Game On Dude drew post 8 for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Game On Dude drew post 8 for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Benoit Photo

Classic Draw Sets Strategy in Motion

With most of the contenders drawing outside posts, strategy becomes a bigger factor.

The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic should have enough star appeal with Uncle Mo  and Havre de Grace to create a great deal of interest nationwide. But the 1 1/4-mile event is far from a two-horse race.

Thirteen top-class horses were entered Oct. 31, with Horse of the Year honors on the line for Havre de Grace, Stay Thirsty , Flat Out , and Game On Dude. A victory by any of them would all but assure an Eclipse Award.

A victory by Uncle Mo would be less certain, but last year’s 2-year-old champion is sure to be given serious consideration with a victory Nov. 5.

Uncle Mo, who is coming off a sensational victory in the Kelso Handicap (gr. II) in which he earned a huge 118 Beyer Speed Figure, was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite despite coming off only a seven-furlong and one-mile race since returning from a serious liver disease that was diagnosed following his shocking defeat in the Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial (gr. I) in April.

The son of Indian Charlie drew post 12 under John Velazquez, with only To Honor and Serve, another fast horse who wants to be on or near the lead, outside of him. That means both horses will have to break sharply in order to get a good position and not get hung wide on the first turn.

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Havre de Grace, second choice at 3-1, drew post 10, putting three brilliant horses close to each other, making for a competitive opening quarter-mile. In fact, the horse who is expected to outrun everyone, Game On Dude, drew post 8, which will enable his jockey, Chantal Sutherland, to dictate positioning by either cutting over to the inside or floating Havre de Grace, Uncle Mo, and To Honor and Serve out going into the first turn.

“This horse is doing great right now and he will be on the lead,” said co-owner Bernie Schiappa, who owns Game On Dude with Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, and Mercedes Stable.

As for the other top contenders, Flat Out, a generous 6-1 on the morning line, drew post 2, while the European invader So You Think, third choice at 5-1, drew well in post 5.

Uncle Mo, owned by Mike Repole, didn’t seem to impress the television analysts in his last work Oct. 30, but trainer Todd Pletcher is confident the colt is coming into the race in the best shape possible.

“He’s doing as well as he could be possibly be doing,” Pletcher said following the draw. “He has settled in really well. It’s a tall order, but he’s come a long way since May.”

As for entrymate Stay Thirsty, who drew post 9 and is 12-1 on the morning line, Pletcher said: “He’s doing great and he’s super sharp. His energy level is high, and he might have a lot to say about the end of it.”

When the post positions were drawn, Rick Porter, owner of Havre de Grace, was quick and to the point. “I like where we are,” he said. "Perfect."

No winners would be more popular than Flat Out and his 70-year-old trainer Charles “Scooter” Dickey. “He’s sharp right now (following a blistering :58 3/5 work Oct. 30) and he’s in very good shape. It’s starting to get exciting," Dickey said.

What makes this renewal of the Classic even more interesting is that the race drew three horses that have competed in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), including the past two winners, Drosselmeyer and Ruler On Ice. Drosselmeyer is trained by Bill Mott, who also has To Honor and Serve, winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) in his last start.

The race also attracted the first-, second-, and fourth-place finishers of this year’s Travers Stakes (gr. I), as well as Prayer For Relief , winner of three graded Derbys – Super, West Virginia, and Iowa. So, the 3-year-old crop will be well represented.


Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 7:00 PM
Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1. Prayer for Relief Rafael Bejarano Bob Baffert 30-1
2. Flat Out Alex Solis Charles L. Dickey 6-1
3. Drosselmeyer Mike Smith William Mott 15-1
4. Ruler On Ice Garrett Gomez Kelly Breen 30-1
5. So You Think Ryan Moore Aidan O'Brien 5-1
6. Ice Box Corey Nakatani Nichaolas P. Zito 30-1
7. Rattlesnake Bridge Calvin Borel Kiaran McLaughlin 30-1
8. Game On Dude Chantal Sutherland Bob Baffert 10-1
9. Stay Thirsty Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 12-1
10. Havre de Grace Ramon Dominguez Larry Jones 3-1
11. Headache Paco Lopez Michael Maker 30-1
12. Uncle Mo John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 5-2
13. To Honor and Serve Jose Lezcano William Mott 12-1