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HORSE RACING

Nine races but countless subplots

October 25, 2008|Pete Thomas | Thomas is a Times staff writer.

When the synthetic dust settles late this afternoon, the 25th Breeders' Cup World Championships will be in the books. Nine races will have been run and $17.5 million will have been divvied among the competitors. And the biggest question will have been answered: Whether Robby Albarado was able to coax defending Classic champion Curlin to victory on a surface he's not partial to. Oddsmakers have listed Curlin as the morning-line 7-5 favorite. But here's a tip for bettors: The average win price for the Classic has been $30.60. What's more: Overall, favorites have won only 64 of 180 Breeders' Cup races. Today's program:

$500,000 MARATHON

3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles

Question: Will Sixties Icon (Great Britain), one of a record-tying 26 foreign-based horses in the Breeders' Cup, prevail on a surface European horses have grown accustomed to.

Answer: His odds are 2-1, just ahead of Zappa at 5-2.

Worth noting: Delightful Kiss, who had been a Classic prospect, is 8-1 and fully recovered from a traffic mishap Tuesday, when he hit his head on the van and suffered a superficial wound.

Don't count out: Cedar Mountain.

$1-MILLION TURF SPRINT

3-year-olds and up, about 6 1/2 furlongs.

Question: Will Get Funky get lucky at 9-2 odds, with a favorable No. 13 post position?

Answer: "He is very reliable coming down the hill and runs his race every time," said trainer John Sadler.

Worth noting: This is a wide-open race with no prohibitive favorite.

Don't count out: Storm Treasure, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who called the race setup "ideal."

$1-MILLION DIRT MILE

3-year-olds and up

Question: Has Lewis Michael, whom trainer Wayne Catalano described as "just a big old playboy early on," matured enough to win at this level?

Answer: The 5-year-old, listed at 5-1, is coming off a 2 3/4 -length victory in the Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar.

Worth noting: Mast Track has a small crack on the outside of a front hoof but has been training as though he doesn't know it.

Don't count out: Well Armed, who is favored at 3-1.

$2-MILLION MILE

3-year-olds and up, on turf

Question: Can defending champion Kip Deville hold off a four-horse Irish charge led by morning-line favorite Goldikova?

Answer: Kip Deville won on a soggy course last year at Monmouth, N.J., but has won twice at Santa Anita and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said, "I'm a horse-for-course guy and we know he loves it here."

Worth noting: Goldikova is one of two fillies in the race. The other is Precious Kitten, a three-time Grade I winner who has never run against males.

Don't count out: Whatsthescript (Ireland), who is fresh and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.

$2-MILLION JUVENILE

2-year-old colts and geldings, 1 1/16 miles.

Question: Will Chantal Sutherland be able to coax Mine That Bird to victory?

Answer: Oddsmakers give the jockey a 30-1 chance. She says that's bias against horses from Canada.

Worth noting: Square Eddie (9-2) and Street Hero (6-1) earned spots through the BC challenge series.

Don't count out: Mine That Bird, who is trained by Richard Mandella.

$1-MILLION JUVENILE TURF

2-year-old colts and geldings, one mile

Question: Will Bittel Road remain undefeated after his fourth turf start?

Answer: He drew a very unfavorable No. 11 post, meaning tough access to the first turn.

Worth noting: There are three foreign-based horses, led by Westphalia, who has three wins and two seconds in six starts.

Don't count out: Ninth Client, trained by legendary D. Wayne Lukas.

$2-MILLION SPRINT

3-year-olds and up, six furlongs

Question: Will Midnight Lute, trained by Bob Baffert, rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Pat O'Brien Handicap and defend his event title?

Answer: "I just want him to be able to get a clear run," Baffert said.

Worth noting: Street Boss, whose works have been blistering, is favored just ahead of Midnight Lute at 3-1.

Don't count out: Cost of Freedom, who has won four straight with Tyler Baze aboard.

$3-MILLION TURF

3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles

Question: Will Better Talk Now or Red Rocks, event winners in 2004 and 2006, respectively, be able to get back into the winner's circle?

Answer: The former is 9 years old and listed at 10-1. The latter ran third last year and defeated Curlin in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont in July. Red Rocks is 5-1 on the morning line.

Worth noting: Seven of the 11 horses are foreign-based, led by 7-2 favorite Soldier of Fortune (Ireland).

Don't count out: Eagle Mountain, who is back in form after recovering from a fractured pelvis.

$5-MILLION CLASSIC

3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles

Question: Will Curlin defend his Classic championship and repeat as horse of the year?

Answer: If he races as well as he has trained on the synthetic track, perhaps. There are others more accustomed to this type of surface.

Worth noting: Garrett Gomez, who rides Go Between, will be aboard his 13th Breeders' Cup mount.

Don't count out: Any horse on the program. Even 50-1 Smooth Air, who has taken a liking to the fake dirt.

--

pete.thomas@latimes.com

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