The final Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" challenge event for 2013 brings together a well-matched field of 11 in the $300,000 Nearctic Stakes on the turf Oct. 13 at Woodbine.
The six-furlong dash, a BC Turf Sprint qualifier Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park for the winning connections, lacks a true standout. Multiple graded stakes winner Riding the River, who drew the far outside post for trainer David Cotey, carries top weight of 121 pounds and will be cutting back in distance after a fourth-place finish in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Sept. 15.
The Nearctic is race 8 on Woodbine's Sunday card with a 1:24 p.m. ET scheduled post.
Owned by Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR Inc., and Linmac Farm, 6-year-old Riding the River posted a repeat victory in the one-mile King Edward Stakes as the even-money favorite June 23, his lone win from five starts in 2013. The Wiseman's Ferry gelding is a nine-time winner of $930,167 in 25 lifetime starts, all at Woodbine. Veteran Todd Kabel has the call once again.
Bear Stables has an uncoupled three-horse entry from trainer Reade Baker consisting of Bear No Joke, Fatal Bullet, and Bear Tough Tiger, who was third in last year's Nearctic after pressing the pace and finishing one length behind the winner, Next Question.
Bear No Joke and Bear Tough Tiger, both 5-year-old geldings, are coming off victories. Bear No Joke, to be ridden by Eurico Rosa Da Silva, won the Kenora Stakes over Woodbine's Polytrack Aug. 28. Beat Tough Tiger, with Emma-Jayne Wilson to ride, took an allowance/optional claiming race on grass from off the pace at the Nearctic distance Aug. 11.
The 8-year-old gelding Fatal Bullet, taking his third stab at the Nearctic (10th in 2011, third in 2010), started his season with an allowance win June 15 and was last seen finishing fourth in the off-the-turf Highlander Stakes July 7. The son of Red Bullet is a 12-time winner from 37 starts with earnings of nearly $1.4 million, though his last stakes win came four years ago in the 2009 Phoenix at Keeneland. James McAleney takes the call.
Every horse Ken and Sarah Ramsey runs these days is capable, and they take a shot with Longhunter, a British-bred gelding they claimed for $16,000 at Keeneland in April. The 5-year-old son of Halling has won four of five starts since then for trainer Mike Maker, and comes off a half-length tally in the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash Sept. 14.
Mr. Online comes into the race in good form as well for trainer Michale Pino and owner Tim E. O'Donohue after finishing second by a neck to venerable Ben's Cat in the Laurel Dash Sept. 21 at Laurel Park.
Langstaff won the restricted Bold Ruckus Stakes over the course and distance June 8 and comes off a third-place finish in the one-mile Vice Regent Stakes on grass Sept. 1. The Ontario-bred 3-year-old faces older company for the first time for trainer Robert Tiller and owner Rolph A. Davis. He will race with blinkers for the first time.
The multiple graded stakes-placed Excaper faded to be last of six after battling on the lead in the Woodbine Mile. The 4-year-old Exchange Rate colt, looking for his first stakes win, was second in the Play the King at seven furlongs before that for trainer Ian Black.
Phil's Dream posted his first stakes win in the Overskate Sept. 22 on Polytrack and he takes a big step up for trainer Paul Buttigieg after winning five of six races since mid-May. The 5-year-old Philanthropist gelding won his only previous try on grass in an allowance race going seven furlongs at Woodbine June 19.
New York shippers Strong Impact and Tripski, third and fourth, respectively, in the listed Troy Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on yielding turf at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 14, complete the field.