ARCADIA, CALIF. - Florida breeders will be well represented at the Breeders’ Cup today at Santa Anita Park with 17 equine natives of the Sunshine State set to go in seven of the nine World Championship races, topped by four that are set for the $5 million Classic (G1)
Although the Bob Baffert-trained Game On Dude is the 9-5 favorite in the 1 ¼-mile Classic, Florida-breds are also expected to garner their share of the wagering dollar with Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Flat Out named the co-second choice in the program at 5-1; two-time Grade 1 winner this year Ron the Greek at 6-1; Mucho Macho Man at 8-1 and Brilliant Speed among the longshots at 20-1.
Game On Dude deserves his favoritism based on winning three of his last four races and four of six this year, all in Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes. After finishing second in the 2011 Classic to winner Drosselmeyer, Game Dude won the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita in February before traveling to the United Arab Emirates where he threw his only clunker of the year finishing twelfth of thirteen in the Emirates Air Dubai World Cup (G1) in March. He also won the Grade 2 Californian and Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Hollywood Park, was second in the Pacific Classic (G1) on Polytrack to Dullahan before returning to win the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita in his last start.
Game On Dude will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from post five.
Flat Out has only one win in five starts this year, but it was a big one—taking the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup for the second straight year at Belmont Park on Sept. 29. Trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Flat Out has been battling foot problems for most of his career and has been fitted with a “Z bar shoe” for most of his training since the Gold Cup by farrier Tommy Willbey. Mott also has Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve in the Classic.
Standing in Mott’s shed row at Santa Anita Thursday, Willbey explain that Flat Out puts extra strain on the quarters of his feet. To help support him, Willbey has designed a “Z bar shoe” that provides more support than a conventional bar shoe.
“[Flat Out] has an awkward way of landing,” Willbey explained, “so to accommodate the way he lands and to help him be more comfortable, we have put the Z bar on him to eliminate pressure on his feet—mainly the quarters. In his case, it’s the inside quarter on all four feet so we’ve had the Z bar shoes on him for about three weeks. It just keeps him from beating on his feet. That’s all. And his feet are now doing fantastic.”
Mott said that Flat Out will not run in the specialized shoe but will change to a conventional racing plate the morning of the race.
Bred by Nikolaus Bock in Florida, Flat Out will break from the two post and Joel Rosario has the mount.
Ron the Greek will have a bit of an advantage in the Classic, having won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) here in March. But Mott is not taking anything for granted with any of his three entrants in the Classic.
“Ron the Greek is just a big hard trying horse that will give you his best effort every time,” Mott said. “You have to like the fact that he’s won over this track at this distance, but they say the track is a little different since then. That fact that the track is a little different might be something you can put into the equation, but I’m not overly concerned about it.”
Ron the Greek also won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June giving a record of 2-3-0 from six starts in 2012. His only off-the-board race came last out when sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Ron the Greek was bred by Jack T. Hammer.
Mucho Macho Man will also be carrying the Florida flag in the Classic and will be trying to win his fourth race from six starts this year. Bred in Florida by John and Carole Rio, Mucho Macho Man has won the Sunshine Millions Classic (G1), Gulfstream Park Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park and the Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park.
Brilliant Speed, the Florida-bred champion 3-year-old male of 2011 is a homebred product of Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation in Ocala. Although he is winless in six starts this year, he will be looking to add to a lucrative career that has seen $1,203,531 in earnings from 20 starts. His most prestigious start came last year when he took the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
Two other races on the day have three Florida-breds each including the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) with Musical Romance defending her title in this race last year. Bred by Ocala Stud, Musical Romance is also the 2011 Eclipse Award winner as female sprinter and last year’s Florida-bred Horse of the Year.
Trained by co-owner Bill Kaplan for Pinnacle Racing Stable, Musical Romance comes into this year’s event having won two of her last three races including the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder Casino and Race Course in July and the Mike Sherman Memorial in October, also at Calder. She is the 4-1 third choice in the program behind favored Groupie Doll, who has defeated Musical Romance in two of the three meetings this year. Second choice Dust and Diamonds also defeated Musical Romance two starts back in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park.
The other two Florida-breds in the Filly and Mare Sprint are Belle of the Hall, winner of the $80,000 Valor Lady at Belmont in her last start; and Turbulent Descent, winner of two of her last three starts including the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Belmont Park in July.
A trio of Florida-breds will also go postward in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at about six and one-half furlongs down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Florida-bred Bridgetown is the morning line favorite at 9-2 based on him winning his last two races—the $100,000 Troy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 15 and the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Bred in Florida by Eugene Melnyk, Bridgetown races for his breeder who owns Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala.
Bridgetown has drawn the number nine post and will be ridden by jockey John Velazquez.
Great Attack has been tabbed with 10-1 odds in the program as he comes into this race off of a nice win in the Turf Sprint (G3) at Churchill Downs back on May 5. Bred in Florida by Edward Seltzer and Murray Durst, Great Attack defeated Bridgetown in that Turf Sprint but will be trying for a Breeders’ Cup title off of the extended vacation.
Great Attack will don the number eight saddle towel and will have Joel Rosario in the irons.
Chosen Miracle comes into the Turf Sprint off of a close second-place finish behind fellow Turf Sprinter Unbridled’s Note in the Grade 3 Eddie D. Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. Also run on the same course as the Turf Sprint, the Adena Springs bred Chosen Miracle is hoping for enough improvement to win coming out of that strong race off of a seven-month lay-off.
Chosen Miracle will break from the 12 slot in the starting gate with jockey Martin Garcia aboard.
If one could bet who would be in front as they pass the wire for the first time in the 1 ½-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), the Florida-bred exacta of Little Mike and Turbo Compressor would be at low odds. Between the two, they have three Grade 1 wins on grass this year, all in wire-to-wire fashion.
Little Mike won the Turf Classic at Churchill and Arlington Million at Arlington Park near Chicago while Turbo Compressor won the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park this year.
Little Mike is 12-1 in the morning line and breaking from post seven with jockey Ramon Dominguez while Turbo Compressor breaks from post two with Joe Bravo aboard and 15-1 in the program. Little Mike was bred in Florida by Carlo E. Vaccarezza and Turbo Compressor was bred in Florida by Bridlewood Farm.
Jeranimo represents Florida in what many consider to be the toughest race on the card, the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf. At 15-1 in the morning line, the Florida-bred product of Brylynn Farms, Inc., last won two races back when taking the Grade 1 Shoemaker Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park across town on June 30. Breaking from post four, Jeranimo comes into the Mile off a third-place finisher behind fellow BC Milers Obviously and Mr. Commons.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile will also feature Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan, 9-5 in the morning line; 2011 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Animal Kingdom at 8-1; and European invader Excelebration, from the powerful stable of Aidan O’Brien and 2-1 in the morning line.
Baffert takes Florida-bred Coil into the Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Saturday and figures prominently as the 5-1 second choice in the program. Breaking from post four, Baffert has last year’s Haskell Invitational winner sharp having taken the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6 of fellow Sprinters Capital Account, Jimmy Creed and Amazombie, winner of this race last year.
Coil will be ridden again by jockey Martin Garcia. Coil was bred in Florida by Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm in Ocala.
Wrapping up the Florida-breds running Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup is Speak Logistics, winner of the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder on Oct. 12. Trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., for Hardaway Stables, Speak Logistics is two-for-three in his young career having won a maiden special weight event at Monmouth Park in his second start prior to winning the In Reality.
Plesa will again give a leg up on Speak Logistics to jockey Angel Serpa and they will break from post two. Speak Logistics was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud.
Photo by NYRA