Only five of the 15 Breeders’ Cup races scheduled at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2-3 were oversubscribed from a total of 180 pre-entries.
The five races with also eligibles waiting to get in their selective contest are the $500,000 Marathon, $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, $1 million Juvenile Turf, $1 million Turf Sprint, and $1.5 million Sprint. Surprisingly, several races attracted 10 or fewer horses while 23 runners were cross-entered in two contests.
The pre-entry phase is the first of two steps when horses can be nominated in more than one race. Last year, there were 194 individual horses pre-entered, with 33 cross-entered.
Horses must be entered in their preferred race on Monday when post positions will be drawn. The only exception: a horse can be entered Monday in two races if those races are run on different days and neither field is oversubscribed.
The lowest number of pre-entries is shared by the $2 million Juvenile Fillies and the $2 million Ladies’ Classic – nine. The field in the Juvenile Fillies could shrink since five runners are cross-entered in two other races, the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint and the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The Ladies’ Classic could have fewer distaffers, too. Royal Delta, one of eight seeking repeat BC victories from past years dating back to 2009, and two others are cross-entered in three other races.
The $2 million Juvenile has 10 pre-entries, but two are cross-entered in the $1 million Juvenile Turf.
If Royal Delta sticks to her first choice of the Ladies’ Classic, she’ll clash with two undefeated BC winners: My Miss Aurelia, who captured last year’s Juvenile Fillies, and Awesome Feather, who won the ’10 Juvenile Fillies.
Royal Delta most likely will run against her fellow distaffers because trainer Bill Mott has three horses going in the Classic against likely favorite Game on Due: Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve.
Other ’11 BC champs aiming to defend their titles are Amazombie in the Sprint, Musical Romance in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint and St Nicholas Abbey in the $3 million Turf.
Amazombie’s main opposition in the Sprint includes Coil, who defeated him in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6 when he finished fourth.
Musical Romance, who triumphed three times at Florida tracks in eight sprints this year, faces some tough challengers that include likely favorite Groupie Doll, who is going for her fifth straight triumph.
For St Nicholas Abbey to repeat, he will have to turn back the mighty Point of Entry, who has won three straight Grade 1 races to emerge as America’s best long-distance grass runner.
This is the sixth time Santa Anita will host BC events. The most significant change to this year’s races is that Lasix is not allowed on in all five races for 2-year-olds.