Week of October 29, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

With extreme weather threatening much of the eastern United States, sun-drenched Santa Anita readies itself to host yet another Breeders’ Cup this Friday and Saturday (November 2-3). Monday’s post position draw for the 15 races spread across two days will be televised on HRTV (and streamed live on the Breeders’ Cup website) beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET (1:00 p.m. PT), with the Ladies’ Classic and Classic drawn separately beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

Three flights carrying European-based contenders have already arrived, with Aidan O’Brien’s Coolmore team scheduled to touch down late Monday night. Ironically, it’s actually the East Coast-based horses that may make the latest arrival, as Hurricane Sandy could postpone the flight carry Todd Pletcher’s trainees (including top juveniles Shanghai Bobby, Dreaming of Julia and Kauai Katie) from Tuesday to Wednesday.

No matter which coast they were on, many Breeders’ Cup contenders put in their final workouts this weekend, including likely Classic favorite Game On Dude who worked 7 furlongs in 1:25 on Sunday. Given his “home track advantage” and the relative weakness of this year’s Classic field (barring the entry of Royal Delta), it certainly appears to be Game On Dude‘s race to lose. One that apparently will not challenge him is Dullahan who is now rumored to be headed to the Turf.

Other works of note include In Lingerie who smoked 4-furlongs over the Santa Anita turf in 46.60 on Saturday, and has been confirmed for the Filly & Mare Turf rather than the Ladies’ Classic. Untested on grass, she does have an affinity for synthetic surfaces which may help her, but she’ll be facing a tremendously talented field of Europeans (Nahrain, I’m A Dreamer, Ridasiyna, The Fugue), not to mention fellow Americans Marketing Mix and Lady of Shamrock.

The sole filly entrant in the Turf is likely to be 4-year-old Shareta, last year’s Arc runner-up who captured two straight Group 1 events this year, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille, before failing over the heavy ground at Longchamp in this year’s Arc. With Santa Anita’s firm turf, she’ll be hard not to back. The best American hope, Point of Entry put in an impressive bullet work at Belmont on Sunday, traveling 4 furlongs in 47.61. He won’t be contesting the Turf, but in the shorter turf Mile, Animal Kingdom looks ready to shine, and video of his final prep work at Keeneland indicates last year’s champion 3-year-old could surprise his Euro competitors. For some of the most insightful commentary on pre-race workouts, it’s worthwhile to study Mike Welsch’s videos and Clocker Reports over at the Daily Racing Form. Brisnet also offers daily commentary on the Breeders’ Cup worktab.

2012 Breeders’ Cup Broadcast Schedule
Friday, November 2: NBC Sports Network, 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Saturday, November 3: NBC Sports Network, 3:30 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Saturday, November 3: NBC, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET

Barring any storm-related power outages at Hello Race Fans central, we’ll bring you plenty of Breeders’ Cup related content all week long! We already have a Ten Things You Should Know for the Breeders’ Cup Series, Mile, Ladies Classic and Classic as well as our new Three Great Moments for the original races. We’ll publish a Cheat Sheet for the Ladies Classic and Classic as well as our picks for both days. And, if you haven’t already, be sure to check our “Preparing for the Breeders’ Cup” for a list of helpful handicapping posts!

The long-awaited return this weekend of Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy didn’t have a fairy tale ending, but it also wasn’t all bad as the 3-year-old A.P. Indy colt broke alertly, eagerly taking the early lead in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Fayette Stakes (chart). Alas, although he gamely fought on when challenged in the stretch, it was Newsdad who got up for the victory, his first since the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream back in late March. Nikki’s Sandcastle finished second, just a half length in front of Take Charge Indy who successfully repelled the attack of post-time favorite Salto to flesh out the trifecta.

Closing weekend at Belmont included two graded stakes events on Saturday. In the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap (chart), Shackleford’s half sister Afleeting Lady cruised to victory over Grade 1-placed All Due Respect. In the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap (chart), Buffum led wire-to-wire, defeating Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Big Drama’s little brother Little Drama, by 1-1/4 lengths. One-time Grade 1-placed Associate stayed on for third, but favorite Caixa Eletronica threw a real clunker, erratic early and flattening out late to finish seventh.

Opening day for Churchill’s autumn meeting on Sunday featured a “Stars of Tomorrow” card with all juvenile races including the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes (chart) for fillies and the open company Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes (chart). In the Pocahontas, the aptly-named Sign (Pulpit, out of Cross) appeared unhurried early, but closed well late for jockey Rosie Napravnik to easily win by 4 lengths. Early front-runner Gal About Town (City Zip) stayed on for second, with Cloudy Vow (Broken Vow) hanging on for third. In the Iroquois, Canadian invader Uncaptured (Lion Heart) passed his first dirt test with flying colors, winning by 5-1/2 lengths over Grade 3 Bashford Manor runner-up Positively (Distorted Humor). Favorite Overanalyze (Dixie Union), winner of the Grade 2 Futurity last out, could only manage third-place. The trainers of both Sign and Uncaptured indicated their horses would return on November 24 in the Grade 2 Golden Rod and Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, respectively.

Finally, Australia’s weight-for-age championship race, the Group 1 Cox Plate was contested this weekend, and while it looked for awhile like youth would win out, 4-year-old New Zealand superstar Ocean Park charged on late to win by a neck over a pair of impressive 3-year-olds: last-out Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard, and last year’s juvenile Triple Crown winner Pierro. For Ocean Park, it was his fourth Group 1 victory in 8 weeks, and while most American trainers would immediately send him to the paddock, Ocean Park is expected to try and extend his winning streak to 5 Group 1 races by contesting the W.L. MacKinnon Stakes this coming Saturday. Although beaten by Ocean Park over the unusual Moonee Valley course, All Too Hard is definitely a budding superstar – and he’s got a lot to live up to, with an undefeated half-sister named Black Caviar.

Keep up with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!

Last Week’s Races

2012 Fayette Stakes Replay
Newsdad closes for the win.

Video courtesy of Trackus

2012 Cox Plate Replay
Ocean Park wins his 4th Group 1 race in 8 weeks

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

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Charts and PPs provided by Brisnet