Zenyatta headlines Breeders’ Cup field
Zenyatta will put her 19-0 record on the line when she defends her title in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, going against the boys for the second consecutive year.
A record total of 184 horses, including 26 from overseas, were pre-entered yesterday for the $26 million, 14-race Breeders’ Cup world championships at
Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 11 pre-entered horses.
“We’re coming in holding a strong hand,’’ he said.
Zenyatta was pre-entered in the Classic, along with 13 others, including Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky and runner-up First Dude, Whitney winner Blame, and Woodward and Metropolitan Mile winner Quality Road, a Pletcher-trained horse who was scratched at the gate before last year’s Classic.
“It’s the first Classic ever that everybody is going to be rooting for one horse,’’ said Bob Baffert, who trains Lookin At Lucky but counts himself a Zenyatta fan. “That mare has done so much for racing. We all want to win, but we don’t mind getting beat by her.’’
Final entries and the post-position draw will be Tuesday.
Zenyatta has won all five of her starts this year and will be looking to end her spectacular career with a victory in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. It will be her second start on dirt this year. She won the Apple Blossom for the second straight year at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park in April.
“She just looks terrific. The races really haven’t taken anything out of her,’’ trainer John Shirreffs said. “She’s handling everything very well.’’
Gio Ponti, who finished second last year, will get another shot at Zenyatta.
Horse racing’s richest two days are back at Churchill Downs for a record seventh time after being held at Santa Anita the last two years. The event will be run at Churchill in 2011, too.
The full field of 14 pre-entries for the Classic includes Japanese champion Espoir City,
One of the top foreign entries is Ireland-bred Goldikova, who will seek her third straight win in the $2 million Turf. Last year, European horses won six of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races.
Trained by Freddy Head, Goldikova has won four of five starts this year, including three of them against males.
“All she wants to do is run, run, run,’’ he said. “She’s kept that freshness that some horses lose with age and get lazy.’’
For the first time, the $2 million Ladies’ Classic — won by Zenyatta in 2008 — will finish under the lights Nov. 5. The leading contenders include Blind Luck, a 3-year-old filly with five victories this year, including the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill; and 5-year-old mare Life At Ten, who has one loss in six starts this year for Pletcher.
The $2 million Juvenile pits a pair of 2-year-old stars from each coast — Eastern-based Uncle Mo, winner of the Champagne for Pletcher, and Western-based JP’s Gusto, who won the Best Pal and Del Mar Futurity.