Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Ryan Lasek
Declaration of War – see European report
Flat Out/Ron the Greek –
Trainer Bill Mott’s veteran duo, Flat Out and Ron the Greek, galloped
on the main track Wednesday. Ron the Greek went to the paddock and stood
at the gate, but Flat Out, who has made 27 career starts and was third
in the 2012 Classic, went out too late to participate in the schooling.
Flat Out finished third in the Classic last year, ahead of Ron the
Greek in fourth. Mott noted that they were the only two horses that
managed to make closing runs, though they fell well short of the top two
finishers, Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, who battled on the lead.
Earlier this year, Flat Out won the Westchester and Suburban handicaps
in New York and Ron the Greek turned in an eye-popping performance on
Sept. 28 to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
the Greek’s Gold Cup surprised Mott, who said the 6yo is very
dependable but rarely is able to pair top efforts. He hasn’t had
back-to-back wins since late in 2011. “We’re not disappointed,” Mott
said. “He has been such a good servant for us and what a wonderful horse
to be around. He’s just the kindest, nicest horse. He’s kind of a barn
favorite. He doesn’t owe us anything. Neither horse owes us anything.
Whatever they do and win on Saturday it’s all a bonus.”
Flat Out and Ron the Greek are part of group of five runners – the top four finishers and beaten favorite Game On Dude –
that are returning for another start in the Classic. Mott said the
quality of competition matches what lined up for the $5 million purse 12
“It’s a great field. Good, solid horses,” he said. “It’s a lot of the
same horses that were in here last year. It’s great that those horses
can stick around and be back for more.”
Mott said that his horses seem to be under the radar a bit while most
of the attention is on the likes of Game On Dude, Fort Larned and Mucho
“Because they’ve beaten each other and they have been a factor in every
race, but they haven’t been the dominant force,” Mott said. “It’s
amazing how quickly people get off horses. They get off of Royal Delta
and I haven’t heard anything about Wise Dan after he runs second one
time. It’s almost like people get off of them a little bit.
“Fort Larned is the returning champion and Game On Dude hasn’t been
beaten in a while. They’re just so obvious. People don’t look past the
fact that they won their last race sometimes. I don’t know that that’s
always the most important factor. It’s good to see them coming off a
Fort Larned – Janis
Whitham’s defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned had an
easy first morning on Wednesday at Santa Anita, walking outside of Barn
99 with exercise rider Katie Merritt up.
worked Monday at Churchill Downs and then had a long flight yesterday,”
trainer Ian Wilkes said. “Actually this is what he did last year only
he did it at Churchill Downs because we came in a day later.”
plane bringing Fort Larned to Santa Anita left Louisville shortly after
2 Tuesday afternoon, made a one-hour stop in Oklahoma City and arrived
at Ontario International shortly before 5 p.m. local time.
said Fort Larned would gallop the next two mornings, going out at 6:30
each day in his quest to become the second two-time winner of the
Classic, joining Tiznow (2000-01).
Larned has the pedigree to accomplish the repeat. His grandmother,
Bayakoa, won the Distaff in 1989 at Gulfstream Park and in 1990 at
Game On Dude/Paynter – Trainer
Bob Baffert galloped all eight of his Breeders’ Cup runners Wednesday
morning at Santa Anita, including his two Classic starters Game On Dude
Baffert has spoken all week about how he’s expecting big things from
Game On Dude and how he believes the amazing comeback horse Paynter will
be “right there” at the finish of the 1 1/4m Classic. He said more of
the same Wednesday morning, then spoke about a special connection that
his potential Horse of the Year hero Game On Dude has.
"I called Joe Torre (the baseball superstar who is one of the owners of
Game On Dude) the other day after ‘Dude’ worked so well,” Baffert said.
“He was in a meeting about umpires and he had to call me back. But when
he did, he was really fired up. He’s into this horse. If Game On Dude
was a human, he’d be just like Joe – kind and classy. What a gentleman
and nice guy he is. Joe’s low-key, but he’s really excited about this
Palace Malice – Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice galloped at Santa Anita Wednesday morning, readying for his 10th
start of the year in Saturday’s Classic. The 3yo son of Curlin hasn’t
missed a beat since launching his 2013 campaign at Gulfstream on Jan.
says a lot about him, physically and mentally, that he’s been able to
do that,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He seems to thrive on it,
actually. He’s gained weight through the process and has gotten bigger
and stronger as he’s gone along.”
that everything has gone smoothly, particularly early in the season
when he encountered traffic and rough trips in prep races for the
Kentucky Derby, and the Derby, itself.
“It was frustrating but it made winning the Belmont that much more satisfying,” Pletcher said.
The Classic will be a stiff challenge for all 12 horses entered said Pletcher.
a really deep field. It’s one of those things where you wouldn’t be
surprised if a number of different horses win it. Fort Larned to win it
again it wouldn’t surprise you. If Mucho Macho Man, judging by the way
he ran in the Awesome Again, won it, it wouldn’t surprise you. Game On
Dude certainly wouldn’t surprise you,” Pletcher said. “And you’re not
even talking about Ron the Greek, Flat Out, Palace Malice or Will Take
Charge. It’s a nasty race.”
Last Gunfighter – Trainer
Chad Brown is very candid in his assessment of the Last Gunfighter’s
chances in the Breeders’ Cup Classic: he’s got a tough assignment.
4yo First Samurai colt bred and owned by John Gunther is a consistent
runner, who has won three Graded stakes in 2013. Brown said he is aiming
high by entering Last Gunfighter in the $5 million Classic.
“He needs to run a career race, first of all,” Brown said. “No. 1, he
needs to put up the best number he has ever put up. No. 2, he’s going to
need his share of racing luck. He needs to get a clean trip and save
ground and needs some of the top contenders to maybe not have their best
day. That may result in him getting a piece of the purse.”
Last Gunfighter galloped on the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday morning.
Moreno – Southern
Equine Stable’s Moreno jogged 1 1/2m Wednesday morning before heading
to the paddock for a schooling lesson for trainer Eric Guillot.
3yo gelded son of Ghostzapper required a lot of patience on the part of
Guillot as it took him 10 starts to break his maiden which came in June
at Belmont Park after a winless 2yo season. The long dry spell did not
deter Guillot, who explained the situation thusly: “He had a lot of
little issues throughout that time, including being gelded. But he
finally put it together.”
Mucho Macho Man – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Mucho Macho Man galloped 1 1/2m before visiting the Santa Anita paddock Wednesday morning.
Stable manager Finn Green liked what he saw from the Awesome Again Stakes winner.
“He did great. He knows what’s going on,” Green said. “He’s a professional. He’s happy, very, very happy.”
Green credited trainer Kathy Ritvo with making Mucho Macho Man a happy horse.
done a great job. She’s a good horsewoman, a very, very good
horsewoman. She pays attention to detail. She knows her horses,” Green
said. “She’s on his legs every day. She put the bandages on his legs
this morning. I think she’s one of the most under-rated trainers
Planteur – see European report
Will Take Charge – It was a routine day for Will Take Charge as trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent him out for a 1 1/2m gallop Wednesday.
“The colt is doing really well,” Lukas said.
for 3yo runners going against older horses in the Classic, Lukas said,
“Historically, 3-year-olds have done well in the Classic. I won with Cat
Thief, so I don’t worry about the age thing.”
for how the race might shape up, he said, “You have a good blend of
early speed, middle-of-the-race stalkers and late runners. It should be
an honest pace and a good race.”