Here's a brief look at each of today's seven Breeders' Cup races:
$1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (1 1/16 MILES)
Post--8:55 a.m. PDT
Trainer Wayne Lukas has won this event three times and has three chances to add to that total. Golden Attraction will be favored because of her six victories in seven starts, but Cara Rafaela is improving and Tipically Irish was game in her victory in the Oak Leaf. Some will be pulling against her because Laffit Pincay, who rode her capably in the Oak Leaf, was bounced in favor of Mike Smith.
If none of those Lukas-trained horses wins, the filly most likely to succeed is My Flag, who has champions Easy Goer and Personal Ensign as parents. She was only three-quarters of a length behind Golden Attraction in the Frizette three weeks ago. Owned by Ogden Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey, My Flag has a come-from-behind style in a race whose early fractions should be fast.
$1 MILLION SPRINT (6 FURLONGS)
Post--9:27 a.m. PDT
Jockey Kent Desormeaux said recently that this race is wide open and it's difficult to disagree with him, given the track condition and the fact upsets have been common in the Breeders' Cup's shortest race.
Lit De Justice could be the upsetter this time. The California-based gray, known for his bad manners as much as for his talent, ran horribly in the Vosburgh on Oct. 7, but bled through his Lasix and he has previously followed poor performances with big efforts. If he runs back to his victory in the Pat O'Brien just over two months ago at Del Mar, he figures to win and make Jenine Sahadi the first female trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race.
The horses to beat are You And I, who has shown little in California but who turns tiger at Belmont Park, and Not Surprising, who has won eight races this year, including his last four in a row.
$1 MILLION DISTAFF (1 1/8 MILES)
Post--9:59 a.m. PDT
Serena's Song may win for the 10th time in 13 starts this year, but one thing is certain: She won't get to run the first half-mile in 48 seconds as she did in the Beldame three weeks ago. Look for more speed from Lakeway, and Top Rung also figures to go from her outside slot, meaning the race could set up nicely for Heavenly Prize, who will race coupled with Inside Information.
Third in the Juvenile Fillies in 1993 and second in the 1994 Distaff, Heavenly Prize looks ready to claim the top prize this year over a track where she has won five times and run second twice in seven starts. Watch out for Borodislew as well. The Seattle Slew mare has won four in a row since Eduardo Inda took over her training and she also has the right style.
$1 MILLION MILE (ON TURF)
Post--10:31 a.m. PDT
Even though Ridgewood Pearl was the morning-line favorite, Fastness figures to be the choice at post time, despite drawing the unfavorable outside post in the 14-horse field.
A less-than-firm course is guaranteed and there will be extremely soft going if anticipated rain arrives. This is another race that has provided some upsets--Last Tycoon in 1986, Opening Verse in 1991, and Barathea last year--and there could well be another. Jockey Jerry Bailey likes the chances of The Vid, Mighty Forum is proven on soft ground, the European contingent--Ridgewood Pearl, Poplar Bluff, Sayyedati and Shaanxi--is solid, and Savinio has trained well and has run well fresh.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE (1 1/16 MILES)
Post--11:03 a.m. PDT
Lukas has had even more success in this race than in the Juvenile Fillies, having won it four times, including three in a row between 1986-88. He will send out three horses today, the improving Honour And Glory, Hennessy and Editor's Note.
An open secret when he made his debut at Saratoga on July 27 after a series of sharp workouts, Honour And Glory has two victories in three starts and was an easy winner of the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland earlier this month. Gary Stevens chose him over Hennessy, who may be feeling the effects of a strenuous campaign, and the jockey is confident Honour And Glory will rate.
Editor's Note ran decently after breaking slowly in the Norfolk, but that wasn't much of a race. Diligence is improving and Appealing Skier and Seacliff are both unbeaten. Whatever happens, don't look for the winner of today's race in the winner's circle after the 1996 Kentucky Derby. No Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has gone on to win the Derby.
$2 MILLION TURF (1 1/2 MILES)
Post--11:35 a.m. PDT
Another race notable for its upsets and one that would have been more interesting if the undefeated Lammtarra had not been retired.
Freedom Cry was beaten by only three-quarters of a length by Lammtarra in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but Arc competitors traditionally haven't fared well in the Turf. Hernando is well regarded by some, but has won only twice in the last two years.
Northern Spur rebounded nicely after being treated with Lasix in the Oak Tree Invitational, and if he takes to the Belmont Park course, he could surprise. He will not be allowed to run on Lasix, however, since all medication is banned in New York.
Talloires was moved too soon in the Rothmans International, and Desormeaux promises that the 5-year-old is going to win a big race one of these days. Arlington Million winner Awad is capable, but he ran poorly in the recent Turf Classic, which was run on a soft course.
$3 MILLION CLASSIC (1 1/4 MILES)
Post--12:10 p.m. PDT
All the discussion on the day's final race centers on Cigar. If he runs his race, he runs his winning streak to 12. If he can't handle the track, then anything can happen.
Peaks And Valleys is an improving 3-year-old who hasn't been worse than second in seven races this year. Halling is the hype horse, but many heralded European entries have finished up the track in the Breeders' Cup. Concern is the defending champion who hasn't run well since his victory in the Californian at Hollywood Park more than four months ago.
French Deputy is in the wrong race and Jed Forest has the honor of being considered the horse with the least chance of winning of all running today.