Trainer Todd Pletcher called the exclusion of Flower Alley from the body of the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) 'a joke' during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Breeders' Cup media teleconference Oct. 25 to announce the pre-entries for the eight-race $20-million event.
Flower Alley, who finished second in last year's Classic, was excluded from the body of the race and placed on the also-eligible list. He will not be eligible to compete unless another horse is withdrawn from the field before entries are taken Nov. 1.
"I think it is an absolute joke he did not get in, and I will leave it at that," said Pletcher, who has a record 18 horses pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. "It's close to a moot point because I do believe he will get into the race."
The top seven Breeders' Cup point earners in each division gain automatic berths, while the remaining seven horses are selected by the Breeders' Cup racing directors/secretaries panel. Horses not selected into the body of a field are then ranked in order of the panel's preference. If a horse defects from the field, horses fill the vacancy in order of their ranking until entries for the race are taken Nov. 1.
"There are seven of us who look over the data and the races," said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs racing secretary and a member of the selection panel. "Flower Alley did not have any graded earnings this year (later revised to correct that the Salvator Mile was grade III). The thought was his race in the Salvator Mile was mediocre and then two poor races after that. It came down to a vote, and we did not vote him in."
According to the point selection system, Eugene Melnyk's Flower Alley had four points based on his win in the Salvator Mile (gr. III) June 24 at Monmouth Park. He subsequently finished unplaced in both the Whitney Handicap Aug. 5 and the Woodward Stakes Sept. 2, both grade I races at Saratoga.
"I know Flower Alley is a good horse," Pletcher said. "I thought his race in the Salvator Mile was a good race when he was getting back into form after being off."