There was plenty of intrigue and a few 'oohs' and 'aahs' during the post position draw for the eight-race Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita Wednesday morning, as the fields were set and the morning lines made. Before a large crowd of horsemen and media, NBC's Kenny Rice handled the announcing duties and Santa Anita's handicapper Jeff Tufts made the line.
Jockey Jerry Bailey was named to ride four of the morning-line favorites: Sightseek, Aldebaran, Cuvee, and Medaglia d'Oro. He's the second choice in another race: Six Perfections in the NetJets Mile (gr. IT).
Also announced were the Head-to-Head wagers that were implemented last year. The Head-to-Head wager pits one horse against another, with the best finisher being declared the winner.
Here's a quick race-by-race breakdown:
Distaff – Presented by Nextel: With the defection of Azeri, Juddmonte Farm's Sightseek was made the heavy 6-5 favorite in the seven-horse field. Regular rider Jerry Bailey will be aboard and the Bobby Frankel-trained filly will break from post 5. Two-to-one second choice Got Koko drew post seven.
"Perfect," said Bruce Headley, trainer of Got Koko. "This way she'll load last and we don't have to worry about bumping (from the gate). She comes from out of it anyway, so the seven is just fine with me."
Head-to-Head: Elloluv Vs. Take Charge Lady
Juvenile Fillies: The biggest groans of the breakfast came when 7-5 morning-line favorite Halfbridled drew the outside 14 post. The 1 1/16-mile race has a short run to the first turn at Santa Anita, which could hinder the sizable daughter of Unbridled.
"It wouldn't' be the one I'd pick, but we are there and there is no sense in complaining about it," said trainer Richard Mandella. "Going two turns on any track, from 14 -- that's a mile from the rail, I guess. You just hope for good luck, that's all, which is more important than a good post position."
Head-to-Head: Victory U.S.A. Vs. Tarlow
NetJets Mile: Perfect Soul, the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) earlier this month, drew the worst of it, getting post 14. European Six Perfections, the 6-1 co-second choice, also got a tough assignment with post 13. Front-running 3-year-old Peace Rules drew the rail. Prestonwood Farm's Special Ring, a charging fourth last time in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT), was made the 4-1 favorite for the race. Non-runners from the pre-entry stage are Statue of Liberty, Taste of Paradise, and Pie N Burger.
Head-to-Head: Special Ring Vs. Peace Rules
Sprint: Aldebaran, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, drew post six in the six-furlong sprint. Clock Stopper was withdrawn earlier in the week and trainer Bob Baffert opted to put Congaree in the Classic as expected, making for the 13-horse line up. The rail belongs to Zavata, who will be ridden for the second time this year by Gary Stevens. Second-choice Shake You Down, drew an advantageous spot, the two hole.
Head-to-Head: Captain Squire Vs. Valid Video
Filly & Mare Turf: Dessert, winner of the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), was scratched. "She tied up on me little bit yesterday and today," trainer Richard Mandella said. "We took a blood count and when she came back she actually tied up, so I wasn't going to go in there." Another defection, this one expected, was Bright Sky. Trainer Elie Lellouche opted to put the 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Wolfhound in the 1 ½-mile John Deere Turf (gr. IT), leaving a field of 12. In a very contentious race, the Michael Stoute-trained Islington was made the 3-1 favorite. Last year, the daughter of Sadler's Wells ran third in the Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park. The 4-1 second choice is another European runner, Musical Chimes, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens. Co-third choices, at 6-1, are Heat Haze and Tates Creek, both Juddmonte Farm runners trained by Bobby Frankel.
Head-to-Head: Islington Vs. Tates Creek
Bessemer Trust Juvenile: Three defections, all announced earlier in the week: Cactus Ridge, Grand Reward, and Old Deuteronomy. The field, when drawn, drew a few weak groans from the crowd when Cuvee, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, drew post 12. Pat Day replaces Larry Melancon on Tiger Hunt, the 5-1 second choice who drew post 6.
Head-to-Head Wager: Chapel Royal Vs. Tiger Hunt
John Deere Turf: Three outs: Century City and Sarafan, that both drew into the Mile as expected, and Deeliteful Irving. The 5-2 morning line favorite is Storming Home, who drew post 5. The 3-1 second choice is Falbrav, who stayed in the turf despite his connections toying with the idea of running in the Classic. Co-third choices at 7-2 are High Chaparral, last year's winner who drew post 3, and Sulamani, who will be reunited with jockey Frankie Dettori after being ridden by David Flores and Jerry Bailey in his two U.S. starts. Toccet, who was cross-entered in the Turf and the Classic, goes in the Turf and is a 30-1 shot under Russell Baze.
Head-to-Head Wager: Storming Home Vs. Sulamani
Classic: A field of 10 with Azeri, Falbrav, Peace Rules, and Toccet out. Medaglia d'Oro, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, drew post 8. Gary Stevens rides Perfect Drift, as regular jockey Pat Day stays with 3-year-old Ten Most Wanted. Ten Most Wanted drew the outside 10 post.
Head-to-Head Wager: Funny Cide Vs. Volponi