Tracking those elusive winners!

Oct 21, 2003 6:09 AM

The 20th edition of the Breeders’ Cup ”” horse racing’s Super Bowl — takes place on Saturday at Santa Anita, where the world’s best thoroughbreds will compete in eight championship events.

Even though there have been some defections ”” Empire Maker, Mineshaft, Candy Ride and Wild Spirit will be among the missing ”” a total of 101 horses have been pre-entered in the eight races, ensuring solid fields from which to choose those elusive winners.

The centerpiece event, the $4 million Classic, attracted 14 entries, including Perfect Drift, Congaree, Medaglia d’Oro, Funny Cide and Azeri, to name a few.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here is a quick look at the top contenders in each of the eight Breeders’ Cup races.

Distaff

The first of the Breeders’ Cup races drew a dynamite, though compact, field of eight pre-entries. This really looks like great race with Got Koko, who just broke Azeri’s win streak, and the red-hot Sightseek, both having a chance to hit the wire first. Not to be ignored is Elloluv, who has an outside chance of hitting the board. However, Got Koko has beaten all the top fillies and just loves this track, so I see no reason why she won’t run another big race.

Juvenile Fillies

Among the group of adolescent fillies, Halfbridled appears to be at the top of her class and barring something catastrophic, she appears to be a short price winner. Trainer Bob Baffert has done a good job with Class Above, and she could be in the hunt, based on her last two races. Finally, the ever-dangerous Allen Jerkens sends out Society Selection, and this filly can run all day and should be flying at the wire. Thus, she should be included in those exotic bets.

Mile

With 17 horses entered, the Mile has the largest field of pre-entries. Because there is a 14-horse limit, we don’t know precisely which horses will be scratched, but for now will favor Touch of the Blues, Peace Rules, Oasis Dream and Perfect Soul in a real cavalry charge.

Sprint

Back in March I wrote in my Horses to Watch column that Aldebaran would be Sprinter of the Year. He is undefeated on this oval and his only concern is the six furlong distance. But he will definitely get a fast pace to run at, and if the track is fair, he should get the nod. I will also factor Captain Squire into the equation; he has a very good race over this track and can’t be dismissed.

Filly and Mare Turf

Trainer Bobby Frankel has several contenders here with Heat Haze, Megahertz and Tates Creek. The latter, Tates Creek, always runs a good race and has just won on this course, so she would be my top choice among his horses. I also like Dimitrova, who is two for two at the distance, while Musical Chimes just ran a big one here, finishing second behind Tates Creek. Finally, Voodoo Dancer cannot be overlooked as she has two seconds in two tries here.

Juvenile

Cuvee looks like the best 2-year-old on paper and might get the job done, but there will be a ton of speed horses gunning for him, so I will side with Tiger Hunt, a lightly-raced colt trained by Elliott Walden. I like the horse so much, I might also make a Kentucky Derby future bet on the horse — he was an attractive 50-1 at Bally’s race book last week.

Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, a few top 2-year-olds are skipping the Breeders’ Cup in order to prepare for their 3-year-old campaigns. They include Birdstone, Silver Wagon, Eurosilver and Ruler’s Court. There might be Kentucky Derby contender among this group. Keep in mind that the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has never gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Turf

High Chaparral won this event last year, and was life and death to beat Falbrav in the Irish Stakes. Storming Home looks to be the now horse along with Sulamani — these two could run one-two in their rematch of the Arlington Million.

Classic

For the last two months, there’s been so much speculation over which horses would run and which wouldn’t. Medaglia d’Oro is a solid contender with two wins in two tries at Santa Anita, while Perfect Drift could be the favorite along with Ten Most Wanted. Pleasantly Perfect also seems to like the Arcadia oval, but I will side with Ten Most Wanted with jockey Pat Day to put the finishing touches to a fantastic day of championship horse racing.