Friday, November 4, 2016

Breeders' Cup Bonanza

For horse racing fans, this weekend is the Super Bowl.  Two glorious days of the best of the best in horse racing start late this afternoon at Santa Anita in California.  While the vision of American Pharoah taking down the older boys at Keeneland in the weekend's highlight, the Classic, is now a fading memory (and one that will never be forgotten), and won't repeat itself in any way, at least the Chromie fans will have something to cheer about.  California Chrome, remember him, will be racing to make is own history as he continues to add staggering figures to his bank account, now in excess of $13 million.

 (California Chrome)

He is the winningest horse in history, and he's not done yet.  He's the 1 to 1 favorite (as of yesterday at least) to win the Classic on Saturday night although he'll have some others nipping at his heels.  If he doesn't win it'll be an upset but stranger things have happened.  Keep your eye on Arrogate.  He won the Travers in amazing style in August and he's trained by Bob Baffert. Can he win the Classic again this year? 


The best race of the weekend, is today, the Distaff.  The 3-year-old filly, Songbird, is unbeaten in 11 starts including the Breeders' Cup Filly Juvenille as a 2-year-old last year but today she will race with the older fillies where she'll meet two of the best in history, Beholder (winner of two Eclipse Awards) and Stellar Wind.  


Songbird has won her races by a combined 60 1/2 lengths and she's never won by fewer than 3 3/4 lengths. But her skeptics argue she's been beating an ordinary crop of sophomore fillies. Her jockey, Mike Smith, feels she has what it takes and he would know. "I've been very blessed to have ridden so many great horses during my career," said the all-time winningest Breeders' Cup rider with 22 victories. "No question, Songbird is such a special filly. So was Zenyatta ... but I can say that for a horse at her age, Songbird has the fastest cruising speed of any of them."

Beholder's jockey, Gary Stevens, says his horse is the best horse he's ever ridden, male or female. She'll be going for her second victory in the Distaff after her win in 2013.  Stevens, who has won 10 Breeders' Cup races, including the Distaff three times, is impressed by the quality of this year's eight-horse lineup.

"On paper, this is the best Distaff I've ridden in," he said. "But I can go back to 1988 with a great filly and a great mare in Winning Colors and Personal Ensign. I've been in some good Distaffs before. I don't want to take anything away from years past."

Stellar Wind has beaten Beholder in two of their three meetings, by a half-length in the Clement L. Hirsch on July 30 at Del Mar and by a neck in the Zenyatta at Santa Anita on Oct. 1. She's raced only three times this year.

Today's races will be on the NBC Sports Network starting at 5 pm EDT.  Tomorrow's races, excluding the Classic will be on the same network from 3 to 8 pm EDT.  The Classic will air on NBC from 8 to 9 pm EDT.  Tune in for some great racing.  The Breeders' Cup will stay in the West Coast in 2017 at Del Mar and will return East to Churchill Downs in 2018.  Hold on to your horses, it's going to be a great weekend!

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