Haskin's Classic Report: And They're Off

So, all the post positions are in, all the works are done, and all the Classic horses are here. Now, good luck trying to figure out how the race is going to be run and who is going to win.

Is Game On Dude going to outrun everyone or will he have to relinquish the early lead to Fort Larned or Moreno or perhaps someone else? Can we forget Palace Malice’s surprise suicide dash in the Kentucky Derby?

The post position could not have worked out better for Game On Dude, who looked sensational working five furlongs in :59 on Monday, especially galloping out past the wire. Not only did he draw post 9, outside all the speed, he has three closers outside him in Will Take Charge, Ron the Greek, and Flat Out, so there will be no early pace pressure from his outside. That will put Mike Smith in complete control of the situation, as he’ll be able to see how the speed sets up inside him.

Palace Malice is directly to his inside, with Fort Larned right inside him. Moreno is farthest away in post 4, and he no doubt will go right the lead and see if Game On Dude tries to outrun him and Fort Larned or stalk both of them from the outside. Of these, Palace Malice is the one who should be taken back and try to settle off the pace. The Kentucky Derby was a freak race for him, and it is more likely you’ll see him laying around fourth or fifth.

The next question is whether Paynter will show speed from post 3 or take back as he did in the Awesome Again.

Mucho Macho Man is another enigma. The towering 17-hand horse has excellent tactical speed, as he demonstrated in last year’s Classic. Breaking from post 6, he most likely will be running fourth, fifth, or sixth, but within a couple of lengths of the leaders, making for a contentious pace.

As for the closers, Bill Mott’s pair will take back from the two outside posts, especially Ron the Greek. Flat Out, who normally likes to keep in touch with the leaders, likely will be a bit farther back than usual. The outside posts should help them stay out of traffic, which can be expected on the inside with so many tactical speed horses causing a log jam.

Will Take Charge also is in a good spot. Another giant of a horse, he definitely wants to be on the outside and should be in good shape breaking from post 10.

We really don’t know much about Declaration of War, but the Irish colt is a relentless closer, who doesn’t really have a quick turn of foot. The big question with him is if he’ll have enough time to close ground down the short Santa Anita stretch. His last victory came at York, which has one of longest stretches in England. However, he has won all three of his starts over a synthetic surface over much tighter tracks. If he is within striking range turning for home, he could be very dangerous.

Last Gunfighter likely will take back and try to pick up the pieces late if there is a pace collapse. They’ll be happy to get a piece of it, and sometimes that kind of strategy pays off in a race with so much early speed.

Even though Planteur went to the front in the Prix Dollar and set a ridiculous pace, he is more of a late runner, as he showed in his two third-place finishes in the Dubai World Cup over the Tapeta surface. Breaking from post 2, the temptation might be there to show speed, but he more likely will take back and save ground.

If the track is playing fair, unlike last year’s speed biased surface, we should see one heckuva cavalry charge down the stretch. Then again, if Game On Dude duplicates his efforts in the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic, this race might not be as competitive as one would think. But he’ll be facing far better horses than he beat all year.

So good luck trying to figure this one out and may the best horse win.


Game On Dude is the center of attraction each morning as he mingles with the folks before heading to the track.


Game On Dude is all business once he hits the track.


Game On Dude


A frisky Will Take Charge and his twin pony.


Mucho Macho Man has been thriving at Santa Anita.


Mucho Macho Man turns in another strong gallop.


Flat Out returning from his first gallop over the track.


Trainer Eric Guillot turns fan and photographs Moreno with his cell phone camera.

37 Comments

Leave a Comment:

The Deacon

All good points Steve but like any other highly contested race you can't bet them all.

This is a strong group so in my thinking I have to start doing the process of elimination otherwise I'll go crazy.

My heart would love to see Paynter win. My goodness, what this poor horse went through and his fight back. A case can be made for anyone one of these. I am sticking with Game On Dude. 3rd time being the charm maybe but he's at his favorite track and if he can get the lead from the outside post I believe he'll be next to impossible to catch.

Most of these horses had to travel to get here, he didn't. He stayed home, did his daily routine and life has been good.

He is my pick..........maybe he'll be a little bit of an overlay and I can get 2-1 on him.

I like Princess of Sylmar (who doesn't) or Beholder in the Distaff.

My worry is that Royal Delta may have little or nothing left in the tank. She has had a hard campaign for awhile now and I liken her to Blind Luck. I could be wrong but that's just my opinion.....

Good luck to all.

29 Oct 2013 7:37 PM
Ted from LA

Will Take Charge will take charge in the final furlong.  Did you see what I did there?  Dr. Drunkinbum got out of rehab yesterday.  He's cured and told me to bet his farm on the Rene Douglas horse (O'Neil training).  He couldn't remember the horses name, but he was pretty lit up.

29 Oct 2013 8:41 PM
fightonfig

If a bet in Vegas to finish last, it would be Paynter.....ditto for

 Verrazano in dirt mile...retire

after race, usually don't run good

Neither are a George Royal

29 Oct 2013 9:03 PM
Davids

All I am hoping for is that the track plays fair to all, then you will have a great race. If it replicates last year's bias you can expect a 'demolition derby' at the first turn followed by a somnambulant carousel. Fingers crossed for a fair fight.

29 Oct 2013 9:13 PM
Delrene

How true are your words.  All class acts.  I'll just add and may ALL HORSES and RIDERS come to the finish line safe and sound.  What a lineup in all the races.  Can't wait to get there in Friday.

29 Oct 2013 9:44 PM
Mary

I really like Moreno and Declaration of War.  

29 Oct 2013 9:48 PM
woodshade

Steve, who are your top 3 horses?

29 Oct 2013 9:49 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Great work from you Steve from Santa Anita.  Thank you for all the articles, photos, and BC News Minute videos.  It all is very much appreciated by all of us I am sure.  

Hard to figure out this Classic.  I still feel one of the older males will prevail.  Game On Dude looks ready and Mucho Macho Man has really become a man now.  My emotional pick still remains Paynter.  Love Mr. Zayat's comments about him in a recent BH article.  Regardless if Paynter wins, just the fact that he is even entered and running in the BC Classic is a miracle in itself.  The young bucks have their work cut out for them, Palace and WTC, and are on unfamiliar ground.  More power to them if one of them can pull off a win.  I'm going Paynter or GOD for the BCC win.

Well, we have a War, a "Battle Within a Battle," and it all could come down to the very "Last Gunfighter!"  May the best of them win and may they all come home safe.  It should be quite a race.

29 Oct 2013 10:42 PM
Ranagulzion

There is no other way for Game on Dude to win against this field apart from grabbing the lead and dictating the pace. To do so he'll have to run hard early while being floated wide. I tell you all right now that Fort Larned will beat him to the lead while saving ground all around the backstretch. With Game On Dude not having things his own way, he's going to chuck the gallop folks, especially when the imposing presence of Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek join the fray on the far turn. Fort Larned will once again be the horse to catch and this time I think that the "Macho Man" is coming into the race an improved specimen over last year, to be able to get by in the stretch. Ron The Greek however could be the 'fly' in Macho's ointment as he'll be finishing like an express train.

My pick to win: Mucho Macho Man over Ron The Greek and Fort Larned. Will Take Charge should win the battle of the 3YOs for the fourth spot.

This race is all about class and pace. Wise Dan should fend off the challenge of Princess of Sylmar for a repeat HOTY title when all is said and done. Good luck everyone.

30 Oct 2013 1:37 AM
Pedigree Ann

Fort Larned has a bad race-good race pattern going; bad race Oaklawn H - good race Stephen Foster - bad race Whitney - good race Homecoming thing at CD. Bad race coming up, it appears.

30 Oct 2013 9:38 AM
Coldfacts

Ranagulzion,

The only BCC winner that was 2nd  in the race previous year is Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba.

MMM is no Alysheba.

The following BCC winners contested the race the following year:

Sky Walker: 12th (last)

Unbridled: 3rd

Concern: 8th

Cigar: 3rd

Skip Away: 6th

Cat Thief: 7th

Tiznow: 1st

Valponi: 10th (last)

Pleasantly Perfect: 3rd

Curlin: 4th

Zenyatta: 2nd

Fort Larned: ???

You have listed Fort Larned as your 3rd choice. Is he as good a Unbridled and Pleasantly Perfect?

You listed Ron The Greek as your 2nd choice. Only one 6YO has finished 2nd in the BCC and that was the exceptionally brilliant Zenyatta.

Your top three selection reflect a suspriosion of rational thinking.

30 Oct 2013 10:06 AM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION-I sure hope your not betting a large sum of money , because I don't see any of your picks even hitting the boards , good luck anyhow !!!

30 Oct 2013 10:10 AM
Ranagulzion

In my last post I ommitted to mention the significant homefield advantage that the Santa Anita surface has provided for its local stars in past Breeder's Cup. This is probably the best thing that Game On Dude has going for him in this race since he's been ruling the roost all year. Homefield advantage works best when the competition hasn't adapted sufficiently to the track but we already know that Mucho macho Man, Fort Larned and Ron The Greek will relish that surface, therefore anyway you look at it Game On Dude faces the race of his life, and unfortunately the luck of the draw doesn't help with his running style.

Others in the Breeder's Cup races that might benefit significantly from homefield advantage are Beholder in the Distaff, Goldencents in the Dirt Mile, Tap It Rich in the Juvenile and Secret Circle in the Sprint. These are very formidable contenders in their respective races. Nevertheless my picks to win in the above races are:

Princess of Sylmar in the Distaff (Royal Delta will be tougher this time but beatable again);

Verrazano to cop the Dirt Mile with Pants On Fire as his chief threat;

We Miss Artie to outgame Strong Mandate, Cleburne, Bond Holder and Havana in the Juvenile (what a competitive field this is);

Triniberg to repeat in the Sprint at a nice price, once again over The Lumber Guy in a huge exactor ...no joke ...how's that for a bold selection :)

On the Friday Card:

In the Juvenile Filies Turf, its Ready To Act;

In the Marathon, its Blueskiesandrainbow to wire the field, holding off Pool Play;

In the BCJuvenile Turf, its Bobby's Kitten over the Euro invader, Outstrip.

Happy Hunting everybody.

30 Oct 2013 10:19 AM
Dee

Steve, who physically is looking best for the classic? All of them seem to be, but any that really stand out or some that seem to lack some luster in their coats? I don't see the hype in Fort Lardened, and I am not so sure Game On Dude is going to want to throw in the towel this year so easily. I am also really liking Will Take Charge, and I think Flat Out might have a better trip/be better right now than Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek (Mott even admitted he doesn't run his best after throwing down a monster like his last race). Right now I'm going with Game On Dude, Will Take Charge, and Flat out box.

30 Oct 2013 10:50 AM
papillon

i agree with the comment about retirements announced before a horse's final race--it's not a vote of confidence from the connections and often the horse does not fire. and now that they's admitted he had a slight injury after the travers...they are setting up a ready made excuse for a poor finish.

in the classic, 2 of the 3 speed horses that will be tangling with game on dude on the front are 3 year olds who've never been looked in the eye by other speed.

game on dude is a street fighter--he'll either be outside pressuring the other speed all the way or he'll be ahead of them, unless a debacle like last year occurs.

he showed with uncle mo in 2011's classic that he'll grinds speed horses used to easy leads into the ground.

fort larned is like tapizar, he's dangerous alone on the lead but doesn't fight when pressured. if he doesn't get ahead of the other speed, i don't think he has chance.

if the dude gets beat, it will probably be by a closer like in 2011--it doesn't seem likely that he'll have a repeat of last year. he's never run that badly in his life.

and for me, horses like palace malice who are given high speed figures and excuses over and over, who have a knack for loosing (he's 2 for 9 this year and 3 for 11 lifetime) are fool's gold.

will take charge looks like the 3 year old with the best chance to finish in the money--but history says that it takes a special 3 year old to do that, and i don't think any of this year's crop measure up to curlin, sunday silence, point given etc...

may all the horses finish safe and sound.

30 Oct 2013 11:57 AM
Old Timer

It will indeed be a good race and the mutuels will be super.

On one hand, GOD has not really beaten up on any champions this year, as you said, Steve. At the same time he is in great hands with Baffert and Mike Smith. Plus as Deacon noted above, he is in his own back yard.

Likewise MMM seems to love this track and has Gary Stevens and finished second last year.

Any of the three year olds would not be a huge surprise either.

30 Oct 2013 1:20 PM
mz

Moreno over Mucho Macho Man and

Game on Dude.  But I am afraid about Declaration of War.

30 Oct 2013 1:27 PM
genie918

The BC Classic has a very deep field this year and there has already been a lot of opinions who will win, therefore, we may be in for a surprise this year.  It is easy to see why Game on Dude was assigned as the morning line favorite.  The horse has had a fantastic year, currently doing very well and is on his "home turf".  I see him, however, as a one-dimensional horse and if he breaks poorly, gets bumped and/or shuffled back too far, then it is unlikely he will win.  Fort Larned has had a very uneven year, so I am not as confident that he will repeat his BC Classic win.  Ron the Greek has his moments of brilliance.  I am not sure whether he will be able to put back-to-back wins.  The JCGC may have been his Classic.  Flat Out is a nice horse, but does his best running at Belmont.  I believe that Will Take Charge has emerged as the top 3-year-old.  When I look at him, I see Summer Bird.  I think he has a good chance of "hitting the boards" like Summer Bird did.  Declaration of War is intriguing and may very well be the surprise factor in this race, however, I am letting personal feelings dictate my decision in the end.  I have followed Mucho Macho Man from almost the beginning of his career.  I feel that he finally has come of age and with Gary Stevens aboard along with some racing luck, he will win.  Regardless of the outcome, I wish for safe trips for all the horses and the jockeys in every BC race!  Good luck and let the games begin!

30 Oct 2013 1:54 PM
The Deacon

Wise Dan does not deserve HOTY.......period

30 Oct 2013 2:48 PM
Jean in Chicago

Hi to mz and Ted from LA--Ted, I hope you kept your promise and smuggled treats to Dr. D--please tell him 'hi' from me.

Once again, I have no idea how things will actually play out, but as a fan of The Big Lebowski, I kinda have to cheer for The Dude.  I will drink a white russian in his honor.

May they all come home safe and sound.

30 Oct 2013 4:26 PM
lunar spook

THE DEACON- I agree with you 100% on wise dan , his connections will not MAN UP and face any real competition !

30 Oct 2013 4:45 PM
Ranagulzion

lunar spook 30 Oct 2013 10:10 AM

Let's see you post your picks for Friday's card and compare how we do against each other.  Its easy to be critical when nobody knows your selections.

I'll post most of my Saturay picks later

30 Oct 2013 5:54 PM
Coldfacts

I love Untapable and she will be a part of my 5 horse exotic box wagers.

Secret Compass & Concave will also be in included.

The filly I am hoping will win is Rosalind. If she does it will make my day as I am going to key her on top in some of my wagers.

I concede she is not a very fast filly and will require a fast pace with a resulting melt down.

Her 3rd to Untapable in the Pocahontas was achieved with a sustained stretch run after she was left for dead when the leaders quickened approaching the top of the stretch.

In the gallop out she blew by Untapable in a jiffy.

Her 2nd to My Conquestadory in the Alcibiades was achieved lugging in but again she was resolute to the line without impacting the winner.

The dam line of Rosalind leans heavily towards turf. Her dam sire is the turf great Theatrical. She she won her debut on turf at Ellis Park. She quicken like a turf horse and the extension in her strides was impressive.

The big chestnut filly has contested races on dirt, turf and synthetic.  

I am hoping for a strong pace and a possible pace melt down that will allow her long strides to catch them on the line at a good price.

30 Oct 2013 7:36 PM
Coldfacts

I am focusing on Alpha for the Breeder Cup Dirt Mile.

Obviously I will be deemed to be crazy but its only crazy people that wager on 1000lbs animals ridden by tiny humans armed with whips.

Alpha résumé reflects he has kept better company than most in the field.

The dirt mile will be his 3rd attempt the distance but this should not be seen a negative.

His 1st attempt was as a 2YO in the G1 Champagne where he finished 2nd to Union Rags.

His 2nd attempt at the distance was as a 4YO in the G2 Godolphin Mile where he finished 5th to Soft Falling Rain.

Interestingly, the blinkers were affixed for the 1st time in that effort and he led at a fast clip for 7F.

Since his return from Dubai the blinkers have been used twice. He won the G1 Woodward from gate to wire. He tried a similar strategy in the JCGC but could not sustain the fast pace he set in the 1st 8F (1:35.08).

He cuts back to 8F for his 3rd attempt at 8F. He is drawn at post #7 and with the speed he has been showing he should win the run to the 1st turn as the real speed in the race is drawn on the far outside.

The 2012 Dirt Mile was won in a time of 1:35.34 by Tapizar who tracked the leader. Alpha recorded an 8F split in the JCGC of 1:35.08. He is therefore capable of going below 1:35 on the SA Park Speedway.

He has 9F stamina at least as he won the Jim Dandy and Woodward.  If he wins the run to the 1st turn he will be tough to pass.

30 Oct 2013 7:42 PM
Bigtex

Painter is poised to pop a big one!  

30 Oct 2013 7:44 PM
Coldfacts

In 2012 GOD contested six races before his BCC effort: He won four and the following horses finished second to him:

Uh OH Bango

Kettle Corn

Richards Kid

Nonios

Both Richards Kid and Nonios finished ahead of him in the BCC. None of the horses that finished second to GOD in 2012 were serious BCC contenders. In spite of this, two finished ahead of him. Even with his bad break he should have finished ahead of the two aforementioned horses.

In 2013 GOD contested 5 races winning all. The following horses finished second to him were:

Clubhouse Ride (3 times)

Kettle Corn (2 times)

It is likely that the above G2 horses would be chasing the ambulance in the BCC. Consequently, they would not have been considered for the race even if both were sound and still in training.

The field that will be assembled against GOD is significantly stronger than any he has faced in 2013. His opponents will not be old partially sound G2 horses.

I firmly believe he has no chance of winning.

30 Oct 2013 7:48 PM
papillon

genie--summer bird finished 4th in the classic...

30 Oct 2013 10:29 PM
predict

Wow! This years Classic is harder to figure out than where the processed chicken we'll be eating, comes from. In other words good luck with that race. I'll take

Game on Dude, even if he offers little gain, he just looks the most likely to win, hard to pick against with any confidence. I see Ron the Greek and Mucho Macho Man, second and third, in some order. Highly doubt a 3 year old will hit the board this year.

In the turf mile, watch as Olympic Glory gets the best of Wise Dan. His Dam sire,Alzao, makes this guy a standout to watch out for at the finish.

In the Sprint I'll go with a long shot, Majestic Stride, might be this good, and I loved his sire.

I like Indy Points with Stevens riding in the Turf.

Time to celebrate New Year's Day in the Juvenile, too early? Maybe, but I don't think so. Dance With Fate with this one.

Turf Sprint is tough, will go with Capo Bastone, hoping he might even be better on turf.

Judy the Beauty in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Johnny V. is th difference here.

Laughing gets my pick in the Filly and Mare Turf, she can be very hard to pass; love her determination.

Will try Scandalous Act in the Juvenile Fillies, like her sire Act of Duty; expecting her to be something special.

...............................

Friday's bets?

Marathon- Ever Rider

Juvenile Turf-Shamshon

Dirt Mile- Broadway Empire!!!!!

Juvenile Fillies Turf-Chriselliam

Good Luck everyone!, it doesn't get much better than this...

30 Oct 2013 11:01 PM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION- this is just for u !my picks are as follows: juvenile turf- Giovanni boldini , juvenile fillies turf-chriselliam , mile-central intelligence, distaff- close hatches , turf mile-no jet lag, turf- magician & vagabond shoes, im split here will bet both , classic- split between declaration of war & will take charge depending on the pace BUT ONE OF THOSE TWO WILL WIN IT BANK ON IT ! ok ive laid it all out , time for u to man up now ! good luck sat !!!

31 Oct 2013 8:23 AM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION- this is just for u !my picks are as follows: juvenile turf- Giovanni boldini , juvenile fillies turf-chriselliam , mile-central intelligence, distaff- close hatches , turf mile-no jet lag, turf- magician & vagabond shoes, im split here will bet both , classic- split between declaration of war & will take charge depending on the pace BUT ONE OF THOSE TWO WILL WIN IT BANK ON IT ! ok ive laid it all out , time for u to man up now ! good luck sat !!!

31 Oct 2013 8:23 AM
Ranagulzion

lunar spook 31 Oct 2013 8:23 AM

I like you ...you're a good sport.

Here are my picks corresponding to yours:

BCJ Turf -Bobby's Kitten

BCJFillies Turf -Readt To Act

BCDirt Mile -Verrazano

BCDistaff -Princess of Sylmar

BCMile -Wise Dan

BCTurf -The Fugue (dangers are Little Mike, Indy Point and Real Solution)

BCClassic -Mucho Macho Man

You didn't call either of the BC Sprints. It will be Groupie Doll in the Fillies & Mare race and Triniberg in the Colts & Geldings race. Good Luck.

31 Oct 2013 2:49 PM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION- YOUR ON THIS SITE A LOT SO I WANT SOME EXPERT ADVICE , IF THIER IS A PACE MELTDOWN UP FRONT I REALLY LIKE WILL TAKE CHARGE FOR THE WIN , ALSO IF HE TAKES TO THE DIRT I LIKE THE STEADY GRINDING STAMINA OF DECLARATION OF WAR ! WHAT YA THINK ?

01 Nov 2013 7:56 AM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION-FILLIES & MARE = DANCE TO BRISTOL  ,  SPRINT = SECRET CIRCLE

01 Nov 2013 8:04 AM
Ranagulzion

lunar spook 01 Nov 2013 7:56 AM

Good call in the BC Classic regarding the performances of Will Take Charge and Declaration of War ...they came awfully close to the "Macho Man" ...and how about a gutsy performance from Fort Larned, forcing the "Dude" to lose his game and chuck the gallop s i forcasted.

This year's renewal was one of the best ever ...a truly run race fom start to finish.

I guess Wise Dan has silenced his detractors and put all HOTY pretenders to rest with his commanding performance in the BC Mile. Truly a champion.

02 Nov 2013 10:23 PM
Ranagulzion

Coldfacts 30 Oct 2013 10:06 AM

When you're finished eating your plates full of crow you may return to the blog ...I guess that we wont see you again until Triple Crown trail in March ...you've got an awful lot of crow to digest between now and then pal (LOL). Mucho Macho Man ...always remember him ...his victory was scincillating, in a fast time against a terrific field of horses.  This should go down as one of the most thrilling Breeder's Cup Classic in its 30 years history ...certainly makes me forget bout Alysheba, how about you :-)

02 Nov 2013 10:37 PM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION- I was so close on so many races this year , the only race I hit big on was magician in the turf ,  NEVER bet against aiden Obrien in a turf race he does well in that race every year , odds were about 11-1 so im happy !!

04 Nov 2013 5:21 PM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION- I was so close on so many races this year , the only race I hit big on was magician in the turf ,  NEVER bet against aiden Obrien in a turf race he does well in that race every year , odds were about 11-1 so im happy !!

04 Nov 2013 5:21 PM

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