There may be a shortage of horses in the daily races, but there is no shortage in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. A record 221 horses were entered into the 14-race event that will be held Nov. 2 and 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Slightly less than a quarter of the horses (51) are based in Southern California. Some horses are named in more than one race. The final entry list and post-position draw will happen Monday.
Leading the entries is Accelerate, for trainer John Sadler, who with a win in the $6-million Classic will open up the discussion if he could be horse of the year. Normally, Justify, a Triple Crown winner, would be a lock for the award. But the fact he ran only six races against an average group of 3-year-olds before being retired has raised the question of if he is the best horse. Accelerate won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Awesome Again at Santa Anita and five of six graded stakes this year.
Other Southern California-based horses in the Classic include Axelrod and City Of Light for trainer Michael McCarthy; McKinzie and West Coast for Bob Baffert and Pavel for Doug O’Neill. Collected, another Baffert horse, is also named but not likely to make the 14-horse field.
The Distaff, the top female-only race, has four local horses with Abel Tasman and Vale Dori for Baffert, La Force for Paddy Gallagher and Mopotism for O’Neill. However, the favorite is likely to be Monomoy Girl, who would be undefeated this year except for being disqualified to second for interference in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx.
The Filly and Mare Sprint has six horses from Southern California. Baffert has undefeated Dream Tree and Marley’s Freedom; Anonymity goes for Richard Mandella; Miss Sunset for Jeff Bonde; Selcourt for Sadler and Skye Diamonds for Bill Spawr.
Every race but the Juvenile Turf Sprint can handle 14 horses. The 2-year-old grass sprint has only 12. There are 14 total races with a combined purse of $30 million.
European-based trainer Aiden O’Brien has 18 horses entered in the two-day event.
This year, the format has changed. Friday will be devoted to 2-year-old races, with the Distaff moving to Saturday’s nine-race card.
The Breeders’ Cup returns to Santa Anita next year for a record 10th time, and it comes back to Del Mar in 2021.