ARCADIA, Calif. - Ladies' Day for the Breeders' Cup is Friday, when five of the six BC races run that day at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting will be exclusively for female horses. But the Queen runs Saturday, when Zenyatta, unbeaten in 13 previous starts against females, runs against males for the first time in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
On Tuesday afternoon, Zenyatta drew post 4 in a field of 13 when post positions were drawn for the 26th Breeders' Cup, to be run Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita.
Jon White, the morning-line maker at Santa Anita, made Zenyatta the 5-2 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Classic, with European star Rip Van Winkle next at 7-2 and Summer Bird, the nation's leading 3-year-old, at 9-2. Befitting the evenly matched nature of the Classic field, White has six of the 13 runners posted at 12-1.
Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, has Rip Van Winkle favored at 7-2, with Zenyatta at 4-1 and Summer Bird at 6-1.
The draw for the 14 Breeders' Cup races was swiftly conducted in one hour in Santa Anita's Frontrunner Restaurant. A total of 155 horses were entered in the 14 races. In three of the races, favorites drew post positions that could compromise their chances.
Interactif, the 4-1 favorite on White's line for the Juvenile Turf, landed post 11 in a field of 12 for the one-mile grass race.
Trainer Bob Baffert fared particularly poorly in two races with likely favorites. His speedy colt Zensational, 7-5 on White's line in the Sprint, drew the rail in the six-furlong race, but with only nine horses entered, that post might not be critical. But Baffert's top 2-year-old colt, Lookin at Lucky, wound up on the far outside in a 13-horse field in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile, in which he is the 8-5 favorite on White's line.
Europeans had great success in last year's Breeders' Cup, and they are well represented this year. Five European invaders - Mastery (Marathon), Lillie Langtry (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Goldikova (Mile), Mastercraftsman (Dirt Mile), and Conduit (Turf) - are favored on White's line.
Rip Van Winkle, the favorite in the Classic on Watchmaker's line, is seeking to emulate Raven's Pass, a European who won the 2008 Classic in his first start on a synthetic surface.
The Classic will be the 14th, last, and richest Breeders' Cup race to be run over two days. Two of the Classic runners - Gio Ponti and Quality Road - arrived on Tuesday after a flight from New York.
This is the third year the Breeders' Cup has been held over two days. This marks the fifth time Santa Anita has played host to the Breeders' Cup. It also is the first time the Breeders' Cup has been held at the same site in consecutive years.
Tuesday was the second and final act of a two-stage entry process. Last week, pre-entries were due. At the time, 166 horses were entered, with 37 cross-entered in more than one race. On Tuesday, the connections of horses pre-entered in more than one race had to decide which race their horses would run in.
A maximum of 14 horses can run in most of the Breeders' Cup races. The Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Dirt Mile are restricted to 12 runners. In races where more than the maximum number of horses were entered, two also-eligible horses were allowed. That happened in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Turf, and Turf Sprint. The horses on the also-eligible list can only draw in if a horse in the main body in the race is withdrawn by Friday morning, which is scratch time for both Friday and Saturday.
The oversubscribed field in the Turf Sprint prevented Lethal Heat from being entered in two races. She had been pre-entered in both the Turf Sprint, which is run Saturday, and the Ladies' Classic, which is run Friday. Barry Abrams, the trainer and co-owner of Lethal Heat, wanted to enter both races. But Breeders' Cup rules state that a horse cannot be entered in two races if doing so will keep a horse out of a race, which was the scenario in the Turf Sprint.
So, Abrams was given the option Tuesday morning of entering the Turf Sprint or the Ladies' Classic. He chose the Ladies' Classic.
The Ladies' Classic is the last of six Breeders' Cup races that will be run Friday. White made Music Note the 9-5 favorite in the Ladies' Classic, with Careless Jewel next at 2-1. Brad Free of Daily Racing Form also made it close between those two, with Music Note at 8-5 and Careless Jewel 9-5.
Mushka, one of eight entered in the Ladies' Classic, blew out for the race on Tuesday morning with a three-furlong drill in 38.60 seconds.
"She just did a little something," trainer Bill Mott said. "We let her stretch her legs, open up her lungs, get a feel for that California air."
The weather forecast for the weekend could not be better. According to weather.com, the high temperature Friday will be 76 degrees, and on Saturday, it will be 75 degrees, with virtually no chance of rain.