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Derby trio meets again in Breeders' Classic

NEW YORK - The top three Kentucky Derby finishers - Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin - will meet again in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic in a race that most likely will settle Horse of the Year.

"This is possibly the deepest Breeders' Cup field, if not the deepest, we've ever had," Breeders' Cup president Greg Avioli said yesterday after nine horses were pre-entered for the 1 1/4-mile Classic at New Jersey's Monmouth Park Oct. 27.

Add two other formidable 3-year-olds in Haskell Invitational winner Any Given Saturday and Goodwood Handicap winner Tiago, plus leading older horse Lawyer Ron and European standout George Washington, and it's easy to see why most will agree with Avioli's assessment.

"These horses have been beating each other all year," Street Sense trainer Carl Nafzger said during a conference call. "This race has got everything you want. It's going to be a great Classic, and I'm glad to be part of it."

A total of 141 horses were pre-entered for the $23 million, 11-race Breeders' Cup World Championships, held over two days for the first time.

Todd Pletcher, as usual, led all trainers with 15 pre-entries, including two for the Classic in Any Given Saturday and Whitney and Woodward winner Lawyer Ron, as well as four fillies for the $2 million Distaff - Indian Vale, Octave, Panty Raid, and Unbridled Belle. Last year, Pletcher sent out a record 17 horses but came away without a victory.

Final entries and the post-position draw is Tuesday.

The nine-horse field would be the smallest for the 1 1/4-mile Classic since 1997, when Skip Away defeated eight rivals at Hollywood Park. However, the field may be the most talented since '98, when Awesome Again beat the likes of Silver Charm, Skip Away, Victory Gallop, and Touch Gold.

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