Class Included may well be the longest shot on the board when the gates open for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2. But she is first in the hearts of her connections and in the state of Washington, which will send a large contingent south to Santa Anita Park to cheer on the 4-year-old homebred of Mike and Amy Feuerborn.
The bay filly is known as "Blondie" because of her flaxen tail, and she has shown that tail to all her opponents 10 times in 16 career races. The other six races have resulted in second-place finishes, and Class Included, who was bred in Kentucky, has banked $384,526 to date.
By Include, out of the Sky Classic mare A Classic Life, Class Included enters the Ladies' Classic on a four-race win streak and has the services of all-time leading win jockey Russell Baze. But facing the likes of Royal Delta, Questing, and Awesome Feather in the $2 million Ladies' Classic, Class Included will face a stern test for, well, class.
"It's pretty awesome, huh?" said Kay Cooper, who handles the day-to-day training chores for conditioner Jim Penney. "It's a privilege to be here and a privilege to train a horse like this. It's pretty majestic. She had class from day one. You can always tell. You don't know if they'll run to it, but there is that little niche you feel in a horse when you start working with them. She was special from the beginning, her presence, ambiance, and 'look at me' attitude. She is a show-off."
There was some concern as Class Included struggled in her first workout at Santa Anita, in which she failed to handle the racetrack and was clocked in 1:01 3/5 for five furlongs. Cooper tweaked some things and the filly came back six days later, on Oct. 28, and went four panels in a bullet :47.
"She excelled over the track, galloped out strong with her ears forward, and that's the Blondie we all know," said Cooper. “It was tough on one hand to come here because you don't want to overmatch your horse. If you don't have a chance, you shouldn't be here. We aren't stupid. But that second work proved we have a right to be here. She is an outstanding filly."
And kind. She allows Cooper's grandchildren to feed her carrots and peppermints, but also knows when there's business to be conducted. She felt good enough to kick at her pony on Halloween morning.
"On race day you turn on the light switch and she's calm and collected," said Cooper. "She'll sleep all day. She knows it's race day and she's like, 'Leave me alone, I need my rest.' And she marches over there."
While in Washington, Class Included has the bonus of spending time at Cooper's sister's farm just eight miles from Emerald Downs after her races. There she enjoys trail walks and hand-grazing on luscious grass, eating up the extra attention she gets.
Another veteran of Hastings Park showed earlier this year that it is possible to accomplish great things on the big stage. Jockey Mario Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) aboard I'll Have Another last spring, and he is a good friend of the Class Included connections, riding winners for them at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.
Cooper said her friends have declared Nov. 2 a state holiday in Washington, so expect a parade and fireworks if Blondie sings a sweet tune in the Ladies’ Classic.