The older horse division takes another hit with the loss of Will Take Charge, retired to Three Chimneys after suffering a minor suspensory injury. Less than six weeks to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and last year’s winner, Mucho Macho Man, is out, along with Game on Dude and Palace Malice. (So, three of the top four finishers in this year’s Santa Anita Handicap are done racing, and New York’s best older Classic hope is Whitney winner Moreno.) For the first time since Raven’s Pass in 2008, a 3-year-old could win the Classic — eight are currently in contention, including unbeaten Pacific Classic winner Shared Belief. His stock, already high, gained following California Chrome’s dismal return in the Pennsylvania Derby, won by Bayern, aka “little Dude.” The dual classic winner will train up to the Breeders’ Cup, and trainer Art Sherman is looking toward a happier result: “We’ll be a lot better price,” he said.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes ended in a new course record time of 2:01.90 and a reversal of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf finish when The Fugue kicked clear to win by two lengths over Magician. “She’s proved what she can do to everybody,” said rider William Buick of the 5-year-old mare. “When she gets an uncomplicated run, she’s lethal.” She certainly was: Watch the replay.
Heavily favored Arc winner Trêve finished third. Jockey Frankie Dettori said the filly didn’t feel right from the start: “I was never in a comfort zone.” Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, observing that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, called the beat “a French defeat,” and said, “Maybe we’ll find something wrong. We have lost the battle, not the war.”
Shortest odds in a Breeders’ Cup race: Wise Dan, 0.80, Mile.
The longest odds: Teaks North, 95.90, Turf.
Highest win payout: Ria Antonia, $66.60, Juvenile Fillies.
Longest odds on a returning Breeders’ Cup winner: Trinniberg, 17.00, Sprint.
Worst performance by a favorite: Ever Rider, 4.80, Marathon, pulled up tired.
Largest winning margin: Beholder, 4 1/4 lengths, Distaff.
Number of winning favorites: Five, all in Saturday races. (Wise Dan, Mile; Secret Circle, Sprint; Mizdirection, Turf Sprint; Groupie Doll, Filly and Mare Sprint; Dank, Filly and Mare Turf).
Number of winners who won last out: Six (Chriselliam, Juvenile Fillies Turf; Beholder, Distaff; Dank, Filly and Mare Turf; New Year’s Day, Juvenile; Secret Circle, Sprint; Mucho Macho Man, Classic).
Worst last-out performance by a Breeders’ Cup winner: Magician, ninth by 12 1/4 lengths in the St. James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Number of starters in the non-juvenile races running without Lasix: Four, out of 106 (Olympic Glory, Mile, 9th; Romantica, Filly and Mare Turf, 2nd; Royal Delta, Distaff, 4th; Ever Rider, Marathon, DNF).
Favorites won 32 percent (38-120) of races in the sample, a figure comparable to the record of racing favorites in general. The fact that BC fields are considerably larger than average may make the 32 percent strike rate higher than expected.
Favorites have had mixed success finishing in the money in the recent years. In 2012, favorites finished in the top three in five of six races on Friday, six of nine on Saturday. In 2011, three of six on Friday, four of nine on Saturday. In 2010, four of six on Friday, four of eight on Saturday.
10/26/13 Addendum: Breeders’ Cup contenders, by the numbers. “There are 121 group or graded stakes winners in the entries, including 71 winners of Group 1 or Grade 1 races.” And 74 of the 172 pre-entries won their last starts.
Winners win: 48% of Breeders’ Cup winners in the past 10 years won their final prep race, according to Jon White’s research, and 86% finished in the money. Of course, most Breeders’ Cup starters are coming off strong performances — in 2012, 28 of 59 runners on BC Friday won their last race (43 were in the money), and 41 of 103 on Saturday did (75 were ITM). In 2011, 29 of 69 runners on BC Friday won their previous starts (55 were ITM), and 40 of 104 on Saturday were winners (80 were ITM).
New York wins? Heading into last year’s Breeders’ Cup, starters coming off a prep race in New York didn’t have a great record in Arcadia. In the five previous Breeders’ Cup runnings at Santa Anita, 17 New York-prepped horses finished in the money, and only one won. In 2012, though, horses who prepped in New York won two races on BC Friday, and four races on Saturday. Another four finished second or third on Friday, while five did the same on Saturday, out of a total of 11 New York starters on Friday and 25 on Saturday. The Classic was a particularly New York affair — the top four finishers all last raced in the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Woodward.
Stats and charts for every Breeders’ Cup are available here.
Today’s group and graded stakes with potential Breeders’ Cup implications from Newmarket to Churchill Downs, listed in order of approximate post time:
Race names link to summary results, winner names to replays.
There’s also the ungraded Unzip Me Stakes at Santa Anita (post time 9:14 PM ET), and almost a full card’s worth of maiden special weights for juveniles: Race two (1:36 PM ET) and race three (2:07 PM ET) at Belmont; race one (4:00 PM ET), race three (5:04 PM ET), and race four (5:37 PM ET) at Santa Anita; and race three (6:56 PM ET) and race six (8:30 PM ET) at Churchill Downs.
Among the many notable runners today are Pachelbel, the first foal of Music Note, winner of several stakes, including the 2008 Mother Goose and 2009 Beldame, making his first career start in race two at Belmont for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, and Take Control, the now 6-year-old son of Azeri and A.P. Indy making his first start in more than a year and just his fourth career start overall. What’s he been up to? That’s a good question.
The Breeders’ Cup announced today that it’s bringing back the Distaff, which was cast aside for the Ladies’ Classic in 2008. Alicia Wincze called the news “the most popular name restoration since Prince,” and for at least an hour on Twitter, that seemed true. It may be minor, but restoring the Distaff for the 30th running of the BC is a feel-good, fan-friendly bit of change, a return to a classic word with resonance in the game, evoking greats such as Personal Ensign and Azeri. “I couldn’t help doing handsprings,” cheered Bill Finley. Thanks to the Breeders’ Cup, or, as Exacta-Mundo says much better,
… hats off to the Breeders’ Cup for proving themselves yet again to be an organization that takes fan feedback seriously and WELCOME BACK DISTAFF, WE MISSED YOU!