RICK’S NOTE: Please welcome Chris Baughman, an expert handicapper and bowling buddy, who will be covering this week’s Breeders Cup for LouisvilleKY.com
Saturday at 7 pm the horses will head to the post for the 28th running of the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, and this year there are several interesting stories within the race.
Uncle Mo: The favorite will most likely be Uncle Mo, the future book favorite for the Kentucky Derby throughout the spring until he was sidelined with what was eventually determined to be a liver infection. He returned to the races in August, and on October 1st won the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park in one of the most scintillating performances of the year. However, Uncle Mo has never won a race longer than a mile and sixteenth, and he will be trying the distance of 1 ¼ miles for the first time. Additionally, Uncle Mo likes to race near the lead and this year’s edition of the Classic is loaded with early speed, which could compromise his chances. Uncle Mo has shown an affinity for Churchill Downs, winning last year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile in a very impressive performance.
Havre de Grace: In any other year, Havre de Grace would be the talk of the Breeder’s Cup. A filly taking on the boys, who has already defeated males in the Woodward Stakes. However, following Horse of the Year campaigns by Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, she is not getting the attention she would have gotten with her record just a few short years ago. A victory by Havre de Grace will assuredly make her Horse of the Year, perhaps unanimously. Adding to her story, Havre de Grace is owned by Rick Porter and trained by Larry Jones, the same connections who campaigned Eight Belles, who ran 2nd in the 2008 Kentucky Derby but broke down just past the finish line and had to be euthanized. Trainer Jones, who has had an impeccable record throughout his career, had to endure loads of unjust criticism following the Eight Belles tragedy, and a win by Havre de Grace would be met with universal applause throughout the racing industry.
Game on Dude: Game on Dude will make history if he wins the Breeder’s Cup Classic. While his trainer, Bob Baffert, has won his share of 1 ¼ mile races at Churchill Downs, jockey Chantal Sutherland is seeking to become the first female jockey to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic. In addition to being a very successful jockey, Sutherland is working as an actress in the upcoming HBO drama “Luck” with Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Sutherland, a native of Canada, has never ridden at Churchill Downs.
So You Think: So You Think was foaled in New Zealand, became a superstar in Australia, and has raced this year in Europe. He leads Breeder’s Cup Classic contenders in earnings, having won more than $7.5 million in winning 12 of 19 starts. In the Classic, he will be making his third start in three different countries in just 35 days, and he will be racing on dirt for the first time. To make him even more of an X-Factor in the race, he will add blinkers and race on Lasix for the first time in his career.
Rattlesnake Bridge: Sure Rattlesnake Bridge appears a bit over-matched. He will probably go off at about 40-1, but his connections know a thing or two about getting a long shot home in a big race at Churchill Downs. His trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, finished 2nd in the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Closing Argument at 71-1. And his jockey is Calvin Borel, winner of three Kentucky Derbies including a stunning victory on 50-1 Mine That Bird. A win by Rattlesnake Bridge would be the stuff of legend……
These are just some of the stories we will be covering this week at the Breeders Cup. With a Saturday forecast of 63 degrees and sunny, it is shaping up to be an excellent weekend of racing.