Will it be a tale of two top trainers on a weekend with Breeders’ Cup buzz from coast to coast?
Key “Win and You’re In” races at Belmont and Santa Anita will help define the lineup for this year’s World Championships. Winners of the graded stakes punch their ticket to the event, held November 2 and 3 at Santa Anita.
Bill Mott, who notched a Breeders’ Cup double last year with Drosselmeyer in the Classic and Royal Delta in the Ladies’ Classic, boasts a bevy of distinguished contenders at Belmont Park Saturday.
In the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational, Royal Delta will try to rebound from a second-place finish in August’s Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga. She won two straight races prior to that – the Fleur de Lis Handicap and the Delaware Handicap.
Mott sends out two runners in the card’s main event, the Grade 1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup. Ron the Greek, who won the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in June, drew the rail. Flat Out loves the Belmont surface – he’s won both times he’s raced over it, including last year’s edition of the Gold Cup. The two sport different running styles.
“Flat Out is able to lay in the stalking position,” Mott said. “I think Ron the Greek is one that has always generally been a deep closer, unless he happens to be in a race that’s void of early speed. With any sort of an honest pace in the race, Ron the Greek is a deep closer.”
Mott’s To Honor and Serve, third to Shackleford in the Met Mile, will likely meet his rival again in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap.
At Santa Anita, the spotlight shines on Bob Baffert as he sends out a veteran champ and an undefeated young filly.
Game on Dude will compete in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes, a race named for his sire, and he returns to dirt after finishing second to Dullahan on synthetic in the Pacific Classic. Jockey Rafael Bejarano replaces the 5-year-old gelding’s regular rider, Chantal Sutherland.
Arguably the best West Coast 2-year-old filly, Baffert’s undefeated Executiveprivilege, tries the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes for the first time.
Baffert entered three colts in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes for 2-year-olds: Power Broker, Den’s Legacy and Carving, who is owned by Olympic skier Bode Miller.
Photo by J.J. Hysell