By: Kevin Martin
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic is the second year in a row without a certifiable star. Even without the star power, it is the feature race during the Breeders’ Cup two-day program of races this Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The race is scheduled for 8:30pm Eastern on Saturday, check your local TV listings.
West coast race fans might disagree with the assertion that this year’s BC Classic lacks a star. Game on Dude, winner of nine races from twenty career starts, is a star in California and the son of 1998 BC Classic winner Awesome Again. In twenty career races, he has nine wins and five seconds with multiple graded stakes, including California’s most prestigious races, the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Santa Anita Handicap. Last year, he was caught just before the wire in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, finishing second to longshot winner Drosselmeyer. This year, Game on Dude seems to have the race gods on his side with the BC schedule bringing this year’s Classic to his backyard at Santa Anita Park, a track where he is undefeated.
The field of thirteen includes multiple graded stakes winners, but none have been as consistently good as Game on Dude in 2012. Here is a quick look at all of the contenders who will be gunning for “The Dude” in the 1 1/4 mile Breeders’ Cup Classic:
Flat Out (Morning Line: 5-1) : Last year’s post time favorite in the BC Classic, he won his second consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cup in his last race. Has not been as good in 2012 as he was in 2011, but has proven himself a high-class horse with over two million dollars in career earnings.
Fort Larned (5-1) : Has shown flashes of brilliance this year including a win in the Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course this summer. Some questions remain about his ability to win at the 1 1/4 mile Classic distance.
Ron the Greek (6-1) : A solid performer in 2012, he won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster this year. He will need to bounce back from an uncharacteristic bad performance in his last race, the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he finished 5th and was beaten by eleven lengths by Flat Out.
To Honor and Serve (8-1) : As a 3-year-old last year, he finished seventh in the BC Classic, only 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner. He won the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga in September. His trainer, Bill Mott, trained Drosselmeyer to a win in last year’s BC Classic.
Mucho Macho Man (8-1) : He has finished in the top three in fourteen of his seventeen career races. He won this year’s Grace 2 Suburban Handicap and was beaten by a neck in his last race when finishing second in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes.
Richard’s Kid (12-1) : The tough 7-year-old has a solid resume with multiple graded stakes wins. However, he has banked most of his major wins over a synthetic surface and was beaten seven lengths by Game on Dude in his last race.
Nonios (20-1) : A 3-year-old with tons of promise, he finished a nonthreatening second to Game on Dude in his last race. Most racing pundits think he would be a better fit in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Alpha (20-1) : Winner of this year’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, he disappointed in his last race, when he finished sixth as the favorite in the Pennsylvania Derby. A 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time, he could put some early pace pressure on Game on Dude.
Brilliant Speed (20-1) : The third place finisher in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, has not won a race since September of last year. This will be his first race on dirt in over a year and a half, a surface where he has just one win in six career attempts.
Handsome Mike (30-1) : He qualified for the Classic with an upset win in the Pennsylvania Derby. That win was just the second in ten career races.
Pool Play (30-1) : The 16-1 upset winner in the Hawthorne Gold Cup in his last race. He does all his best running late in races, so watch for him to pass horses in the stretch. The last time he won back-to-back races was 2010.
Game on Dude likes to be on or close to the lead in his races. In looking at this year’s BC Classic field, it lacks a speedy type who could compromise his chances by tiring him out early in the 1 1/4 mile race. So, on paper, its hard to see how Game on Dude gets beat and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him dominate this talented field. Everything points to ‘The Dude’ when looking to find the winner in this year’s Classic.
In looking for horses to round out the exotic bets (exacta, trifecta, superfecta), expect the always consistent Mucho Macho Man to run a big race under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The two horses at potentially big odds with a chance to finish in the exotics are Nonios and Richard’s Kid. The 3-year-old Nonios ran huge in his first try against older horses when he finished second to Game on Dude in his last race at Santa Anita. Richard’s Kid, like Mucho Macho Man, has been a consistent performer and the added distance gives him a reasonable chance to round out the trifecta and superfecta at odds of 10 to 1 or better.
- Game on Dude
- Mucho Macho Man
- Richard’s Kid
For more about the contenders in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, check out Hello Race Fans Cheat Sheet . HRF also has many excellent articles for newcomers to handicapping as well as other Breeders’ Cup related content on their website.