Four unbeatens are favorites
NEW YORK — Lost in the Fog won’t be the only undefeated favorite in the Breeders’ Cup — three others will likely join the sensational 3-year-old colt with top billing on thoroughbred racing’s biggest day.
First Samurai, Lost in the Fog and Shakespeare come into their Breeders’ Cup races Saturday at Belmont Park with perfect records, while Leroidesanimaux has won all three of his starts this year. Combined, the fearsome foursome is 22 for 22 in 2005.
Add four returning champions in Ashado, Better Talk Now, Ouija Board and Singletary, plus a wide-open field for the Classic headed by Saint Liam, and the 22nd edition of the Breeders’ Cup just may overcome the absence of many of racing’s stars.
“I’m not sure we’ve ever had a stronger group of horses from top to bottom,” Breeders’ Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said after Wednesday’s post-position draw.
The Classic may have the largest purse at $4,680,000, but it’s missing Afleet Alex, Giacomo, Ghostzapper and Roses in May, who are either injured or retired. Woodward winner Saint Liam is the 3-1 morning-line favorite, with Goodwood Handicap winner Rock Hard Ten at 7-2 and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Borrego 9-2 in a full field of 14.
“I think it’s a very solid field, there are a lot of standouts,” Borrego trainer Beau Greely said.
Going into the eight-race, $15 million card, though, it’s the undefeateds who stand front and center.
Lost in the Fog is the even-money choice for the $1 million Sprint, where he will attempt to run his winning streak to 11. The colt will leave from the No. 7 post against 10 rivals as he bids for a perfect season and possible top 3-year-old and Horse of the Year honors.
“We’re ready to go,” Lost in the Fog trainer Greg Gilchrist said. “We’re fine with the post, it’s the middle of the pack.”
First Samuari, 4-for-4 and coming off an impressive win in the Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 8, is the 8-5 choice for the Juvenile; Shakespeare, 5-for-5 after a win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Oct. 1, is the 3-1 pick for the Turf; and Leroidesanimaux is 7-5 to take the Mile.
“The Champagne was his best race. He had a nice workout Saturday. We hope he has a good week here and goes out there and runs well,” First Samurai trainer Frank Brothers said.
Bobby Frankel trains Leroidesanimaux, winner of the Atto Mile at Woodbine in his last start, and Bill Mott handles Shakespeare, who won the 1 1/2-mile Turf Classic at Belmont on Oct. 10.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong yet,” Mott said.
The other favorites are Folklore (5-2) in the Juvenile Fillies, Ouija Board (5-2) in the Filly & Mare Turf and Ashado (2-1) in the Distaff.
Better Talk Now is 8-1 to repeat in the Turf, Singletary is 8-1 to win the Mile again and Ouija Board is the 5-2 favorite for win a second straight Filly & Mare Turf.
A total of 101 horses were entered, with three races — the Classic, the Juvenile and the Filly & Mare Turf — drawing full 14-horse fields.
The Classic purse increased after Paul Makin, the owner of Starcraft, paid $800,000 to supplement his Australian champion who will be making his American debut.
Starcraft, a winner of five Group 1 races in Australia, New Zealand, England and France, drew the unfavorable No. 14 outside position for his first race on the dirt.
“He’ll just have to run a little faster now,” Starcraft trainer Luca Cumani said. “We’re giving a lot of ground away and ground given away is ground lost. It was going to be hard, but 14 makes it even harder.”
Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with eight horses entered, including Ashado, who defends her Distaff title against 12 rivals in the final race of her career. Ashado has won three of six races this year, including the Beldame at Belmont on Oct. 1.
Pletcher’s other entries are Adieu (3-1) in the Juvenile Fillies, Lion Tamer (12-1) in the Sprint, Host (12-1) and Limehouse (20-1) in the Mile, Capeside Lady (30-1) in the Distaff, English Channel (10-1) in the Turf and Flower Alley (10-1) in the Classic.
Jerry Bailey, who leads all jockeys with 14 Breeders’ Cup wins, will be aboard four likely favorites — First Samurai, Ouija Board, Shakespeare and Saint Liam.