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Curlin set for Classic run at Breeders' Cup Classic

Oct 21, 2008 5:10 PM

by David Stratton |

A total of 180 horses were announced last week as pre-entries for the 25th Breeders’ Cup, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Led by reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, Japanese sensation Casino Drive, the undefeated super filly Zenyatta, and Irish standout Duke of Marmalade, the field also includes seven former or defending champions from around the world.

"The field turned out to be phenomenal," said John Avello, race and sports director at Wynn Las Vegas. "The owners of Curlin, who won last year, elected to bring him back, effectively putting his Horse of the Year title on the line."

The Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consists of 14 races held over two days, with purses totaling $25.5 million, making this year’s event the richest prize money event in sports worldwide.

This year’s Championships, held during Santa Anita’s Oak Tree Racing Association meeting, features the first ever all-female program of seven Breeders’ Cup races on Friday. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live with an unprecedented nine hours of live coverage on ABC and ESPN, and to more than 130 foreign countries.

In addition to Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic defending champion, Japanese sensation Casino Drive, Travers winner Colonel John, Pacific Classic winner Go Between and three superb European entries – Henrythenavigator, Duke of Marmalade and Raven’s Pass – have pre-entered the Classic on Saturday.

The winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race, Indian Blessing, was pre-entered in both the Sprint (against males) and the Filly and Mare Sprint where she is expected to race.

Along with Curlin, six other previous Breeders’ Cup winners were pre-entered on Thursday including Better Talk Now, Ginger Punch, Indian Blessing, Kip Deville, Red Rocks and Midnight Lute.

Final entries are due Tuesday and all horses cross-entered must be entered into a single race. At that time, post positions will be drawn for all the weekend’s 14 races.

"It should be a fantastic weekend of racing action," Avello said. "We have a whole day (Friday) for the fillies, and then the boys (and girls, if they choose to) take over on Saturday."

In addition to two full days of racing (seven championship races each day), the Breeders’ Cup features a wagering menu that should pique the taste of any horseplayer.

The Breeders’ Cup has brought back the 10-cent superfecta for all 14 races, something that was missing in last year’s event.

"We heard the fans loud and clear and recognize that they would be better served if we reinstated the 10-cent superfecta betting on the two Classic races," said Ken Kirchner, who oversees wagering programs for the Breeders’ Cup.

In addition to the 10-cent superfecta, the Breeders’ Cup features the world’s largest guaranteed pool, the $3 million Ultra Pick 6, which will be offered on Saturday only. There will also be a Pick 6 (without the added pool) on Friday, which would carry over to Saturday if it isn’t hit.

New to the wagering slate this year is Super High 5 wagering on both the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In addition, two of the Breeders’ Cup Pick 4’s on Saturday are guaranteed, with the early Pick 4 on race 2 at $1 million guarantee and the late Pick 4 on race 6 supplemented with a $2 million guarantee.

Nevada sports books will also offer special betting propositions, such as head-to-head match-ups.

"That’s always one of our most popular bets – the head-to-head match-ups," Avello said. "Players just love these bets, and we love the action."

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Breeders' Cup weekend begins today