Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve, all three members of trainer
Bill Mott's Breeders' Cup Classic team, galloped about 1 1/4 miles on the main
track at Santa Anita Wednesday morning.
Mott is in the rare situation of saddling three starters in America's biggest
race. The late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel had three starters in 1993.
Flat Out is owned by Preston Stables and was transferred to Mott's care this
year. Ron the Greek was moved to Mott's stable late last year by the ownership
group of Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable and Jack T. Hammer. To Honor and Serve,
owned by Live Oak Plantation, has been with Mott throughout his three-season,
"We train them all as individuals and we want to give each horse their best
chance," Mott said. "All three horses are trained for different owners and all
three horses have earned their way into this race. Actually, two of them (Ron
the Greek and Flat Out) have won 'Win and You're In' races. Their fees are
"To Honor and Serve is not one of those, but he won the Grade 1 Woodward and
proved that he is top-class. He won the (Grade 1) Cigar Mile last year. He's a
very good horse in his own right.
"We've got three horses that we can really make a strong case for running in
the race. Not that I look to run against myself and normally on a day-to-day
basis we don't do that. On the championship day, when it boils down to the
biggest race of the year, you just have to do that and may the best horse win.
Hopefully, one of them is good enough to win the race."
Ron the Greek is the only one of Mott's Classic horses to compete at Santa
Anita. Mott sent him to California from Florida in late winter and the Full
Mandate five-year-old won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap by 3 1/2 lengths. It
was a doubly important win because it set him up for the Classic.
"When Ron the Greek won the Santa Anita Handicap last spring we were excited,
of course, knowing that the Breeders' Cup was going to be run here this fall,"
Mott said. "It's a good sign when they've run the distance and they've run over
the track. That's one hurdle out of the way that he's already handled. He's
"I know they've changed the racetrack here a little bit in the last few
months and have added a little sand. It's probably not exactly the same
racetrack surface that he won over, but I'm sure it's somewhat similar.
"'Ron' seems to be happy out here. He's doing well. He's galloping good over
this surface right now. He seems to be happy to be back in California."
Mott's defending Ladies' Classic champion Royal Delta also galloped about 1
1/4 miles on the main track Wednesday morning. The daughter of Empire Maker was
pre-entered this year to both the Ladies' Classic and Classic. It was decided
that she would stay in her own division rather than tackle males in the Classic.
"Our original plan was to run in the Ladies' Classic," Mott said. "Looking at
the competition in there, it's very competitive in both races. I felt that
running against the girls was probably the way to go. I guess it's probably a
conservative approach, but we have discussed Royal Delta running next year and
discussed long ago that if she were doing well (next year) to run her in the
"I think that is a valid plan. You never know how many races a horse has left
in them, but she's going to be a five-year-old next year, and if you're going to
reach out a little bit, there's no reason not to do it at that time. She'll be a
little older, and if she's in as good a form as she is now, I think we'd be more
than happy to take a shot.
"But the fact is that this isn't going to be her last race, and we have
another chance to do that."
Mott acknowledged that racing is something of a "now business," so full of
uncertainties and variables that horsemen often don't pass on an immediate
challenge with a healthy and sound horse.
"There's something to be said about that. But it's not like we're going over
there and running for peanuts," he said. "We're running for a very important
race, and I would think that if she would run well in the Ladies' Classic, if
she were lucky enough to win another one, she sews up another (Eclipse Award)
championship. That, for me, would be wonderful."
Mott said that the filly is recovering nicely from the small cut on her right
rear that she suffered while being shipped from Newburgh, New York, on Monday.
Royal Delta was slightly injured when she was being backed into her stall on the
"Everything is still good. She's feeling very good," Mott said. "The wound
looks good. It's a non-issue."
Trainer Bob Baffert is running 10 horses in the Breeders' Cup this weekend,
so you need a program just to work your way through his stable list. But if you
want to refer to his Breeders' Cup Classic hopeful Game on Dude, the
morning-line favorite, you simply have to ask about "the big horse."
Wednesday morning "the big horse" was out for a good gallop with the Baffert
stable's first Breeders' Cup set at 7:45 a.m. with regular exercise rider Dana
Barnes up. Baffert took a break from those duties to watch "the big horse" and
his stablemates train from a location along the Santa Anita grandstand terrace.
The Hall of Fame trainer was asked if he would be giving rider Rafael
Bejarano any special instructions prior to Game on Dude loading into the gate
"Naw," Baffert said, "he knows the horse. You've got to remember, he's been
working him all along, just like he works a lot of my horses. He knows him
better than most anyone. He used to give (jockey) Chantal (Sutherland, who was
the horse's regular rider prior to Bejarano taking over for his most recent
start) instructions and help with him when she was riding.
"(Bejarano) is a real team player. Even when he wasn't riding him, he was
willing to help out. How about that -- you've got the leading rider around here
and he's willing to put his ego aside and be part of our team."
Pool Play may be the 30-1 co-long shot in the Classic field, but the Silver
Deputy seven-year-old has looked so good out on the track in the mornings that
he's turning heads and creating a bit of buzz on social media sites and at
"He is getting some good reviews. Knock on wood, he's coming up to this race
really good. I think he's peaking just at the right time," said trainer Mark
Casse, who has saddled 10 Breeders' Cup horses but never one in the Classic. "I
think people are underestimating him."
Casse sent Pool Play out for a 1 1/2-mile gallop on Wednesday morning with
owner Bill Farish looking on. While the other four hopefuls in Casse's
contingent of World Championships contenders were schooled at the gate, the dark
bay got to play hooky.
"He's an old pro. He doesn't need to go," Casse said. "He knows what to do."
To ensure that the Santa Anita paddock was familiar come race day, Pool Play
was scheduled to accompany his stablemates to the paddock for schooling
Wednesday and Thursday.
Trainer Ron McAnally watched Suggestive Boy gallop 1 1/2 miles under regular
exercise rider Juan Vasquez on Wednesday morning and when he runs in Saturday's
Mile, he will be the Hall of Fame trainer's 31st Breeders' Cup starter dating
back to the inaugural running in 1984.
Moreover, Suggestive Boy is an Argentine-bred and no other North American
trainer, arguably, has enjoyed more success with horses brought from that
country than McAnally. Bayakoa was the back-to-back winner of the Distaff in
1989-90 and Paseana earned the blanket of flowers in the 1992 edition of the
same race. The pair of champion Argentine-bred mares account for three of
McAnally's four Breeders' Cup winners.
"I sure have had a lot of good ones from Argentina," said McAnally, now 80
years old. "They can all really run."
Classic contender Fort Larned, whom owner Janis R. Whitam bred in Kentucky,
is a grandson of Bayakoa and she was campaigned by Whitam with her late husband,
Frank. Fort Larned is being bedded down in the barn of McAnally, who also
trained his dam.
"It will be very nice to have Bayakoa's grandson in my barn," McAnally said.
"It's nice to keep the family tradition going."
McAnally is among those who are considering this edition of the Mile the
toughest of all 15 Breeders' Cup races, but he knows his horse will be ready
when the gate opens.
"He's as good as he's ever been," he said. "He's ready."
Shackleford made another fine appearance Wednesday and has his trainer Dale
Romans thinking he's sitting on a big effort as he attempts to avenge his loss
in last year's Dirt Mile.
"He couldn't be training any better," Romans said. "I've never seen him train
While it is likely the Dirt Mile will be the last race of Shackleford's
career, it is not a certainty according to his trainer.
"We'll have to see what happens this weekend," Romans said. "We could go in
the (Grade 1) Cigar Mile or that race at Churchill (Grade 1 Clark Handicap). It
would be nice to send him out with a bang for his owners and fans."
Shackleford has developed quite a following since winning the 2011 Preakness
and last Saturday nearly 100 fans came by the barn to see the Forestry colt on
invitation by his connections.
"We had a lot more people than I expected," Romans said. "I think the fans
have been attracted to him because he's so tough. He's shown up at every dance.
And, he's such a good looking horse. All the good horses have funny
characteristics that people latch on to. We were happy to have all the people
come to see him. The fans are the backbone of this business."
In other Breeders' Cup news:
Trainer John Shirreffs was forced to declare Nereid from the Breeders' Cup
Filly & Mare Turf on Wednesday.
"She is off in her right hind," Shirreffs said. "She had already come over
(Tuesday from Hollywood Park). She must have kicked the wall or something. The
injury is very minor but came at the worst possible time."
Fort Larned was ridden in the shedrow at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning
before departing to Louisville International Airport and a flight to Southern
"He's on the plane," said trainer Ian Wilkes, who flew to California on
Tuesday. "We will see how he is the morning and go from there (with regard to
The Tex Sutton charter, which left Louisville at 11:16 a.m. (ET) was
scheduled to land at Ontario Airport shortly before noon (PDT).
Fellow Classic entrants Brilliant Speed and Mucho Macho Man were also aboard
Tex Sutton flight headed to California on Wednesday. Brilliant Speed was
scheduled to arrive in California around noon on Wednesday while Mucho Macho Man
was aboard the charter that originated at Newburgh, New York and was due at the
Ontario, California, airport around noon.
Unable to book a flight for herself because of the havoc Hurricane Sandy has
played on the airline industry, trainer Kathy Ritvo accompanied Mucho Macho Man
on the flight.
Dirt Mile runner Jersey Town was aboard the same Tex Sutton flight as Mucho
Ladies' Classic contender Grace Hall was a passenger on the last flight that
arrived from New York at noon Wednesday. While unable to get Grace Hall on the
grounds because of Hurricane Sandy and the storm's aftermath, trainer Anthony
Dutrow had her gallop and kept her fit at Fair Hills Training Center in Maryland
near his Delaware Park base. He reported that she has never been better and is
coming into the Ladies' Classic at the top of her game.
Dutrow, who had also been stuck on the east coast, was scheduled to arrive in
Arcadia on Wednesday afternoon as well.
Wise Dan tack-walked in the shedrow at trainer Charles Lopresti's barn at
Keeneland Wednesday morning before getting on a van to Louisville for a flight
Trainer Todd Pletcher's Filly & Mare Sprint runner Turbulent Descent and
Juvenile contender Shanghai Bobby were on board a flight from New York that
landed at Ontario Airport at approximately noon Wednesday.
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