By Gene Kershner
We’re officially two weeks out from the Breeders’ Cup (BC) World Championships to be held at Santa Anita Park, culminating in the $5 million BC Classic in a prime time NBC broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 3. Here’s what’s going on around the track as we prepare to pack our bags and head to the City of Angels for two of the biggest racing days on the calendar.
--The Ladies’ Classic, the race formerly known as the Distaff, is shaping up to be quite the race. Undefeated My Miss Aurelia, defending champion Royal Delta and top fillies and mares such as Questing, It’s Tricky and Awesome Feather all vying to be the top female race horse in the land. Friday’s feature race could be the most competitive in the two days of championship racing.
--Shackleford could pull off a miler Triple Crown of sorts if he could sweep the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Cigar Mile on Thanksgiving weekend at Aqueduct. The Met Mile winner seems to thrive at this distance and has the class and talent to make it happen.
--The Breeders’ Cup pre-entries will be released on Monday and the draw will be held on the following Monday, Oct. 29. Advance past performances should be available next week so horseplayers will have plenty of time to study the contenders before the big weekend.
--Bona Venture Stables’ Summer of Fun, who won on the Travers undercard, will be pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, a $1 million one mile race which will be held on Friday’s undercard. She finished third in the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 11 and will follow in the footsteps of stable mate Royal Bonnie who ran in last year’s race. Bona Venture Stables is a racing partnership made up of St. Bonaventure graduates that run their horses mainly on the New York circuit.
--In May the Breeders’ Cup launched a new brand campaign around the Tony Bennett song “The Best is Yet to Come” as the core element in its brand identity, advertising and social media. Bennett will sing the song during the Classic post parade from the winners’ circle on prime time television.
--Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that Cornell University President David Skorton would serve as Chair of the NYRA Reorganization Board. The reorganized Board consists of 17 directors: eight appointed by the Governor; two directors each appointed by the Senate and Assembly and five directors appointed by the former NYRA Board. In addition to Skorton, one of the appointed directors by the Governor was celebrity chef Bobby Flay, a long time horse racing fan and owner who won a BC race in 2010 with More Than Real.
--Fort Erie Race Track is down to its final days and while I’m not a regular at the Canadian
“B” track there is a certain fondness I have for the place. I’m hoping to trek over the border before the last day of racing scheduled for Oct. 30 and pay my respects to the grand old track.