Saturday at the Breeders' Cup is one of best days in horse racing. Elite horses from around the globe converge on one track, in this case Santa Anita Park, to run for huge purses and bragging rights. Nothing else in the sport can match it.
There are nine races scheduled for Saturday, including the biggest one of them all: the Breeders' Cup Classic. Game On Dude is the early favorite. Other marquee races include the Mile and the Juvenile. Both races have several contenders.
It should be a terrific day at the track. Horse racing won't be back in the national spotlight until the first Saturday in May, when the Kentucky Derby kicks off the Triple Crown slate, so enjoy it.
Which big horse racing day do you prefer?
Where: Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Saturday, Nov. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC (Classic) and NBC Sports Network (Other Races)
Live Stream: BreedersCup.com
Breeders' Cup Classic Preview
Game On Dude returns to the Classic looking for redemption after finishing second to Drosselmeyer in last year's Breeders' Cup main event. The oddsmakers like his chances, making him the top morning-line choice by a solid margin.
In six races this season, the five-year-old gelding has won four times and finished second once. The only result outside the money was a throwaway 12th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup. Don't let that factor into your decision.
Which horse will win the Classic?
He's coming off an outstanding performance in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, so he's clearly comfortable on the track and should be in the mix. The only reason he's not my pick is some questionable showings at the race distance.
Another intriguing contender is Ron The Greek. It's impossible to deny the horse's ability after wins in the Santa Anita and Stephen Foster Handicaps, both Grade 1 races, but a weak showing in the Jockey Club Gold Cup is a bit worrisome.
Prior to that, however, Ron The Greek had finished in the top two in eight consecutive starts. A bounce-back performance seems likely, but not guaranteed. He's a strong option when it comes to making different exotic picks.
A couple of other horses to keep an eye on leading up to the big race are Flat Out and Richard's Kid. They are both capable of pulling off the win, and Richard's Kid probably presents the second-best overall value on the board.
That said, my pick is Fort Larned. He's coming off a third-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which is the same distance as the Classic, and he never seemed to reach his peak in that race. He should have more left to give on Saturday.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. will get the mount. In four starts under his guidance, Fort Larned has won three times, including the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap in August—a race that featured several of the same horses he'll face in the Classic.
There are a handful of horses capable of winning this race, so I expect a tightly-packed ground when they turn for home leading to an exciting stretch run. In the end, look for Fort Larned to cross the finish line first, just ahead of Game On Dude.
Pick: Fort Larned