BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Zenyatta was assigned post position 8 for the greatly anticipated final start of her career, the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday at Churchill Downs. All entries and posts were drawn Tuesday afternoon at Churchill for the 14 races in the Breeders' Cup, which for the fourth straight year will be run as a two-day event, Friday and Saturday.
The 1¼-mile Classic, the last of the 14 races, will have Zenyatta as both a wagering and overwhelmingly sentimental favorite. Churchill linemaker Mike Battaglia listed the 6-year-old California-based mare as the 8-5 program favorite in a field of a dozen 3-year-olds and upward. Zenyatta, undefeated in 19 career starts for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs, will be ridden by Mike Smith.
The 9-2 second choice in the Classic, Blame, was assigned post 5, while the respective third and fourth choices, Quality Road (5-1) and Lookin at Lucky (6-1), will start in opposite ends of the starting gate in posts 1 and 12.
Zenyatta, a dramatic winner of the 2009 BC Classic at Santa Anita, is one of a handful of BC champions set to race here this weekend. Foremost among the others is Goldikova, the French superstar who won the Mile on grass in 2008 and 2009 and will be trying to become the first three-time winner in the 27-year history of the Breeders' Cup when starting Saturday from post 10 in the Mile, which drew a field of 11. Goldikova is a 6-5 program choice.
As for other prior winners: Midday, winner of the 2009 BC Filly and Mare Turf, will be a 6-5 program favorite when defending her title Friday in a field of 11 that also includes the 2008 winner, Forever Together; Informed Decision is part of an overflow, wide-open field in the Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday; and California Flag returns among an overflow cast entered in the Turf Sprint on Saturday.
This Breeders' Cup also will feature the winner of the highly prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Workforce, in the BC Turf on Saturday. Workforce, the 7-5 early favorite, would start from post 6 among eight horses -- the shortest field on either day -- when trying to become the first Arc winner to capture a Breeders' Cup event. His connections told BC officials Tuesday that the colt is not 100 percent certain to actually start because they are not particularly fond of the turf being as firm as it is, and that a final decision will be made later in the week.
Other key developments at Tuesday's draw
• Gio Ponti, the American standout, will face Goldikova when starting from post 3 in the Mile, which his connections chose over the Classic following weeks of deliberation.
• Blind Luck was assigned post 10 as the 9-5 favorite in a field of 11 fillies and mares in the Ladies' Classic, the anchor race of the Friday program.
• A pair of highly regarded 2-year-olds from the East Coast, Uncle Mo (post 7, 7-5) and Boys At Toscanova (post 2, 5-2), will clash for the first time Saturday in the BC Juvenile.
• Big Drama (post 1, 7-2) and Girolamo (post 2, 3-1) drew alongside each other as lukewarm favorites in a typically well-matched field of 12 in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Saturday.
In all, 172 horses, including also-eligibles, are scheduled to race in the Breeders' Cup, which will offer purses of more than $25.5 million, with supplemental fees adding to that total. Six BC races will be run Friday and eight Saturday.
This will be the first Breeders' Cup with races under lights, which was made possible after Churchill installed a permanent lighting system last winter. On Friday, the Filly and Mare Turf (post time, 6:10 p.m. Eastern) might require illumination, depending on the weather, while the Juvenile Fillies (6:50) and Ladies' Classic (7:30) definitely will be conducted after darkness falls. On Saturday, possibly the Turf (6:00) and surely the Classic (6:45) will necessitate the lights being on.
First posts are 2 p.m. on Friday and 12:05 p.m. on Saturday. Gates open two hours before post time. The first BC events go at 4:10 on Friday and 1:50 on Saturday.
The weekend forecast in the Louisville area is for very chilly weather. Friday temperatures are expected to range from 52 to 31, with a chance of showers, while Saturday will be sunny and dry with a high of 56.
All 14 Breeders' Cup races will be televised live on ABC Sports or its major cable affiliates. All six Friday events will be shown on ESPN2. The first three Saturday races will be on ABC, with the final five races, culminating with the Classic, going on ESPN. Trevor Denman will be the race-caller for the fifth straight year.