Zenyatta 8-5 Favorite to Repeat in BC Classic
Post positions for 14 World Championships races to be held Nov. 5-6 were drawn the afternoon of Nov. 2. The number of entries—172, including four also-eligibles—establishes a new record. The old mark of 163 entries was set in 2008; last year there were 155 entries for 14 races.
There were no surprises at the draw; the connections of Gio Ponti had announced the night before the colt would race in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), not the Classic.
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Zenyatta, who arrived at Churchill just before the draw for posts, will attempt to run her record to 20-for-20 on Nov. 6. She drew post 8 in the 1 1/4-mile Classic.
"Eight is one of our favorite numbers. Eight is supposed to be lucky," said Ann Moss, who co-owns the 6-year-old mare with her husband, Jerry.
Four-time grade I winner Quality Road was pegged as the 5-1 second choice for the Classic. The son of Elusive Quality drew post 1, which can be unfavorable at Churchill. The Edward Evans homebred is looking to redeem himself from a year ago when he refused to load into the starting gate prior to the Classic at Santa Anita Park.
Quality Road's trainer Todd Pletcher admitted post 1 is not an ideal spot, but he is confident his colt can overcome it. He said Quality Road was scheduled to load first no matter what post he drew.
“Obviously that wasn’t the post position we were hoping for, but it’s probably less of a disadvantage in a 12-horse field," Pletcher said. "It’s a horrible post position for the (Kentucky) Derby going a mile and a quarter. Hopefully it’s less so for this race.
“We have to get position leaving the gate. I’m hoping someone shows enough initiative that we can follow them. We have to play it by ear. We have a lot of confidence in John Velazquez, and that’s one of the decisions he’ll have to make.
“The horse is doing very well coming up to the race. We’re looking forward to him doing it on the track.”
Blame (9-2) and Lookin At Lucky (6-1) were installed as the third and fourth Classic choices, respectively.
Trainer Dale Romans, who has First Dude and Paddy O'Prado in the Classic, said post position shouldn’t be a factor in the race. First Dude drew post 4 and Paddy O’Prado post 2; both are 15-1 in the morning line.
“They both drew good,” Romans said. “In a 12-horse field at this distance at Churchill, I don’t think you can draw a bad post.”
Paddy O’Prado was on the fence for the Classic or the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT). Romans said the connections “revisited it last night and made a final decision to stick with our plans to run in the Classic.”
Paddy O’Prado has been dominant on grass but finished a closing third in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on the Churchill dirt. Romans said he’d love to win the Classic.
“To win that kind of race in my hometown would be huge for me,” the trainer said.
Goldikova, the heavy Mile favorite at 6-5, drew post 10 in an 11-horse field and will try to become the first horse to win the same Breeders' Cup race three times. Gio Ponti is the 4-1 second choice.
The Turf drew only eight entrants, with Workforce the 7-5 morning-line favorite. His connections have indicated, however, they aren't pleased with the hard conditions of the Churchill turf.
Blind Luck, who won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill earlier this season, was made the 9-5 favorite in a field of 11 for the $2 million Ladies Classic (gr. I), the feature on the Nov. 5 card. The daughter of Pollard's Vision will try to complete a sensational campaign in which she has won three grade I races and five of eight starts overall. The chestnut filly drew post 10.
"I would rather be way out there than inside," trainer Jerry Holldendorfer said. "I'm not unhappy with the 10 post. I'm pleased to be back here for the Breeders' Cup. Our filly likes the racetrack, and we're taking that as positive momentum. She always gives a quality effort, so we think she has a pretty good chance to win."
Beldame (gr. I) winner Life At Ten, also trained by Pletcher, was pegged as the 7-2 second choice in the Ladies Classic. In all, Pletcher entered 11 horses for the two-day championships.
“We got a little variety of everything; we drew 14 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (Allure d’Amour), and 13, way outside, in the Juvenile Turf (Pluck)," Pletcher said. "But as long as you’re in the gate you have a chance. A lot of times you worry about post and you get great trips from a bad post and bad trips from a great post."
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