Albertrani: Bernardini 'Horse to Beat' in Classic

(from Belmont Park notes)
Trainer Tom Albertrani anticipates that Bernardini, fresh off another authoritative victory in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), will be the one to beat in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic -- Powered by Dodge (gr. I) on Nov. 4.

"He's been doing everything so easy," he said. "I don't ever want to get too overconfident and we'll be running against the two best older horses in the country in the Breeders' Cup, but as long as he's doing well and runs back to his races I've got to think he's the horse to beat."

A Classic win would make Bernardini the 2006 Horse of the Year. His leading challengers figure to be Lava Man, who has won seven in a row in Southern California, and Whitney (gr. I) winner Invasor.

Bernardini exited the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup in good shape, according to Albertrani.

"He was bouncing around here this morning and he came back like it was a routine work," Albertrani said.

Owned and bred by Darley, Bernardini enters the Classic in search of his sixth straight victory. Aside from his career debut in January when he ran fourth, Bernardini has not been tested.

"I think the toughest race on him was his first race," Albertrani said. "It just seems like he has so much left. He just wins by daylight every time. He's so impressive. I think there's still more in the tank, more to come. He showed that yesterday."

Albertrani plans on keeping Bernardini in New York as long as possible before shipping to Kentucky the week of the Breeders' Cup.

"I'm looking to work him the Tuesday before, as always, then ship him," Albertrani said. "He'll probably have two works before the Classic."

Albertrani said that Balletto, who was beaten just a head by Fleet Indian in the Beldame (gr. I), will advance to the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).