Breeders’ Cup officials did Las Vegas a favor (though they probably didn’t know it) when they selected Lone Star Park in Texas as the site of the 21st renewal of thoroughbred racing’s annual showcase.
Problem for the industry is that Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, has limited facilities to accommodate large crowds. In fact, in short order following the announcement that tickets were on sale for the Oct. 30 spectacular, the track announced that the day was a sellout. All 51,034 seats (12,000 permanent and 39,034 temporary) were snapped up quickly and there is no general admission or non-permit parking on event day anywhere near the track.
So, what’s a horseplayer to do?
"As soon as I found out," remarked a veteran Boston follower of the sport, "I made my reservations for Las Vegas ”¦ It’ll even be better than being in Texas."
True, many thoroughbred fans will spend the day watching five hours of racing telecast on NBC, "but you don’t get the same comradery that you get in a Las Vegas casino," said the racing fan.
And the Las Vegas casinos will offer all the various wagering opportunities that are available at the track, including the $3 million guaranteed Ultra Pick 6 pool.
First post will be 10:35 a.m. Pacific time with the first Breeders’ Cup race at about 11 a.m.
In that first race, the $2 million Distaff, a question mark existed at press time since the Paulson family, owners of the sensational mare Azeri, hadn’t decided whether she should race against the Distaff females or go in the much tougher $4 million Classic against males. We’ll assume that common sense will prevail and she will earn the Distaff honors.
A full field will go postward in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies with California double stakes winner Sweet Catomine earning the most play, but we feel Sharp Lisa should be given a chance.
Normally a "gimme" for a European racer, this year’s $1.5 million Mile looks to be wide open with last year’s winner, Six Perfections, attempting to repeat. But, Bobby Frankel’s Nothing To Lose seems to be peaking in form at exactly the right time.
Another wide-open event seems to be this year’s $1 million Sprint with last year’s winner, Cajun Beat, looking to repeat despite not having won a race since last January. However, the price might be right on Kela, a bearcat at Del Mar and a previous winner over the Lone Star surface.
Once again, the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf presents a problem since the outstanding English filly Ouija Board has been entered in this event in which she probably would be a strong favorite and in the Turf with a $2 million purse. We’ll assume that she will stay in her division and couple her with Flower Bowl winner Riskaverse.
The smallest field of the day has been entered for the $1.5 million Juvenile that should make it easier for Bob Baffert-trained Roman Ruler to gain the honors. Look for European shipper Scandinavia to make it a race.
With Ouija Board in an earlier race, the task is easier for Kitten’s Joy in the $2 million Turf, the longest race on the card. Powerscourt can also pour it on in the stretch.
Last year, Trainer Richard Mandella won four Breeders’ Cup events, the last with Pleasantly Perfect, in the $4 million Classic. If anyone can repeat it looks like Pleasantly Perfect. He scored in the Pacific Classic despite being bumped and seems to be coming up to this race in top form. Also, 3-year-olds get a five-pound break at a time in their careers when they are often the equal of older horses, so don’t overlook Birdstone.