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These horse trainers have no shortage of Breeders' Cup entries

Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have nine horses running, and Aidan O'Brien has 11.

November 03, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Trainer Bob Baffert, who is saddling nine horses at the Breeders' Cup, watches morning workouts at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who is saddling nine horses at the Breeders'… (Rob Carr / Getty Images )

Reporting from Louisville, Ky. — For trainers with the good fortune of sending several horses to the 15-race Breeders' Cup that runs Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs, hopes for a financial windfall start in the first day's fillies and juvenile races.

California-based trainer Bob Baffert has nine entries, including four running Friday, after withdrawing the feverish 30-1 longshot Prayer for Relief from Saturday's $5-million Classic. The country's top trainer, Todd Pletcher, also has nine horses running, including three Friday and Classic threats Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty.

Ireland's Aidan O'Brien tops that number with a staggering 11 entries, including three that will run Friday (Up in the $1-million Juvenile Fillies Turf, Homecoming Queen in the $2-million Juvenile Fillies and Misty for Me in the $2-million Filly and Mare Turf), with his son, Joseph, riding St. Nicholas Abbey in Saturday's Turf.

Bill Mott, the winningest trainer in Churchill Downs history, is entering just five horses.

Mott may have only one Triple Crown victory — this year's Belmont Stakes with Classic entrant Drosselmeyer — but he has won 650 races under the Twin Spires and will send a co-favorite, Royal Delta, to the $2-million Ladies' Classic on Friday for fillies and mares 3 and up.

"The horse to beat," Mott said Thursday. "She's ready."

Mott won the same race, formerly known as the Distaff, last year with Unrivaled Belle and he'd tie Wayne Lukas' record of four victories in the event that includes Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty (Baffert) and It's Tricky.

Mott on Saturday will have 7-2 shot Birdrun in the Marathon and send 8-1 Courageous Cat to threaten three-time winner Goldikova in the $2-million Mile before the Classic, where Drosselmeyer and the fast-improving To Honor and Serve will compete in the 11/4-mile race.

Coming to Santa Anita

The Breeders' Cup will move to Santa Anita Park next year, and there's nothing promised beyond that.

Though there was discussion in the past about making the Arcadia track the permanent home of the sport's two-day Super Bowl, series spokesman Jim Gluckson said the only recent conversation about the 2013 Breeders' Cup has been with the New York Racing Assn. with Belmont Park possibly hosting.

Gluckson said the Breeders' Cup is preparing for "similar numbers" in national wagering on the event compared with last year; in 2010, $174 million was bet. "I think we can do about that," he said, despite the absence of a compelling story such as the one last year when Zenyatta failed to win the Classic and retire unbeaten.

Late scratches

Gung Ho was pulled from Friday's $1-million Juvenile Fillies Turf race after muscle soreness following a morning run. The 20-1 shot was replaced in the mile-long race by Tequila Factor, which has won three of four races.

California's Medaglia d'Amour was also scratched from Friday's $2-million Ladies' Classic, a 11/8-mile race for fillies and mares 3 and up. Trainer Ben Cecil said the mare had a 102-degree fever and was coughing.

Weather update

It rained Thursday at Churchill Downs, and the downpour left the track sloppy and officials closed the turf course. The forecast for Louisville is sunny the next two days.

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