Breeders' Cup 2013: Top Contenders to Watch in Saturday's Classic Race
The excitement surrounding the 2013 Breeders' Cup continues to grow with every passing day, and the focus has once again shifted to Saturday's Classic G1 race and the $5 million in prize money on the line this weekend.
For reference, the $5 million purse at the Breeders' Cup is more than the Kentucky Derby (over $2 million), Preakness Stakes ($1 million) and Belmont Stakes ($1 million) combined.
With bettors and hardcore horse-racing fans alike trying to decipher the top contenders for Saturday's main event, all of the following horses will be in contention for the win at the end of the day.
*All stats and race information via BreedersCup.com.
When: Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2
Where: Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Watch: NBC (Breeders' Cup Classic) and NBC Sports Network (all other races)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|1||Last Gunfighter||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown||20-1|
|2||Paynter||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||12-1|
|3||Planteur||Ryan Moore||Marco Botti||20-1|
|4||Moreno||Joseph Talamo||Eric Guillot||15-1|
|5||Declaration Of War||Joseph O'Brien||Aidan O'Brien||10-1|
|6||Mucho Macho Man||Gary Stevens||Kathy Ritvo||5-1|
|7||Fort Larned||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Ian Wilkes||6-1|
|8||Palace Malice||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||10-1|
|9||Game On Dude||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||8-5|
|10||Will Take Charge||Luis Saez||D. Wayne Lukas||12-1|
|11||Ron the Greek||Jose Lezcano||William Mott||8-1|
|12||Flat Out||Joel Rosario||William Mott||12-1|
*Odds via Bovada.lv.
Game On Dude
The race favorite this year is Game On Dude at 8-5 odds, per Bovada.
With veteran jockey Mike Smith jumping from Palace Malice to take the saddle of this horse and the leadership of legendary trainer Bob Baffert, there is a reason this team has the best chance to steal the show.
Not only does this horse have all the best people around him to make a run at the Breeders’ Cup victory, but with six straight victories heading into this weekend (three were G1 races), there is also little doubt that Game On Dude has the physicality to run away with this event.
The problem is that Game On Dude's team realizes the issues the horse has when getting caught in traffic. As seen in the 2012 edition of this race, the horse was not able to get into open space and ended up taking home a seventh-place finish as a result.
With such a deep field this year, the horse and his jockey must start fast and get into the lead pack as soon as possible. If Smith can lead Game On Dude toward the front, this powerful horse will show why he is the best in the sport right now.
Mucho Macho Man
Horse-racing fans remember Mucho Macho Man for his great run at the Triple Crown in 2011 and the inspirational story of his trainer Kathy Ritvo, but the five-year-old will look to reassert his on-track dominance at Santa Anita Park.
Mucho Macho Man has only raced in four events in 2013, but a huge win at the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) last month and two third-place finishes before that victory should create enough momentum to carry the talented horse to the front of the pack on Saturday.
According to Jennie Rees via the Courier-Journal, the horse's legendary jockey Gary Stevens is optimistic about his chances with the horse being in his "comfort zone":
It’s a huge advantage. The horse is here and he’s settled in. This is home now and he likes this track. He ran well on it last year and had a great performance in the Awesome Again.
Besides the inconsistency over his racing career, Mucho Macho Man has not raced on a 1.25-mile track since November of last year. The horse and Stevens will make a run to the front, but how he closes the race will be the key to a possible win.
The expectations for the Todd Pletcher-trained Palace Malice have been through the roof for his entire career. While a monumental win at the Belmont Stakes proved he has what it takes to win, his 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby show he's inconsistent.
Palace Malice finished second at last month's Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), but he could only manage a fourth-place finish against a less-talented field at the Travers Stakes. The three-year-old will have to race as strong as he did at Belmont—if not harder—to contend for a Breeders' Cup win.
Add in the fact that this horse will have a talented jockey in John Velazquez (Mike Smith gave up the seat), and there is a genuine hope from the Palace Malice team that he will once again be able to steal a huge victory on a grand stage.
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