Because of a prior commitment, Jose Santos will ride Volponi in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) instead of Funny Cide, whom he guided to victory in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I).
"We made a commitment to ride Volponi before they decided to run Funny Cide," agent Mike Sellitto said. "P.G. Johnson (Volponi's trainer) had released us from the commitment if we wanted, but I spoke to him this morning and he said he wants us to ride his horse."
Santos piloted Volponi to a 43-1 upset victory in last year's Classic, then was fired by Johnson after this year's Whitney, in which he broke sluggishly and finished second to Medaglia d'Oro. Following two defeats, Johnson put Santos back on Volponi for the Classic.
Funny Cide's trainer Barclay Tagg said he hadn't spoken to Sellitto yet and hasn't been able to confirm anything, but said that Julie Krone was one of the leading contenders to get the mount on Funny Cide. He was waiting to talk to Sellitto and Krone's agent before making any official announcement.
In other Classic-related news, the International Racing Bureau has confirmed that the connections of European star Falbrav are now leaning toward running in the Classic, and likely will pre-enter in both the Classic and Turf, with a first preference in the former.
While the horse's owner is leaning toward the Classic, trainer Luca Cumani said no decision has been made. "He will be entered for both races tomorrow," Cumani said. "We haven¹t made a decision yet, and there won¹t be one until it is necessary to make one." Cumani said that Falbrav will be ridden by his regular rider Darryll Holland, regardless what race he runs in.
One horse who will not be running in the Classic is Tenpins, as owner Joseph Vitello has decided against sending the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike to Santa Anita.
Trainer Don Winfree had said he would have liked to give the horse a chance. "If I thought we were just going out there to run, I wouldn't have wanted to go either," he said. "For the last 20 years I'd have been tickled to have an even-money shot in the Fayette. But I thought we had a legitimate chance (in the Classic)."