BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC | PURSE: $5 MILLION | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 1/4 MILES
Mike Repole's Uncle Mo was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite from post 12 in a 13-horse field for the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Classic, leaving trainer Todd Pletcher happy with the starting slot in the 1¼-mile race.
The Classic wrapped up a seemingly endless post-position draw that lasted almost 1½ hours Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs. There are 15 Breeders' Cup races this year with the addition of the Juvenile Sprint, which kicks off the Nov. 4 program.
After being scratched from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands due to an infection, Uncle Mo, by Indian Charlie, was sidelined more than four months to recover. Since his return he has finished second in the King's Bishop Stakes at seven furlongs and won the Kelso Handicap at one mile.
Uncle Mo won the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year at Churchill.
"I think he's doing as well as he could possibly be doing," Pletcher said of Uncle Mo, who worked at Churchill Oct. 30."He has settled in here real well. We're optimistic. We've come a long way and we're hopeful we can get there.
Pletcher said Repole's Stay Thirsty, the Travers Stakes winner who drew post 9 and is listed at 12-1 on the morning line, is "doing great. He was sharp this morning, and he is proven at a mile and quarter. I think he's a horse that will have a lot to say at the end of it."
Rick Porter's Havre de Grace, who opted for the Classic over the Nov. 4 Ladies' Classic, drew post 10. Trainer Larry Jones said he believes the 4-year-old Saint Liam filly can work out a trip.
"If Todd is happy with post 12, hopefully [Uncle Mo] will just lead us around there," Jones said. "She has been doing very well after tough races back-to-back-to back. We were able to back off her training a bit, and she's feeling well right now."
Owner Rick Porter, on hand for the draw, said he believes several horses will attempt to get early position from outside posts, which should set things up well for Havre de Grace, who defeated males in the Woodward Stakes Sept. 3.
Porter also said he's not surprised Uncle Mo was made the morning-line favorite over Havre de Grace, who is 3-1.
"I figured it would be close, but they don't know what the odds are going to be," Porter said. "All we want to do is win. I'm happy with the post position."
Bill Mott, who trains the 3-year-old Bernardini colt To Honor and Serve for Live Oak Plantation, also indicated he has no problem with the outside post 13 in the Classic. Meanwhile, WinStar Farm's Drosselmeyer, also trained by Mott, drew post 3 in the Classic.
"We've got a long run down to the turn, so I think it is ideal for To Honor and Serve, and I think it is fine with Drosselmeyer. I have no problem with it."
Three-year-old To Honor and Serve is 12-1 in the morning line, while 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer is 15-1.
Trainer Charles "Scooter" Dickey said post 2 is fine for Preston Stables' Flat Out, a buzz horse after his impressive half-mile work Oct. 30 at Churchill. Flat Out is 6-1 on the morning line.
"I'm happy with it," Dickey said. "We're in the gate, aren't we? I would have chosen further outside, but we're just glad to be here."
Owner Art Preston said Flat Out, a 5-year-old Flatter horse who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his last start," couldn't be doing any better."
Wertheimer and Frere's Goldikova, who will seek her fourth consecutive victory in the Nov. 5 TVG Breeders' Cup Mile, drew the rail in a 13-horse field for the Mile. Groans were heard in the room when her post position was announced, but Thierry Blaise, traveling lad for trainer Freddie Head, said there isn't disappointment.
"We actually prefer the inside to the outside, where we have been the last few years," Blaise said. "We're going to give her her head and let her place herself where she's comfortable. She has traveled here well, as usual. She is our queen."
Goldikova, a 6-year-old mare by Anabaa, is the heavy 7-5 morning-line choice in the Mile, which is the race before the Classic this year. Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti, who opted for the Mile over the Classic, is the 4-1 second choice from post 5.
Union Rags, undefeated in three starts for Chadds Ford Stable, drew post 10 in a 13-horse field for the Nov. 5 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile as the 2-1 favorite. The 2-year-old Dixie Union colt won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 8 and will make his first start around two turns for trainer Michael Matz.
Matz also has Caroline Forgason's Somali Lemonade (Lemon Drop Kid ) in the Nov. 4 Juvenile Fillies Turf. She drew post 14 as the 3-1 morning-line favorite.
"If I had to pick them myself, I certainly wouldn't have picked those post positions," Matz said. "I don't think it's really going to bother Somali Lemonade, and I think Union Rags is versatile enough that he will adapt to that position.
"We're all set right now for him. He's going to do all the normal things -- school in the paddock and stand in the gate. We're going to leave it up to [jockey] Javier [Castellano]. I think he probably has enough speed that he can tuck himself in someplace coming to the first turn, so I think we should be OK."
Harold Queen's Big Drama will attempt to win the Nov. 5 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint for the second year in a row. The 5-year-old Montbrook horse drew post 8 in a field of 9 for the six-furlong race.
Last year Big Drama won from the rail, but trainer David Fawkes said he has "no complaints" with an outside post. Fawkes also has Donald Disney's Apriority, a 4-year-old colt by Grand Slam, in the Sprint with post 9.
"He's not as quick or has as much speed as Big Drama, but he can sit from off of him from that post," Fawkes said.
Big Drama is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Sprint.