By Gene Kershner
Is it really only two weeks until the 28th edition of the Breeders' Cup (BC) World Championships?
More than $25 million in purse money will be at stake over the two-day event at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 and 5. We'll have plenty of coverage for News readers over the next two weeks delving into the major races in print and the Friday races right here in the Sports, Ink blog. In addition, on BC Saturday we'll be live blogging under the Twin Spires during the day's nine championship races, culminating in the $5M Breeders' Cup Classic.
Thursday, Breeders' Cup Limited released the possible starters, including those who won automatic qualifier Challenge races, for each of the championship races.
While the racing world anticipates the Cup, there's been enough going on to keep things interesting over the last two weeks ...
* The ESPN documentary "Charismatic" finally aired this week. Originally scheduled to be part of the original 30 for 30 series, unknown issues caused delays in the release and eventually airing as part of ESPN Films. The one hour short film focused mainly on troubled jockey Chris Antley and didn't spend as much time on the film's namesake, a horse who stunned the world capturing the Derby at 31-1 and Preakness at 8-1, before faltering in the Belmont. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas refused to be part of the documentary, although some of his assistants didn't shy away from the big screen. It was worth the time watching it, more from the historical perspective for me, but not having Lukas' involvement really hampered the impact of the film.
* With Rick Dutrow being slapped with a ten year suspension by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for repeated drug violations, it clearly appears that he is being made an example based on the length of his sentence and is being skewered in the court of public opinion. He is appealing the sanction, so this one's going to take some time before it's all sorted out.
* Keeneland's boutique fall meeting is coming to a conclusion this weekend. Last weekend's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes, where heavy favorite Winter Memories could finish no better than fourth, was won by the 3-year-old filly Together (IRE) off one week's rest, something you don't see everyday in the modern training era. Trainer Aidan O'Brien is still undecided if he will run her back in the Breeders' Cup.
* The horse that finished second in the QE II, Marketing Mix, is one to keep an eye on, should she run in the Breeders' Cup. She tracked the leader, Summer Soiree, in the early stages and gave up no ground under rider Garret Gomez before being passed in deep stretch by Together. A horse who doesn't favor the soft ground as much, if the turf is firmer at Churchill, don't count this filly out.
* Uncle Mo turned in an absolutely blazing 5 furlong workout in 58.64 at Belmont Park this week. He's sure to be the favorite in the Classic and with his solid name recognition will take a lot of dough at the windows. Coming off a 7-furlong and mile race, trainer Todd Pletcher has his work cut out for him, in preparation to go a mile and a quarter on November 5. I'm still on the fence on Mo, but leaning on the side of "play against" based on the short odds and potential stamina issues.
* The BC Dirt Mile could be one of the quality races on the Saturday card. Expected starters are the Preakness champion Shackleford, King's Bishop winner Caleb's Posse, Cigar Mile champ Jersey Town, Trappe Shot and Jackson Bend. That's a tremendous group that should make a great betting race.
* A new International group of racing bloggers, of which I am a member, was unveiled recently called Turf. The site is essentially a hub, or portal to the individual websites of an international group of horse racing bloggers who write on all aspects of the sport-breeding/bloodstock analysts, racehorse owners and trainers, performance and medical experts, photographers, handicappers, fans and historians. If you are a racing fan, you'll surely find a potpourri of excellent writing here.