Breeders' Cup

Breeders’ Cup Notes: The Classic

California Chrome - $6 Million Breeders’ Cup Classic - Santa Anita Park - Emily Shields
Emily Shields

A Friday update for the $6 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contenders from the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 (G1) races with purses and awards totalling $28 million, held Nov. 4-5 at Santa Anita Park.

Arrogate/Hoppertunity – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Classic duo both galloped 1 3/8m Friday morning under exercise rider Dana Barnes.

“Probably they’ll just walk tomorrow, but I won’t make that decision until 6 in the morning,” Baffert said. “They’re both ready as they can be and if they do anything (Saturdaymorning) it will be very light.”

California Chrome – When you train the world’s richest thoroughbred and are favored to take home the top prize money of $3,600,000 from the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, one would assume that solid conditioning, meticulous planning and a little racing luck should suffice. But, leaving nothing to chance, California Chrome’s connections will be taking some additional insurance by wearing their “lucky” attire for the 1 1/4m fixture.

“I’ve got a special suit that I wore when Chrome won the Dubai World Cup” trainer Art Sherman said with a chuckle. “I’m definitely going to wear it again Saturday.”

Likewise Sherman’s son and assistant trainer, Alan, said he’s worn the same blue suit for each of Chrome’s starts, all victories, this year and indicated there was no reason whatsoever to change attire. “Heck, it’s the only time I ever have a chance to wear a suit!”

Exercise rider Dihigi Gladney and groom Raul Rodriguez also have collaborated to spruce up for Chrome’s races, each wearing a lucky tie. In Gladney’s case, it’s a customized tied emblazoned with Chrome’s likeness.

Who needs rabbit’s feet?

Effinex/Shaman Ghost – Tri-bone Stables’ Effinex galloped 1 5/8m Friday morning at Santa Anita in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Classic.

Stronach Stables’ Shaman Ghost walked the shedrow Friday after having an unofficial 1/4m breeze at the end of his 1 5/8m gallop Thursday morning.

Trainer James Jerkens “is happy how they’re doing” and is hoping they get a chance to run their best races.

“You just hope to get a good trip. Other than those two horses (California Chrome and Arrogate) everybody has been taking turns beating each other,” Jerkens said. “You just hope to get a good trip.”

Effinex got a good trip in last year’s Classic, in which he broke sharply to most closely follow pacesetting American Pharoah and fought off challenges in the stretch to finish second behind the Triple Crown champion. With the presence of California Chrome, Arrogate and Melatonin in the field, Jerkens is hoping for another stalking trip for Effinex.

“I’d like him to break cleanly and have him come running out of there and keep his nice rail spot and let the others go to the lead. I hope they run out of there so he won’t be cramped up in there. That would be ideal,” Jerkens said.

Flavien Prat will ride Effinex for the first time, while Irad Ortiz Jr. has the return mount aboard Shaman Ghost, who won the Woodward at Saratoga last time out.

Frosted –- Godolphin Racing’s gray 4yo Frosted galloped 1 1/2m before dawn Fridaymorning on the eve of his rematch with California Chrome in the Classic. They faced each other once before in the Dubai World Cup March 26. Under jockey William Buick, subbing for Joel Rosario in Dubai, Frosted was fifth in the field of 12 that evening, 5 1/2 lengths behind California Chrome. In the World Cup, connections were able to chose their post position based on a random draw.

“If we had to do it over again we probably would have selected an inside post instead of outside, but I was thinking that we probably wanted to stay out of trouble and clock the pace,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It just didn’t work out that well for us. He’s not an easy horse to ride. Joel rides him very well –- not that the guys in Dubai didn’t, but he’s not an easy horse to ride. Sometimes you’ve got to fool with him and think that he’s running off almost. Joel does that well. He’s doing great. California Chrome beat him fair and square then, but we hope that we can turn the tables.”

McLaughlin acknowledged that California Chrome, who is perfect this year, is the horse to beat, but that the Frosted connections are looking forward to another shot at California Chrome.

“We’re excited,” he said. “The horse is doing great, but we have a lot of respect for California Chrome.”

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Keen Ice – Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice galloped 1 3/8m Friday morning at Santa Anita, where he has settled in ‘like an old pro’ for a start in Saturday’s Classic.

The son of Curlin is rated at 20-1 in the morning line, but the 4yo colt demonstrated that he must always be taken seriously when he upset Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

”He’s the kind of horse that’s shown on a given day he’s capable of beating anyone,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who took over the training of Keen Ice in July. “He loves a mile and a quarter and benefits from a fast pace.”

The pace isn’t going to impact the one-run Keen Ice’s early positioning.

”You have to allow him to be comfortable early on. You can’t force him out of his game,” Pletcher said. “His game is to keep coming, so we’ll allow him to do that.”

Javier Castellano has the mount on the late-running colt.

Melatonin – The Santa Anita and Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner jogged twice around the track Friday morning.

“He’s good, he’s been put away and is resting,” trainer David Hofmans said before daybreak. “I haven’t decided what we’ll do tomorrow (race day), but he will do something. He might do the same as today, or he might gallop.”

Melatonin has not raced since the Gold Cup on June 25. A minor illness scrubbed plans for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. Hofmans, therefore, is bringing Melatonin into the Classic on workouts alone.

“I’ve done it before, I just don’t remember when or what horse,” Hofmans said. “And I used to watch Charlie Whittingham do it all the time.”

War Story – Loooch Racing Stables et al.’s Mario Serey, Jr.-trained War Story walked the shedrow for 90 minutes on Friday morning and will do the same later Friday afternoon in advance of his run in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“It was a very easy day,” Serey said. “He is doing great and is fresh. We will lead him over there tomorrow and we will surprise people.”

Win the Space – Kretz Racing’s Win the Space walked the shedrow Friday morning, according to trainer George Papaprodromou.

Santa Anita Park & Breeders’ Cup

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