A total of 166 horses were pre-entered Oct. 26 for the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be run Nov. 6 and 7 at Santa Anita. The 14 races drew 203 pre-entries.
Because of the success of the Europeans at Santa Anita in 2008, there was a large turnout, as expected, for this year’s event. But in an odd turn of events, Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore, who normally dominate the European list, have pre-entered seven horses, with five of them in “dirt” races to be run over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface. The only two pre-entered in turf races were in the two juvenile turf events. Surprisingly, they have nothing in the grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf, TVG Mile, or Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf.
It was originally thought that O’Brien was pointing both Rip Van Winkle and Mastercraftsman for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), but he has cross-entered Mastercraftsman in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) with a first preference in that event. Rip Van Winkle has had foot issues this year, but raced successfully through all of them, and Mastercraftsman will be his back-up for the Classic.
Several of the traditional races came up light in numbers. The Ladies Classic (gr. I) has nine pre-entered horses, with only seven listed as first preference. The Turf also has nine pre-entered, with eight listed as first preference, and the Filly & Mare Turf has 10 pre-entered, with eight as first preference. Even the normally competitive Sentient Jet Sprint (gr. I) drew only 11 pre-entries, with nine as first preference. The United States will be reperesented by four horses in the Turf, with the only two name horses being Presious Passion and Telling.
To demonstrate the chaotic nature of the Dirt Mile, the race drew 21 pre-entries, but only 12 with first preference. This race has drawn cross-entered horses from the Classic, the Mile, the Sprint, the Turf Sprint, and even the Turf.
The Turf Sprint drew 22 pre-entries, and the Juvenile and Juvenile Turf 20.
Godolphin, who has been red-hot since late July, has a powerful contingent of 14 horses, most of them based in America, with several top-class runners from Europe. They could be represented in nine of the Breeders’ Cup races, and should have the favorite or one of the favorites in six of them.
Todd Pletcher tops the American trainers with 12 horses pre-entered, with five of them cross-entered, for a total of 17 pre-entries. Pletcher’s troops are headed by Quality Road in the Classic, Cowboy Cal in the Mile, Nite Light in the Marathon, Interactif in the Juvenile Turf, and the pair of Aikenite and Eskendereya in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
All eyes for the past few weeks have been on the undefeated Zenyatta, and as expected, Jerry and Ann Moss’ daughter of Street Cry was cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Ladies Classic, with a first preference in the Classic.
The $5-million Classic drew 16 pre-entries, with three—Mastercraftsman, Bullsbay , and Chocolate Candy—being cross-entered and having first preferences in the Dirt Mile. In addition to Zenyatta, Rip Van Winkle, and Quality Road, the headliners include Summer Bird, who is cross-entered in the Turf, Einstein, and Gio Ponti . The only other European hopeful is Juddmonte Farms’ Twice Over, winner of the recent Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket.
Juddmonte also will be represented by leading contenders Ventura (Filly & Mare Sprint), Midday (Filly & Mare Turf), Proviso (Ladies Classic), Spanish Moon (Turf), and Zacinto (Mile). Two of those--Zacinto and Spanish Moon--are trained by Michael Stoute, who also has last year’s Turf winner Conduit back for another try.
On the American front, behind the dominating Pletcher are Ken McPeek and John Sadler, each with six pre-entered horses, Bill Mott with five, and Bob Baffert and Graham Motion with four apiece. Baffert holds a particularly strong hand with likely favorites Zensational in the Sprint and Lookin at Lucky in the Juvenile, and strong contenders Richard's Kid in the Classic and Always a Princess in the Juvenile Fillies.
Top trainers conspicuous by their low number of pre-entered horses include Eoin Harty (one), Steve Asmussen (two), Kiaran McLaughlin (two), and Bobby Frankel (three).