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Breeders' Cup draw isn't kind to Accelerate and other favorites

Breeders' Cup draw isn't kind to Accelerate and other favorites
Accelerate, with Victor Espinoza aboard, wins the Santa Anita Handicap horse race at Santa Anita Park on March 10. (Benoit Photo / Handout)

If you believe in conspiracy theories, Monday’s Breeders’ Cup post-position draw gave you plenty to contemplate. It’s not as shady as the days when former FIFA president Sepp Blatter would make the World Cup draw, but just bad luck as an unusually high number of favorites found themselves in the unfavorable position of being in the farthest outside post.

Prime among them is Accelerate, who drew the 14 post in the 14-horse $6 million Classic. It’s not as if the post can’t be overcome, it just means the horse has to run a farther distance trying to get to the rail. The Southern California-based Accelerate is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. Accelerate has won five of six races this year, including the Santa Anita Handicap, Pacific Classic and the Awesome Again.

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Nine of the 14 races that will be contested at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday have the maximum number of entries of 14. The Juvenile Turf Sprint, which also has the maximum, is capped at 12.

The races that did not fill with 14 were the Juvenile Fillies (10), Dirt Mile (10), Sprint (nine), Distaff (11) and Turf (13).

All the 2-year-old races will be held Friday, with the remaining nine Saturday.

Trainer John Sadler, who must feel snakebit having not won a single of his 41 Breeders’ Cup starts, was hit when both of his favorites drew the far outside. In addition to Accelerate, he will have Catalina Cruiser in the Dirt Mile. The undefeated colt drew the far outside, the nine, and is listed as the 8-5 favorite. On a positive note, the field doesn’t have the maximum number of entries, so his post shouldn’t be as difficult.

Talented filly Bellafina, trained by locally based Simon Callaghan, drew the 10th post in the 10-horse Juvenile Fillies race. Still, she was made the 2-1 favorite.

In the very competitive Distaff, Monomoy Girl, who would be undefeated this year if she weren’t disqualified to second in her last race, is in the far outside 11 post. She’s listed as the 2-1 favorite.

Also joining the favorites on the far outside group is Anthony Van Dyck, who has been running in Ireland. He drew the 14 in the Juvenile Turf and is the 4-1 morning-line favorite.

The smallest field is the nine-horse Sprint in which locally based Roy H is in the nine spot. He’s not the favorite but is the second choice at 5-2. Imperial Hint is the 9-5 favorite.

Friday’s marquee race, the Juvenile, will be headed by Game Winner, for trainer Bob Baffert. Game Winner is the 8-5 favorite, with Complexity at 5-2 in the six gate. The winner of this race is considered the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

Didn’t make it

Several horses were scratched before Monday’s post-position draw. Perhaps most notable was undefeated and locally based Dream Tree, who was scheduled to run in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Another Southern California-based horse was Its Gonna Hurt in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. X Y Jet, who was scheduled in the Sprint, was also scratched because of illness.

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