning line favorite with regular rider John Velazquez in the saddle, breaking from the rail.
A son of Langfuhr, Lawyer Ron ranks as the leading older horse in America this season with stunning victories in the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga this summer and a big effort when losing a neck decision last out in the Jockey Club Gold to Curlin at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.
Any Given Saturday is by Distorted Humor and comes into Saturday’s test after three straight victories, including the Haskell Invitational over the Monmouth track in early August and most recently the Brooklyn Handicap over older horses at Belmont on Sept. 22.
Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 4-year-old Dylan Thomas leads a strong team of 12 European-trained stars entered in Breeders’ Cup events, and is the shortest-priced morning line favorite at odds of 7-5 in the $3 million John Deere Turf at 1 1â„2 miles. Jockey Johnny Murtagh gets the call from Coolmore trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Dylan Thomas sealed European championship honors for this season winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris on Oct. 7. The Irish-bred son of Danehill had previously swept the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in early September prior to the Arc.
Dylan Thomas faces seven rivals, including two past winners of the Turf: J. Paul Reddam’s 4-year-old Red Rocks, who scored last fall at Churchill Downs for English trainer Brian Meehan, and Bushwood Farm’s 8-year-old gelding Better Talk Now, upset winner of the renewal at Lone Star Park in 2004 for trainer Graham Motion and second to Red Rocks last fall.
The Pletcher stable sends out James Scatourchio’s 5-year-old English Channel, third behind Red Rocks last fall. The chestnut son of Smart Strike was made 5-2 second choice in the Turf with regular rider Velazquez. English Channel comes into the race after capturing the United Nation going 1 3/8 miles over the Monmouth course on July 7 and his impressive victory last out in the Turf Classic at Belmont on Sept. 30.
A highly competitive field of 12 fillies and mares is set for the $2,260,000 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles with Melnyk Racing Stable’s 5-year-old mare Indian Vale made the lukewarm favorite at 3-1 with Velazquez in the saddle.
Indian Vale leads a team of three strong contenders in the race from the Pletcher stable together with Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli’s 3-year-old filly Octave, winner of the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks, and Team Valor’s 4-year-old filly Unbridled Belle, who won a hard-fought head decision over Indian Vale last out in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 30.
Stronach Stable’s 4-year-old filly Ginger Punch, a homebred daughter of 1998 Classic hero Awesome Again, is the second choice in the Distaff after capturing the Ruffian Handicap at Belmont in early September and finishing third as the favorite three weeks later in the Beldame.
A wide-open international field of 14 is set for the $2,630,000 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile and Magnier and partners’ 3-year-old Excellent Art is the 3-1 favorite with Murtagh aboard, despite drawing post 13. The son of Pivotal ranked high among Europe’s top milers this season, just missing when second last out in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 29.
Mike Pegram and partners’ 4-year-old Midnight Lute drew post 2 and is the 2-1 favorite in a field of 11 three-year-olds and up drawn for the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs with jockey Garrett Gomez getting the call for trainer Bob Baffert, an inductee to the Lone Star Park Hall of Fame in April. The son of Real Quiet turned in a memorable performance winning the Forego Handicap last out at Saratoga on Sept. 7.
Warren B. Williamson’s 4-year-old filly Nashoba’s Key takes her seven-race unbeaten record into the $2,130,000 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at 1 3/8 miles as the 3-1 morning line choice with 17-year-old jockey Joe Talamo retaining the mount for trainer Carla Gaines. The daughter of Silver Hawk faces 11 fillies and mares in her East Coast debut.
Robert La Penta’s undefeated 2-year-old colt War Pass drew post 2 for the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and rules the 5-2 favorite to keep his record perfect in the race won so impressively last fall by Street Sense. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez will be back aboard the son of Cherokee Run after his stunning, wire-to-wire victory in the Champagne Stakes last out at Belmont on Oct. 6.
Baffert saddles a top contender in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles with Hal and Patti Earnhardt’s homebred Indian Blessing the choice at 3-1 after her victory in the Frizette Stakes at Belmont after a brilliant debut tally at Saratoga. Garrett Gomez rides the daughter of Indian Charlie out of post 4 in the full field of 14.
Friday’s trio of new races begins with the $1,125,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs, followed by the $1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for 2-year-olds at one mile and completed by the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile to be run at one mile and 70 yards this year because of the configuration of the Monmouth track.
Magnier and Tabor’s 3-year-old filly La Traviata puts her perfect three-for-three career record on the line as the 5-2 second choice to Dream Rush in a field of 10 fillies and mares entered in the inaugural Filly & Mare Sprint. Jockey Julien Leparoux will be back aboard the daughter of Johannesburg that has swept her three starts by a total of 27 1â„2 lengths. West Point Stable and Lewis Lakin’s Dream Rush, who has won six of eight career starts, is the 2-1 morning line favorite and will break from post 3 under Eibar Coa.
Trainer Bill Mott saddles Montecule LLC’s Prussian as 3-1 favorite in the inaugural edition of the Juvenile Turf with Kent Desormeaux aboard in a field of 12. The homebred son of Danzig won his debut by 6 3â„4 lengths at Saratoga in August and the Summer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 16 in his only other start.
Completing this first ever Friday Breeders’ Cup lineup is the new Dirt Mile with Godolphin’s brilliant 4-year-old Discreet Cat as the 2-1 choice in field of nine 3-year-olds and up. Gomez will be atop the son of Forestry, who swept his first six starts before suffering his first defeat when last of seven in the Dubai World Cup in March.
THREE BREEDERS’ CUP SCRATCHES – At press time, three Breeders’ Cup horses had already been scratched from their respective races on Saturday: Juvenile Fillies entrant Cry and Catch Me (fever), Juvenile entrant Dixie Chatter (fever) and Sprint entrant Attila’s Storm (ankle filling). No final decision on Forefathers, either Friday’s Dirt Mile or Saturday’s Sprint, had been made Thursday morning, but trainer Bill Mott said the camp was leaning toward running in the Sprint. Also, trainers John Shirreffs and Todd Pletcher hinted that After Market (Mile) and Wait a While (Filly & Mare Turf) could be scratched from their races due to a likely soft turf course. “Right now, the course is soft, but it’s not chewed up,” Pletcher said. “If it gets windy and we don’t get anymore rain, it might be a drying out situation. If not, then we’ll have to make a decision.” Champion European jockey Frankie Dettori described the turf course on Thursday morning: “The ground is on the slow side of good.”
JERSEY WEATHER – Friday’s National Weather Service forecast for Oceanport, N.J. calls for a 90-percent chance of rain, between a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch, and continuing into the night. Temperatures will be in the low 60s. On Saturday, there’s a 70-percent chance of showers with a high in the low 70s. Rain fell in the area on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving the Monmouth Park racetrack muddy/good on Wednesday and muddy/sloppy on Thursday. Two scheduled turf races on Thursday were transferred to the sloppy main track.
ADVANCE BREEDERS’ CUP WAGERING UNDERWAY – Advance Breeders’ Cup wagering opened Thursday afternoon at Lone Star Park and will continue into Friday night.
DRIVE THRU WAGERING OPEN FOR BREEDERS’ CUP – Lone Star Park will offer Drive Thru Wagering off Gate 2 on Friday (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) and Saturday (8 a.m. to 4:35 p.m.). Customers may place wagers on any racetrack offered both days.
EARLY OPENING FOR BREEDERS’ CUP ON SATURDAY – On Saturday, Lone Star Park will open its Post Time Pavilion at 9 a.m. and the Grandstand (including second floor) at 9:30 a.m. The first of 11 races from Monmouth Park is 10 a.m. CT, and the Breeders’ Cup will cover Races 4-11 starting at 11:30 a.m. CT. An 11-race live program, topped by the Dash For Cash Futurity and Derby, will follow the Breeders’ Cup simulcast with a special early 5 p.m. CT post time.
WEST TO OFFER FINAL BREEDERS’ CUP INSIGHTS IN SATURDAY MORNING SEMINAR – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Gary West will offer his detailed analysis of the eight Breeders’ Cup World Championship races in a Saturday morning handicapping seminar at Lone Star Park. The seminar, co-hosted by Lone Star Park’s Darren Rogers, will take place on the first floor of Grandstand between 10-11 a.m. and will be broadcast on television monitors throughout the facility.
FRIDAY AT LONE STAR – It’ll be business as usual Friday with the Post Time Pavilion scheduled to open at 10:25 a.m. Monmouth Park’s 10-race card will commence at 11:30 a.m. CT, and the three Breeders’ Cup events will be Races 8-10 starting at 3:25 p.m. CT. Lone Star Park’s Grandstand will open at its usual time of 5:30 p.m., one hour before the first of 11 live races.
SPECIAL BREEDERS’ CUP WAGERS – The $3 million Ultra Pick 6 (Races 6-11) and two $2 million Pick 4s (Races 4-7 and 8-11) highlight Saturday’s wagering menu for Breeders’ Cup Day at Monmouth Park. On Friday, there are two special overnight Daily Doubles that link the Filly & Mare Sprint with the Sprint and the Dirt Mile with the Mile. Also, Monmouth Park and Breeders’ Cup Ltd. will offer 10-cent Superfectas on all Breeders’ Cup races this year.
LIMITED BREEDERS’ CUP SEATING AVAILABLE – Some reserved seats are still available at Lone Star Park on Friday and Saturday for simulcasts of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships followed by live racing. On Saturday, there is limited seating in the Silks Dining Terraces ($20 each) plus second floor counter seats ($16 each) and box seating ($20 each). There will be a $29 buffet in Silks and a special $15 buffet on the second floor. Also, there are still some reserved seats left in the Post Time Pavilion for Friday’s simulcast action from Monmouth Park. For more information or to reserve seats, call (972) 263-PONY or log onto lonestarpark.com.