LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Five previous Breeders’ Cup race winners, a two-time winner of the Arc de Triomphe, a pair of Kentucky Oaks winners, and a pair of Travers winners were among the 191 horses entered Monday in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races that will be run Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Posts for all the races were drawn on Monday night, and seven of the 14 ended up with so many entrants that also-eligibles were needed, including the richest race of all, the $6 million Classic on Saturday. Nine of the 14 fields have the maximum number of runners. The smallest field is nine, in the Sprint, in which Roy H will try to defend his title.
In addition to Roy H, Stormy Liberal will be back to try and win the Turf Sprint for the second straight year, as will Talismanic in the Turf. Oscar Performance tries to add the Mile to a resume that includes the 2016 Juvenile Turf. And Mendelssohn goes in the Classic after winning the Juvenile Turf last year.
This will be the 35th Breeders’ Cup, which was first run in 1984. In the previous 34 years, no horse ever has won a race on turf and a race on dirt, a feat Mendelssohn will try to accomplish.
The biggest star of the weekend may be the star European filly Enable, a two-time winner of the Arc de Triomphe, who goes in the Turf on Saturday. She is the weekend’s shortest-priced favorite on the lines of both Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs, at even-money, and Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, who has her even shorter, at 4-5.
The Distaff features a matchup between Abel Tasman, last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, and Monomoy Girl, this year’s winner.
And the Classic, which has numerous top-class horses from the United States and Europe, includes the last two Travers winners, Catholic Boy and West Coast.
Monday marked the last of a two-stage entry process. Last week, horses were pre-entered, and at the time could be put in up to two races. Monday was decision day for those cross-entered. Horses had to be entered in a single race that morning, and then posts for the 14 races were drawn later Monday.
A maximum of 14 horses can start in each Breeders’ Cup race, with the exception of the new Juvenile Turf Sprint, which is limited to 12 runners. The Juvenile Turf Sprint has a full field of 12, with four also-eligibles. The other races that oversubscribed at entry time could have no more than two also-eligibles, meaning a maximum of 16 could be entered in any race.
Scratch time for all 14 Breeders’ Cup races is 8 a.m. Eastern Friday. After that, also-eligibles cannot get in.
The Breeders’ Cup is returning to Churchill Downs for the first time since the track played host to the event in consecutive years, 2010 and 2011. This is the ninth time Churchill Downs will host the Breeders’ Cup.
The Classic is the finale on a Saturday card that also includes, in order, the Filly and Mare Sprint, Turf Sprint, Dirt Mile, Filly and Mare Turf, Sprint, Mile, Distaff, and Turf.
Watchmaker made the line for the Saturday races and has as his favorites Marley’s Freedom (2-1) in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Stormy Liberal (7-2) in the Turf Sprint, Catalina Cruiser (7-5) in the Dirt Mile, Wild Illusion (3-1) in the Filly and Mare Turf, Imperial Hint (2-1) in the Sprint, Polydream (4-1) in the Mile, Monomoy Girl (2-1) in the Distaff, Enable (4-5) in the Turf, and Accelerate (7-2) in the Classic.
Battaglia has as favorites in those races Marley’s Freedom (8-5) in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Disco Partner (7-2) in the Turf Sprint, Catalina Cruiser (8-5) in the Dirt Mile, Sistercharlie (3-1) in the Filly and Mare Turf, Imperial Hint (9-5) in the Sprint, Polydream (5-1) in the Mile, Monomoy Girl (2-1) in the Distaff, Enable (1-1) in the Turf, and Accelerate (5-2) in the Classic.
The new Juvenile Turf Sprint commences a Future Stars Friday card whose five Breeders’ Cup races are all for 2-year-olds. The Juvenile Turf Sprint will be followed, in order, by the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies, Juvenile Turf, and Juvenile.
Brad Free, Daily Racing Form’s Southern California-based handicapper, made the prices for the Friday races. His favorites are Soldier’s Call (7-2) in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Newspaperofrecord (2-1) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Bellafina (8-5) in the Juvenile Fillies Anthony Van Dyck (4-1) in the Juvenile Turf, and Game Winner (5-2) in the Juvenile.
Battaglia’s morning-line favorites in those races are Strike Silver (4-1) in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Newspaperofrecord (2-1) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Bellafina (2-1) in the Juvenile Fillies, Anthony Van Dyck (4-1) in the Juvenile Turf, and Game Winner (8-5) in the Juvenile.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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