This Saturday might as well be considered the playoffs for the Breeders Cup. We are only one month away from the "Super Bowl of Horse Racing" and this coming weekend brings us some exciting graded stakes races that should give a good preview of what is in store come the first weekend in November. Belmont has a loaded card on Saturday, as well as Santa Anita, as it opens for its fall meet. There are ten graded stakes races that are considered "win and you're in" for the Breeders Cup, if that tells you anything about Saturday's line-up.
The most anticipated race is probably the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The mile and a quarter race is the biggest prep for the Breeders Cup Classic. Although it will be a rather small field it is loaded with talent. Stay Thirsty gets his first crack at the older horses and is eager to show he belongs. While it will be a tough race for him, he certainly doesn't have to worry about losing any ground to any of the rivals in his division.
The rest of the three-year-old class has chosen to go in different directions to prepare for the Breeders Cup. Uncle Mo, who is still coming back from injury has chosen to run in the Mile, G2 Kelso, also at Belmont. Shackelford, will be competing in the G2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park. Coil, after his disappointment in the Travers, is heading back to the West Coast for the G1 Goodwood at Santa Anita. Ruler On Ice finished second last weekend in the G2 Pennsylvania Derby to one of the early Derby favorites, To Honor and Serve. It is going to be interesting to see how each of these horses fare and who will eventually meet up in the Breeders Cup Classic.
While the three-year-olds are winding down their season, a new crop of two, soon to be three-year-olds have already begun preparing for their Triple Crown Run. At Santa Anita the G1 Norfolk is another one of those "win and you're in" races for the Breeders Cup Juvenile. These two-year-olds will be tested as they look to go around two turns for the first time. Look for Drill and Creative Cause to give each other a run for their money again as they went 1-2 in the Del Mar Futurity back in September.
*More on the two-year-olds next week as Keeneland opens its fall meet and other top two-year-olds load the gate in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity.
Jockey Club Gold Cup
1/1a) Flatout/Birdrun 7-5:
Finished 2nd in both the G1 Whitney and Woodward, but was coming on down the stretch. If you have to find a concern about this horse it would be that this is his first race at 1 1/4 mile.
Has traded jabs with Drosselmeyer recently and shown that the distance is certainly not an issue here. With Flatout and Birdrun being paired in the betting, can't go wrong with these two at the window.
After two disapointing starts following his 2010 Belmont Stakes win, has come back strong trading 1st and 2nd with Birdrun. The win was at 1 1/4 mile.
4) Stay Thirsty 8-5:
On fire the last three races, finishing 2-1-1. Can he continue his torrid pace in his first attempt against the older and more experienced horses.
6) A.U. Miner 10-1:
Using this race as a prep for the Breeders Cup Marathon. Long shot that would not surprise if he snuck in the money. Beat Birdrun last race out in July at 1 1/2 mile.
8) Game On Dude 5-2
7) Awesome Gem 3-1
2) Coil 4-1