Winners of last weekend’s two top Breeders’ Cup Challenge races have several things in common, including being victorious in each Grade 1 contest for the second consecutive year.
Flat Out surged to a head victory in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup over the pacesetting Stay Thirsty, his first triumph since defeating Drosselmeyer last year in the 1 1/4 mile stakes race at Belmont Park.
Game on Dude captured the $250,000 Awesome Again, named for his sire. The 3 ¼-length victory was a bit easier than the half-length triumph he posted last year in Santa Anita’s 1 1/8 mile race when it was called the Goodwood Stakes.
Flat Out will be at a distinct disadvantage since he hasn’t even raced on the Left Coast.
Both horses clashed in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, but chased Drosselmeyer home at Churchill Downs. Game on Dude came up 1 ½ lengths short after the 1 ¼ miles. Flat Out finished fifth.
Stay Thirsty, who hit the board both years in the Gold Cup, may be headed to the Classic for a chance to improve on his 11th place finish last year.
When this year’s BC Classic is held on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, Game on Dude will hold the upper hand and probably go off as the favorite. He is 5 for 5 at the California track dating back to March 5, 20011 when he won the Santa Anita Handicap.
The last horse to win the Awesome Again and the Classic was Pleasantly Perfect in ’03. The last horse to capture the Gold Cup and the Classic was Curlin in ’07.
Awesome Again became the first Classic champ to sire a winner of that race when Ghostzapper scored in ’04. On that same day at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, TX, another son named Wilko won the BC Juvenile. It was the first time a BC winner sired two winners in one day.
Hitting the board in the final prep for the Classic is crucial. Eighteen of the past 28 winners won their final prep and the other runners finished in the money except for one – Cat Thief.
In fact, the son of Storm Cat failed to visit the winner’s circle in seven previous outing in ’99. He returned a nifty $41.20 on the front end at Gulfstream Park. The exacta with Budroyale paid a whopping $1,209.60.
The biggest upset in Classic history came in ’93 when French invader Arcangues, who never raced in the United States or on dirt, scored at Santa Anita and paid $269.20 after finishing third in his last prep.