Today and tomorrow, Horse Racing’s Championship Days take place at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Now in its 30th edition, the World’s finest Thoroughbreds face-off in a series of 14 Races, totalling $25 million. The Races are seen as being pivotal in deciding year-end divisional honours.
FRIDAY’s Marquee Race is the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which sees North America’s finest Females, three-years-old and upward, doing some serious battle on the dirt. Two-time returning Champion Royal Delta, now five-years-old, defends her Title once again with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith aboard. She is listed as the Morning Line-Favourite over the definitive Leader of the three-year-old Filly division, Princess of Sylmar, listed as the Second-Choice even after defeating the former in their last encounter, the Beldame Invitational late September at Belmont Park.
Earlier on the Card, Verrazano, who in eight races has earned over $1.5 million already, looks to make amends in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile after a disappointing seventh place finish in the important Travers Stakes in August. Earlier in the Season, he was seen as major Contender to win the Kentucky Derby, although the mile-and-a-quarter distance proved to be a challenge, him placing a dismal 14th. He has been freshened for the Race and appears poised for a big run.
Representing Toronto best is My Conquestadory who debuted in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, beating Male Competition on the grass easily in her first-ever race – a tough spot. She then raised the bar higher showing she equally is adept on the dirt too, winning the Grade 1-Darcy Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland for Toronto-based Trainer Mark Casse and locally supportive-Owners Conquest Stable LLC. The two-year-old Filly moves back to the grass in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Top Local Rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva will be flying to the West Coast for the Assignment.
On SATURDAY’s Card, Racing Fans get a prelude potentially to some of next year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Contenders in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, each worth $2-million. The distinctively gray-coated Havana comes into the former off a Win in the Grade 1-Champagne Stakes, while New York-bred Artemis Agrotera is listed as the Choice in the latter after a Win in the Grade 1-Frizette Stakes; both are undefeated in two races.
Ontario-bred Marketing Mix hasn’t been home in quite some time, but that is because she’s been making a big splash stateside. Listed as the Second-Choice in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the legendary Gary Stevens will be piloting her in the Race. British-based Dank, who defeated her soundly in the Grade 1-Beverly D. Stakes in August at Arlington Park, is listed as the Race Favourite under Ryan Moore. Moore won the prestigious $1-million Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine this past Sunday aboard Joshua Tree. Also, do not discount Kitten’s Dumplings who recently won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland; “It-Boy” of Horse Racing Joel Rosario will be riding.
Although he has never raced locally, Ontario-bred four-year-old Private Zone looks every bit the Winner in the $1.5-million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He boasts wins on both East and West Coasts, boding well for the speedy Winner of $500k, as he returns back to Santa Anita Park once again – a Course which interestingly he has yet to win on.
Reigning Horse of the Year in North America Wise Dan, looks to repeat last year’s feat of winning the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile as the prohibitive Choice again this year. Fans at Woodbine revelled in delight getting to see him win the $1-million Woodbine Mile in September a second time and despite perhaps an ill-advised decision to race on the dirt in the Shadwell Mile in October, a surface on which he hasn’t shined as brightly, he still looks remarkably tough to beat Saturday.
Revered Composer and Musical Theatre Impresario Andrew Lloyd Weber is well-represented by his Filly The Fugue, who faces the Boys in the $3-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Classic. She’ll face stiff Competition though from returning Race Champion Little Mike, who appears to be rounding into form after a win in the Joe Hirsch Invitational Classic late September at Belmont Park. Also, Point of Entry who hasn’t raced since June, comes fresh after a win in the Manhattan Handicap. He races for a famous pair of Owners, the Phipps and Stronach Stables (yes, those Stronachs, Canada!). Franchise Fans also have a bit of a Hunch Bet in Longshot Twilight Eclipse who opens at odds of 20-1.
The $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic caps-off the two days of Championship Races and despite having faltered twice in the Fixture, six-year-old Game on Dude is listed as the Race Favourite after a flawless 2013 Campaign, which has seen five important victories including the Grade 1-Pacific Classic in August. In March, he won the Santa Anita Handicap and indeed has a bit of a Home Court Advantage. Despite winning this very Race last November, defending Champ Fort Larned has had a spotty 2013 which has ranged from a failure to finish to a win in the Grade 1-Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June. Meanwhile, Mucho Macho Man who placed second in the Race last year, has been on the fringes much throughout the year, but also appears to be peaking after a win in the Grade 1-Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park late September.
Celebrities also will be in attendance for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup this weekend and performing are Kristin Chenoweth, Toni Braxton and Babyface. Red-hot Ambassadors Kate Upton and Elizabeth Banks, who soon will begin promoting Blockbusters The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and also, The Lego Movie, will be among the famous Faces partaking in the Festivities.
For those of you at home looking to tune-in this weekend, you can stream the Breeders’ Cup online on the Daily Racing Form‘s Website. TSN 2 will be airing the Races live between 4:00 – 8:00 PM EST on Friday. The Races will air between 3:00 – 9:00 PM EST on Saturday on that Network.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
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