California Chrome heads full field for Breeders' Cup Classic
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — The San Joaquin Valley's California Chrome heads a full field of 14 horses for the Breeders' Cup Classic, with the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner likely to be the prohibitive favorite in the $6 million race that includes Arrogate, Effinex and current Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist.
East Coast invader Frosted, Gun Runner, Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Hoppertunity, Keen Ice and Gold Cup winner Melatonin are also among the 14 horses expected to run in the 1 ¼-mile Classic, which will be shown live in prime time on NBC.
The Classic field is among a total of 185 horses pre-entered Wednesday for the $28 million, 13-race Breeders' Cup world championships on Nov. 4-5 at Santa Anita. The track is hosting the event for a record ninth time.
Final entries and the post-position draw will be Monday at Santa Anita. Thirty-eight foreign horses were pre-entered.
Coalinga-raised California Chrome has blossomed as a 5-year-old under trainer Art Sherman, who has saddled him to a 6-0 record this year, including the Dubai World Cup. Chrome finished third in the 2014 Classic and was named Horse of the Year in his 3-year-old season. His career earnings of $13.4 million are a North American record.
Effinex finished second to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in last year's Classic at Keeneland.
Trained by Bob Baffert, late-developing Arrogate set a track record in winning the Travers by 13 1/2 at Saratoga. Baffert's other entry is Hoppertunity. The Hall of Fame trainer is seeking a record third consecutive Classic victory, having won with Bayern at Santa Anita in 2014 and last year with American Pharoah.
Arrogate is ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who leads Breeders' Cup jockeys with 22 career wins.
After his Derby victory, Nyquist has lost the Preakness, Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby in successive starts.
Found adds international interest to the Classic. The 4-year-old filly won the BC Turf last year and has since captured the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for O'Brien.
New York-based Chad Brown and Irishman Aidan O'Brien pre-entered 13 horses each, tops among trainers. Todd Pletcher has 10 horses, while Baffert has eight. The Coolmore partnerships lead all owners with 14 horses.
Three female trainers will take shots at winning a Breeders' Cup race: Michelle Nevin has two entries; Kathy Ritvo and Laura Wohlers have one each.
The top race on Nov. 4 is the $2 million Distaff for fillies and mares. Nine horses were pre-entered in the 1 1/8-mile race, with the presence of Beholder, Songbird and Stellar Wind making it one of the strongest fields in the 33-year history of the Breeders' Cup.
Trained by John Sadler, Stellar Wind has beaten Beholder in her last two starts, earning an automatic berth in the Distaff, a race in which she finished second last year.
Beholder comes into the Distaff on a three-race skid for trainer Richard Mandella. She finished second to Stellar Wind twice and second to California Chrome in the Pacific Classic. Beholder won the BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012 and the Distaff there in 2013.
Songbird is the undefeated Juvenile Fillies winner who was 2-year-old filly champion last year for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The 3-year-old filly is 11-0 in her career, having won those races by a combined 60 ½ lengths. Songbird will be racing older fillies and mares for the first time.
In the Turf, Flintshire is the top U.S. runner, having finished second in the race at Santa Anita in 2014. From the overseas ranks, the O'Brien-trained Highland Reel is a Group 1 winner on three continents.
For the first time since 2006, purses were increased by $1 million each for the Classic and the Turf. The Classic winner will earn $3.3 million, while the Turf winner will receive $2.2 million.
Also new this year, purses will be distributed down to the eighth-place finisher in all 13 races.
The event will open with four races Nov. 4, followed by nine races Nov. 5.
A maximum of 14 are allowed in each race, except the Dirt Mile, which is capped at 12. Seven of the races drew more than the allowable limits.