Are you kidding me? Ten — 10!!!!! — Grade 1 winners in 2009. The Kentucky Derby winner. The Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. Santa Anita Handicap winner. Pacific Classic champion. Last year’s winner of the Santa Anita Derby and Travers. A multiple Grade 1 winner on grass who will be trying to transfer his elite form to Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface.
I mean, c’mon, this is one race that would stand on its own merit even without the added bonus of Zenyatta, the unbeaten super mare who appears ready to tackle the boys for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet.
Just give us the other high-caliber stakes stars and this is a great betting race. Factor in the intrigue of Zenyatta trying to become the first distaffer to win the Classic, and this is high drama folks. And you thought last year’s Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita rocked, wait until you hear the ovation for Zenyatta if Mike Smith gallops her back in front of the clubhouse after she’s won the Classic.
And this is not even considering the two European stars (Mastercraftsman is likely to opt for the Dirt Mile) — Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over — who will try to duplicate the upset victory by Raven’s Pass in last year’s Classic when two-time Horse of the Year Curlin finished fourth.
“It’s one of the great fields for the Classic, top to bottom,” Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli said on a Wednesday conference call set up to announce pre-entries for this year’s event.
Amen to that.