Breeders' Cup Classic Notes - November 2
By Breeders' Cup
Drosselmeyer, To Honor and Serve – Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Drosselmeyer and his stablemate To Honor and Serve both went out for easy gallops Wednesday morning and visited the paddock. Trainer Bill Mott said both would be schooled in the paddock in the afternoon.
Drosselmeyer has some friendly familiarity with Churchill Downs, having broken his maiden on this track in 2009 before going on to win the Belmont Stakes the following spring. This will be his 16th career start, but he’s only 1-for-6 this season.
To Honor and Serve, listed at odds of 12-1 off two solid victories, gets the services of jockey Jose Lezcano. He is also Drosselmeyer’s regular rider, so Mott was forced to find a replacement and chose Mike Smith.
“(To Honor and Serve) won the Pennsylvania Derby and looked very professional doing it,” Mott said. “He looked like a talented horse. He looked like he’s back and coming into his own. I think he’s at the top of his game, which he’ll have to be if he’s going to compete on Saturday.”
Mott refused to give the upper hand to either of his Breeders’ Cup Classic runners at this stage of their training. He declared the $5 million race as “wide-open.”
“I’ve never been smart enough to predict the outcome of any of these races,” said Mott, who won the 1995 Classic with Cigar. “I don’t want to make any foolish predictions like ‘We’re going to win by 10’ or anything like that.’ ”
To Honor and Serve, usually a pace factor, and Drosselmeyer, a keep-coming closer, couldn’t be much different in their running styles. Most in this field of 13 fall into either category.
“I guess it’s up to everybody to rate their horse along so they can get them the mile and a quarter,” Mott said. “There will be plenty of pace, I’m sure, with Game On Dude.”
Flat Out – Trainer Scooter Dickey was holding court with the media inside an empty stall at Barn 47 on Wednesday morning, getting quite savvy in relation to the press thanks to his spot in the limelight with Classic contender Flat Out. \
“Have you thought about what a win like this would mean to you?” asked one reporter.
“You all sure are making me think about it,” Dickey joked. “I’m mostly just trying to train my horse, but everybody keeps asking me that question.”
Training the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner has been going well this week, and Flat Out galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Otto Aguilar. He went to the track at 6 a.m., which is when he’ll go out Thursday.
“He’ll do the same thing tomorrow morning, probably a little over a mile and a half,” Dickey said.
Many are already asking Dickey what would be next for the 5yo son of Flatter, and while making serious plans would be premature, the trainer has indicated that owner Art Preston would like to race Flat Out next year.
“He worked really well on the turf before the Stephen Foster, when we were thinking about maybe running him in the Firecracker,” Dickey said. “He really likes the grass as well. Mr. Preston said to me, ‘what if we point him to the Arlington Million?’ I said, ‘I like the way you think.’ ”
Game On Dude – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent the Goodwood Stakes winner through an easy 1m gallop on Wednesday morning under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez. It was Game On Dude’s first trip across the Churchill Downs surface since shipping in Tuesday afternoon from Santa Anita.
Game on Dude will follow the same routine Thursday morning.
“It’s a tough race, all of them are tough,” Baffert said of the Classic, in which Game On Dude has drawn post 8 under jockey Chantal Sutherland.
“These are the best horses in the world and everything has to go perfect leading up to the race. Most importantly, the horse has to fit and give it his all. I know this one does and will.”
Havre de Grace – Fox Hill Farms’ multiple Grade 1 winner was one of the first horses on the track after the break Wednesday morning and galloped 1m with trainer Larry Jones on board. She will maintain the same routine for the rest of the week and could possibly visit the paddock and starting gate.
“This is just part of our normal routine leading into a race,” said Jones. “Yesterday, wasn’t routine for us (when he took Havre de Grace to jog one day after working), but everything else has been how we normally do things. We couldn’t be any happier with her.”
Headache – He may be 30-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s Classic, but trainer Mike Maker believes Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Headache has a chance to make a serious impact.
“There are reasons for optimism,” Maker said. “He’s won three races over this (Churchill main) track (7-3-1-1), and the last time he was here (May 21) we won by more than seven lengths. He’s also proven at a mile and a quarter (3-1-2-0).”
Headache’s most recent start was a win in the 1 ¼ m Hawthorne Gold Cup.
Ice Box – The 2010 Kentucky Derby runner-up schooled in the starting gate Wednesday morning before galloping once around the Churchill Downs track.
“I might take him to the paddock tomorrow,” trainer Nick Zito said.
The Hall of Fame trainer called his 2010 Florida Derby winner “a live longshot.”
Rated at 30-1 in the morning line, the son of Pulpit is winless in three starts this year after returning from an injury-imposed layoff in July.
“I think all of the rust is off him. I can stand here and make excuses. But we have three races now and this is what we’ve been thinking about. He had his finest hour here last year. He’s a live longshot,” said Zito, noting that Ice Box was 20-1 when he won the Florida Derby.
Rattlesnake Bridge – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent the 3yo son of Tapit to the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning for a 1 1/4m gallop under exercise rider Rob Massey.
Rattlesnake Bridge is coming into the Classic off a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby behind To Honor and Serve and Ruler On Ice, a pair he will clash with again on Saturday.
“We hope Calvin Borel can settle him back toward the rear of the race and make a run and pass a whole bunch of them,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a fast pace, it looks like on paper, a quality fast pace. Hopefully, he can pass a whole lot of them. Whether we can pass all of them, I don’t know.”
Ruler On Ice – George and Lori Hall’s 2011 Belmont Stakes winner had a routine 1 1/2m gallop Wednesday. Trainer Kelly Breen made a trip back to his home in New Jersey, but is expected back in Louisville Wednesday night.
So You Think – The final contingent of eight colts from the powerful stable of Aidan O’Brien arrived at Churchill Downs Tuesday at 8:22 p.m. and are housed in the second quarantine barn.
The flight included So You Think, a winner of three Grade I races this year and third choice on the morning line for Saturday’s Classic. It is unlikely that any of the O’Brien colts will be seen on the track until Friday morning.
Stay Thirsty, Uncle Mo – Owner Mike Repole made his first appearance at the barn of his two 3yo stars Wednesday shortly after 9:30 a.m. and quickly dismissed any suggestions that something might be amiss with 2010 Juvenile winner Uncle Mo, who galloped 1 3/8m under Hector Ramos after a couple days of light activity.
“This is his regular routine,” said Repole. “Usually he works and he kind of gets two days (off). Stay Thirsty is a different type of horse. I don’t know if you guys know it, he (trainer Todd Pletcher) has five Eclipse Awards and he kind of knows what he’s doing. He’s got different systems for each horse. It’s almost like when you’re coaching players, you don’t coach everybody the same. That’s what makes him so successful.”
Pletcher said he took Uncle Mo to the gate Monday.
“I think he’s doing outstanding,” Pletcher said of the morning-line favorite. “He got over the ground really well today. He was very enthusiastic and he seems like a happy horse.”
Stay Thirsty, who was second in the Belmont Stakes before winning the Jim Dandy and Travers stakes at Saratoga, also galloped 1 3/8m and visited the starting gate Wednesday.
“I’m confident with both these horses,” Repole said. “At the end of the day when I read about these C-minus, D-plus works (for Uncle Mo), I get more confident. ‘Mo’ could have gone to the (Dirt) Mile and been 3-5 (odds).”
Stay Thirsty finished a distant fifth in last year’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind his more celebrated stablemate, but a liver ailment put a serious dent in Uncle Mo’s 3yo campaign.
“He went into the winter with about as much buzz as you can have with a 2-year-old,” Pletcher said. “He started off the year well, unfortunately the liver infection cost us a big chunk of the spring and summer. But we’re back in excellent shape now.”
Repole will have to split his emotions again, much as he did in the Juvenile last fall on this same track.
“My first Breeders’ Cup last year we didn’t know what to expect – anxiousness,” Repole said. “Then we were just fortunate to win it. We’d love to see them run 1-2 in the Classic.”
Stay Thirsty drew post 9 for his fourth try at the 1 1/4m distance, a task heretofore not attempted by his stablemate.
“I think he’s in as good a form right now as he’s ever been,” Pletcher said. “He’s training like he did prior to the Jim Dandy and the Travers, so we’re really excited about the way he’s coming into this race.”