ARCADIA (AP) — Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan drew post position eight in a field of 10 and was made the even-money favorite for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, where the 6-year-old gelding will try to improve to 6-0 on the turf this year.
Wise Dan will be ridden by John Velazquez, who was aboard for the gelding’s only loss in his last nine starts earlier this month at Keeneland, where the race was moved from the turf to the synthetic surface.
Wise Dan will face nine rivals at Santa Anita on Saturday, the second of two days of racing during the 30th Breeders’ Cup.
Cleburne and Havana — both 2-0 — will put their undefeated records on the line in the $2 million Juvenile, which drew a full field of 14. Velazquez will ride Havana, the 5-2 morning-line favorite; Cleburne was listed at 12-1.
Post positions for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $2 million Distaff will be drawn later Monday.
Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert and co-owned by former Dodgers and Yankees manager Joe Torre, heads an impressive field of 12 for the Classic. The gelding will be ridden by Mike Smith. The 48-year-old Hall of Fame jockey has mounts in 13 of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races.
Gary Stevens, who launched a successful comeback earlier this year at 50, has nine mounts over the two days of racing.
Game On Dude will likely be made the favorite in the 1 1/4-mile race, in which he finished seventh last year. He is undefeated in five races this year, including Grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic.
Baffert sent Game On Dude out for his final workout Monday.
“He’s not the same horse that ran here last year, thank God,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He’s bigger, he’s filled out and he’s a happy horse. I’ve spaced his races out and that’s allowed me to keep his weight on.”
Fort Larned, who won last year’s Classic by three-quarters of a length over Mucho Macho Man, is back to defend his title. Mucho Macho Man returns, too, with Stevens in the saddle.
Trainer Todd Pletcher won’t have Graydar, who had been pre-entered in both the Classic and the Dirt Mile. The Kelso winner has a quarter crack in his left front hoof.
“We’re disappointed,” Pletcher said. “Graydar had been training extremely well and I thought we got the perfect comeback effort from him in the Kelso.”
The two-day, $27 million championships open Friday with five races, including the Distaff, which has reverted to its original name after being called the Ladies’ Classic since 2008.
Royal Delta leads a heavyweight field that includes Princess of Sylmar, who has won six stakes this year, and last year’s BC Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder.
“It is a heck of a race and she’s going to have to be at her best for it,” said Richard Mandella, who trains Beholder.
Rosie Napravnik and Chantal Sutherland-Kruse each have one mount on Saturday, and will try to join Julie Krone as the only women to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the event’s history. Napravnik rides 5-1 shot Untapable in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies; Sutherland-Kruse is aboard 20-1 longshot Great Hot in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.
Saturday’s nine races include the $1 million Turf Sprint, with defending champion and 4-1 favorite Mizdirection among the 14-horse field. She’s co-owned by sports talk radio host Jim Rome, and will be ridden by Smith.
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